New computer tool will help assess the toxic effects of lead on freshwater organisms
A free-to-use computer model that helps regulators and industry ensure that rivers, lakes and streams are protected from the potential risks of lead has been developed by the International Lead Association.
The biotic ligand model (BLM) can be regarded as a milestone in the ecological risk assessment of lead. It can predict how the toxic effects of metals on aquatic freshwater species such as fish, crustaceans and algae, vary with changing water conditions. Now thanks to ILA a new BLM tool is available to download free of charge.
The tool combines bioavailability models with detailed species sensitivity distribution (SSD) analyses to derive hazard concentration of lead (Pb) for freshwaters with differing water chemistries. The tool, developed by ARCHE cvba, uses lead bioavailability models produced by the University of Gent, metal speciation models developed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology and published laboratory research on the toxicity of lead to predict the chronic toxicity of lead to organisms in differing freshwater aquatic environments.
Dr Steve Binks Regulatory Affairs Director at the ILA said “The development of a chronic BLM for lead is a significant milestone in understanding the risks of this metal to freshwater species and will be an invaluable tool for the academic, industrial and regulatory communities to help protect the water quality of rivers, lakes and streams in the EU and worldwide.”
“Making the chronic BLM tool available to interested parties free of charge is the final stage of a research project that has taken many years and cost over $1 million and demonstrates the commitment of ILA member companies to ensuring that lead is produced and used in a responsible manner as promoted by our environmental and social responsibility programme Lead Action 21.”
The tool is a significant addition to the existing acute BLM tool that was previously developed. The BLM tools can be downloaded from:
• Chronic BLM: http://www.leadblm.com
• Acute BLM: http://www.hydroqual.com/wr_blm.html
ILA will continue to work with regulators around the world to introduce lead BLM concepts into legislation that is designed to mitigate against the risks of metals to aquatic organisms.
For further information contact: Bob Tolliday, ILA Communications Manager, [email protected] tel: +44 (0) 20 7833 8090
Notes to editors
More about BLM
For many years it has been known that water chemistry (e.g. the hardness or pH of the water) has a significant effect on the toxicity of metals to organisms living in lakes and rivers. However, due to the lack of quantitative tools, few regulatory systems have been able to take this into account when developing Environmental Quality Standards (EQS). In the past this resulted in regulators facing a great deal of uncertainty when setting water quality standards to protect aquatic species.
The lead industry therefore recognised the need for a robust tool, based on sound science that could assess the impacts of local water conditions on toxicity and allow for a more accurate risk assessment at specific freshwater locations.
Find out more BLM case study
The International Lead Association is the worldwide membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead. Recent studies have shown that lead-based batteries achieve a recycling rate of 99% in the EU and USA.
With offices in the UK and USA the ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support and is focused on all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead.
ILA also supports the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, which manages the research, development and promotion of lead-based batteries for markets such as hybrid electric vehicles, start-stop automotive systems and grid-scale energy storage applications.
Find a list of ILA member companies here.