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.
Do you know what’s in your household cleaning product? A new article in IEAM spotlights chemicals that are common in household cleaning products yet are lacking sufficient data to allow for proper environmental risk assessments. The chemicals of focus in this study are polymers, organic compounds with a wide range of functions including emulsifiers, dispersants, or defoaming agents. Read More »
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.
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.
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.
We benefit from ecosystem services (ES) everyday—the water we drink, the food we eat, even the vacation at the beach. It is widely recognized that we need to protect the ecological processes that deliver these benefits, yet ES have not yet been formally incorporated into environmental risk assessment, one of the primary methods that inform regulatory decision making. Wayne Munns discusses the reasons for and challenges to the routine inclusion of ES endpoints in ERAs. Access the article in the July 2016 issue of IEAM.
Hazardous chemicals and consumer product safety garner tremendous public attention nowadays, and rightly so. The European Commission’s landmark REACH regulation set a high standard, and regulatory agencies around the world are moving towards chemical regulatory reform. The resulting need to characterize thousands of chemicals with regard to their hazard, risk, and exposure potential poses an enormous task, and dozens of chemical assessment tools have been developed to aid assessors. An article in the April 2015 issue of IEAM identifies the most robust and comprehensive tools used in chemical assessment. Author Julie Panko discusses how she and her fellow authors critically evaluated dozens of chemical assessment tools, to help assessors select the right tool for the job.