SETAC MultiBrief
Aug. 21, 2014

Sunscreen may impact tiny ocean denizens
Science World Report
It turns out that sunscreen could be hurting our environment. Scientists have found that when certain sunblock ingredients wash off our skin and into the sea, they can become toxic to some of the ocean's tiniest denizens, which are the basis of the food chain for many other marine animals. The main problems lie in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles. These are common ingredients in sunblock, and can react with ultraviolet light from the sun and form new compounds, such as hydrogen peroxide. High amounts of hydrogen peroxide can harm phytoplankton, which are the microscopic algae that feed everything from small fish to shrimp to whales.More

Cleaning up after Canada's largest tailings pond leak
Uprooted trees, muddied water with a silvery sheen, fish belly-up on the surface. There was something essentially un-Canadian about the first galling photos to emerge out of Mount Polley, British Columbia, where a copper and gold mine's tailings pond — a containment area where the waste produced through the mining process is treated and allowed to dry before being disposed — burst through its earthen walls. All told, 10 million cubic meters of water contaminated with arsenic and mercury and 4.5 million cubic meters of tiny silt silicates spilled into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake. More

Study: Arctic animals metabolize pesticides, limiting human exposure
Nunatsiaq Online
Studies in recent years have warned Inuit that their traditional diet is tainted by industrial pollutants, absorbed into the tissues and organs of land and marine mammals they eat. But at least one Arctic species appears to be processing some of those contaminants before the meat is consumed by humans. New research from the University of Guelph shows that caribou can metabolize some current-use pesticides ingested from the vegetation they eat, meaning during digestion, they can limit the negative impact of those chemicals.More

NOAA analysis reveals significant land cover changes in U.S. coastal regions
A new NOAA nationwide analysis shows that between 1996 and 2011, 64,975 square miles in coastal regions — an area larger than the state of Wisconsin — experienced changes in land cover, including a decline in wetlands and forest cover with development a major contributing factor. Overall, 8.2 percent of the nation's ocean and Great Lakes coastal regions experienced these changes. In analysis of the five year period between 2001-2006, coastal areas accounted for 43 percent of all land cover change in the continental U.S. More

Neonicotinoid pesticides: New findings highlight their role in the disappearance of bees
Bees have been declining for years worldwide — this is a well-accepted fact. However, the "why" of this decline is still a matter of debate. Although it is likely that a combination of different factors is contributing to the global bee die-offs, increasing attention is now devoted to the toxic effects of a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short. They are systemic pesticides — their solubility in water allows them to reach leaves, flowers, roots and stems, even pollen and nectar. One could therefore infer that these pesticides will likely kill not only the insects that farmers want to eliminate, but also pollinators.More

Fracking's impact on animals still largely unknown
Nature World News
Fracking's impact on animals is still largely unknown, which scientists see as a real problem given that business is booming. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no signs of stopping. Between 2005 and 2013, some 82,000 fracking wells were drilled into the shale deposits beneath 17 states, according to the environmental advocacy group Environment America. But scientists are concerned about this method of accessing oil and gas beneath the soil — which involves injecting chemicals into the ground. Opponents point out the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, such as potential contamination of ground water, the depletion of fresh water, possible reduction in air quality and triggering of earthquakes.More

Suburbs and farms team with global warming to threaten wild animals and plants
Scientific American
Not long ago, the idea that climate change could prompt whole ecosystems to move was introduced to researchers as "climate velocity." It's meant to show how quickly trees, plants and animals will have to migrate to find friendly temperatures. Now a new analysis is estimating the pace of species movement because of both climate change and land use, revealing new pressures that stem from local decisions to build, plant and cut on the warming landscape. The speed of transformation is shown in the mountainous West, the Great Plains and the urban East.More

The salmon cannon is one way of helping fish get over a dam
Dams are one of the biggest problems for fish that undertake migrations, like salmon. If a big wall blocks the route to breeding or feeding grounds, that can spell doom for the fish. And the existing mitigation measures, such as fish ladders, aren't very effective solutions. Enter the salmon cannon. As ridiculous as it sounds, one group of entrepreneurs from a company called Whooshh Innovations thinks that shooting fish down a tube and then firing them into the air could be a solution for helping fish like salmon overcome migration barriers.More