This course introduces the ecological risk assessments (ERAs), describing the process recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other hazard assessment methods. A wide range of assessments exist dealing with chemical-specific criteria development to the remediation of small to mega-sites exceeding $1billion in costs. Common shortfalls often made when conducting ERAs, such as failing to adequately link stressor exposures to biological effects will be discussed. Case study examples will demonstrate the state-of-the-practice and new approaches that decrease uncertainty associated with the ERA process. The important linkage of ERA issues to decision-making in the risk management process will be emphasized, with real-world, high visibility case studies discussed by national experts.
The primary objectives of the course are to build competency in assessing stressors in ecosystems and thereby become more effective in dealing with real-world issues commonly encountered. This bridges process, science and practice throughout the ERA process. This should result in the ability to recognize quality ERAs and identify ways to strengthen the linkage between an accurate ERA and management options. We will describe the state-of-the-practice including its limitations, realities and ways to improve ERAs along with remediation efforts in freshwaters and marine near-coastal areas.