Is the chronic Tier‐1 effect assessment approach for insecticides protective for aquatic ecosystems?
We investigated the appropriateness of several methods, including those recommended in the Aquatic Guidance Document of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), for the derivation of chronic Tier‐1 Regulatory Acceptable Concentrations (RACs) for insecticides and aquatic organisms. The insecticides represented different chemical classes (organophosphates, pyrethroids, benzoylureas, insect growth regulators, biopesticides, carbamates, neonicotinoids and miscellaneous). Chronic Tier‐1 RACs derived using toxicity data for the standard species Daphnia magna, Chironomus spp. and/or Americamysis bahia, were compared with Tier‐3 RACs derived from micro‐/mesocosm studies on basis of the ecological threshold option (ETO‐RACs). ETO‐RACs could be derived for 31 insecticides applied to micro‐/mesocosms in single or multiple applications, yielding a total number of 36 cases for comparison. The chronic Tier‐1 RACs calculated according to the EFSA approach resulted in a sufficient protection level, except for one neonicotinoid (slightly under‐protective) and for several pyrethroids if toxicity data for A. bahia were not included. This latter observation can be explained by (1) the fact that A. bahia is the most sensitive standard test species for pyrethroids, (2) the hydrophobic properties of pyrethroids, and (3) the fact that long‐term effects observed in (epi)benthic arthropods may be better explained by exposure via the sediment than via overlying water. Besides including toxicity data for A. bahia, the protection level for pyrethroids can be improved by selecting both D. magna and Chironomus spp. as standard test species for chronic Tier‐1 derivation. Although protective in the majority of cases, the conservativeness of the recommended chronic Tier‐1 RACs appears to be less than an order of magnitude for a relatively large proportion of insecticides when compared with their Tier‐3 ETO‐RACs. This may leave limited options for refinement of the chronic effect assessment using laboratory toxicity data for additional species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved