ECOTOX Continues to be a Valuable Tool for EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessments
Published June 8, 2020
Researchers, risk assessors, and regulators all need quick access to reliable and up to date information about how chemicals potentially affect ecologically relevant species. To help meet this need EPA scientists created the web-based Ecotoxicology Knowledgebase (ECOTOX), a comprehensive, publicly available knowledgebase providing single chemical environmental toxicity data for over 12,000 chemicals and species, including aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and wildlife.
The latest version makes it easier than ever to navigate and explore ECOTOX data, putting the wealth of information the database offers in the hands of users to support the assessment, management and research of environmental chemicals. New chemical and species information is added on a quarterly basis.
EPA uses ECOTOX data in a wide variety of contexts. For example, ECOTOX data is used to help design aquatic life criteria to protect both freshwater and saltwater organisms from short-term and long-term exposure. It’s also used to inform ecological risk assessments for chemical registration and re-registration. Additionally, the data is used to aid in the prioritization and assessment of chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
EPA is also using ECOTOX data for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to support hazard evaluation and development of ecological risk assessment screening values within the Agency and in collaboration with other federal agencies.
EPA scientists have recently made enhancements to the ECOTOX knowledgebase to further the development of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs), which is a framework for understanding a chemical’s biological effects. The data in ECOTOX are uniquely suited to link the biological effects EPA scientists use in regulatory risk assessment across different species, meaning ECOTOX data can be used to help implement the AOP framework in regulatory applications.
The comprehensive nature of the ECOTOX knowledgebase allows for efficient data mining, while reducing the need for animal tests. This will help EPA realize its goal to drastically reduce reliance on animal testing, by providing ready access to a wealth of published test data and data compilations.
Future applications and plans for improvements, functionality and interoperability will allow for integration with other EPA databases, the addition of new text mining and data visualization programs, and support for new and evolving tools for predictive toxicology.
If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvements, or features that you would like to see in the Knowledgebase, please reach out using the “Contact Us” link on the ECOTOX Homepage.