Archive for March, 2011

ACS Anaheim highlights from JEM Deputy Editor Michael Smith

JEM Deputy Editor Michael Smith shares some of the environmental highlights from the talks at ACS Anaheim:

Richard Luthy

“The vital need to tackle the water supply shortage in California was highlighted by Richard Luthy (Stanford University). As the opening speaker in the session on Environmental and Geochemical Aspects of Sustainable Water Reuse, Professor Luthy described a current project in which he is working with colleagues in economics and the social sciences to help identify the drivers and hindrances in implementing water re-use policies. Although he stressed that costs are a key element to be factored in, he considered that this area was as much a sociological challenge as an environmental engineering one.

The day ended with a panel discussion during which Chris Impellitteri (from the EPA in Cincinnati) pointed out that much could be learned from expertise gained in Singapore and Australia and he stressed the need for wider collaboration with other agencies to maximize successful water reuse programmes.”

Chris Impellitteri has previously published research on speciation of organotins in PVC pipes – why not take a look:

Speciation of organotins in polyvinyl chloride pipe via X-ray absorption spectroscopy and in leachates using GC-PFPD after derivatisation
Christopher A. Impellitteri, Otis Evans and Bruce Ravel
J. Environ. Monit., 2007, 9, 358-365
DOI: 10.1039/B617711E

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Top five most accessed articles in February

This month sees the following articles in JEM that are in the top five most accessed:-

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in effluent matrices: A survey of transformation and removal during wastewater treatment and implications for wastewater management
Rebekah L. Oulton, Tamar Kohn and David M. Cwiertny
J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 1956-1978, DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00068J, Critical Review

Polyfluoroalkyl compounds in the aquatic environment: a review of their occurrence and fate
Lutz Ahrens
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 20-31, DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00373E, Critical Review

Relationship of polychlorinated biphenyls with type 2 diabetes and hypertension
Charles Jay Everett, Ivar Frithsen and Marty Player
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 241-251, DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00400F, Critical Review

Quantitation of persistent organic pollutants adsorbed on plastic debris from the Northern Pacific Gyre’s ?eastern garbage patch?
Lorena M. Rios, Patrick R. Jones, Charles Moore and Urja V. Narayan
J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 2226-2236 DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00239A, Paper

Application of a battery of biomarkers in mussel digestive gland to assess long-term effects of the Prestige oil spill in Galicia and Bay of Biscay: Tissue-level biomarkers and histopathology
Larraitz Garmendia, Manu Soto, Unai Vicario, Yungkul Kim, Miren P Cajaraville and Ionan Marigómez
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00410C, Paper

Why not take a look at the articles today and blog your thoughts and comments below.

Fancy submitting an article to JEM? Then why not submit to us today or alternatively email us your suggestions.

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Off to Anaheim? Meet Deputy Editor Michael Smith there

We are excited to be off to the ACS Spring 2011 meeting in Anaheim next week – especially as Molecular BioSystems Editorial Board member Dr Madan Babu will be giving the Molecular BioSystems Award Lecture on Wednesday morning, at 8.30 am in the Marquis Northeast Ballroom of the Anaheim Marriott .

Deputy Editor Michael Smith will be at the meeting on behalf of Molecular BioSystems, Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Integrative Biology and would be delighted to meet you, so do come and say hello!

RSC Publishing will also be at Booth 903, find out more about what we’ll be doing here.

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HOT article: triclosan distribution down under

The anti-microbial agent triclosan has been used extensively in the last four decades, however concerns regarding its environmental impact on marine systems are relatively recent.

Milena Fernandes (South Australian Water Corporation) and co-workers investigated the distribution of wastewater-borne triclosan and its methylated derivative in surface sediments of a coastal inlet to determine the factors affecting transport and benthic preservation. The location studied is of interest as it is an important nursery habitat and provides sanctuary to a resident population of bottlenose dolphins.

