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

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

Human-Made Changes of the Mississippi River’s Flow Amplify Extreme Flooding

By Roberta Attanasio, Blog Editor

For millennia, human societies have altered river flows in different ways. In the 20th century, the impact of human activities on rivers and watershed environments has increased exponentially—and engineering works such as channelization and dam construction have created new, complex, hybrid human-natural systems. 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.

As the Arctic Ice Shrinks, Polar Bears May Need to Work Harder for a Living

By Roberta Attanasio, Blog Editor

It’s celebration time for the iconic polar bear, the poster child of climate change. Or better, it’s a different type of celebration. Every year, February 27—International Polar Bear Day—highlights the challenges that this big, charismatic creature faces in a warming Arctic, and becomes a day of action to reduce carbon emissions. The nineteen subpopulations of polar bears spend their winter on sheets of frozen ocean water, which melt and retreat in warmer months, to then advance again in the fall. As ice keeps melting because of higher temperatures, their natural habitat shrinks, affecting their capacity to travel, hunt, and breed. In other words, their lives are tied to the annual spread and shrinkage of Arctic sea ice.

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Polar bear silently stepping from an ice floe by Andreas Weith [Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution–Share Alike 4.0]

Continue reading