• Ecological screening value;
  • Ecological risk assessment;
  • Surfacewater;
  • Sediment;
  • Soil


This review evaluates the methodologies of 13 screening value (SV) compilations that have been commonly used in ecological risk assessment (ERA), including compilations from state and U.S. federal agencies, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Canada, The Netherlands, and Australia. The majority of surfacewater SVs were primarily derived for the protection of aquatic organisms using 2 approaches: (1) a statistical assessment of toxicity values by species groupings, such as “ambient water quality criteria,” or (2) extrapolation of a lowest observed adverse effect level determined from limited toxicity data using an uncertainty factor. Sediment SVs were primarily derived for the protection of benthic invertebrates using 2 approaches: (1) statistical interpretations of databases on the incidence of biological effects and chemical concentrations in sediment, or (2) values derived from equilibrium partitioning based on a surfacewater SV. Soil SVs were derived using a diversity of approaches and were usually based on the lowest value determined from soil toxicity to terrestrial plants or invertebrates and, less frequently, from modeled, incidental soil ingestion or chemical accumulation in terrestrial organisms. The various SV compilations and methodologies had varying levels of conservatism and were not consistent in the pathways and receptors considered in the SV derivation. Many SVs were derived from other compilations and were based on outdated values, or they relied on only older toxicity data. Risk assessors involved in ERA should carefully evaluate the technical basis of SVs and consider the uncertainty in any value used to determine the presence or absence of risk and the need for further assessment.