A deep dive into the complexities of deep-sea mining, with Andrea Koschinsky

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A cnidarian (Relicanthus sp.) with 8-foot long tentacles attached to a dead sponge stalk on a manganese nodule in the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Credit: Diva Amon and Craig Smith.

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.

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Finding balance: Resilience in ERA, with Marco Vighi and Andreu Rico

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Credit: Phil Loring, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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.

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What lies beneath: The fallout of biomobilization at the Hanford site, with Sara Lovtang

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Hanford Site, Washington, USA. Credit: Stacy James, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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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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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No small deal: Evaluating nanomaterials with alternatives assessment, with Rune Hjorth

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Zinc nanoflowers combined with graphene oxide layers help to extend battery life (scanning EM image). Credit: Dilek Ozgit, Engineering, Cambridge Univ., CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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.

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Stalking the Elusive Wildlife Toxicity Reference Values, with David Mayfield and Anne Fairbrother

Nearly a decade after the US Environmental Protection Agency developed ecological soil screening levels (Eco-SSLs) to provide a source of toxicity reference values (TRVs) that would improve consistency among risk assessments, TRVs remain highly variable and without a standardization scheme. Join us as we speak with David Mayfield and Anne Fairbrother, authors of the article “Efforts to standardize wildlife toxicity values remain unrealized,” to hear how they describe the challenges that ecological risk assessors face when trying to employ wildlife toxicity values. Access their article in the January 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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