SETAC MultiBrief
Feb. 12, 2015

Baking soda that can capture carbon?
Nature World News
It's possible the solution to our world's buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been sitting on our grocery shelves all along. Baking soda of all things may help to capture carbon dioxide, according to a new breakthrough study. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University, have developed a new type of carbon capture medium made up of core-shell microcapsules, consisting of a polymer shell that is highly permeable. The shell contains a solution of sodium carbonate, which is the main ingredient of baking soda, and it can absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).More

Study: Mercury levels rising in Pacific yellowfin tuna
Los Angeles Times
Mercury levels in yellowfin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean have been rising at a 3.8 percent annual rate since 1998, according to a new study. The findings, published online in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, add to evidence that air pollution, particularly from burning coal, is pumping mercury into the ocean food chain, potentially posing a hazard to human health.More

Genetic flotsam offers clues to ocean biodiversity
Scientific American
When scientists want to know what life-forms live in deep water, they have to send submersibles or cast nets and grabs hung from long cables. These methods are expensive, however, and they offer only a hint of the biodiversity hidden far below the waves. "In the deep sea," says John Bickham of Battelle Memorial Institute, "we're back in the 1700s. We have no idea what's out there." On land, genetic methods revolutionized bacterial taxonomy and expanded the world’s count of mammal species. More

Atlantic corals: Colorful and vulnerable
The New York Times
A council that sets regulations for fishing off the mid-Atlantic coast will meet to consider protections for little known and fragile ecosystems of deep sea corals in and around 15 ocean sites. Environmental groups and sport fishermen are pushing for protection of these canyons and other sites, which run from Block Canyon off New York to Norfolk Canyon off Virginia, from squid fishing. They also are lobbying for other restrictions on fishing in a much broader zone.More

Bald eagles prove full of flame retardants
Scientific American
Michigan's bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers, according to new research. The study, published last month in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, found that the top predators in the Great Lakes are highly exposed to banned flame retardants, still widespread in the environment.More

Climate change: 'Uncertainty' and the hottest year on record
Recently, much has been said about 2014 being the hottest year on record. The first announcement came from the Japan Meteorological Agency during the first week of January. Later, a joint announcement by NASA and NOAA reinforced the finding: 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record keeping. The joint announcement underscored the significance of two major scientific branches of the U.S. government reaching the same conclusion through separate data analyses. More

Florida scientists develop way to detect mislabeled fish
A pair of Florida scientists have developed a device they say can genetically verify whether imported fish destined for dining tables are grouper or less expensive, potentially harmful Asian catfish often passed off for the popular firm-fleshed fillets. By early summer, Tampa-based PureMolecular LLC hopes to begin selling the fist-sized machines for about $2,000 apiece, said John Paul, the company's chief executive and a marine science professor at the University of South Florida.More

Scientists say the conquest of the Incas caused air pollution in South America to spike
Fox News
The Spanish conquest of the Americas brought about the demise of such civilizations such as the mighty Incas and Aztecs, ravaged indigenous populations through disease, warfare and slavery, all but erased many important historic and cultural artifacts ... and changed the climate of the Americas? That's what researchers at Ohio State University are suggesting in a study on the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study says long before smog had settled over Los Angeles and Mexico City and factories from Shanghai to Chicago pumped toxins into the atmosphere, the Spanish were helping contribute to climate change thanks to their lust for precious metals. More

Watch jumbo squid speak by 'flashing' each other
National Geographic
Giant Humboldt squid, which can grow as big as a man, speak to each other in flashes of color, their whole bodies quickly changing from red to white and back again. But just what they’re communicating has long been a mystery to scientists. The new research is the first to track communications between free-swimming Humboldt squid, partly because the animals show no fear of human divers. More