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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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.