SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
8 October 2015
Volume 16 Issue 10

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Is Your Ecotoxicity Data Reliable, Relevant and Useful for Regulatory Decisions?

Marlene Agerstrand, Stockholm University and Jane Staveley, Exponent, Inc.-Co-Chairs

A recent SETAC Pellston Workshop®, which was held from 30 August–4 September 2015 at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, addressed “Improving the Usability of Ecotoxicology in Regulatory Decision-making.” SETAC Pellston Workshops provide a platform for discussions and collaborations between academia, business, government and NGOs. They give different stakeholders opportunity to meet and find solutions to common problems, try new ideas, and promote understanding of the various views.

The aim of the workshop was to develop guidance on steps that can be taken to improve the use of all ecotoxicity data in prospective risk assessments, whether the data are from guideline studies conducted under good laboratory practices or from research studies published in the peer-reviewed literature. The goal was to increase understanding between those conducting studies to be published in the peer-reviewed literature and regulatory institutions assessing those studies. This includes an understanding of the advantages and limitations of guideline studies.

The workshop addressed the following processes:

  1. Improve the reliability and reproducibility of ecotoxicity studies
  2. Improve the use of peer-reviewed studies in regulatory risk assessment of chemicals
  3. Improve the methods used in risk assessments when evaluating single pieces of evidence or lines of evidence

Recommendations on good practices for study design, establishment of minimum requirements for reporting the methodology, performance and results, and proposals for improving consistent use of the information during the regulatory processes were discussed. Other issues of importance were regulators’ view of academic research, the role of scientific journals in promoting reliability and reproducibility of studies, actions industry can take to increase the transparency of studies, methods for enabling transfer of knowledge between stakeholders, and tools for improved risk assessment.

SETAC Pellston Workshop<sup>®</sup> attendees

The workshop was attended by 36 experts from four continents representing academia, business, government and NGOs. Three students were also invited and contributed substantially. Expertise of the attendees spanned agricultural chemicals, industrial chemicals, metals, pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Positive feedback on the workshop has been received from participants representing all sectors. Highlights include the open discussion climate, the chance to meet new people and to gain new perspectives, and the beautiful environment in which the workshop was held.

The outcome from the workshop will be a mix of peer-reviewed papers, which primarily will target the SETAC journals ET&C and IEAM, and other actions to promote understanding and collaboration between stakeholders. Examples of such actions include briefings with national and international governmental agencies, student training courses and webinars.

At the SETAC North America 36th Annual Meeting from 1–5 November in Salt Lake City, Utah, a session discussing the workshop outcomes will be held on Thursday afternoon in Ballroom AC. If you are interested in these topics and would like to hear more about the results from the workshop, please join us for this session. For those who plan to visit the SETAC Europe meeting in 2016, we are very pleased to announce that the outcomes of the workshop will be presented at a special session.

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