The scientific disciplines of biology, ecology and toxicology have advanced in the last century as separate fields with groundbreaking discoveries and new developments. These scientific disciplines advanced rapidly in the understanding of genetics and metabolic mechanisms of biological organisms, biodiversity of species and ecosystem dynamics, and elucidation of toxicological adverse health effects and causes of poisoning by toxic chemicals. The combined knowledge of all these scientific fields advanced in the second part of the 20th century and led to the interdisciplinary field of ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology supported the study of the effects of toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants on biological organisms, especially at the population, community and ecosystem level. Ecotoxicity tests and ecological risk assessment have been advanced to demonstrate the potential of chemicals and other pollutants to cause environmental damage to organisms and affect the functions of ecosystems.
The OECD (representing 34 industrialised countries) coordinated and harmonised policies to respond to international problems on trade, environment, consumer and workers’ safety, etc. The OECD promoted in the 1980s a series of Test Guidelines (a collection of internationally agreed and accepted ecotoxicity test methods) which can be used by governments, industries and independent laboratories to determine the safety of chemicals and chemical preparations, including pesticides and industrial chemicals. This review presents the basic advances in toxicology and ecotoxicology. Short descriptions of principles and practical aspects of the most important test guidelines for aquatic and terrestrial toxicity testing of chemicals on fish and other aquatic organisms and their practical significance in ecotoxicity studies and ecological risk assessment. Ecotoxicological databases are presented for additional information. The review contains pictures of ecotoxicological settings and important scientific papers on ecotoxicological practices.
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