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Setting quality standards for ecological risks, a discussion document

Discussienotitie normstelling ecologische risico's : Onderzoeksprogramma 2012-2014


The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (IenM) intends to revise the Soil Quality Decree after 2015. Preceding the policy process, which starts in 2015, information is required about the setting of the quality standards for ecological risks. In this discussion paper, the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) sets the objectives and priorities for the research that will provide the above-mentioned information. For this purpose, interviews have been held with scientists from various universities, and policymakers from different departments within the IenM Ministry. Various components that substantiate the ecological standards for soil and groundwater can be adapted according to new scientific insights. In addition, it is desirable to find solutions for problems that are encountered in practice. The proposed research will focus on four themes. Firstly, it is important that the data used within the soil quality standards for the so-called soil type correction are adapted to the latest scientific findings. The soil type correction converts the general soil standard for a substance in the Netherlands to the local soil chemical status. The research is aimed at elaborating the new data and implementing it into a scientifically based method for the soil type correction. The second theme is the implementation of the method used to measure and assess the so-called bioavailability of a substance. Up to now, the quality standards for a substance have been based on the total concentration of a substance in the soil. Organisms in the soil are not exposed to this total concentration, but to the 'bioavailable part'. Thirdly, it is important to create a consistent use of 'species sensitivity distributions' (SSD) in the standard setting and risk assessment. This is a statistical method for displaying data on the toxic effects of substances for organisms. The SSDs can be used in various ways both in the Netherlands and in Europe. Finally, more insight is necessary into the data used to set standards for determining ecological risks. These standards may have been based on outdated or limited data.

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