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Section 13: Surface Water Pathway - Human Food Chain Threat

The Human Food Chain threat is distinctive in two ways. The focus is not on whether the water of the sediments are contaminated, but on whether there is evidence that the contamination has penetrated through the biological food chain to the aquatic organisms that humans consume.

  • Humans are the targets. Aquatic organisms that humans consume are the route of exposure.

  • An observed release may not be sufficient to define actual contamination. Further evidence is required that shows the impact of the likelihood of release on the aquatic organisms that human beings eat.

Bioaccumulation is assessed for this threat and for the environmental threat.

  • The maximum value for waste characteristics is 1,000 rather than 100. This means that high threat scores can be obtained with relatively few target points.

  • The value assigned to Food Chain Individual frequently drives the score for this threat. Where there is bioaccumulation, the subsistence fisherman whose principal protein source is locally-caught fish can be at very high risk.

The Human Food Chain Threat score is subject to a maximum of 100. This threat score is added to the threat scores for the other two surface water pathway threats to get the pathway score.

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