Note: The majority of available toxicity and exposure databases are specific
to US species, and may have limited applicability for New Zealand species.
Some toxicity values from the literature are provided here.
The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) is an on-line database of toxicity
information that is updated monthly. IRIS provides quantitative human health
carcinogenic/hazard data, Ambient Water Quality Criteria, and Maximum Contaminant Levels.
This database is the USEPA's preferred source of toxicity data, and the database is
regularly reviewed. It is a valuable data source for experienced site assessors.
For further information refer to: http://www.epa.gov/iris/index.htm
The ECOTOX Database integrates three existing USEPA datafiles, AQUIRE, Phytotox, and
Terretox. It includes toxicity data derived predominantly from peer-reviewed literature
for aquatic organisms, terrestrial plants and wildlife species, respectively.
Each record contains information about the chemical, organism, exposure condition and
observed effect under which the toxicity test was conducted. AQUIRE
(Aquatic Toxicity Information Retrieval) is a summary of available aquatic toxicity data.
Currently, AQUIRE includes more than 140,000 toxic effect records for 5,900 chemicals and
2,900 freshwater and marine organisms. It includes lethal, sublethal, and residue effects
data for a single-chemical exposures conducted in a field or laboratory setting but does
not include in-vitro exposures, mixture and effluent exposures, or sediment exposures that
do not report water concentrations.
Phytotox is a database of toxic effects records for terrestrial
vascular wild plant species (native or introduced) or agricultural species. Phytotox
includes lethal and sublethal effect data but does not include results from residue
studies. Currently it contains more than 48,000 effect records for 900 species and 1,500
chemicals, extracted from 2,600 publications.
Terretox (Terrestrial Toxicity Database) includes toxicity data for
wildlife species. Lethal, sublethal and residues effects data through publication year
1992 are included in Terretox. Terretox currently includes more than 38,000 data records
for 240 species and 1,056 chemicals, abstracted from 529 publications.
These are comprehensive toxicological databases, that are accessible on-line and are
suitable for experienced site investigators familiar with using toxicological data.
For further information refer to: http://www.epa.gov/ecotox/
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) contains several databases of ecotoxicological
- aquatic biota
- terrestrial wildlife
- terrestrial plants
- sediment infauna
- soil invertebrates and microbial processes.
The benchmark criteria have been developed for a wide range of contaminants including
metals, and organochlorine and organic compounds, and concentrate specifically on
For further information refer to: http://www.hsrd.ornl.gov/ecorisk/
Ecological risk assessment is the process by which exposure and effects data are
systematically evaluated to assess the likelihood that adverse ecological effects may
occur as a result of exposure to stressors. In California, technical data needs for
ecological risk assessment are diverse and include both chemical- and species-specific
exposure and effects information. These data needs are often met by data retrieval from
the scientific literature or by collection of new data. In order to facilitate access to
existing information that may be utilized in ecological risk assessments conducted or
reviewed by member boards, departments, and offices within the California Environmental
Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA),
in collaboration with the University of California at Davis, Information Center for the
Environment, has developed Cal/Ecotox. Cal/Ecotox is a relational database that contains
California wildlife exposure factor and toxicity information.
The database collates species-specific information for 28 exposure factors (e.g., body
weights, ingestion rates, seasonal activities and population dynamics) commonly used to
estimate exposure to contaminants. The exposure factors in Cal/Ecotox have been patterned
after the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Wildlife Exposure Factor
Handbook (USEPA, 1993) but augment USEPA's efforts by including information for 62
California mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species. In addition to exposure factors,
toxicological data for population-level to individual-level effects have been included for
these species, when available.
Cal/Ecotox is a unique database in that it combines exposure and effects information
for a wide variety of California terrestrial species. It will continue to expand as data
for additional terrestrial, and eventually aquatic, species are added and as data for the
current species are updated. By providing convenient access to this scientific
information, it is hoped that regulators, the regulated community and the public may
benefit due to the improved quality of ecological risk assessments that are produced using
Further information regarding Cal/Ecotox and the database is located at:
Ecotox Thresholds Software
The USEPA has developed software that calculates Ecotox Thresholds (ETs) for selected
chemicals and can print out a table of ETs and their sources. The Superfund program has
initiated a project to develop media-specific benchmark values for those chemicals
commonly found in surface water, sediment and soil samples at sites (values for soil are
still being developed).
The ET values are defined as
media-specific contaminant concentrations above which there is sufficient concern
regarding adverse ecological effects to warrant further site investigation. ETs are
designed to provide Superfund site managers with a tool to efficiently identify
contaminants that may pose a threat to ecological receptors and focus further site
activities on those contaminants and the media in which they are found. They may be
suitable where NZ specific guideline data are unavailable, but their use should be
restricted to those investigators who are sufficiently experienced to assess the
applicability of the data to the receptor of concern.
ETs are intended for use for screening purposes only; they are not regulatory criteria,
site-specific cleanup standards, or remediation goals. For those chemicals with the
potential to bioaccumulate to toxic levels in upper trophic wildlife (e.g., methyl
mercury, PCBs, DDT, dioxins, and lead), these benchmarks may not be low enough at some
Ecotox Thresholds (ETs) software can be downloaded from: