What’s a typical day at work like?
I am a desk-based ecotoxicologist, so I do not carry out any laboratory work, but rely on data I can find from the literature. My role is quite varied; I investigate the hazard and risk to the environment (usually an aquatic system, for example a river receiving a discharge from an industrial process) from certain chemicals being released on purpose or from accidental spills. A lot of my time is spent searching for data; I use the internet, journals and books. I check the reliability of the data by ensuring sufficient information has been provided on the details of the study procedure and that these were carried out using recognised guidelines etc. Once I have gathered the relevant data, I can derive a concentration at which no adverse effects will be seen in the organisms living in the river, stream, estuary etc. This concentration can then be compared to the concentration that is predicted to be present in the water body. I also evaluate the fate and behaviour of the chemical in question, for example to determine if it quickly disappears or not.
What are the best things about being an ecotoxicologist?
The best thing about being an ecotoxicologist is that I am contributing toprotect the environment. I help companies ensure that they are abiding with the relevant standards and guidelines, which have been derived to ensure no adverse effects occur, I help the regulators derive these standards and guidelines, and I help assess, when accidents such as chemical spills occur, the effects on the environment (the information I provide is used to assist with the clean up).