SETAC MultiBrief
Sep. 19, 2013

Ear wax from whales keeps record of ocean contaminants
According to a study published recently, these columns of whales' ear wax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans. The study used the ear wax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it.More

Will the new global mercury treaty be effective?
MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
After four years of negotiations, delegates from more than 140 countries met in January to finalize the first global treaty to mitigate and prevent mercury pollution, the Minamata Convention. Now, as delegates reconvene in October to sign the treaty, an MIT researcher analyzes its potential effectiveness. More

Colorado and industry working to assess damage in flooded oil fields
The Denver Post
Colorado's richest oil field — the Denver-Julesburg Basin — is buried in floodwaters, raising operational and environmental concerns as state and industry officials work to get a handle on the problem. Thousands of wells and operating sites have been affected — some remain in rushing waters, officials said.More

Baltic Sea threatened by wartime chemical weapons
The Scotsman
The Baltic Sea faces contamination by thousands of tons of corroding chemical weapons dumped on the ocean bed after the Second World War. Research carried out by marine scientists has found that thousands of shells, many containing mustard gas, have now started to leak and pollute the surrounding seabed.More

Ocean acidification poses unfathomable threat
The Seattle Times
Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball into the sea. That’s what we do to the oceans every day. the phenomenon known as ocean acidification — the lesser-known twin of climate change — is helping push the seas toward a great unraveling that threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom, and far faster than first expected.More

Blood tests show elevated health risks for Gulf spill cleanup workers
Houston Chronicle
People hired to clean up Gulf of Mexico beaches and marshes during the 2010 oil spill have significantly altered blood profiles that put them at increased risk of developing liver cancer, leukemia and other disorders, according to a report published recently. The study, conducted by doctors at Houston's University Cancer and Diagnostic Centers and reported in the American Journal of Medicine, sheds new light on the potential health repercussions for the more than 170,000 people who worked in some capacity to clean up the 2010 spill.More

Official: EPA to consider guidance, regulations on inherently safer technologies
Bloomberg BNA
The Environmental Protection Agency will consider issuing guidance or regulations on the installation of inherently safer technologies at chemical facilities, according to a senior official. Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, told the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council the agency will consider such measures as part of a broad discussion on how to improve chemical security.More

Crusader is a strong voice in Louisiana's Cancer Alley
Los Angeles Times
Authorities never found the person who shot at Wilma Subra while she was working at her desk by the front window. The soft-spoken environmental crusader's response to the threat was to put bars on her windows, move her desk to the back of the house — and keep going. Seven years later, at 69, Subra is still working to rein in environmental degradation along Cancer Alley, an eye-watering corridor of more than 150 industrial facilities along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that produce a quarter of the nation's petrochemicals.More

In South Florida, a polluted bubble ready to burst
The New York Times
On wind-whipped days when rain pounds part of South Florida, people are quickly reminded that Lake Okeechobee, with its vulnerable dike and polluted waters, has become a giant environmental problem far beyond its banks. Beginning in May, huge downpours ushered in the most significant threat in almost a decade to the bulging lake and its 80-year-old earthen dike, a turn of events with far-reaching consequences. More

Wal-Mart plans to phase out hazardous chemicals
USA Today
Prodded by health and environmental advocates, Wal-Mart Stores announced it will require suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out nearly 10 hazardous chemicals from the fragrances, cosmetics, household cleaners and personal care products at its stores. The nation's largest retailer said that, beginning in January, it would begin to monitor progress on reducing these chemicals and apply to its own brand of cleaning products the Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment label, which identifies eco-friendly goods. More

New catalyzer to avoid environmental pollution from chlorinated volatile organic compounds
Asociaciacion RUVID via ScienceDaily
Researchers from the University of Alicante and the University of the Basque Country have developed and patented a new catalyst that efficiently removes volatile organic compounds, chlorinated in gas streams, pollutants involved in the destruction of the ozone layer and acts as greenhouse gases, in addition to having toxic effects in humans. This innovative technology efficiently eliminates the chemical compound 1,2- dichloroethane, commonly known by its former name ethylene dichloride, often used in the industry and extremely harmful to the human health and the environment.More