Current European legislation has static water quality objectives for temperature effects, based on the most sensitive species. In the present study a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) for elevated temperatures is developed on the basis of temperature sensitivity data (mortality) of 50 aquatic species. The SSD applies to risk assessment of heat discharges that are localized in space or time. As collected median lethal temperatures (LT50 values) for different species depend on the acclimation temperature, the SSD is also a function of the acclimation temperature. Data from a thermal discharge in The Netherlands are used to show the applicability of the developed SSD in environmental risk assessment. Although restrictions exist in the application of the developed SSD, it is concluded that the SSD approach can be applied to assess the effects of elevated temperature. Application of the concept of SSD to temperature changes allows harmonization of environmental risk assessment for stressors in the aquatic environment. When a synchronization of the assessment methods is achieved, the steps to integration of risks from toxic and nontoxic stressors can be made.
- risk assessment
- extrapolation models