The need for the integration of the assessment of human and ecological risks in contaminated areas, such as derelict mines, widely increases. The risk assessment process is becoming a powerful tool to provide sound scientific bases for decision-making processes. In Portugal, the risk assessment process is in its early years and the lack of multidisciplinary teams of experts is frequently mentioned as the main obstacle to its implementation. Therefore, the majority of the reclamation actions are based on impact assessment studies that usually are characterized by few biological and toxicological considerations. In order to account for some of these constraints, the ecological risk assessment framework proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was used to plan the assessment of human and ecological risks posed by the high concentrations of metals scattered in the vicinity of S. Domingos mine, a cuprous pyrite mine located in the Southeast Alentejo (Portugal). This study presents the problem formulation phase of the assessment. It includes all the scientific information available for the area, a conceptual model, and an analysis plan for the risk assessment process. Following a tiered approach, several tasks were planned in order to acquire chemical, toxicological, and ecological information, in order to compensate for the lack of toxicity data for site-specific species.
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