Category Archives: SETAC Meeting

Can We Protect Future Generations from the Hazardous Past?

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Helsinki, Finland (26–30 May 2019).

A guest post by Jana Asselman

Through a significant series of scientific discoveries, we now know that certain aspects or traits will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. Our DNA not only determines the blood type or eye color of the next generations but may also determine their sensitivity or predisposition to certain diseases. Yet, an increasing number of studies has suggested that we pass on much more information to the next generation that we would assume. Indeed, while we all know that exposure to chemicals and other environmental factors can significantly affect us, we often do not realize that we can also pass on these exposure effects to future generations. Continue reading

Environment Exposure to Microplastics and Affiliated Toxic Chemicals

A guest post by Mai Lei

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC North America 29th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California (4–8 November 2018).

Can you imagine our beautiful planet becoming a “plastic planet”? In the BBC documentary film Blue Planet II, members of the producing team noted that plastic waste is ubiquitously floating in the sea, including fishing lines, plastic packages, and plastic bottles. Marine organisms can be trapped by plastic waste that is everywhere in the oceans, even in the deepest and most remote parts. So it is essential to carry out intensive studies of plastic waste. Large plastics can either be physically or chemically broken into fragments after having been in the water a long time, traveling long distances. Such fragments, coupled with ones that were released into seas as fine plastic particles (smaller than 5 mm), are collectively called microplastics.

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Surface water trawling for floating microplastic collection on the Pearl River estuary in China.  Inset pictures are pieces of microplastic (fragments, pellets, and lines) from the trawl.  Credit: Lei Mai.

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California Oil Spills: Impacts on Habitat and Wildlife

A guest post by Ashley McConnell

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC North America 29th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California (4–8 November 2018).

The Gaviota Coast in southern California is a precious resource to people and wildlife; a scenic stretch of coastline home to a wealth of biota, sand beaches, intact habitats, and natural drainages that allow the undisturbed flow of water between land and ocean. On 19 May 2015, eyes around the world turned to this stunning stretch of coastline, as newspapers and television screens flashed images of crude oil seeping into the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Continue reading

Science, Sustainability, and the Science of Sustainability and the Failures of Economists

Stop speaking of the three pillars or triple bottom line of sustainability

A guest post by Ron McCormick

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC North America 29th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California (4–8 November 2018).

The original dream of three separate but equal pillars of sustainability has become a fallacy; the triple bottom line is dead. The essence of sustainability in practice is to act with increased resilience in mind, and in all aspects of living, working, and playing in a social-ecological landscape. The thrust of the Sacramento meeting is to seek a realignment between economic development and ecological and societal stewardship. Our session, to be held Tuesday afternoon, will present practical and theoretical aspects of corporate and community approaches to sustainability and resilience. I encourage you to read the abstracts available on the meeting website. For this blog I’d like to speak more to the topic of the ending segment of our session, a debate titled “The sustainability triple bottom line is dead—should we take it off the respirator?” We won’t actually be debating the topic in depth, as it is much too late to rehabilitate the idea. Instead, we will Slide2host an Irish wake for the triple bottom line (TBL), and toast an old friend whose time has come and gone. Why we feel this way will take some explanatory background on economics, ecology, societal equity, and systems approaches. Continue reading

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.

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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

Air Pollutants Are Transported and TRANSFORMED in the Atmosphere

A guest post by L. Ciancarella

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).

Atmospheric pollution is a matter of chemistry, not only because human and natural activities emit chemicals, but also because the atmosphere is a chemical reactor with the meteorological and climatic variables activating and/or catalyzing molecules’ transformations. Continue reading

Micro and Nanoplastics in the Environment: Risk for the Environment and Human Health

A guest post by Francisca Fernandez-Piñas, Miguel Gonzalez-Pleiter, and Roberto Rosal

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).

The use of plastic materials has been increasing since the mid-20th century to reach current production volumes of more than 300 million metric tons per year. The global flow of plastic materials is still linear, which means it is not “circular,” or a closed loop that results in sustainable re-use. From manufacturing to landfilling, more than 30% of plastic materials end up leaking into the environment in an uncontrolled manner. This is particularly evident in the aquatic environment where plastic debris has been detected in increasing amounts since the 1970s. Continue reading

Start with the problem, is wildlife in decline or not?

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 Andrew C. Johnson

Over a nearly 30 year career in environmental science I have witnessed scares over pesticides, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, nanoparticles, and now microplastics. The pattern is largely the same, a chemist detects the substance, and then laboratory tests confirm that some toxic properties exist. Further studies are then carried out in the laboratory at what are called ‘environmentally relevant concentrations,’ which appear to clinch the deal. Catastrophe is around the corner, if it hasn’t happened already.

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White-tailed eagle grabbing a fish near Raftsund, Lofoten/Norway Photo by Christoph Müller CC-BY 4.0

But what is really happening to exposed wildlife?  Why do we not seem to ask this question?  Could it be that wildlife exposed to our current fashionable substance of concern are prospering, whilst others might be suffering due to something we have not examined yet?  Even worse, existing problems for wildlife might be due to a chemical, such as a metal, which we have lost interest in due to their having gone out of fashion?

Rather than being chemical driven, let us learn to re-connect with trends in wildlife populations and examine their responses to the place and timing of exposure.

Session: Can trends in wildlife populations revolutionise our understanding of the impacts of chemicals on the environment?
15 May 2018 | 8:30 a.m.–10:05 a.m. | Room E

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Two mammal-eating “transient” killer whales photographed off the south side of Unimak Island, eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Photographer: Robert Pittman Published courtesy of NOAA.