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.

About the Guest

Christina RudénChristina Rudén is a Professor of regulatory toxicology and ecotoxicology at the Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, in Sweden. Her research focuses on analyzing and evaluating the workings of the regulatory system for chemicals control, i.e., the chain of events from regulatory test requirements and (eco)toxicity testing, via risk assessment to risk management decision making. The overall purpose of this research is to contribute to developing scientifically well-motivated improvements of the legal system and its practices. Systematic studies of the actual workings of chemicals control have the potential to identify unwanted influences or outcomes of the process, and point to the need to ensure that the process is transparent and efficiently serve the purposes of risk management. Rudén has published more than 60 articles about regulatory toxicology in international peer-reviewed journals. She is a Member of the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Management Board, and a member of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s Supervisory Council.

Articles Referenced in this Podcast

Rudén C, Adams J, Ågerstrand M, Brock TC, Poulsen V, Schlekat CE, Wheeler JR, Henry T R. 2017. Assessing the relevance of ecotoxicological studies for regulatory decision making. Integr Environ Assess Manag 13: 652–663. doi:10.1002/ieam.1846

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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At your service! Linking healthy ecological function to human well-being, with Wayne Munns

Shenandoah River. Credit: Mariano Mantel, CC BY-NC 2.0.

 

We benefit from ecosystem services (ES) everyday—the water we drink, the food we eat, even the vacation at the beach. It is widely recognized that we need to protect the ecological processes that deliver these benefits, yet ES have not yet been formally incorporated into environmental risk assessment, one of the primary methods that inform regulatory decision making. Wayne Munns discusses the reasons for and challenges to the routine inclusion of ES endpoints in ERAs. Access the article in the July 2016 issue of IEAM.

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Impaired Ecosystems: Ounce of Prevention or Pound of Cure? With Aida Farag & Ruth Hull

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Blackwater Wildife Refuge Wetlands Restoration Project, Maryland. Credit: Adam Lindquist, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Although many people confuse the terms remediation and restoration, they are two separate processes in the restoration of impaired ecosystems. A special series in the April 2016 issue of IEAM challenges practitioners and researchers to rethink the traditional linear, sequential process of ecological restoration, instead encouraging a collaborative approach along the way, to integrate restoration goals throughout the process, beginning with site assessment. Guest Editors Aida Farag and Ruth Hull discuss workshop findings and tell us why we should heed an ounce of prevention when restoring ecosystems. Access the series in the April 2016 issue of IEAM.

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