Advancement of ecological risk assessments within the Department of Defense
Wireman, Jody Ray
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While documentation exists on how the Department of Defense (DOD) develops ecological risk assessments (ERAs), there has been no effort to provide an in-depth evaluation of ongoing ERA activities and discuss potential advancements that could be made to globally improve DOD ERAs. The focus of this research is on the use of ERA techniques and strategies based on the evaluation of past and current DOD research, guidance, and policies, and installation-level ERA activities. Approaches used by the DOD to evaluate ecological risks are discussed along with recommendations for improvement. This is supplemented by case studies that provide insight into the diversity of ERA activities and influences of stakeholder input at the installation level. Also described, is the importance of providing sufficient guidance to risk managers in regards to whether remediation is needed, what potential ecological impacts are likely to occur from restoration activities, and recommendations regarding potential remedies most likely to be protective of the site contaminants and most beneficial to the site-specific ecosystem. There are a number of projects and self-assessments that need to be accomplished to further the DOD ERA process. Descriptions of terrestrial toxicity reference values (TRVs), including those being developed by the DOD, are provided. This is followed by a discussion of the advantages and shortcomings of each of the TRV methodologies and includes recommendations on how they can be utilized and improved. Another data gap addressed is the lack of databases for biomarker, demographic, and toxicity assay information that currently exists. The advantages of developing databases are described.