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Prospects for combining chemical and biological methods for integrated environmental assessment

…Besides deploying a chemicals-driven strategy for the ecological risk assessment of the pollutants, it is necessary to apply and to explore biological strategies. Consequently, bioassays, biosensors and effect-directed analysis (EDA) to identify pollutants responsible of particular effects have become increasingly important.

We give a broad overview of how to assess biological monitoring of ecosystems and chemical monitoring of priority and specific substances involved in environmental contamination. We describe bioanalytical tools and address the need to integrate and to combine them with chemical tools. We also describe the requirement for EDA in field monitoring and risk assessment of pollutants.

We critically review the literature and present generalized strategies for characterizing environmental contamination, and detecting and categorizing toxicological problems. Last, but not least, we outline the prospects for combining chemical and biological methods for integrated environmental assessment.

Discussion of the need for rapid, inexpensive screening tests to characterize the extent of contamination for environmental hazard assessments.  Discussion of bioassays (they offer semi-quantitative information or qualitative information on the toxicity of environmental samples). Best reported solution is to transfer bioassays from the laboratory to in situ monitoring with multiple tests at several sites. Biosensors currently have limited use in environmental monitoring, as most are specific to only one pollutant or a very limited number of pollutants. Discussion of several multi-analyte biosensors for environmental monitoring projects in the field (AWACSS). Discussion of innovative approaches that combine chemical and biological methods able to detect and identify unknown toxicants based on their effects on the environment through toxicity-identification evaluation (TIE) and effect-directed analysis (EDA). TIE methods are useful in assessment for linking stressor exposure to effects and better establishing causality. EDA refers to the integrated use of biological and chemical tests in a broader context, for which no standardized guidelines are available. Insight: hazard assessment of complex environmental mixtures should attempt to identify possible pollutants rather than focus just on key pollutants selected a priori.

Cristina Blasco, Yolanda Pico, “Prospects for combining chemical and biological methods for integrated environmental assessment,” TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 28, Iss. 6, Applying combinations of chemical analysis and biological effects to environmental and food samples – II, June 2009, p. 745-757

Expertise Level

Professional Field
Chemistry, Environmental Engineering

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