Ecological Risk Assessment and Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Synthesis of Assessment Procedures


  • Published on the Web 6/22/2009.


The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) convened an invited workshop (August 2008) to address coordination between ecological risk assessment (ERA) and natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). Although ERA and NRDA activities are performed under a number of statutory and regulatory authorities, the primary focus of the workshop was on ERA and NRDA as currently practiced in the United States under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). This paper presents the findings and conclusions of the Synthesis Work Group, 1 of 3 work groups convened at the workshop. The Synthesis Work Group concluded that the different programmatic objectives and legal requirements of the 2 processes preclude development of a single, integrated ERA/NRDA process. However, although institutional and programmatic impediments exist to integration of the 2 processes, parties are capitalizing on opportunities to coordinate technical and scientific elements of the assessments at a number of locations. Although it is important to recognize and preserve the distinctions between ERA and NRDA, opportunities for data sharing exist, particularly for the characterization of environmental exposures and derivation ofecotoxicological information. Thus, effective coordination is not precluded by the underlying science. Rather, willing participants, accommodating schedules, and recognition of potential efficiencies associated with shared data collection can lead to enhanced coordination and consistency between ERA and NRDA.