Effects analysis of time-varying or repeated exposures in aquatic ecological risk assessment of agrochemicals



Exposure to agrochemicals in the aquatic environment often occurs as time-varying or repeated pulses. Time-varying exposures may occur due to runoff events and spray drift associated with precipitation and application events. Hydrologic dilution, dispersion, and degradation also produce pulsed exposures. Standard laboratory toxicity tests using constant exposure concentrations typically do not investigate the toxicity of time-varying or repeated exposures. Detoxification, elimination, and recovery may occur within organisms or populations during the periods between exposures. The difficulty of estimating effects of realistic time-varying exposures from measurements made under constant exposure conditions is often an important source of uncertainty in ecological risk assessment of pesticides. This article discusses the criteria and tools for deciding whether time-varying exposures are relevant in a particular risk assessment, approaches for laboratory toxicity testing with time-varying exposure, modeling approaches for addressing effects of time-varying exposure, deterministic and probabilistic ecological risk characterization of time-varying exposures and toxicity, and uncertainty analysis.