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Ecological Risk Assessment

Biological Technical Assistance Group

Participating Agencies

Key Ecological Risk Assessment Links

Screening Values

The Region III BTAG Screening Benchmarks are values to be used for the evaluation of sampling data at Superfund sites. These values facilitate consistency in screening level ecological risk assessments throughout Region III. Additional toxicological information should be considered in Step 3 as provided by the Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund (EPA, 1997).

The tables include compounds for which benchmark values have been established or that are considered bioaccumulative compounds (identified in tables). For additional information on compounds for which no benchmarks are identified and the use of alternate values, please consult the BTAG FAQs specific to these subjects.

Benchmarks for other media will be posted as they become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs were prepared by the EPA Region 3 BTAG to answer questions and address situations commonly encountered during the ecological risk assessment process for CERCLA sites in Region 3. They were developed to provide key information and approaches that can be applied consistently at a multitude of sites and to help to ensure that all ecological risk assessors working on sites in Region 3 have access to regional BTAG guidance. In most cases the information provided is merely a reiteration or clarification of existing EPA guidance or policy. The methodologies or approaches described should be viewed as default approaches to be implemented in EPA Region 3.

Ecological Restoration

“Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.”
(The SER Primer on Ecological Restoration, Society for Ecological Restoration, 2004) .

“An ecological enhancement modifies a site to increase/improve habitat for plants and animals while protecting human health and the environment. An ecological enhancement can include natural remediation technologies and/or also represent an end-use which restores/increases the ecological value of the land.”
(Making the Case for Ecological Enhancements, The Wildlife Habitat Council, 2004)

“Ecological Reuse: The ecological reuse of Superfund sites restores and sustains natural areas, providing wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, meadows, and wetlands. These cleaned-up sites provide habitat for terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals, and areas for low-impact recreation such as walking and bird watching. While some "passive" recreational opportunities may result from the restoration of natural areas, in ecological reuse, nature is the primary beneficiary.”
( U.S. EPA, 2004)

As the Superfund program matures, the benefits of ensuring that remedial and removal sites are available for reuse have become evident. At many sites, reuse has focused on the development of “natural” areas and green space, environmental education facilities, or wildlife management areas. At an increasing number of sites, the value of commercial and recreational properties has been increased through the integration of ecological enhancements.

The proper application of ecological restoration techniques ultimately results in sites where the potential use / occurrence of species native to the area and the restoration of native wildlife habitat are maximized. Ecological restoration, or the integration of ecological enhancements, may eliminate or significantly reduce contaminant exposure to both human and ecological receptors. The restoration of native habitats typically requires significantly reduced long term maintenance and, thus, results in lower overall cost. In cases where wetlands may be impacted, ecological enhancements may be integrated into the remedial design to help fulfill requirements under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Under appropriate site conditions, ecological enhancements may permit the combination of novel treatment technologies with habitat improvements.

This section provides links to both introductory and technical information on ecological restoration and reuse. For additional information and site-specific support in Region 3, you may contact the BTAG Coordinator.

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