Fernandes demonstrates that the pathways leading to dispersal are different for triclosan and methyl-triclosan discharged with wastewater, with triclosan having a larger area of impact. Triclosan accumulated in deeper sites containing finer sediment fractions, where in situ biological methylation was enhanced. Methyl-triclosan was absent from shallower sediments, potentially as a result of photodegradation of the parent compound.

This HOT article is part of our forthcoming SETAC themed issue focussing on Asia/Pacific environmental science and is free to access for 4 weeks.

The distribution of triclosan and methyl-triclosan in marine sediments of Barker Inlet, South Australia
Milena Fernandes, Ali Shareef, Rai Kookana, Sam Gaylard, Sonja Hoare and Tim Kildea
J. Environ. Monit.
, 2011, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00612B

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Uncertainty for nuclear power

Ned Stafford, Hamburg, Germany
As workers battle to cool down damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant reactors after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March, the potential environmental impact from the release of radioactive material remains uncertain. Already political fallout from the disaster has spread to Europe and will no doubt have a lasting impact on nuclear power policy and research funding.

Four days after the earthquake, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced that seven nuclear power plants, that began operating before 1980, will be shut down for safety review until at least June. The closures reverse a controversial decision made last year by Merkel’s coalition government to extend the life of older nuclear power plants. And France, where nuclear power provides 80 per cent of total electricity supply, announced safety tests on its 58 reactors.

Francis Livens, research director at Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, UK, told Chemistry World that the global impact of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant depends on how the situation develops. ‘If the situation gets no worse and everything is brought back under control over the next few days, then there will be an argument that the reactors did their job,’ he says. ‘If the situation deteriorates further, then it will depend on just what the end result is, so one can’t say at this point. However, I would be astonished if public perception of nuclear power as a risky technology hasn’t increased.’

Radioactive contamination by the nuclear reactor problems at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are not as serious as Chernobyl

Mats Jonsson, head of nuclear chemistry at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, says: ‘From what we have seen so far, this situation will initiate discussions and debates concerning the safety of nuclear power in Europe and in the rest of the world. My guess is that chemistry, as well as related research fields, could switch from chemical problems in new reactor types and reprocessing, to issues more related to safety and the environmental impact of nuclear energy.’

Some experts fear the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi accident could approach the level of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Ukraine. In April 1986 during a routine systems test a power surge followed by an attempted emergency shutdown triggered a series of explosions and the release of radioactive fallout over a large area. Yoshihito Watanabe, a chemist and vice president at Nagoya University in Japan, tells Chemistry World that, thus far, ‘radioactive contamination by the nuclear reactor problems are not so serious.’

Depending on the outcome of the attempts to cool down Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the major problem now is the physical damage from the earthquake and tsunami, he says. Toyota, Honda, and other automotive manufacturers have had to stop production due to automotive part shortages and Tohoku University in Sendai suffered major damage to research facilities. It is far too early to speculate what the effect might be on Japanese research, he says, adding: ‘The first priority for the government to consider right now is how to support the recovery of the earthquake area, including the lifeline, construction of houses, reconstruction of factories, offices and so on.’

The future for nuclear power policy in Japan also remains uncertain, he says. ‘Currently, people even who are against the nuclear power policy are quiet on this issue, because so many people are working hard to stop the current troubles at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant under very dangerous and risky conditions.’

The Japanese people are highly appreciative of the global outpouring of support and sympathy in the wake of the earthquake, he says, adding that the embattled nation will persevere.

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JEM issue 3 now online

This month’s issue sees contributions from 3 of our 2010 Emerging Investigators, Hans Peter Arp, Susan Bengtson Nash and Nicholas Howden, read their profiles online here.

The issue also includes several HOT articles from M. Feroz Khan on monitoring 210Po and 210Pb levels in crabs near a new nuclear power station, Timothy Van Renterghem on using consumer microphones to measure noise pollution, and an article from Kenneth Fent on the exposure of firefighters to VOCs from vehicle fires.  This paper is also on our cover and is highlighted in Chemistry World – you can read the article here.

