How to use mechanistic effect models in environmental risk assessment of pesticides: Case studies and recommendations from the SETAC workshop MODELINK

Udo Hommen, Valery Forbes, Volker Grimm, Thomas G. Preuss, Pernille Thorbek, Virginie Ducrot

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32 Scopus citations


Mechanistic effect models (MEMs) are useful tools for ecological risk assessment of chemicals to complement experimentation. However, currently no recommendations exist for how to use them in risk assessments. Therefore, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) MODELINK workshop aimed at providing guidance for when and how to apply MEMs in regulatory risk assessments. The workshop focused on risk assessment of plant protection products under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 using MEMs at the organism and population levels. Realistic applications of MEMs were demonstrated in 6 case studies covering assessments for plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. From the case studies and their evaluation, 12 recommendations on the future use of MEMs were formulated, addressing the issues of how to translate specific protection goals into workable questions, how to select species and scenarios to be modeled, and where and how to fit MEMs into current and future risk assessment schemes. The most important recommendations are that protection goals should be made more quantitative; the species to be modeled must be vulnerable not only regarding toxic effects but also regarding their life history and dispersal traits; the models should be as realistic as possible for a specific risk assessment question, and the level of conservatism required for a specific risk assessment should be reached by designing appropriately conservative environmental and exposure scenarios; scenarios should include different regions of the European Union (EU) and different crops; in the long run, generic MEMs covering relevant species based on representative scenarios should be developed, which will require EU-level joint initiatives of all stakeholders involved. The main conclusion from the MODELINK workshop is that the considerable effort required for making MEMs an integral part of environmental risk assessment of pesticides is worthwhile, because it will make risk assessments not only more ecologically relevant and less uncertain but also more comprehensive, coherent, and cost effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrated environmental assessment and management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.


  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Mechanistic effect model
  • Plant protection products
  • Population model
  • TK-TD model


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