EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB)

Aquatic Life Protection Mode of Action Methodology for Deriving Water Quality Criteria

EPA Designated Federal Officer (DFO):Thomas Armitage
Responsible Committee/Panel:Ecological Processes and Effects Committee Augmented for the Advisory on EPA's Aquatic Life Water Quality CriteriaA list of members can be found in the final report included in the Advisory Activity linked to this panel or committee.

See EPA’s PDF page to learn more about PDF files.


EPA’s Office of Water has asked the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for advice on the scientific merit of a white paper that identifies and addresses technical issues in deriving aquatic life criteria for emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products exhibiting endocrine disrupting activity or other toxic mechanisms.

These chemicals have features that require additional consideration when applying existing ambient water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life, using EPA’s 1985 Guidelines for Deriving Numerical National Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Aquatic Life and Their Uses. The emerging contaminants may demonstrate low acute toxicity but cause significant reproductive effects at very low levels of exposure. In addition, the effects of exposure to aquatic organisms during the early stages of life may not be observed until adulthood. Therefore, traditional toxicity test endpoints may not be sufficiently comprehensive for criteria derivation for these chemicals and the chemicals may also have very specific modes of action that may affect only certain types of aquatic animals (e.g., vertebrates such as fish).