The Environmental Risk Assessment Branch (ERAB) conducts research on the bioavailability and effects of chemical contaminants on endpoint organisms in the environment. Scientists utilize an array of bioassay techniques to assess contaminant effects at the biochemical, cellular, individual, community, and population level and to develop models for contaminant uptake and pathways in biological systems. Developed models and effects assessments are incorporated into risk and hazard assessment protocols for use in contaminant cleanup and remediation projects and regulatory testing. The essential linkage is between the fraction of contaminant actually available for uptake by the organism and the level of response that results. Biota of primary interest are plants, invertebrates and fish intimately in contact with sediments, invertebrates, and plants in their natural habitats.
- Conducts research on the effects of environmental contaminants on ecological receptors, including the development of innovative methods to evaluate contaminant effects at multiple levels of biological organization.
Conducts research to develop risk assessment methods to describe impacts of contaminant and non-contaminant forms of anthropogenic stress on ecological systems.
Conducts research aimed at understanding the processes that control exposures of biota to chemicals in sediments and soils, and the toxic effects that result at the biochemical, cellular, and organismal level.
Conducts research on toxic mode of action (MOA) at the level of DNA and enzymes, and their interactions leading to end results having ecological importance, such as reproductive failure or impaired immune function.
Plants are studied in terms of elemental cycling; tolerance towards and removal of xenobiotics; and uptake and metabolism of xenobiotics from water, sediment, and soil.
Integrates plant-environment data using simulation modeling and risk assessment techniques; these plant-process models are related to and coordinated with other environmental models, where relevant.
Reviews plant and animal upland/wetland bioassay assessment procedures; rainfall runoff; manufactured soil using dredged material or problem soils; constructed wetlands to improve water quality; phytoreclaimation/remediation.
Using bioassay procedures, animals and plants are studied in terms of long-term contaminant mobility prediction through ecosystem changes.
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Contact: Kristy Luckett