In pursuit of safer alternatives using California’s SCP Alternatives Analysis, with Kelly Grant

Podcast Summary:

Credit: © Totojang1977 / Adobe Stock

Every day we encounter various chemicals through the simple act of going about our lives—from the beauty products in your morning routine, to the packaging for your takeout meal, to the furniture you sit on. Chemicals are found in just about everything we touch or consume, and not all of them are completely benign. The identification and substitution of safer chemicals is a constant work in progress for regulatory bodies and manufacturers alike. In California, the Safer Consumer Products Program is committed to identifying safer alternatives to chemicals of concern through a process called alternatives analysis. Alternatives analysis goes beyond traditional alternatives assessment by requiring the inclusion of broader and deeper aspects such as a greater number of toxicological endpoints and life cycle impacts over a product’s lifespan. We spoke with lead author Kelly Grant to find out more of what the SCP program is about and what we can learn from it. Access the article in the July 2022 issue of IEAM.

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Nature knows best: Nature‐based solutions in the built environment, with Amy Oen and Burton Suedel

Oyster reef breakwaters (made from bagged, recycled oyster shells) are an example of a nature-based solution.
Oyster reef breakwaters (made from bagged, recycled oyster shells), an example of a nature-based solution. Credit: Louisiana Sea Grant (CC BY 2.0).

Podcast Summary:

The built environment—think of any type of infrastructure that humans use on a regular basis, from highways, to bridges, to massive river dams. These are all types of human-made structures (or man-made, archaically), in the style that has dominated our world for more than a century—lots and lots of concrete and steel. However, a newer, more sustainable approach is gaining steam: Nature-based solutions. If you’re not familiar with that term yet, you are in the right place.

In this episode, we speak with the guest editors of an IEAM special series that focuses on nature-based solutions, Amy Oen and Burton Suedel, to learn more. Access their special series, “Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into the Built Environment,” in the January 2022 issue of IEAM.

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A new chapter: IEAM welcomes Editor in Chief Sabine Apitz

Two runners pass a baton
Credit: ImageHit, Adobe Stock

In this special episode of the IEAM podcast, we get to know the new editor in chief of IEAM, Sabine Apitz. Apitz, an oceanographer by training, was a longtime editor with the journal before assuming the helm on 1 January, 2022. Tune in to hear more about Sabine and her thoughts on all things IEAM—past, present, and future.

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The skinny on sunscreens: UV filter impacts on coral reefs, with Yasmine Watkins

Credit: rh2010, Adobe Stock.

We all know that it’s important to protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun. But what happens to the sunscreen that washes off into the water—whether swimming in the ocean or lake, or down the drain while showering afterward? We have only recently begun to learn about the consequences of sunscreen use, from endocrine disruption to harmful effects on wildlife and environmental damage. The September 2021 issue of IEAM features a special series on sunscreen in aquatic ecosystems. One article reviews the impacts of chemical sunscreens on coral reefs and then identifies knowledge gaps and research priorities. We spoke with lead author Yasmine Watkins to learn more. Access the article “Investigating the exposure and impact of chemical UV filters on coral reef ecosystems: Review and research gap prioritization” in the September 2021 issue of IEAM.

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A new era for ERA? Using Bayesian Network Models to improve ERA, with Jannicke Moe

Credit: antishock – stock.adobe.com

“Not difficult, just different,” is how one author in the latest IEAM podcast describes Bayesian Network models (BNs) to researchers that are unfamiliar with—and often intimidated by—them. A recent special series aims to dispel the esoteric aura that surrounds this approach by showing how BNs have improved ecological risk assessments in the past 20 years, with the goal of encouraging more practitioners to employ BNs and continue evolving the practices of ERA and environmental management. The Guest Editors of the series are Jannicke Moe, John Carriger, and Miriam Glendell.

Guest Editor Jannicke Moe talks to us about advantages of BNs, recent developments, and highlights the research presented in the series—10 articles demonstrating the application of BNs to various environmental assessment and management scenarios involving climate change, ecological and socioeconomic endpoints, machine learning, diagnostic inference, and model evaluation.

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Gene drives: Navigating perils of engineered eradication, with Christoph Then

Image credit: Adobe Stock.

Imagine a world without natural enemies like parasites or deadly pathogens. Where crops grow unfettered by rodent and insect pests. Advances in genetic engineering now hold the possibility to alter genomes at the population level, but is it too good to be true? A critical review in the September 2020 issue of IEAM delves into environmental risk assessments for controversial gene drives in the European Union. Lead author Christoph Then talks with us about the challenges facing risk assessors of gene drives and a potential cut-off criteria presented in the study. Access the article in the September 2020 issue of IEAM.

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First peoples, last in environmental justice, with Nil Basu

#NODAPL street art
Street art in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Credit: Loz Pycock (Flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0.

Indigenous peoples around the world face multiple injustices as a result of environmental pollution. These highly vulnerable populations make up just 5% of the global population yet experience a disproportionate number of negative impacts from pollution that affect their environment, health and well-being, and culture. We talk with co-author Nil Basu to find out what their critical review “A State-of-the-Art Review of Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Pollution” reveals. Access the article in the May 2020 issue of IEAM.

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Do no harm: Evaluating non-lethal fish sampling, with Alyse Kambeitz

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Fish sampling with a seine. Credit: USFWS (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

The goal of any environmental monitoring program is to assess and protect the health of the organisms being monitored. Yet the most common methods require the sacrifice of a large number of individuals to collect enough data to ensure the well-being of the entire population. A new study published in IEAM set out to find a better way to monitor fish populations in Canadian waters affected by mining activity. We spoke with lead author Alyse Kambeitz to hear more. Access the article in the November 2019 issue of IEAM.

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Cleaning products: The fine print, with Alison Pecquet

“Sculpture by the sea” by Dushan and Miae, CC BY-SA 2.0

Do you know what’s in your household cleaning product? A new article in IEAM spotlights chemicals that are common in household cleaning products yet are lacking sufficient data to allow for proper environmental risk assessments. The chemicals of focus in this study are polymers, organic compounds with a wide range of functions including emulsifiers, dispersants, or defoaming agents. Read More »

From individuals to populations: Assessing endocrine impacts of pesticides, with Mark Crane

Starling_Murmuration_-_RSPB_Minsmere_(21446738793)
Starling murmuration. Credit: Airwolfhound, CC BY-ND 2.0.

The European Commission recently proposed to protect vertebrate wildlife using hazard-based approaches for regulating pesticides with endocrine-disrupting properties. Researchers are familiar enough with using lab-based studies to test whether chemicals cause adverse effects in the usual animal models, but how do we identify those substances that will have adverse effects at the population level? Mark Crane and co-authors present an approach for evaluating protection goals for these compounds based on population responses within an ecosystem services framework. Read More »