Commentary: Role of Hormesis in Ecological Risk Assessment
Mohamed T. Elnabarawy, M.S.
Senior Environmental Specialist
Environmental Technology and Services
St. Paul, MN 55133-3331
The Implications of Hormesis to Ecotoxicology and Ecological Risk Assessment offers welcome and much needed thoughts on redirecting and advancing the ecotoxicology sciences. The current ecotoxicity testing paradigm is rigid and much in need for alignment with risk assessment data needs. Hormesis is more than just an interesting phenom - its implications are potentially profound. But can it compete for precious research dollars ? The author articulates possible complementary paradigm shifts, but offers no compelling argument for research needs - emphasis on needs.
A greater variability would be expected for individual response to low-dose exposure. How do we translate individual response to community response in ecological risk assessments ? How will this affect the risk assessment of background levels ? Thoughts are needed on how to handle low-dose exposure toxicity of mixtures. How do we assess low-dose environmental exposure (air, water/sediment, or soil) versus dietary exposure ?
I agree, hormesis could play a legitimate and useful role in ecotoxicology and
ecological risk assessment. It seems we need to offer the research community
some guidance on how to extrapolate low-dose toxicity endpoints. As for
the regulators and the regulated community, we can show the role of hormesis in
regulatory model development, and how it will affect criteria and standards
development. Above all, can we convince the public that hormetic effects
are primarily stimulatory effects? There are a number of low-dose negative effects
that concern the public. Societal expectations will dictate that we evaluate and
understand harmful as well as beneficial outcomes.