Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Biotic ligand models

Description of Biotic ligand models: making an inventory of available models & assessment of the variability of the predicted HC5 using the BLMs in different Dutch water types (2005 - 2007)

2005 - 2007
Martina Vijver

Inventory of available models

Biotic Ligand Models (BLMs) take into account the combined effect of metal speciation, binding of the relevant metal species on the receptors of the organism, and competition with other ions to predict the toxic effect of a metal. It is a further extension of the Free Ion Activity Model (FIAM) because it also takes into account the binding of the metals to the receptors of the organism including competition with other cations present in the aquatic environment. Therefore, the toxicity of the metal becomes a function of the water chemistry and hence the effects of the metal will become location and time dependant.

In a first phase of this project BLMs as developed within the context of the European Risk Assessment Reports for Cu, Zn, Ni, and Cd were applied to several different fresh water locations in the Netherlands. Prime goal of this research was to examine the current possibilities and limitations of applying the BLMs for the effect assessment of metals in the Netherlands. The results of this phase of the project have been published in a report, see downloads.

Uncertainty analysis

In a second phase of the project the influence was assessed of the variability of the water characteristics on the predicted hazardous concentration (HC5) for different Dutch water types The use of the copper BLMS were first assessed in this formal sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. The results of this part of the project will be published soon.


  • Vijver, M.G., A. de Koning & W.J.G.M. Peijnenburg (2008) Uncertainty of water type-specific hazardous copper concentrations derived with biotic ligand models. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 27: 11, 2311-2319.
  • Vijver, M.G. & A. de Koning (2007) Quantifying HC5 using BLMs for Cu in different water types according different extrapolation options: sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), CML report 175.
  • De Koning, A. & M.G. Vijver (2006). `Biotic Ligand Models’ voor de effectmodellering van metalen in enkele Nederlandse oppervlaktewateren. of Environmental Sciences (CML), CML report 168.
  • Peijnenburg, W.J.G.M., M. Vijver & A. de Koning (2007) Aanzet voor watertypespecifieke risicogrenzen voor metalen in oppervlaktewater. H2O 40: 35-37.
  • Vijver, M., W. Peijnenburg & A. de Koning (2006) Biotic-Ligand modellen in lijn met KRW. H2O 12: 29-31.
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