It is virtually impossible to reliably assess water quality with target chemical analyses only. Therefore, a complementary effect-based risk assessment by bioanalyses on mixtures of bioavailable micropollutants is proposed: the Smart Integrated Monitoring (SIMONI) strategy. The goal of this strategy is to obtain more reliable information on the water quality to select optimum measures for improvement. The SIMONI strategy is 2-tiered. Tier 1 is a bioanalytical hazard identification of sites. A tier 2 ecological risk assessment is carried out only at a limited number of sites where increased hazards are detected in tier 1. Tier 2 will be customized, based on tier 1 evaluation and additional knowledge of the aquatic system. The present study focuses on the tier 1 bioanalytical hazard identification to distinguish “hot spots” of chemical pollution. First, a selection was made of relevant and cost-effective bioanalytical endpoints to cover a wide spectrum of micropollutant modes of action. Specific endpoints may indicate which classes of chemicals might cause adverse effects. Second, effect-based trigger values (EBT) were derived for these bioassays to indicate potential ecological risks. Comparison of EBT with bioassay responses should discriminate sites exhibiting different chemical hazards. Third, a model was designed to estimate the overall risks for aquatic ecosystems. The associated follow-up for risk management is a “toxicity traffic light” system: green, low hazard (no action required); orange, potential risk (further research needed); and red, high risk (mitigation measures). Thanks to cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and relevance, the SIMONI strategy has the potential to become the first bioanalytical tool to be applied in regular water quality monitoring programs. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:2385–2399.
- Aquatic hazard and risk assessment
- Bioanalytical monitoring
- Effect-based trigger value