Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and many other hazardous organic contaminants (HOCs) bioaccumulate in marine food webs. While many models have been developed for predicting HOC behavior in the marine environment, most such models do not explicitly account for the quantitative link between (i) global chemical emissions, (ii) the occurrence in the marine environment and (iii) accumulation in marine wildlife and the resulting human exposure. This link between emissions and wildlife and human exposure is however a key requirement for developing rational chemical control strategies to protect environmental and human health from HOCs.
The primary objective of the research stay is to improve the description of pathways, transport, bioaccumulation and impact of HOCs in marine systems within the Nested Exposure Model (NEM). NEM is an integrated sophisticated, fully dynamic (time-variant) approach for quantifying the link between emissions and internal human exposure via the environment. It is grounded in mechanistically based, yet often simplified, algorithms describing individual transport, fate and bioaccumulation processes. The NEM model has been developed such that any user-defined region may be targeted through sequential simulations, i.e. it offers increasing resolution with increasing proximity (in space and time) to a given marine system of interest. This is made possible as spatially and temporally variable environmental input data are derived from global data sets, processed and stored at a spatial resolution of 0.5°x0.5° (latitude/longitude). The utility and versatility of the improved version of NEM will be explored in two different joint case studies during the research stay. The first will target the Barents Sea areas, whereas the second will focus on the Saint Lawrence Estuary.