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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Sedimentary, My Dear Watson. Passive Sampling Methods and Sediment Remediation, with Marc Greenberg

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.

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Assessing Cumulative Effects in Watersheds, with Monique Dubé

Death by a thousand cuts—the importance of cumulative effects on watersheds.

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North Saskatchewan River. Credit: David Street, CC BY-ND 2.0 cropped from original.

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.

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California Sediment Quality Objectives: What’s Up with California’s Mud? With Steve Bay

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Tidal mudflat, Drakes Estero, California. Credit: John Weiss, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

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Bayesian Networks for the Uninitiated, with David Barton

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Bayes’ Theorem. Credit: Daniel Hjort, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Baffled by Bayesian statistics? You’re not alone.

Join us as we speak with Dr. David Barton, Guest Editor of the special series “Bayesian Networks in Environmental and Resource Management,” to discuss the basics of Bayesian approaches in environmental management. The series is composed of seven case study articles, each of which applies the Bayesian network approach to environmental and resource management problems around the world. Access the series in the July 2012 issue of IEAM.

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