The other HOT article highlighted on the cover is from Martin Harper and colleagues from NIOSH, USA, looking at the challenge of accurately measuring personal exposure to airborne contaminants.

Biomonitoring 210Po and 210Pb in marine brachyuran crabs collected along the coast of Kudankulam, Gulf of Mannar (GOM), India
M. Feroz Khan, S. Umarajeswari and S. Godwin Wesley
J. Environ. Monit.
, 2011, 13, 553-562
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00723D

On the ability of consumer electronics microphones for environmental noise monitoring
Timothy Van Renterghem, Pieter Thomas, Frederico Dominguez, Samuel Dauwe, Abdellah Touhafi, Bart Dhoedt and Dick Botteldooren
J. Environ. Monit., 2011,13, 544-552
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00532K

Assessing the risk to firefighters from chemical vapors and gases during vehicle fire suppression
Kenneth W. Fent and Douglas E. Evans
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 536-543
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00591F

Size-selective sampling of particulates using a physiologic sampling pump
Larry A. Lee, Eun Gyung Lee, Taekhee Lee, Seung Won Kim, James E. Slaven and Martin Harper
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 527-535
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00445F

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HOT article: investigating lesser-studied flame retardants

This HOT paper from 2010 Emerging Investigator Hans Peter Arp investigates levels of some lesser-studied brominated fire retardants.

Recent years have seen an increase in pressure to find ‘new’ fire retardants, that are less stringently regulated than their polybrominated biphenyl and polybrominated diphenyl ether cousins.  Arp and colleagues looked at three brominated monoaromatics that have been in use for several decades and have been found in environmental samples, but have received far less overall attention.

Their findings indicate, that although there is not yet any cause for concern, the levels of the BFRs in samples (in particular hexabromobenzene) certainly warrant further study.  The group are careful to point out that it is difficult at this stage to determine whether the levels reported suggest an increase in production levels, transformation products or interest by researchers, and that more information could be obtained through dated sediment or ice core studies.

This interesting article is currently free to access until April, so download the full paper today:

Presence and partitioning properties of the flame retardants pentabromotoluene, pentabromoethylbenzene and hexabromobenzene near suspected source zones in Norway
Hans Peter H. Arp, Thomas Møskeland, Patrik L. Andersson and Jenny Rattfelt Nyholm
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00258E

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HOT: cheap consumer electronics to help measure noise pollution

Many of us have suffered a sleepless night from wailing sirens or been distracted at work by incessant drilling from a construction site, and we all know that annoying noises have the capacity to drive us round the bend.  The European Environmental Noise Directive requires member states to draw up ‘strategic noise maps‘ so that noise pollution  can be monitored and the problem tackled in the longer term.

However creating these noise maps is not a cheap or easy task – most are estimates from calculations, the input of which are predictions from traffic models  and limited geometrical acoustics approaches.  As is always the case,  the more complex the calculation, the higher the computing time and cost, so  a comprise is often made between cost and accuracy.  Although the technology exists for more accurate noise measurement networks, their application is very limited due to the high cost of logging units and sensors (microphones) found on the commercial market.

Timothy Van Renterghem (Ghent University)  and co-workers have now come up with a solution – the surge in microphones used in laptops, mobile phones, mp3 players etc has driven down their cost, but not at the expense of quality – the technology is very similar to high-quality measurement microphones.  Logging the raw microphone signal
has also shifted from dedicated hardware to PC-based systems, with significant cost reductions.

In this paper Van Renterghem and team have shown that the cheap consumer microphones perform well against their more expensive dedicated monitoring cousins, with only small level differences compared to reference equipment.

The study is part of a longer term project on affordable environmental noise monitoring – read the full paper online here, the article is free to access until April.

On the ability of consumer electronics microphones for environmental noise monitoring
Timothy Van Renterghem, Pieter Thomas, Frederico Dominguez, Samuel Dauwe, Abdellah Touhafi, Bart Dhoedt and Dick Botteldooren
J. Environ. Monit., 2011, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00532K, Paper

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