An academic researcher’s guide to increased impact on regulatory assessment of chemicals.
The interactions between academic research and regulatory assessment of chemicals may in theory seem straightforward: researchers perform studies, and these studies are used by regulators for decision-making. However, in practice the situation is more complex, and many factors decide a research study’s regulatory use. According to several EU chemical legislations, all available and relevant studies can be used in hazard and risk assessment of chemicals. However, in practice, standard tests conducted under GLP and sponsored and provided by industry are predominantly used. Peer-reviewed studies from independent sources are often disregarded or disputed since they often do not comply with regulatory data requirements and quality criteria. There are several possible reasons for this, one being that academic research is reported in a way that does not fit the regulatory requirements. To help bridge such a gap, the aim of this paper is to give an overview of the general workings of chemicals legislation and propose a set of actions to increase the usability of research data. In the end, this may increase the use of academic research for decision-making and ultimately result in more science-based policies. From a policy perspective, useful scientific evidence are those studies that are sufficiently reliable and relevant. This is not in contradiction to the aims of research and generally accepted scientific standards.
Export of calcium carbonate corrosive waters from the East Siberian Sea
The Siberian shelf seas are areas of extensive biogeochemical transformation of organic matter, both of marine and terrestrial origin. This in combination with brine production from sea ice formation results in a cold bottom water of relative high salinity and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2). Data from the SWERUS-C3 expedition compiled on the icebreaker Oden in July to September 2014 show the distribution of such waters at the outer shelf, as well as their export into the deep central Arctic basins. Very high pCO2 water, up to ∼ 1000 µatm, was observed associated with high nutrients and low oxygen concentrations. Consequently, this water had low saturation state with respect to calcium carbonate down to less than 0.8 for calcite and 0.5 for aragonite. Waters undersaturated in aragonite were also observed in the surface in waters at equilibrium with atmospheric CO2; however, at these conditions the cause of under-saturation was low salinity from river runoff and/or sea ice melt. The calcium carbonate corrosive water was observed all along the continental margin and well out into the deep Makarov and Canada basins at a depth from about 50 m depth in the west to about 150 m in the east. These waters of low aragonite saturation state are traced in historic data to the Canada Basin and in the waters flowing out of the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland and in the western Fram Strait, thus potentially impacting the marine life in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Carbon cycling on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf – a change in air-sea CO2 flux induced by mineralization of terrestrial organic carbon
Measurements from the SWERUS-C3 and ISSS-08 Arctic expeditions were used to calibrate and validate a new physical-biogeochemical model developed to quantify key carbon cycling processes on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). The model was used in a series of experimental simulations with the specific aim to investigate the pathways of terrestrial dissolved and particulate organic carbon (DOCter and POCter) supplied to the shelf. Rivers supply on average 8.5 Tg C yr−1 dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and further 8.5 and 1.1 Tg C yr−1 DOCter and POCter respectively. Based on observed and simulated DOC concentrations and stable isotope values (δ13CDOC) in shelf waters, we estimate that only some 20 % of the riverine DOCter is labile. According to our model results, an additional supply of approximately 14 Tg C yr−1 eroded labile POCter is however required to describe the observed stable isotope values of DIC (δ13CDIC). Degradation of riverine DOCter and POCter results in a 1.8 Tg C yr−1 reduction in the uptake of atmospheric CO2, while degradation of eroded POCter results in an additional 10 Tg C yr−1 reduction. Our calculations indicate nevertheless that the ESAS is an overall small net sink for atmospheric CO2 (1.7 Tg C yr−1). The external carbon sources are largely compensated by a net export from the shelf to the Arctic Ocean (31 Tg C yr−1), and to a smaller degree by a permanent burial in the sediments (2.7 Tg C yr−1)
NanoCRED: A transparent framework to assess’ the regulatory adequacy of ecotoxicity data for nanomaterials – Relevance and reliability revisited
Environmental hazard and risk assessment serve as the basis for regulatory decisions to protect the environment from unintentional adverse effects of chemical substances including nanomaterials. This process requires reliable and relevant environmental hazard data upon which classification and labelling can be based and Predicted No-Effect Concentration (PNEC) values can be estimated. In a regulatory context ecotoxicological data is often recommended to be generated according to accepted and validated test guidelines, preferably also following Good Laboratory Practice. However, engineered nanomaterials are known to behave very differently in ecotoxicity tests compared to the conventional soluble chemicals, for which most guidelines were developed. Therefore non-guideline tests, or tests following modified test guidelines, can provide valuable information and should not per se be considered less adequate for regulatory use. Here we propose a framework for reliability and relevance evaluation of ecotoxicity data for nanomaterials that take into account the challenges and characterisation requirements associated with testing of these substances. The nanoCRED evaluation criteria, and accompanying guidance, were developed to be used in combination with those developed through the ‘Criteria for Reporting and Evaluating Ecotoxicity Data (CRED)’ project. This approach can accommodate all types of nanomaterials, all types of aquatic ecotoxicity studies, and qualitative as well as quantitative data evaluation requirements. Furthermore, it is practically feasible to implement and directly applicable in European as well as international regulatory frameworks.
Temperature versus hydrologic controls of chemical weathering fluxes from United States forests
Chemical weathering is a dominant control on modern inland water chemistry and global element budgets over geologic time scales. Due to its central role in the earth's biogeochemistry it remains an intense area of interest. Understanding the controls on chemical weathering is difficult because it has many drivers with overlapping temporal and spatial signals. Of particular interest is the relationship between chemical weathering fluxes and global temperatures due to a negative feedback loop where warmer temperatures leads to more chemical weathering and its associated atmospheric CO2 consumption (Berner et al., 1983). Recently it has been proposed that this negative feedback loop is indirect where the acceleration of the hydrologic cycle by increased global temperatures leads to higher chemical weathering and atmospheric CO2 consumption (Maher and Chamberlain, 2014). Here, fluxes of all major cations and anions are calculated for 150 forested watersheds smaller than 500 km2 in order to explore controls on chemical weathering from United States forests. Relationships between watershed hydrology, ion ratios and pH are reported that explain a large amount of across site variation in bicarbonate fluxes. Furthermore, across all watersheds ~ 32% of the cation flux is not balanced by bicarbonate but by sulfate. Paired alkalinity, temperature and discharge data are used to determine a temperature sensitivity of chemical weathering across 51 forested watersheds with a minimum of 70 measurements. The temperature sensitivity of bicarbonate fluxes is absent at low flow conditions because long residence times leads to chemical equilibrium and transport limitation. As discharge increases and residence time decreases, the temperature sensitivity of chemical weathering is released from transport limitation. The temperature sensitivity then increases with discharge until it levels off at high discharges as the system becomes reaction limited. Records of daily discharge, watershed discharge to flux relationships, and the temperature sensitivity are then used to estimate how chemical fluxes would change with a 20% increase in discharge, and 10° increase in temperature global change scenario. Not surprisingly it is found that increased discharge leads to higher weathering fluxes. Interestingly, wetter years have a higher temperature sensitivity due to a release of the temperature sensitivity from transport limitation. This coupled with a strong direct temperature effect leads to an approximately equal response from temperature and increased discharge using this scenario of global change. Thus periods of time and regions that are subject to both warm and wet conditions may have a particularly strong control on weathering fluxes.