SETAC MultiBrief
Feb. 20, 2014

Flame retardant in Antarctic comparable to urban rivers
Environmental Health News
Antarctica is not untouched. Penguins, fish, sea sponges and even worms there are contaminated with flame retardants. In some sediment, one widely used chemical was found at levels similar to those found in urban rivers. Research stations are the apparent source.More

Molecular modeling clicks with geochemistry: Preventing drinking water contamination
Sandia National Laboratories via Scientific Computing
Sandia National Laboratories is developing computer models that show how radioactive waste interacts with soil and sediments, shedding light on waste disposal and how to keep contamination away from drinking water. Researchers have studied the geochemistry of contaminants such as radioactive materials and toxic heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium. But laboratory testing of soils is difficult.More

Urban bees build their nests with plastic
Scott MacIvor has cracked open hundreds of artificial bee nests. But two he peered inside in Toronto gave him pause. Within their containers, the bees he studies had carefully built homes for their young out of plastic debris. Mixed in with the usual construction materials of leaves and mud, MacIvor could clearly see bits of shopping bag.More

Cool roofs might be enough to save cities from climate overheating
Scientific American
Verdant roofs may form part of an effective strategy for both cooling buildings and helping combat climate change, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Other solutions cited in the study include white roofs that reflect more sunlight back to space or hybrid roofs that combine aspects of white and green, or planted, roofs.More

Water in America: Is it safe to drink?
National Geographic
While the U.S. has one of the safest water supplies in the world, experts say the Charleston, W.Va., contamination with a coal-washing chemical shows how quickly the trust that most Americans place in their drinking water can be shattered. "We often don't think about where our water comes from," said Steve Fleischli, director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council Water Program in Los Angeles. "Does it come from a nearby river or a lake, intermittent streams, isolated wetlands, or an aquifer? Yes, you may have a water treatment plant, but if your water source is not protected, people face a real risk."More

America's natural gas system is leaking methane and in need of a fix
Stanford University via ScienceDaily
The U.S. natural gas system is letting more methane, a potent greenhouse gas, escape into the air than previously thought, a new study confirms. Even small leaks from the natural gas system are important because methane is a potent greenhouse gas — about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. More

Big companies step up efforts to trim environmental risks in supply chains
Multinational corporations say they are increasingly taking on a regulatory role in their supply chains to improve performance on environment, health and safety issues, especially in developing countries where government oversight can be weak. Although EHS regulations are strong in some developing countries, including China, they can be difficult to enforce, as governments struggle to keep up with growth in manufacturing.More

Pesticide exposure may contribute to development of Parkinson's disease
In January 2013, results published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pointed out a mechanism of action for the fungicide benomyl, a persistent pesticide that is still present in the environment despite having been banned by the U.S. in 2001. Now, results from a new study published in the current issue of the journal Neurology show that several additional pesticides may be involved in the development of Parkinson's disease, with a mechanism similar to that described for benomyl.More

New BPA experiment finds no low-dose effects
Scientific American
Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have found that bisphenol A does not affect the health of rats fed low doses. Other scientists say the study is flawed.More