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Ecological Screening Levels

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RCRA Ecological Screening Levels (PDF) (13pp, 67K About PDF) August 22, 2003


A requirement of the RCRA Corrective Action and Permit programs within Region 5 is that adverse risk to the environment be evaluated and controlled. This risk is determined through an ecological risk assessment and the Region 5, RCRA Ecological Screening Levels (ESLs) is the initial tool employed. The ESLs represent a protective benchmark (e.g., water quality criteria, sediment quality guidelines/ criteria, and chronic no adverse effect levels) for 223 contaminants (based on the RCRA 40 CFR 264 Appendix IX list of hazardous substances) and four environmental media (i.e., air, water, sediment and soil). An initial risk screen will identify those contaminants that exceed the ESL benchmarks which will be retained for additional analysis and allow the investigation to focus on those areas likely to present an unacceptable risk. When an endangered species and/or its habitat is identified, specific concerns regarding contaminant exposure to these species needs to be addressed. Quality assurance data requirements for field investigations are influenced by the ESL concentration. The ESLs (previously known as ecological data quality levels or EDQLs) are not intended to serve as cleanup levels. Please note that EDQLs were intended to function as screening levels.

The August 2003 update of the ESL table focuses on the water and sediment data. Many of the water and sediment benchmarks have been revised using current information and are displayed in bold font and a reference is provided for all of the water and sediment data. Of the 102 new water ESLs 50 are lower and for the 99 new sediment ESLs 40 are lower. All of the new ESLs with lower data values are identified with a footnote. Some ESL values were deleted from the table when supporting data was inadequate and are noted with a dashed line (e.g., -----). The method reporting limit (MRL) data was also deleted from the table as it was designed to support data quality requirements for human health criteria and several of the methods employed to develop the MRLs have been revised. A summary report will be created on the development of soil benchmarks along with equations, criteria and references. Likewise, a report will be prepared on the development of water benchmarks that are based on mink and belted kingfisher exposure.


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