Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer (Ifremer), Centre de Nantes, Département « Biogéochimie et écotoxicologie », Rue de l’Ile d’Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes cedex 3, Commission européenne, IHCP/ECB- REACH Group, JRC Ispra, Via E. Ferni I-21020 Ispra (VA), Italie
European legislation on chemicals mandates that risk assessments be performed to help protect both humans and the environment. The European Union has developed a common procedure for chemical risk assessments, available in a technical handbook (`Technical Guidance Document’ or TGD). In 2003, a revised version replaced the initial document, first published in 1996. This second version is approximately 900 pages long (http://ecb.jrc.it/tgdoc) and includes a specific chapter on procedures to assess risks to marine environments. The general procedure for chemical risk assessments compares levels of contamination measured or deduced by suitable models (predicted environmental concentrations) with environmental quality standards (predicted no-effect concentrations), determined by ecotoxicological tests of the survival, growth and reproduction of species deemed representative of the ecosystem. Strictly speaking, this methodological approach was developed as a technical support to the European legislation on chemicals. However, the approach may also be seen as a reference and a useful tool for environmental managers, especially those responsible for marine coastal areas and faced with aquatic contamination.