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EPA EcoBox

EPA EcoBox Tools by Effects - Terrestrial


TerrestrialAs for aquatic receptors, EPA guidance documents and databases contain information for characterizing ecological effects of stressors to terrestrial receptors. EPA provides a set of risk-based soil screening levels (Eco-SSLs) for several soil contaminants that are frequently of ecological concern for terrestrial plants and animals at hazardous waste sites. EPA’s Guidance for Developing Ecological Soil Screening Levels (2005) describes the process used to derive Eco-SSLs and provides guidance for their use. 

Eco-SSLs are concentrations of contaminants in soil that are protective of ecological receptors that commonly come into contact with and/or consume biota that live in or on soil. They are derived separately for four groups of ecological receptors: plants, soil invertebrates, mammals, and birds. In deriving Eco-SSLs, only chronic toxicity studies (greater than a 3-day exposure) were accepted for mammalian and avian studies. Although acute studies were not excluded for plants and soil invertebrates, the exposure duration was considered later in the process for selecting the most appropriate test results for deriving the Eco-SSL.

The Eco-SSLs are intended for use in upland soils; however, they may also be useful for screening wetland soils. The wildlife Eco-SSLs are derived for several general receptor groups that are likely to be representative of wildlife found in wetlands, but are not derived for amphibians and reptiles. The Eco-SSLs for plants and soil invertebrates are expected to be broadly applicable (i.e., conservative enough for most soils) as preference was given to studies with high bioavailability of the contaminants in soils. For this reason, the Eco-SSLs for plants and soil invertebrates may be useful for screening for contaminants in wetland soils.

The following table summarizes the availability of EPA’s Eco-SSL values.

Stressor Status Terrestrial Plants Soil Invertebrates Mammalian Wildlife Avian Wildlife
Aluminum Interim final (2003) Narrative statement
Antimony Interim final (2005) No Yes Yes No
Arsenic Interim final (2005) Yes No Yes Yes
Barium Interim final (2005) No Yes Yes No
Beryllium Interim final (2005) No Yes Yes No
Cadmium Interim final (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chromium (III) Interim final (2008) No No Yes Yes
Chromium (IV) Interim final (2008) No No Yes No
Cobalt Interim final (2005) Yes No Yes yes
Copper Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes
DDT and metabolites 2007 No No Yes Yes
Dieldrin Interim final (2007) No No Yes Yes
Iron Interim final (2003) Narrative statement
Lead Interim final (2005) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manganese Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nickel Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Interim final (2007) No Yes Yes No
Pentachlorophenol Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Selenium Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Silver Interim final (2006) Yes No Yes Yes
Vanadium Interim final (2005) No No Yes Yes
Zinc Interim final (2007) Yes Yes Yes Yes

Source: EPA Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance

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EPA’s ECOTOXicology database (ECOTOX) is a source for locating single chemical toxicity data for aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and terrestrial wildlife. ECOTOX integrates three previously independent databases (AQUIRE, PHYTOTOX, and TERRETOX) into a unique system that includes toxicity data derived predominately from the peer-reviewed literature.

Other Federal agencies, state agencies, and some EPA regions have compiled soil screening criteria for the protection of terrestrial plants and animals. See the table below for links to these websites.

Federal Agency Websites
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ecological Soil Screening Level (Eco-SSL) Guidance and Documents
Superfund Soil Screening Guidance
Risk-Based Screening Table – Generic Tables
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Screening Quick Reference Tables (SQuiRTs)
U.S. DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Ecological Benchmark Tool
Preliminary Remediation Goals for Ecological Endpoints
U.S. EPA Regional Websites
Region 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee Region 4 Ecological Risk Assessment Supplemental Guidance Interim Draft (Soil Screening Values)
Region 5: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin Ecological Screening Levels
U.S. State Websites The following links exit the site Exit
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Soil Remediation Levels (SRLs)
California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Screening Levels
Risk Assessment: Soil and Soil Gas
Shallow Soil Screening Levels
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Florida DEP) Soil Cleanup Target Levels
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Tiered Approach to Corrective Action Objectives (TACO)
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Sediment Quality Targets (SQTs)
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Ecological Screening Criteria
Soil Remediation Standards
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation  (NYSDEC) New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program: Development of Soil Cleanup Objectives Technical Support Document
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) Generic Numerical Standards
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) Protective Concentration Levels
Washington Department of Ecology Cleanup Levels and Risk Calculation (CLARC)
Soil Cleanup Levels for Unrestricted Land Use
Soil Cleanup Levels for Industrial Land Use
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Soil Cleanup Standards

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The resources listed below include tools that might be used to calculate dose/risk to terrestrial receptors as well as documents that describe how to quantify dose/risk or provide reference values/benchmarks for assessing risks.

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