Minimal variation in input parameters highly influences PEARL and PELMO results: how can these results be trustable?

Year: 2018
Category: Poster
Language: English
Authors: Luca Menaballi, Sonia Ullucci, Maria Grazia Perrone, Giovanna Azimonti
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The calculation of Predicted Environmental Concentration of pesticides in groundwater (PECGW) is a crucial point in the registration and authorization process of plant protection products (PPPs) in Europe. Calculations are usually performed by FOCUS models, in particular PEARL and PELMO models. These models allow a realistic but conservative assessment of the potential leaching of pesticides in the groundwater compartment. Model results are influenced by substance specific parameters such as DT50, Kom and Freundlich coefficient (1/n). Great variations in PECGW values are expected when high variability occurs in one or more of the parameters listed above. In this work, we demonstrate that PECgw outputs are significantly affected also by minimal variation of the same parameters. Considering that a minimal variation is intrinsic in all laboratory studies (es. 25% uncertainty in KOM determination was calculated applying the Horwitz equation), it is questionable whether a corresponding high variation in model is scientifically acceptable. In a previous project (York, 2017), dummy substances with different combinations of DT50, KOM and 1/n values were used in FOCUS PEARL, in order to quantify the influence of each single parameter on the final PECgw. It was verified that the sensitivity of PEARL model can been considered quite excessive. In this follow-up project, further calculations were performed using FOCUS PELMO to compare the sensitivity of these two models, commonly used in a regulatory contest. Leachate concentrations were plotted as a function of KOM and as a function of degradation rate coefficient. PECgw obtained by the simulations of these two models were used to create a classification system for the input parameters KOM and DT50 according to models sensitivity. Conservative values for each parameter class, to be used in PECGW calculations, are proposed for all substances. This approach can minimise the effects of the intrinsic input variability providing a better scientific approach to the assessment of groundwater modelling in the regulatory context.