John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Evaluating Risks to Wildlife from Coal Fly Ash Incorporating Recent Advances in Metals Risk Assessment

Current scientific advances in metal/metalloid risk assessment were applied to evaluate risk to aquatic and riparian wildlife species potentially impacted by residual coal fly ash after clean‐up of an unprecedented large ash release into an aquatic environment, the first assessment of its kind. Risk was evaluated using multiple lines of evidence (LOE) including (1) tissue‐based risk assessment of inorganic concentrations in piscivorous and insectivorous bird eggs and raccoon organs, (2) deterministic and probabilistic risk estimates for ten receptors, (3) raccoon health metrics, and (4) tree swallow nest productivity measures. Innovative approaches included: use of tissue‐based toxicity reference values (TRVs), adjustment of bioavailability in the dietary uptake models (using sequential metal extractions in sediment), partitioning chemical species into uptake compartments (e.g., prey gut, non‐gut, sediment), incorporating uncertainty in both modeled dose and dietary TRVs, matching TRVs to chemical forms of constituents, and pairing these LOEs with reproductive success or health status of sensitive receptor species. The weight of evidence revealed that risk to wildlife from residual ash was low and that risk, though low, was most pronounced for insectivorous birds from exposure to Se and As. This information contributes to the debate surrounding coal combustion residue regulations, prompted by this ash release. Because of the responsible party's proactive approach of applying state‐of‐the‐art methods to assess risk using several LOEs that produced consistent results, and because of their inclusion of the regulating agencies in decisions at every step of the process, the risk assessment results were accepted, and an effective approach toward clean‐up protective of the environment was quickly implemented. This study highlights the value of using multiple LOEs and the latest scientific advances to assist in timely decision‐making to obtain an effective remedy for an emergency spill. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2014 SETAC

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