John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

What do the data show? Knowledge map development for comprehensive environmental assessment

Environmental and human health risk assessments benefit from utilizing data that crosses multiple scientific domains. While individual data points may often be readily understood, the total picture can be difficult to envision. This is especially true when there are gaps in the data (e.g., with emerging substances like engineered nanomaterials [ENM]), such that simply presenting only known information can result in a skewed picture. This study describes a method for building knowledge maps (KM) to visually summarize factors relevant to risk assessment in a relatively easy to interpret format. The KMs were created in the context of the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) approach for research planning and risk management of environmental contaminants. Recent applications of CEA to emerging substances like ENM that have numerous data gaps have suggested a more visually‐based depiction of information would improve the approach. We developed KM templates as a pilot project, to represent pertinent aspects of conceptual domains and to highlight gaps in available information for one particular portion of a specific CEA application: the comparison of environmental transport, transformation, and fate of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and decabromodiphenyl ether as flame retardants. The results are three KM templates representing: Physical Properties, Transport, and Transformation. The three templates were applied to both substances, resulting in a total of six KMs. In addition to presenting the KMs, this paper details the process used to generate them, in order to aid KM development for other sections of CEA applied to MWCNTs, or to apply the process to new CEA applications. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2013 SETAC

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