“Going green” has become a sweeping campaign for consumers at all levels. One way to become more environmentally responsible is to practice reuse—the second of the three R’s in the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Although reusing items such as clothing is easy to do, measuring the environmental benefits conferred by reuse is not as obvious as, say, a reduction in energy usage. Author Valentina Castellani uses life cycle assessment to quantify the environmental impacts avoided by the reuse of commonplace items, through a secondhand store. Access her article in the July 2015 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.
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.
The wildlife risk assessment that could: overcoming sparse dose-response data. Risk assessments for wildlife species are plagued by a lack of dose-response data tailored for those wildlife species. Although data may exist for different endpoints in the same or related animal taxa, such data remains difficult to evaluate and incorporate. Ryan Hill and colleagues offer solutions to tackling this problem in their critical review appearing in the January 2014 issue of IEAM. Hill et al. prescribe tips for compiling sparse data to make it relevant, demonstrate graphical evaluations of sparse data, and discuss modeling options for simple vs. complex data sets.