Does Reproductive Toxicity Really Need to Be Evaluated

An honest assessment of the potential for there to be chemically caused reproductive impacts to ecological receptors in the wild, reveals rather limited opportunities for such occurrences when patterns of animal movement, and other spatial considerations are taken into account. In the common case, there is often an insufficient degree of exposure to create a situation where reproductive effects could take hold. This situation is often born of contaminated properties routinely being particularly small (perhaps 5 or 10 ac), and species having either relatively huge home ranges, naturally sparse distributions, or both. An example will demonstrate the point. The smallest home range of mink (Mustela vison), reputedly the mammal that is the most sensitive to PCBs in the environment, is about 600 ac, and the highest density for this species is 0.04 animals per acre. In the hypothetical, albeit unlikely case of a 40 ac PCB-contaminated parcel (most contaminated Superfund National Priority List sites are 20 ac in size or smaller), there would be an anticipation of only two animals present, a situation that alone would not suggest that reproductive effects be monitored. Additionally, any one mink would be only expected to be present about 7% of the time at this hypothetical site, a situation unlikely to trigger reproductive impacts. Consideration of the mink's specific habits, as in it having a linear home range, would further reduce opportunities for contact with the PCB-affected media, and the chances of there being reproductive impacts.

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