Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Publication Date

January 2008


Understanding the toxicodynamics of wildlife populations in contaminated ecosystems is one of the greatest challenges in ecotoxicology today. The goal is to manage these populations to minimize risk to ecosystem integrity as well as human health. Ecological risk assessments (ERAs) in the United States are designed to meet the regulatory mandates of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an ERA evaluates the potential adverse effects that human activities have on the ' ora and fauna that de( ne an ecosystem (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1997). When conducted for a particular geographic location, the ERA process can be used to identify vulnerable and valued resources, prioritize data collection, and link human activities with their potential effects. Risk assessment results provide a common framework for comparing different management options, thus enabling decision makers and the public to make better informed decisions about the management of ecological resources. The ERA uses available toxicological and ecological information to estimate the occurrence of a speci( ed undesired ecological event or end point. The types of end points targeted for investigation depend on the objectives and the constraints imposed upon the risk assessment process (Newman and Strojan 1998) based on all of the relevant stakeholders; therefore, multiple endpoints at different scales may be necessary but are not commonly used (Gaines et al. 2004). In this case, the stakeholders are the public who live near and hunt on and near the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS; ( gure 4.1). To date, there is a dearth of knowledge concerning how environmental risk can be managed at the population level when using wildlife as endpoint (receptor) species.

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