Comparative chemical sensitivity between marine Australian and Northern Hemisphere ecosystems: Is an uncertainty factor warranted for water‐quality–guideline setting?

Tarah Hagen, Richard Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The lack of Australian species data has pragmatically led to the use of toxicological data from the Northern Hemisphere to develop water-quality guidelines. However, it is unknown whether Australian species and ecosystems are equally as sensitive and if an uncertainty factor is warranted for Australian guideline setting. In the present study, it is hypothesized that an uncertainty factor is not required. This was tested by generating species sensitivity distributions by 2 parametric methods using marine Northern Hemisphere and Australian/New Zealand data. Sufficient acute data were found for only 3 compounds: 4-chlorophenol, phenol, and ammonia. For ammonia and 4-chlorophenol, the 95% species protection levels generated with Australian and Northern Hemisphere data were essentially the same. For phenol, protection levels derived from Australian data were approximately 10-fold higher. Therefore, the derived benchmark concentration from Northern Hemisphere data should be protective. It is tentatively concluded that there is no need for an uncertainty factor when deriving water-quality guidelines for marine Australian ecosystems using Northern Hemisphere data. It is, however, noted that this is based on only 3 compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1192
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology & Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2014


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