CuBioM, the Copper Bioavailability Modelling tool, was developed by UKCEH for the International Copper Association (ICA). It is designed to assist the Risk Assessment of copper in the freshwater environment under the EU regulatory framework.

Copper, and indeed metals in general, present challenges to risk assessment under existing regulatory frameworks. This is due to the influence of surface water chemistry on the toxicity, which means that using a single concentration of total or dissolved copper as a risk threshold concentration is not a robust or scientifically defensible approach to risk assessment. In order to robustly assess risk, there is a need to derive threshold concentrations that take into account the effects of water chemistry. The most important physicochemical variables influencing copper toxicity in surface waters include pH, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and water hardness.

CuBioM uses bioavailability models, e.g. the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM), to translate the toxicity outcomes found in controlled laboratory tests to the chemical conditions in real surface waters. These models integrate knowledge on metal speciation in an organism’s environment and the interactions among the metal ion, competing solution ions and receptor binding sites on the organism.

CuBioM is available to anyone interested in the bioavailability-based approach for copper risk assessment under EU regulations. CuBioM version 1.0 is fully consistent with that in the Copper Voluntary Risk Assessment, which was agreed by EU member states in 2008, and with the approach in the copper REACH registration dossier. The same approach is also widely used under the EU Water Framework Directive. CuBioM version 1.0 contains the same "full copper BLM” which was the basis of Bio-met, a simplified and user-friendly tool to check compliance for metals under the Water Framework Directive. The same full copper BLM has been used by several member states to set bioavailability-based Environmental Quality Standards for copper as a river basin specific pollutant.

CuBioM is highly flexible: other metals, other bioavailability and chemical speciation models, and new toxicity data can be added in the future. It is a free resource produced under contract to ICA by UKCEH, in collaboration with the GhEnToxLab, Ghent University (Belgium) and ARCHE Consulting (Belgium).

CuBioM may be obtained on request by emailing Step-by-step help is provided within CuBioM for the user.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.