Integrating Bioavailability in Risk Assessment of Contaminated Soils: Opportunities and Feasibilities

IBRACS  is a European project funded through the ERA-net SNOWMAN umbrella, aiming at providing guidance on how to use chemical bioavailability tests in risk assessment models for contaminated land.

The project duration is October 2011 to September 2014.  The project is carried out in cooperation between SGI, IVL, ITM, LTU, KUL, UCL, LSE and NGI. For more information, see Contacts.

It is well established that total concentrations of soil contaminants are useful to indicate pollution, however, they do not necessarily indicate risk. Alternative measures are used to denote the availability and risk, the so-called bioavailability of soil contaminants. A myriad of soil testing methods have been developed to predict uptake, toxicity and degradation potential of soil contaminants. Some generic soil limits already account for bioavailability of metals, for example by making limits dependent on soil properties (pH, CEC: limits in Flanders). However, despite many years of intensive research, there is no generally accepted methodology to incorporate contaminant bioavailability in risk assessment models, likely because too little attention has been given to the practical aspects, i.e. sufficient calibration and validation, and sufficiently accounting the cost-benefit analysis.

This project addresses these issues, with focus on soil remediation as well as wide area management of soils affected by proximal atmospheric deposition.

Work packages
IBRACS is based on the following work packages (WPs):

WP1  Project Management and Co-ordination
WP2  Dissemination and Exploitation
WP3  Comparison of existing risk assessment models for soil with focus on bioavailablity
WP4  Ecotoxicity and bioavailability testing
WP5  Uptake of pollutants by plant
WP6 Application of bioavailablity results and concepts in ”real” risk assessments – does it pay to account for bioavailability?

IBRACS is funded under the umbrella of ERA-net SNOWMAN (Sustainable maNagement of sOil and groundWater under the pressure of soil pollution and soil contaMinAtioN) by organisations from Belgium, France and Sweden:

Belgium Flanders
Openbare Vlaamse Afvalstoffenmaatschappij, OVAM

Belgium Wallonia