Complexity in multimedia mass balance models: When are simple models adequate and when are more complex models necessary?

Thomas Cahill, Donald Mackay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three environmental multimedia models of varying degrees of complexity are compared to assess when simple models are adequate and when more complex models are advantageous. The simplest model, the level II (L-II) model, assumes all environmental media are at chemical equilibrium, whereas the more complex models treat chemical disequilibrium between well-mixed media (standard level IV [L-IV] model) or the major media are subdivided into separate layers to simulate heterogeneity (high-resolution level IV [HR-IV] model). The three models are compared for their performance in predicting steady-state, regional concentrations; dynamic, local-scale concentrations; and chemical persistence in the environment. The results indicate that the L-IV model often provides adequate regional simulations when chemical emission occurs to air or water. This model also is useful for assessing chemical persistence in both steady-state and dynamic scenarios. More complex models, such as the HR-IV model, are suggested for local-scale, dynamic simulations or when the chemical emission occurs to soil because they better characterize rates of intramedia transport, which can greatly affect the model predictions. The simplest L-II model predicts environmental concentrations that can differ significantly from those of more complex models, but it is useful for establishing partitioning tendencies and for ranking chemicals for their relative persistence in steady-state situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1404-1412
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume22
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Chemical Models
Multimedia
multimedia
mass balance
Soil
Air
Water
persistence

Keywords

  • Complexity
  • Fugacity model
  • Multimedia model
  • Persistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

Complexity in multimedia mass balance models : When are simple models adequate and when are more complex models necessary? / Cahill, Thomas; Mackay, Donald.

In: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 22, No. 6, 01.06.2003, p. 1404-1412.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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