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Pesticide News Story: EPA Makes Available a Summary of Aquatic Life Benchmarks for Pesticides

For Release: March 7, 2007

EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) has been working with state pesticide and water quality agencies to compile a chart of "benchmarks" that states can use to guide their water quality monitoring efforts. Today, OPP is making available the results of that effort: an online summary of aquatic life benchmarks taken from pesticide specific ecological risk assessments. These benchmarks can be used by states to help them target any water monitoring they may intend to undertake and, in doing so, increase the efficiency of regulatory processes that protect aquatic environments.

Aquatic life benchmarks are estimates of the concentrations below which pesticides are not expected to have the potential for adverse effects on aquatic life. These benchmarks can be used as indicators of potential hazard to aquatic life, but they are not detailed toxicity and risk assessments. Concentrations of pesticides in streams or groundwater that exceed benchmarks indicate that further work needs to be done to gather more detailed information and to conduct a risk assessment to characterize the likelihood of adverse effects on aquatic life in a given locality.

OPP's aquatic life benchmarks are derived from standardized tests that measure the toxicity of an individual pesticide or metabolite to fish, aquatic plants, or aquatic invertebrates. Comparing a measured concentration of a pesticide in water with an aquatic life benchmark provides an initial perspective on the relevance of the pesticide concentration to environmental health and can be used to identify and prioritize sites and pesticides that may require further investigation.

Aquatic life benchmarks for 71 pesticides or degradation products can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppefed1/ecorisk_ders/aquatic_life_benchmark.htm.
OPP expects to summarize and publish benchmarks for additional pesticides periodically. Users of these benchmarks are encouraged to explore more detailed information on specific studies (referenced on the Web site above) from which these benchmarks were derived. EPA’s Office of Water aquatic life criteria, if derived for a pesticide, are available at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/criteria/.

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