SETAC MultiBrief
Dec. 26, 2014

About 99 percent of the ocean's plastic has disappeared; where it's ending up should scare all of us
From July 10: From water bottles to the microbeads in our face wash, we send millions of tons of plastic into the ocean every year. Not only does it amount to $13 billion in damages to the environment, but it costs the lives of the marine animals that end up choking on our garbage. A new study has found even grimmer news: About 99 percent of the ocean's plastic is missing, and there's a chance that a large amount is ending up on our dinner plates.More

What happens to all the salt we dump on the roads?
From Jan. 23: As much of the country endures from the heavy snowfall and bitter cold that has marked the start of 2014, municipalities in 26 states will rely on a crucial tool in clearing their roads: salt. Consider how easily salt can corrode your car. Unsurprisingly, it's also a problem for the surrounding environment.More

Chemicals 400 times as mutagenic as known carcinogens found
Environment News Service
From Jan. 9: Newly identified compounds produced by chemical reactions in vehicle exhaust or by grilling meat are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their cancer-causing parent compounds, according to scientists at Oregon State and three other universities. These compounds were not previously known to exist, and they raise concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air and dietary exposure, the researchers said. It is not yet clear in what amounts the compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for them.More

Triclosan under the microscope
Chemical and Engineering News
From June 26: If you've ever used a product labeled as antibacterial, chances are you've encountered triclosan. Patented in the 1960s as an antimicrobial agent and first used in health care settings, triclosan became ubiquitous in the U.S. as consumers became increasingly germophobic. Companies added triclosan to soaps, bodywashes, deodorants, toothpaste, shaving gel and cosmetics, as well as products such as dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, cutting boards, toys, fabrics, shoes and caulking compounds.More

Wild birds' songs, feather colors changed by mercury contamination
National Geographic
From Sept. 18: Scientists have long known that mercury is a potent toxicant: It disrupts the architecture of human brains, and it can change birds' behavior and kill their chicks. But after extensive research in rural Virginia, scientists have shown that mercury also alters the very thing that many backyard birds are known for-their songs.More

Cause of Lake Erie's harmful algal blooms gains more certainty
Circle of Blue
From April 17: Changes in the timing and method of applying agricultural fertilizer are the primary drivers behind the increasing amounts of phosphorus entering Lake Erie and causing toxic algal blooms and a large dead zone, according to new basin-wide scientific studies. The studies, drawing on institutions from across the Great Lakes, also found that climate change is increasing the urgency of developing ways to keep fertilizers on fields and may mean that larger reductions in phosphorus will be necessary to alleviate Great Lakes algal blooms.More

Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish
The Associated Press via Yahoo
From Nov. 26: Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle's busiest highways. One by one, the fish were removed from a tank filled with coffee-colored water and inspected: They were rigid. Their typically red gills were gray. This was the fate of coho salmon exposed to the everyday toxic brew of dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound. When that runoff was filtered through a simple mixture of gravel, sand and compost, however, the outlook was much brighter.More

Report: Tar sands mining pollution far worse than industry reports
Common Dreams via eNews Park Forest
From Feb. 6: The amount of pollutants being emitted from tar sands extraction sites in Alberta is far higher than industry-reported estimates, according to research published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using predictive computer models, University of Toronto Environmental Chemistry professor Frank Wania and his Ph.D. candidate Abha Parajulee found that officially reported emissions of the atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons do not factor in "indirect pathways" of pollution, such as those which blow off mining sites or evaporate from tailings ponds.More

Atop food chain, Ospreys ingest many poisons, revealing environmental dangers
National Geographic
From Sept. 4: Ospreys tell a story and scientists who track the raptors are trying to decipher their message. For more than two decades in North America, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, ospreys have revealed disturbing tales about DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls, pulp mill dioxins, flame retardants, stain-resistant compounds, urban runoff, mining wastes, prescription drugs, mercury and more.More

Scientists: Oil from BP spill slowing one of ocean's fastest fish
From June 26: A study by University of Miami scientists says mahi-mahi, a popular fish among restaurants and anglers and exposed as infants to oil from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill, swim nearly half as fast as their unaffected counterparts. Researchers treated mahi-mahi embryos and young fish with oil collected from near the damaged wellhead and from the gulf's surface. Individual fish were then transferred to clean water for at least 25 days before their swim speeds were tested in a kind of aquatic treadmill.More