The assessment and potential human impact of exposure to environmental contaminants on marine and freshwater bivalves.

The assessment and potential human impact of exposure to environmental contaminants on marine and freshwater bivalves.

Environmental toxicology, the study of adverse effects of xenobiotics on animals found in the environment, is a very broad discipline incorporating aspects of toxicology, physiology, molecular biology, bio- and analytical chemistry. Laboratory analytical methods exist for the detection and measurement of most contaminants found in the environment, but they are time consuming and very expensive and often impractical for screening programs or routine testing. Also when dealing with multiple chemicals as is most often the case (particularly with municipal effluents), individual measurements may not give assessment of the true toxicity if these act in synergy, in a cumulative manor. It has therefore been recommended that tests should be used that measure the overall toxicity of a sample rather than individual contaminants, with the suggested use of the biomarker approach. Biomarkers consist of biochemical and /or physiological changes in organisms exposed to contaminants, and thus represent initial responses to environmental perturbations and contamination (Roy et al., 1996). They offer more complete and biologically more relevant information on the potential impact of toxic pollutants on the health of organisms and the environment. Biomarkers can act as a biological early warning system, a set of tools that may be able to respond to certain chemical monitoring requirements of recent European legislation, the Water Framework Directive (WFD2000/60/EC), that aims to improve and protect water quality across Europe. In this project we are proposing the use of an integrated chemical and biological effects assessment as the preferred approach for the complete investigation of the impact of hazardous substances in the environment concentrating on the novel pollutants, EDCs and pharmaceuticals leading to the development of a rapid, affordable and dependable assay to test for these substances.

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Environmental Protection Agency 2007-DRP-3-S5
Brian Quinn

Keywords: Human health; Environmental toxicology; Environmental contaminants; Freshwater and Marine

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