One Health: Connecting wildlife, environmental, and human health

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 Frances Nilsen

TriadWhat is “One Health”?
“One Health” is an organizational framework encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations in education, research, clinical practice, policy, and communication stemming from the recognition that the health of people, animals, and the environment are linked. One Health partnerships are growing internationally, mainly emphasizing prevention of infectious zoonotic diseases (those that can be passed between animals and humans), but the environmental quality connections to human and animal health are often less developed in One Health collaborations. Continue reading

Towards a Sustainable Development of River-Sea Systems (RSSs) and Coastal Areas

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 Josep Sanchís

Coastlines and estuaries are complex ecosystems that are located in the nexus of marine, riverine, terrestrial, and air environments. In such intersections, it is common to find valuable natural parks and reservoirs, often treasuring delicate environments and unique life forms. This is particularly true in the case of estuaries and the surrounding wetlands, whose brakish waters serve as home for a variety of amphibian species, specialized plants, migrant birds and many others. Humans rely on estuaries for food and recreation, and these ecosystems can be found among the most productive in the world. Not surprising, 22 of the 32 largest cities can be found on estuaries. As a result, estuaries are stressed by multiple anthropogenic pressures. The marine nearshore also provides important socio-economic resources that support fundamental sectors including, for instance, aquaculture, fishing, tourism, oil and gas extraction, power generation, and naval activity. Because of all this, the preservation of these ecological, cultural, and socio-economic resources is a priority on a global scale that joins efforts from governments, regulatory agencies, and academia. Continue reading

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

Warming of the Earth’s Oceans Leads to Worldwide Decline of Fish Populations

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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Longline commercial fishing hooks. Credit: Isaac WedinCC BY 2.0

Overexploitation—the unsustainable use of natural resources—is one of the greatest pressures that human populations force upon ecosystems worldwide. Overfishing, a type of overexploitation based on “catching too much fish,” contributes to the well-established decline of fish stocks.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), globally, the fraction of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has exhibited a decreasing trend, from 90.0 percent in 1974 to 66.9 percent in 2015. Further compounding this, the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased from 10 percent in 1974 to 33.1 percent in 2015, with the largest increases in the late 1970s and 1980s, and a slight decline in 1996. However, a study published in 2016 shows that we catch much more fish than estimated by the FAO. Daniel Pauly, lead author of the study, told The Guardian: “Our results differ very strongly from those of the FAO. Our results indicate that the decline is very strong and is not due to countries fishing less. It is due to countries having fished too much and having exhausted one fishery after another.” Continue reading

The Soil’s New Universe: Giant Viruses

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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Credit: Brian Boucheron, CC BY 2.0

What’s in soil? Water, air, sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. What’s in organic matter? Humus, earthworms, insects, bacteria and, we just learned, giant viruses. As their name implies, these viruses are big—their dimensions and genome sizes are comparable to those of bacteria. 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

Tax Havens Drive Environmental Degradation

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Republished courtesy: Flickr user thetaxhaven

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

The expansive and opaque offshore system used for tax-dodging all around the world — and detailed in the leaked classified files known as the “Panama Papers” and “Paradise Papers” released in the past few years — is responsible for significant losses of tax revenues, currently estimated at around US$500 billion annually. This offshore system, which includes a variety of so-called tax havens and is used by wealthy individuals, companies, and financial institutions, causes serious concerns related to the global economy and has a tremendously negative effect on the global fight to end poverty.

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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