Abstract of Meeting Paper

Society for Risk Analysis 2000 Annual Meeting

An Overview of the Role of Invertebrates in Risk Assessment. R. T. Ryti, Neptune and Company, Incorporated

Invertebrates play important roles in nutrient cycling and in creating and maintaining biological diversity. Lay audiences may overlook their significance because many invertebrate species are small or cryptic. Other invertebrates are commonly regarded as pests, which tends to confuse their importance in risk assessment. For example, termites are common pests that may relocate buried waste material to the surface, making the waste available for direct exposure to other species, including humans. In addition, invertebrates are a critical component of the food web and assessment of contaminant concentrations in these organisms can provide a measure of the risk to predators in the food web. Invertebrates provide excellent test subjects for toxicity bioassays because of their susceptibility to certain contaminants, their relatively short life cycles, and their ease of maintenance in the laboratory. In summary, invertebrates should be considered when developing conceptual models for human health and ecological risk assessments because of their intrinsic merit and of their importance to exposure and contaminant transport pathways.

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