Tipping the scales: weight of evidence approach for qualities and quantities, with Susan Cormier

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Photocredit: Hans SplinterCC BY-ND 2.0

Imagine you are conducting an environmental assessment, and you have several pieces of evidence for possible integration into the assessment. Are they all relevant? Are they equally valuable? Enter weight of evidence, a process to help assign value to pieces of information that might be useful for an assessment.

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Expanding options: Alternatives analysis and predictive tox, with Tim Malloy

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96-well plate. Credit: CSIRO via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0.

The field of chemical regulation is experiencing a shift from risk-based approaches to preventative ones. Initiatives in the European Union (REACH) and California (Safer Consumer Products) are leading the way for such prevention-based regulation. A recent IEAM paper proposes integrating predictive toxicology into Alternatives Analysis, to expedite the process and foster a more rapid and defensible decision when identifying the most environmentally friendly chemical for a given application.  Lead author Tim Malloy outlines ways to achieve the integration. Access the article in the September 2017 issue of IEAM.

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Untapped resources: Finding the right ecotox studies for risk assessment, with Christina Rudén

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Image from A Tour in Wales, by Thomas Pennant, available from the National Library of Wales (CC-PD-Mark).

Podcast Summary:

It’s tempting to assume that ecotoxicologists of all professions utilize peer-reviewed studies as part of their research when conducting hazard or risk assessments under a regulatory framework. Yet that is not always the case, quite the contrary in fact. While it’s easy to incorporate the results of a study conducted under standardized methods such as good laboratory practices, the vast majority of studies do not conform to universal protocols, making it harder for regulators to vet and extract necessary data. Enter relevance assessment: an evaluation designed to help practitioners identify the most appropriate sources for the topic being addressed. Christina Rudén and colleagues offer practical guidance to evaluating relevance in their article “Assessing the relevance of ecotoxicological studies for regulatory decision making.” The article is part of the special series “Improving the Usability of Ecotoxicology in Regulatory Decision-Making.” Access the series in the July 2017 issue of IEAM.

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You are what you eat: Microplastics in seafood, with David Santillo

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Plastic fish art installation, Nye Beach, Oregon. Credit: mmoca, CC BY-ND 2.0.

You are what you eat, or so you think. The next time you sit down to enjoy that bowl of cioppino or salmon fillet, you may be ingesting more than you realize. Plastic pollution is widespread in global waters, and microplastics—particles smaller than 5 mm—are being increasingly found in the most popular seafood items.

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Hazard vs risk: Peter Matthiessen on assessing environmental effects of endocrine disruptors

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Credit: Jocelyn Wallace, CC BY-SA 2.0.

From the infamous bisphenol A (BPA) to feminized male fish, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDS) remain at the center of many controversies involving chemicals in consumer products. International efforts to address concerns over ecotoxicological effects from EDS include both risk- and hazard-based approaches to preventing adverse effects, depending on the country or intergovernmental agency. A recent SETAC Pellston workshop convened researchers from all over the world to advise on how regulators and policy makers can make science-based decisions when evaluating EDS. Workshop organizer and lead author Peter Matthiessen joins us to discuss the synthesis paper from the workshop, “Recommended approaches to the scientific evaluation of ecotoxicological hazards and risks of endocrine-active substances.” His article leads off the special series “Ecotoxicological Hazard and Risk Assessment Approaches for Endocrine-Active Substances.” Access the full series in the March 2017 issue of IEAM.

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No small deal: Evaluating nanomaterials with alternatives assessment, with Rune Hjorth

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Zinc nanoflowers combined with graphene oxide layers help to extend battery life (scanning EM image). Credit: Dilek Ozgit, Engineering, Cambridge Univ., CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Nanomaterials are small but key components in consumer products like electronics, sunscreens, and antimicrobial clothing, just to name a few. Despite their widespread use, scientists are still struggling to assess their potential hazards, with regulatory policy hinging on these assessments. Author Rune Hjorth discusses how alternatives assessment frameworks can be adapted to evaluate nanomaterials. Access the article, “The applicability of chemical alternatives assessment for engineered nanomaterials,” in the January 2017 issue of IEAM.

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Pulling it all together: Harmonizing marine environmental assessment, with Ruud Jongbloed

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Port of Tagonoura, Japan, with Mt. Fuji in the background. Credit: Hoshner Sigmaniax, CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped and brightened from original).

Human activities and other pressures on marine ecosystems are ever increasing, underscoring the need for responsible, sustainable management. Several types of environmental assessment exist, but which is the most appropriate for your assessment needs? Enter CUMULEO, a framework that defines common EA elements and introduces consistency, while remaining adaptable to assessments for marine and other ecosystems. We chat with Ruud Jongbloed to get the highlights of CUMULEO. Access the critical review in the October 2016 issue of IEAM.

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