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.
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.
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.
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.
Contaminated sediment—and how to manage them—present an ongoing problem for scientists worldwide. Management and remediation is expensive and time-consuming, often involving millions of dollars over many years. An easier solution may be coming however. The April 2014 issue of IEAM contains a special series on passive sampling methods for contaminated sediment, and Marc Greenberg provides all the details.
Death by a thousand cuts—the importance of cumulative effects on watersheds.
Environment damage often results from the collective effects of multiple stressors, be they chemical, biotic, or anthropogenic. But how to capture them all for an environmental impact assessment? Enter cumulative effects assessment (CEA). Monique Dubé discusses how she and colleagues developed and applied a framework for watershed CEA in several Canadian watersheds. Going beyond traditional effects- and stressor-based approaches, the watershed CEA incorporates both the existing condition of a watershed and predictions of its future condition to better inform planning and management efforts. Access the special series “Watershed Cumulative Effects Assessment” in the July 2013 issue of IEAM.
California recently adopted an innovative framework for assessing sediment quality impacts to the benthic community based upon multiple lines of evidence. The seven articles in the series address one aspect of a multi-phase project to define sediment quality objectives, including a new sediment quality guideline (SQG) index.Steve Bay, Guest Editor of the special series “California Sediment Quality Objectives,” describes how the series articles define sediment quality objectives for California that will be used to protect fish, wildlife, benthic invertebrates, and even humans. Access the series in the October 2012 issue of IEAM.