SETAC MultiBrief
Mar. 12, 2015

After the oil spill: Research projects in the Gulf of Mexico with GoMRI
Ocean Portal
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was formed as a 10-year independent research program with money provided by BP to fund an independent research program looking at the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the environment and public health. Five main research themes were chosen by the GoMRI Board at the outset — physical movement of the oil and dispersant, degradation of the oil and its interaction with the ecosystem, environmental effects of the oil and dispersant, development of technology for improved response and remediation, and the effects of oil and dispersant on human health.More

Salt Lake City named among top 10 downtown neighborhoods
Deseret News
Salt Lake City's burgeoning central district has been named among the top 10 best downtowns in the country, according to an annual list compiled by Overall, Salt Lake was ranked fifth on the list of the best 10 small to mid-sized cities. Rankings were largely data-driven, relying on demographic measures including projected median household income, population increase since 2010 and percentage of new homeowners. More

New device sniffs out origins of harmful methane
Nature World News
In the fight against climate change, most experts focus on controlling emissions of carbon dioxide, but methane is actually the more potent greenhouse gas, even more effective at trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. Now, thanks to a new device, scientists are sniffing out the origins of harmful methane, helping them to better understand its role in warming the planet. More

Coral collapse millennia ago may preview global warming impact
ClimateWire via Scientific American
About 4,100 years ago, coral reefs in Panama violently collapsed and ceased growing for the next 2,500 years. Intrigued, a Florida graduate student, her adviser and a team of researchers set out to discover why. By analyzing the chemical signatures of six coral reef cores taken from multiple sites in the Pacific Ocean around Panama, the scientists found an extreme weather event associated with what we would call La Niña today triggered the reef collapse. A series of events similar to El Niño continued to suppress the reef for the next two millenniums. More

The 18th century fur trade polluted Lake Superior's shore with mercury that's never gone away
Before we recognized that the allure of quicksilver — elemental mercury — was tainted by its toxic effects, we used it to decorate, to develop photos, to make mirrors reflect and to heal the sick. Mercury still shows up in food, in batteries and even in cosmetics. We may finally be phasing it out, but that doesn't mean we're rid of it. Thanks to the 18th century fur trade in the Great Lakes, toxic mercury still lingers, centuries later, on the northern shore of Lake Superior. More

US Senate launches chemical reform push
The Hill
Sens. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and David Vitter, R-Louisiana, are introducing legislation to overhaul the nation's chemical laws, which are widely viewed as broken. Democrats, led by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, have long sought reforms to the Toxic Chemicals Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, though the effort has repeatedly stalled in previous years. Unveiled Tuesday, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act forces the Environmental Protection Agency to base chemical safety decisions solely on considerations of risk to public health and the environment and eliminates TSCA's "least burdensome" requirement for regulating a chemical, which prevented the EPA from banning asbestos. More

Chameleons reorganize nano-crystals to switch colors
Controlled Environments
Many chameleons have the remarkable ability to exhibit complex and rapid color changes during social interactions. A collaboration of scientists within the Sections of Biology and Physics of the Faculty of Science from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, unveils the mechanisms that regulate this phenomenon. In a study published in Nature Communications, the team led by Professors Michel Milinkovitch and Dirk van der Marel demonstrates that the changes take place via the active tuning of a lattice of nanocrystals present in a superficial layer of dermal cells called iridophores. More

If dollars rule the world, why don't the bees get a bailout?
The Conversation
Attempts to put a dollar value on the natural world — so-called "natural capital" or "ecosystem services" — have produced some frankly staggering numbers. A seminal 1997 paper valued the world's ecosystem services at $33 trillion a year. This estimate was controversial, given that it dwarfed the entire global market economy, which at the time stood at roughly $18 trillion a year. More