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Impacts of chemicals on biodiversity

We need better tools to help us further understand the effects that chemicals introduced into the environment have on biodiversity. Researchers are upgrading current modelling systems to improve understanding of our impact on the environment.
Impacts of chemicals on biodiversity
Current modelling tools that assess the impact of chemical compounds on the environment do not come close to the complexity of chemical mixtures in the real world. A better tool is needed, one that can extrapolate from one compound and predict the effects it could have as part of a mixture.

The EU-funded project BIOME (Modelling effects of exposure to mixtures of chemicals on a multi-species level) aimed to upgrade the single-species approach of chemical effect modelling to a system with a multi-species approach.

BIOME built on an existing model (based on Dynamic Energy Budget theory), developing it further to predict the effects of previously untested chemicals. The researchers applied a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) approach to better predict the effects of untested compounds.

The research team tested their QSAR approach using existing experimental data on the exposures, effects and occurrence of various chemicals. They used the modelling approach to test the effects of mixtures of pesticides and metals on different bee species. In addition the model was used for a large scale evaluation of pesticide measurements in the environment. It showed that mixture effects can be important and should be taken into account in Environmental Risk Assessment.

BIOME found that the model is versatile and allows for new insights into certain nanomaterials. The researchers found that the impact of nanomaterials is a mix of the effects of nanomaterials themselves and their ions.

Project research and outcomes will help reduce the unwanted impact of industrial chemicals on the environment. They will also provide a better understanding of what makes a species sensitive to toxic chemicals as well as help to improve environmental quality assessments.

Related information

Keywords

Chemicals, biodiversity, Dynamic Energy Budget Theory, Mixture toxicity, modelling, nanomaterials
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