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 »
Author: Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
A deep dive into the complexities of deep-sea mining, with Andrea Koschinsky
The world’s growing population increases the already heavy demand on mineral resources on land, and so people are looking once more to the minerals found on the ocean floor, sometimes buried thousands of meters below the surface. The November 2018 issue of IEAM contains a critical review that explores the complexities of deep-sea mining, including the environmental, legal, economic, and societal impacts. In this episode we speak with lead author Andrea Koschinsky to learn more about this fascinating topic and the long road ahead to make it a reality.
Finding balance: Resilience in ERA, with Marco Vighi and Andreu Rico
The concept of resilience has been discussed in ecology since the 1970s, but practitioners are now applying the concept to improve accuracy and realism in ecological risk assessments. The September 2018 issue of IEAM features invited commentaries that discuss ecological resilience and what it means in practice for risk and impact assessments. Join us as we talk with authors Marco Vighi and Andreu Rico about how to incorporate resilience into ecological risk assessment, and the challenges and opportunities facing the regulatory community.
What lies beneath: The fallout of biomobilization at the Hanford site, with Sara Lovtang
Soil caps are a commonly employed technique in remediation efforts at contaminated sites. Once cleanup efforts are complete, however, plants and animals at these sites may inadvertently disrupt the best laid plans if not properly accounted for. In this episode we explore what happens when natural biota and processes kick in post remediation. We chat with Sara Lovtang, lead author on an IEAM article that defends the established depth of the biologically active zone at Hanford, a nuclear waste site that processed plutonium fuel during World War II at the height of its operations.
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Tipping the scales: Weight of evidence approach for qualities and quantities, with Susan Cormier
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
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.
Untapped resources: Finding the right ecotox studies for risk assessment, with Christina Rudén
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.
You are what you eat: Microplastics in seafood, with David Santillo
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.
Hazard vs risk: Peter Matthiessen on assessing environmental effects of endocrine disruptors
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
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.