SETAC MultiBrief
Oct. 2, 2014

Food contaminated by Fukushima harms animals still
Nature World News
Even several years after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, food contaminated from the meltdown is still harming animals, according to a new study. Specifically, butterflies eating food collected from cities around the site showed higher rates of death and disease. The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant released large amounts of radiation into the surrounding atmosphere. While no significant human health effects have been reported, scientists from the University of Rukyus in Japan are studying the impact on the area's wildlife.More

New generation: Growing up reading Rachel Carson, scientists unravel risks of new pesticides
Environmental Health News
Christy Morrissey is driving her white pickup truck along the endless prairie highway, windows open, listening for birds. She points to the scatter of ponds glinting in the landscape, nestled among fields of canola that stretch as far as the eye can see. Formed by retreating glaciers 12,000 years ago and fed each spring by melted snow, these tiny potholes are the lifeblood of the prairies, the kidneys that drain impurities and the cradle that replenishes life. But when Morrissey looks at these ponds, she sees something few others do. An ecotoxicologist at the University of Saskatchewan, she knows that nearly every pond is laced with neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used insecticides, deadly to insects at a minute dose of a few parts per trillion.More

Bacteria may reduce impact of Valium in UK rivers
Science 2.0
Valium, or diazepam, and similar medicines degrade naturally in the environment but it takes time, and until it happens there is concern about the freshwater environment. Bacterial breakdown may give it a boost, a team of researchers has said. Diazepam, used to treat anxiety and other similar conditions, has been detected in rivers across the U.K. and Europe. At the levels recorded, there is concern it may have the potential to produce harmful ecological effects in surface waters, including changing the behavior of fish shoals and their ability to sense danger from predators.More

Report: World wildlife populations halved in 40 years
BBC
The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society says in its new Living Planet Index. The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago. The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52 percent. Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76 percent. More

Nanoparticles accumulate quickly in wetland sediment
Phys.org
A Duke University team has found that nanoparticles called single-walled carbon nanotubes accumulate quickly in the bottom sediments of an experimental wetland setting, an action they say could indirectly damage the aquatic food chain. The results indicate little risk to humans ingesting the particles through drinking water, say scientists at Duke's Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. More

New study explains wintertime ozone pollution in Utah oil and gas fields
NOAA
Chemicals released into the air by oil and gas exploration, extraction and related activities can spark reactions that lead to high levels of ozone in wintertime, high enough to exceed federal health standards, according to new NOAA-led research, published today in Nature. The study comes at a time when new technologies are helping to accelerate oil and gas development in Utah's Uintah Basin, elsewhere in the United States and in many other countries, and its findings may help air quality managers determine how to best minimize the impact of ozone pollution.More

EPA unveils 2nd phase of plan to reverse Great Lakes damage
The New York Times
The federal government issued a new blueprint for its efforts to restore the Great Lakes, including plans to clean up 10 contaminated rivers and harbors and step up its attack on poisonous algae blooms that coat parts of three lakes each summer. The program will include a new attempt to buffer the lakes against the effects of climate change. It will require, for example, that new wetlands include plants that can thrive in warmer temperatures.More

The big blue elephant in the room
The Huffington Post
Disregard for the ocean as the primary driver of climate and weather might be forgiven 50 years ago, but now we know: the living ocean governs planetary chemistry; regulates temperature; generates most of the oxygen in the sea and atmosphere; powers the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles; and holds 97 percent of Earth's water and 97 percent of the biosphere. Quite simply, no ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the ocean, there would be no climate to discuss or anyone around to debate the issues. More

Deforestation threatens newly identified bird in Brazil
Scientific American
Discovering a new species isn't always as easy as saying "Look, there's a new species!" In the case of a rare bird recently identified in Brazil, it took about 20 years for scientists to gather enough evidence to classify it as a new species. The journey began in the early 1990s when scientists found an isolated population of songbirds in the heavily logged mountains of Bahia, Brazil. At the time researchers labeled the small (12 centimeters in length) birds in this location as a previously known, widespread species called the mouse-colored tapaculo (Scytalopus speluncae). A second, equally isolated population was discovered nearby in 1999. Three more sites in the mountains of Bahia followed, all heavily degraded by logging and deforestation.More