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Assessing Compliance of European Fresh Waters for Copper: Accounting for Bioavailability

Peters, Adam, Wilson, Iain, Merrington, Graham, Heijerick, Dagobert, Baken, Stijn
Bulletin of environmental contamination and toxicology 2019 v.102 no.2 pp. 153-159
bioavailability, compliance, copper, environmental quality, hydrochemistry, organic carbon, risk, surface water
This study determines the levels of compliance of European fresh waters with a bioavailability-based copper Environmental Quality Standard (EQS). A tiered approach for compliance assessment is used at which the first tier compares the dissolved metal concentration to a threshold, estimated using either regional or continental water chemistry data. At the second tier, the bioavailable metal concentration is calculated using the chemistry of the water body, and compared to the EQSbᵢₒₐᵥₐᵢₗₐbₗₑ for copper. The thresholds at Tier 1 must be set at a level to ensure adequate protection of sensitive environments and to ensure efficient use of regulatory resources. Compliance of 99.3% is observed where bioavailability-based thresholds are used for the implementation derived from regionally relevant water chemistry data. Sites where elevated ambient background levels of copper are combined with high bioavailability (waters with low dissolved organic carbon) are those most likely to be at risk from copper exposures.