Does the Choice of NOEC or EC10 Affect the Hazardous Concentration for 5% of the Species?

We evaluated if the choice of no observed effect concentration (NOEC) or a 10% effect concentration (EC10) affects the hazardous concentrations for 5% of the species (HC5s) estimated from species sensitivity distributions (SSDs). By reviewing available literature reporting NOECs and reanalyzing original toxicity data to estimate EC10s, we developed two SSDs for five chemicals (zinc, lead, nonylphenol, 3,4-dichlorobenzenamine, and lindane) based separately on 9–19 EC10s and NOECs. On average, point estimates of HC5s based on EC10s were 1.2 (range of 0.6–1.9) times higher than those based on NOECs. However, both EC10-based and NOEC-based HC5s estimated for five substances were on the same order of magnitude, and their 95% confidence intervals overlapped considerably. Thus, although EC10 was chosen as a representative of ECx in this study, our results suggest that the choice of ECx (e.g., EC5, EC10, or EC20) or NOEC does not largely affect the resulting HC5s. Therefore, use of NOECs would be acceptable particularly in regulatory contexts, although the NOEC has important shortcomings and should be used with caution.