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EcoTox 5.0 Improves Access to Chemical Information on Ecological Species

Published September 25, 2018

Are you a researcher, risk assessor, or decision maker looking for a faster way to gather more information on the effects of chemicals on ecological species? Or just someone interested in the potential ecological effects of chemicals? Look no further: EPA’s web-based Ecotoxicology Knowledgebase (ECOTOX) can meet your needs. Visit the ECOTOX website to get information on the toxicity effects data on over 11,000 chemicals and 12,000 species, including aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and wildlife. The tool provides users with ecological effects data to support chemical decision making. With approximately 10,000 users per month and 150,000-200,000 data downloads, ECOTOX is one of the most visited EPA resources used to support the assessment, management, and research of chemicals in the environment.

chemicals being mixed by a scientistThe updated version, ECOTOX 5.0, allows users to navigate and explore data that can inform ecological risk assessments supporting pesticide registrations and re-registrations, ambient water quality criteria, and emergency response assessments for chemicals. The update has a new interface that includes graphs and visualization tools to improve data accessibility and interpretation. Users can now create customizable outputs (Excel spreadsheets and/or data plots) based on chemicals, species, and endpoints of interest, such as LOEC or NOEC (lowest observed or no observed effect concentrations). ECOTOX 5.0 also has links to other EPA chemical related tools and databases to help you better find the chemical information you need.

ECOTOX has a legacy of providing valuable data to help in the remediation of environmental contamination events. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, ECOTOX was used to develop chemical benchmarks for water and sediment quality assessments. In the 2014 Elk River chemical spill, when crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol was released from a tributary into the Elk River in West Virginia, ECOTOX provided access to unpublished EPA toxicity data to assess potential risks to fish. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assesses and remediates chemical spills using ECOTOX, coupled with their Chemical Aquatic Fate and Effects database, a software program used to estimate how thousands of chemicals, oils, and dispersants break down and affect the environment.

Today, ECOTOX data is being used to support implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Local, state, and tribal government employees can use ECOTOX data to develop site-specific criteria (based on areas of concern) or interpret findings from monitoring data for chemicals without previously established criteria for effects.

This valuable data is publicly available to anyone interested in the potential ecological effects of chemicals. For example, have you ever wondered about the effects of things that go down your drain, like your personal hygiene products? Users can explore the curated data on the effects, if any, of specific chemicals from these products on different species of fish or native plants.

Test out the ECOTOX 5.0 and access the ECOTOX User Guide.