The present research efforts under this task have three interrelated concentrations: chemical stressor identification and pathway elucidation of trophic transfer interference, chemical property estimation, and risk/hazard assessment. Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) investigations create models that correlate numerous types of chemical descriptors with published environmental activity and fate to provide, very quickly and very inexpensively, reliable data for hazard screening and other purposes. Periodic physical property determinations have been made for compounds (classes) for national contaminant oversight groups such as Interagency Testing Committee (ITC), and investigations of hot topics, such as endocrine disruption, natural bioremediation, and emerging contaminant issues. Center QSAR investigations have resulted in prototype expert system software designed for estimation of physicochemical properties for stressors including toxic endpoints for organisms. This software, very useable by field personnel, allows for rapid toxicity and other property estimation for a very wide variety of environmental organic, organometallic, and inorganic/heavy metal contaminants. Estimation of even rudimentary metal environmental behavior has proven very difficult to date in QSAR investigations, and our investigations have put the Center on the cutting edge in this field. The third phase involves determination of risk associated with the contaminants found in the environment. The projects range from the cellular to population impacts. Fish, wildlife, and other aquatic biota of the Great Lakes watershed have been diminished by degraded habitats that have been chemically or physically altered by anthropogenic activity. We have been instrumental in establishing guidelines and a protocol for aquatic risk assessment during work with the USEPA on Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC). Future Directions :The long-term goal of this Center program is to provide improved capability to assess the hazard and impact of thousands of observed and potential chemical stressors found in fish, sediment, and water on trophic transfer processes of the Great Lakes food and energy webs.
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