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A weight-of-evidence approach to assess chemicals: case study on the assessment of persistence of 4,6-substituted phenolic benzotriazoles in the environment

Brandt, Marc, Becker, Eva, Jöhncke, Ulrich, Sättler, Daniel, Schulte, Christoph
Environmental sciences Europe 2016 v.28 no.1 pp. 4
animals, biodegradation, case studies, environmental assessment, environmental fate, environmental hazards, hazard characterization, information sources, uncertainty, weight-of-evidence
BACKGROUND: One important purpose of the European REACH Regulation (EC No. 1907/2006) is to promote the use of alternative methods for assessment of hazards of substances in order to avoid animal testing. Experience with environmental hazard assessment under REACH shows that efficient alternative methods are needed in order to assess chemicals when standard test data are missing. One such assessment method is the weight-of-evidence (WoE) approach. In this study, the WoE approach was used to assess the persistence of certain phenolic benzotriazoles, a group of substances including also such of very high concern (SVHC). RESULTS: For phenolic benzotriazoles, assessment of the environmental persistence is challenging as standard information, i.e. simulation tests on biodegradation are not available. Thus, the WoE approach was used: overall information resulting from many sources was considered, and individual uncertainties of each source analysed separately. In a second step, all information was aggregated giving an overall picture of persistence to assess the degradability of the phenolic benzotriazoles under consideration although the reliability of individual sources was incomplete. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the evidence suggesting that phenolic benzotriazoles are very persistent in the environment is unambiguous. This was demonstrated by a WoE approach considering the prerequisites of REACH by combining several limited information sources. The combination enabled a clear overall assessment which can be reliably used for SVHC identification. Finally, it is recommended to include WoE approaches as an important tool in future environmental risk assessments.