Regulatory consideration of bioavailability for metals: Simplification of input parameters for the chronic copper biotic ligand model



The chronic Cu biotic ligand model (CuBLM) provides a means by which the bioavailability of Cu can be taken into account in assessing the potential chronic risks posed by Cu at specific freshwater locations. One of the barriers to the widespread regulatory application of the CuBLM is the perceived complexity of the approach when compared to the current systems that are in place in many regulatory organizations. The CuBLM requires 10 measured input parameters, although some of these have a relatively limited influence on the predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC) for Cu. Simplification of the input requirements of the CuBLM is proposed by estimating the concentrations of the major ions Mg2+, Na+, K+, equation image, Cl, and alkalinity from Ca concentrations. A series of relationships between log10 (Ca, mg l−1) and log10 (major ion, mg l−1) was established from surface water monitoring data for Europe, and applied in the prediction of Cu PNEC values for some UK freshwater monitoring data. The use of default values for major ion concentrations was also considered, and both approaches were compared to the use of measured major ion concentrations. Both the use of fixed default major ion concentrations, and major ion concentrations estimated from Ca concentrations, provided Cu PNEC predictions which were in good agreement with the results of calculations using measured data. There is a slight loss of accuracy when using estimates of major ion concentrations compared to using measured concentration data, although to a lesser extent than when fixed default values are applied. The simplifications proposed provide a practical evidence-based methodology to facilitate the regulatory implementation of the CuBLM. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011;7:437–444. © 2011 SETAC