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Is the Factor-of-2 Rule Broadly Applicable for Evaluating the Prediction Accuracy of Metal-Toxicity Models?


In aquatic toxicology, a toxicity-prediction model is generally deemed acceptable if its predicted median lethal concentrations (LC50 values) or median effect concentrations (EC50 values) are within a factor of 2 of their paired, observed LC50 or EC50 values. However, that rule of thumb is based on results from only two studies: multiple LC50 values for the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) exposed to Cu in one type of exposure water, and multiple EC50 values for Daphnia magna exposed to Zn in another type of exposure water. We tested whether the factor-of-2 rule of thumb also is supported in a different dataset in which D. magna were exposed separately to Cd, Cu, Ni, or Zn. Overall, the factor-of-2 rule of thumb appeared to be a good guide to evaluating the acceptability of a toxicity model’s underprediction or overprediction of observed LC50 or EC50 values in these acute toxicity tests.

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This study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Grant No. 1R01ES024358-01), International Copper Association, International Zinc Association, NiPERA, Inc., and Rio Tinto. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Joseph S. Meyer.

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Meyer, J.S., Traudt, E.M. & Ranville, J.F. Is the Factor-of-2 Rule Broadly Applicable for Evaluating the Prediction Accuracy of Metal-Toxicity Models?. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 64–68 (2018).

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  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Daphnia magna
  • Fathead minnow
  • Nickel
  • Zinc