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Ecotoxicological information

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A total risk approach using SSD was performed by the European copper institute, ECI (2008)

"A high-quality dataset of 252 individual chronic NOEC/EC10 values from 28 different species and processes representing different trophic levels (i.e., decomposers, primary producers, primary consumers) has been retained for the PNEC derivation. The observed intra-species differences in toxicity data were related to differences in bioavailability, the latter related to differences in soil properties and to differences in ageing and application mode and rate.

The soil property best explaining the variability in toxicity for most of the endpoints was the eCEC (effective Cation Exchange Capacity). To account for the observed difference between lab-spiked soils and field-contaminated soils, a conservative leaching-ageing factor of 2 was agreed based on test data from the mechanistic research on ageing and ionic strength (leaching) effects. For the normalisation of the ecotoxicity data, first the leaching-ageing factor was applied on all added NOEC/EC10 values. These adjusted values, after addition of the respective Cu background concentrations, were subsequently normalised to representative EU soils using the relevant regression (bio)availability models, generating so soil-type specific HC5-50 values. Species Sensitivity Distributions were constructed using the normalised NOEC/EC10 data. HC5-50 values from log-normal distributions ranging between 78.9 and 172.8 mg Cu/kg dry weight were obtained.

A total of eight single species studies were available in which the toxicity of Cu to microorganisms, invertebrates and plants in field-contaminated aged soils was investigated for a wide range of European soil types (peaty, sandy, clay). A total of five multi-species studies were available, three of which studied the effects of copper in freshly spiked soils and 2 in field contaminated aged soils. Invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms were studied. Single species and multi-species field studies indicate that effects did not occur at an exposure level at the HC5-50-value.

Normalized HC5-50 values (AF=1) were used as PNEC for the risk characterisation. The HC5-50 (AF=1) of 78.9 mg Cu/kg dry weight was used as reasonable worst case PNEC for Europe in absence of site-specific information on soil properties. The uncertainty analysis that provides arguments for the AF=1 was based on: 1) the overall quality of the database and the end-points covered; 2) the diversity and representativeness of the taxonomic groups covered by the database; 3) corrections for differences in bioavailability (soil properties); 4) the statistical uncertainties around the 5th percentile estimate; 5) NOEC values below the HC5-50 and 6) field and mesocosm studies and comparisons of their results with the HC5-50.

An in-depth literature search showed the absence of copper biomagnification across the trophic chain in the aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Differences in sensitivity among species were not related to the level in the trophic chain but to the capability of internal homeostasis and detoxification. Field evidence had further provided no indications of secondary poisoning. " EU-RAR (2008)

Reference: European Copper Institute, ECI (2008). Voluntary Risk Assessment Report on Copper and its compounds.