Chemical Aquatic Fate and Effects (CAFE) Database
Dead crab on oiled beach.
Numerous species can be affected by oils and chemicals spilled into the ocean, lakes, and rivers. (Beckye Stanton, California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The Chemical Aquatic Fate and Effects (CAFE) database is a software program you can use to estimate the fate and effects of thousands of chemicals, oils, and dispersants.

CAFE serves as a tool to help responders in their assessment of environmental impacts from chemical or oil spills into an aquatic environment.

Using CAFE, you can choose between four different spill scenarios: chemical, oil only, dispersant only, and dispersants mixed with oil.

Download CAFE for Windows or Mac.

Data in CAFE are presented in two modules, which can provide complementary information to responders:

  • Aquatic Fate module
  • Aquatic Effects (Toxicity) module

The Aquatic Fate module provides you with the following information about the pollutant:

  • Structure and physical properties (e.g., boiling point, water solubility, molecular weight)
  • Environmental fate (e.g., estimated Koc, biodegradation time, partitioning)
  • Analytical methods

In the Aquatic Effects module, you can navigate through a series of steps to produce a Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD), a curve based on acute effects (LC50, EC50) for various exposure times (24, 48, 72, and 96 hours) to a specific pollutant. SSDs are probabilistic models that show the sensitivity of biological species to a chemical or oil.

Also included in CAFE are Short Exposure Risk Reports for a selected number of chemicals, and a User-Added section that allows you to add your own data to SSDs.

CAFE home screen.
On the Home tab of CAFE, you can choose between four different spill scenarios: Chemical, Oil only, Dispersant only, and Dispersant and oil (mixed). You can also view Short Exposure Risk Reports, or add your own toxicity data in the User-Added Data section. The User Manual and “How To Use CAFE” document are also available on this screen.

More Information about CAFE

CAFE was developed by NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, in collaboration with Research Planning, Inc.

How to Use CAFE [PDF, 5 MB]: Read this overview to learn how to navigate and perform queries in CAFE.

CAFE User's Manual [PDF, 5.4 MB]: The user manual provides general guidance on the use of all the features of CAFE, including the four scenarios and two modules. It specifically emphasizes the use and application of data in the Aquatic Effects (Toxicity) module.

The Chemical Aquatic Fate and Effects database (CAFE), a tool that supports assessments of chemical spills in aquatic environments. This paper, published in the March 2016 issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, provides a detailed overview of CAFE.

Development of short acute exposure hazard estimates: A tool for assessing the effects of chemical spills in aquatic environments: Review this paper, published in the August 2013 issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, that explains how estimates of toxic thresholds were derived from realistic spill conditions.

Questions: Contact us with your questions, comments, or suggestions for CAFE.