Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 7405–7421 | Cite as

Consideration of the bioavailability of metal/metalloid species in freshwaters: experiences regarding the implementation of biotic ligand model-based approaches in risk assessment frameworks

  • Heinz RüdelEmail author
  • Cristina Díaz Muñiz
  • Hemda Garelick
  • Nadia G. Kandile
  • Bradley W. Miller
  • Leonardo Pantoja Munoz
  • Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg
  • Diane Purchase
  • Yehuda Shevah
  • Patrick van Sprang
  • Martina Vijver
  • Jos P. M. Vink
Review Article


After the scientific development of biotic ligand models (BLMs) in recent decades, these models are now considered suitable for implementation in regulatory risk assessment of metals in freshwater bodies. The BLM approach has been described in many peer-reviewed publications, and the original complex BLMs have been applied in prospective risk assessment reports for metals and metal compounds. BLMs are now also recommended as suitable concepts for the site-specific evaluation of monitoring data in the context of the European Water Framework Directive. However, the use is hampered by the data requirements for the original BLMs (about 10 water parameters). Recently, several user-friendly BLM-based bioavailability software tools for assessing the aquatic toxicity of relevant metals (mainly copper, nickel, and zinc) became available. These tools only need a basic set of commonly determined water parameters as input (i.e., pH, hardness, dissolved organic matter, and dissolved metal concentration). Such tools seem appropriate to foster the implementation of routine site-specific water quality assessments. This work aims to review the existing bioavailability-based regulatory approaches and the application of available BLM-based bioavailability tools for this purpose. Advantages and possible drawbacks of these tools (e.g., feasibility, boundaries of validity) are discussed, and recommendations for further implementation are given.


Bioavailability Biotic ligand model Metals Quality standards Surface water monitoring Copper Nickel Zinc 

Supplementary material

11356_2015_4257_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (248 kb)
Table S1 (PDF 248 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz Rüdel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristina Díaz Muñiz
    • 2
  • Hemda Garelick
    • 3
  • Nadia G. Kandile
    • 4
  • Bradley W. Miller
    • 5
  • Leonardo Pantoja Munoz
    • 3
  • Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg
    • 6
    • 7
  • Diane Purchase
    • 8
  • Yehuda Shevah
    • 9
  • Patrick van Sprang
    • 10
  • Martina Vijver
    • 7
  • Jos P. M. Vink
    • 11
  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (Fraunhofer IME)SchmallenbergGermany
  2. 2.Cantabrian Basin AuthoritySpanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentOviedoSpain
  3. 3.Department of Natural SciencesMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Women, Chemistry DepartmentAin Shams UniversityHeliopolisEgypt
  5. 5.United States Environmental Protection AgencyNational Enforcement Investigations CenterDenverUSA
  6. 6.National Institute for Public Health and the EnvironmentCenter for Safety of Substances and ProductsBilthovenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Faculty of ScienceUniversity LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of Natural Sciences, School of Science and TechnologyMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  9. 9.Consulting Engineers and Planners LtdNetanyaIsrael
  10. 10.GhentBelgium
  11. 11.Deltares FoundationUtrechtThe Netherlands

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