EDITOR'S NOTE: This is 1 of 12 papers prepared by participants attending the workshop “Risk Assessment in European River Basins–State of the Art and Future Challenges” held in Liepzig, Germany on 12–14 November 2007. The meeting was organized within the framework of the European Commission's Coordination Action RISKBASE program. The objective of RISKBASE is to review and synthesize the outcome of European Commission FP4–FP6 projects, and other major initiatives, related to integrated risk assessment–based management of the water/sediment/soil environment at the river basin scale.
Following the 2000 European Water Framework Directive and recent insights into sediment management on a river basin scale, we discuss in this paper an exposure model aiming to support a risk assessment for chemicals on a basin-wide scale. It establishes spatial relations between causes (pollution sources) and effects (ecological risk), taking into account the geometry, hydrology, and fine sediment dynamics of European river basins. The model, called EXPOBASIN, explicitly takes into account the interaction of chemicals with fine sediment particles, which is important for many policy-relevant chemicals, such as trace metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and it addresses the potential release of historically polluted sediments as a result of extreme floods, which is a major concern in different European river basins. Bioavailability and bioaccumulation are included in the assessment. As a result, the exposure can be quantified not only in terms of water concentrations, but also in terms of sediment concentrations and concentrations in biota. The primary question to be answered by EXPOBASIN is how chemicals, pollution sources, or both rank quantitatively and objectively on a basin-wide scale. Near the end of 2009, the tool will become available to all European water managers and their technical advisors, as a result of the European Union 6th Framework Programme project MODELKEY. The calibration and validation of EXPOBASIN has only just started and will be completed in 2008/2009. Applications to 3 case study areas are planned in this respect. This paper presents the key building blocks of EXPOBASIN and shows some sample results illustrating the raking of pollution sources and chemicals. At the end of the paper, some perspectives for future developments are outlined.