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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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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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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Oil’s Well That Ends Well? Brock Bernstein Talks Rigs-To-Reefs and the Fate of Oil Platforms

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Oil platform, Santa Barbara, California. Credit: Berardo62, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The 27 oil and gas platforms off the southern California coast are aging quickly. What’s next for an oil rig once it reaches the end of its useful life? Deciding the fate of these massive hulks of steel and machinery is no simple feat, and this podcast highlights the efforts by a team of authors that set out to do exactly that.

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From the Ashes: Using BERA to Assess a Coal Fly Ash Spill in Tennessee, with Suzy Walls

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Kingston Fossil Plant, coal ash spill cleanup, 2012. Credit: Appalachian Voices, CC BY 2.0, cropped from original.

The largest coal fly ash spill in US history occurred in 2008, at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tennessee. Over 4.1 million cubic meters of toxic coal fly ash spilled into the surrounding river ecosystem, which included three rivers and a reservoir. The January 2015 issue of IEAM features a special series of articles that detail the Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment (BERA) conducted to assess residual ash remaining in the Watts Bar Reservoir.

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Survey Says! Top PPCP Research Questions Identified by Environmental Scientists, with Murray Rudd

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Credit: Alberto G., CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are a hot topic in environmental science. From synthetic estrogens that feminize male fish to concerns about resistance to antibiotics, this is a growing area of research and public attention. Yet potential and long-term effects on human and ecosystem health remain largely unknown. Author Murray Rudd leads an international study in the October 2014 issue of IEAM where environmental scientists identify their top PPCP research priorities. The identification of research priorities—according to hundreds of environmental scientists—serve as a guide for the types of hazard- and risk-based research needed to inform regulation of PPCPs as well as provide opportunities to collaborate among researchers across disciplinary sectors and countries.

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Biomarkers for Good Measure: Assessing Aquatic Ecosystem Status, with Sharon Hook

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Sampling biomarkers with gel electrophoresis. Credit: Iwan Gabovitch, CC0 1.0.

Biomarkers—biological endpoints long used in medical screening and disease detection—are finding new relevance in the environmental science community. Toxicologists have used biomarkers in certain aquatic contaminant assessments; however, these endpoints have barely been tapped as a valuable resource for informing ecological risk assessments and integrated monitoring. Sharon Hook, author of a critical review in the July 2014 issue of IEAM, talks to us about advantages and caveats for using biomarkers in environmental assessments.

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