Development of proposed Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for cadmium

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Journal of Geochemical Exploration





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This paper discusses the derivation of Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for cadmium and the potential uses of guidelines. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) has established science-based protocols for developing national environmental quality guidelines (numerical concentration limits) for contaminants in water, sediment, tissue, and soil (for soils the term "criteria" is used instead of guidelines). These published protocols nol only allow for the use of standardized approaches to derive guidelines, but also facilitate the meaningful synthesis and critique of the available scientific data for specific contaminants. Many data gaps concerning fate, exposure and effects of contaminants exist (e.g. factors affecting specialion and biouvuilubility of metals in the environment). However, these protocols allow for guideline development while identifying the priority recommendations for research and monitoring. The primary goal of these guidelines is to protect designated uses of environmental media (e.g. water for irrigation) or directly protect organisms from specific contaminants. Canadian environmental quality guidelines are developed to provide basic scientific information about the effects of water quality variables on water uses. This information can then be used to establish environmental quality objectives at specific sites. Environmental quality objectives are derived in the same way as guidelines, except the only species and environmental conditions relevant to the specific site are considered. The objectives may then be used as benchmarks for the assessment of environmental quality at the specific site. The derivation of guidelines for cadmium was based upon currently available information concerning environmental fate, behaviour and toxicity of cadmium (Cd). For example, a draft guideline of 0.017 μg Cd·-L-1 for the protection of freshwater life was derived incorporating the influence of hardness on metal toxicity. © 1995.