SETAC MultiBrief
Jan. 23, 2014

CO2 emissions being 'outsourced' by rich countries to rising economies
The Guardian
The world's richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economies, according to a draft UN report. Outsourcing of emissions comes in the form of electronic devices such as smartphones, cheap clothes and other goods manufactured in China and other rising economies but consumed in the U.S. and Europe.More

EPA: Mining a significant risk to Bristol Bay salmon fishery
The Associated Press via Anchorage Daily News
The U.S. government reports potential devastating effects on the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery and negative impact on the Alaska Natives who rely heavily on the fish. The Environmental Protection Agency's findings on the copper and gold mining in the Bristol Bay region state that nearly 100 miles of streams would be damaged by construction of the project.More

Arctic sea ice gaps drive toxic mercury conveyor belt
Los Angeles Times
Gaps forming in seasonal Arctic sea ice may be creating a toxic conveyor belt, drawing mercury from higher altitudes to rain down on the ice, snow and tundra, according to a new study. The gaps, which come as the region shifts from perennial ice to thinner seasonal ice due to climate change, drive convection currents in the lower atmosphere that cycle mercury and ozone from higher levels toward Earth’s surface, where oxidation converts the mercury into a more toxic form, according to the study published online in the journal Nature.More

West Virginia chemical spill poses a new test for lawmakers
The Washington Post
There are more than 80,000 chemicals in the United States catalogued by government regulators, and the health risks of most of them are unknown. This became glaringly obvious when a clear, licorice-smelling chemical leaked from an old storage tank into the Elk River in West Virginia, contaminating the drinking water for much of the state, including the capital, Charleston. What made the spill alarming was not just the reports of rashes, stomachaches and other ailments but the paucity of information about the potential toxicity of Crude MCHM, which is primarily composed of a chemical named 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.More

What happens to all the salt we dump on the roads?
As much of the country endures from the heavy snowfall and bitter cold that has marked the start of 2014, municipalities in 26 states will rely on a crucial tool in clearing their roads: salt. Consider how easily salt can corrode your car. Unsurprisingly, it's also a problem for the surrounding environment.More

Rainforest raiders foil the guardians of the Amazon
Unlicensed mills are part of a gray economy that has come to define development in the Amazon. The activity spans everything from precious hardwoods to illegally extracted minerals to the bare land left behind, itself a commodity for ranchers and squatters who speculate on its future value. Many Brazilians who live near the rainforest consider the cutting a local right. Environmentalists and scientists, because the rainforest acts as a greenhouse-gas filter, say the activity cripples the fight against climate change.More

Pyrethroid pesticide use linked with reduced size of worker bumble bees
Nature World News
Royal Holloway University of London researchers have found that worker bumblebees are getting smaller and hatching earlier than they should, thanks to increased use of pyrethroid pesticide. The chemical is used to prevent bugs from damaging flowering plants. For the study, researchers exposed half of a bumblebee population to the pesticide. The team then tracked the growth of these bees over a four-month period. Microscales were used to measure the weight of a bee. More

Nanoparticle pesticides fast-tracked for approval, but are they safe?
Center for Investigative Reporting via
Tiny particles of silver could appear soon in children’s toys and clothing, embedded inside plastics and fabrics to fight stains and odors. No one knows how the germ-killing particles, part of a new pesticide called Nanosilva, affect human health or the environment in the long run. But regulators have proposed letting Nanosilva on the market for up to four years before the manufacturer has to submit studies on whether the particles pose certain dangers. More

Rising tide is a mystery that sinks island hopes
The New York Times
Steadily, mysteriously, like in an especially slow science fiction movie, the largest lake in the Caribbean has been rising and rising, devouring tens of thousands of acres of farmland, ranches and whatever else stands in its way. In the low-lying city of Boca de Cachon, Lago Enriquillo so threatens to subsume the entire town that the government has sent the army to rebuild it from scratch on a dusty plain several miles away.More

Research cutbacks by Canadian government alarm scientists
CBC News
Scientists across Canada are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information. In the past five years the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and hundreds of programs and world-renowned research facilities have lost their funding.More