Peer Review and Implicit Bias: Is Double-blind Peer Review Better?

A guest post by Chris Mebane

Momentum is building for SETAC journals to move to a double-blind peer review process. Here, I discuss some of the ethical arguments for double-blind reviewing, practical difficulties, and argue that funding statements and conflicts of interests should not be obscured from reviewers. Hopefully, SETAC authors and readers will join and expand the discussion via comments on IEAM Blog posts.

At the SETAC Publication Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, held 15 May in Rome, a poll was taken on whether SETAC journals should move to a double-blind peer review process. All members of the committee who were present raised their hands in assent, including the editors-in-chief of the Society’s two journals: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ETC) and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM). While this endorsement does not by itself change practices, it does clearly show that after years of debate, the momentum has strongly shifted towards change.  Continue reading

Microplastics in Freshwater and Terrestrial Systems – Fate, Monitoring, and Biological Interactions

The following post is one of a series spotlighting research presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy (13-17 May 2018).

A guest post by Ana Marta Gonçalves, Nelson Abrantes, Alice Horton, and Claus Svendsen

Gonsalves1Plastics are an indispensable component of our daily lives due to their wide applications. As a consequence of improper handling or disposal, plastics may become dispersed in terrestrial and aquatic (water and sediment) systems, with rivers potentially transporting microplastics (MPs) to marine systems. The accumulation of plastics in these systems constitutes an emerging scientific and societal issue due to their ubiquity, high persistence and potential to cause ecological effects.

Continue reading

Natural Toxins and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs): Analysis, Toxicity, and Risks

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy (13-17 May 2018).

A guest post by Gemma Giménez Papiol

How do toxic natural compounds such as microalgae toxins or plant secondary metabolites affect water quality, ecosystem functioning, and human health?  For the majority of natural toxins—of which there are at least 25,000 different compounds—we do not know! Natural toxins include some of the worlds’ most toxic substances. Continue reading

Science-based Risk Communication: Toward a Shared Understanding

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy (13-17 May 2018).

A guest post by Annegaaike Leopold, Thomas-Benjamin Seiler, and Charmaine Ajao

‘’How do we communicate accurately about the real risk posed by chemicals and other contaminants in the environment as distinguished from emotions and fears?‘’

Attaining a shared understanding of findings from environmental research among scientists, policy makers, and the public is a challenge. However, the critical importance of this is increasingly recognized, especially if we want to clearly communicate risks and support informed decisions that will protect human health and the planet, building on scientific facts rather than individual opinions. SETAC Europe takes up this challenge as part of the strategic plan 2018, with eight strategic goals to be reached by 2020, with one goal being to “support science-based risk communication.” Continue reading

Safe by Design: Responsible and Innovative Research for Safe and Sustainable Chemistry

A guest post by Ester Papa and Elena Semenzin

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy (13-17 May 2018).

“What is sustainable? How can chemicals be Greener? What is safe?” are questions of great importance nowadays. Continue reading

Advances in Evaluating and Regulation of Endocrine Disruptors

A guest post by Heiko Schoenfuss

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy (13-17 May 2018).

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Fish A is a normal male fathead minnow. Fish C is a normal female fathead minnow. Fish B is a male that was exposed to female hormones in prescription drugs and looks more like a female than a male. (Source)

Endocrine disruptors include anthropogenic and naturally occurring chemicals that may disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system. These compounds have reached a near ubiquitous presence in aquatic ecosystems, are capable of interfering with the endocrine system of exposed organisms, and have been linked to a variety of environmental and human health concerns in Europe and elsewhere. Continue reading

Household Products Are Now a Major Source of Outdoor Air Pollution in Urban Areas

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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Credit: Philip WilsonCC BY-ND 2.0

Air pollution is defined by the World Health Organization as the “the world’s largest single environmental health risk” and causes millions of premature deaths annually. Exposure to air pollution is associated with respiratory diseases (including asthma and changes in lung function), cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as preterm birth), and even death. In 2013, the World Health Organization concluded that outdoor air pollution is carcinogen to humans. In other words, air pollution is an invisible killer—may not always be visible, but it can be deadly. Continue reading