Understanding how businesses, products, and projects affect the environment and assessing the biological and ecological impacts of chemicals, substances, and actions is critical to mitigating damage and environmental risk. Whether understanding the changing regulatory frameworks governing pharmaceuticals and plastics waste, the use of existing and novel toxicity testing in support of remediation, or simply staying vigilant against misinformation when making critical regulatory decisions — remediating existing damages and reducing future impacts requires leading-edge insights and expertise.
At the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America Annual Meeting, Exponent's multidisciplinary Ecological & Biological Sciences and Environmental & Earth Sciences experts will present their latest findings, which they leverage to help a range of clients reduce impacts and risks and evaluate remediation goals and cases through our extensive environment and sustainability consulting services. Connect with our experts exhibiting at booth 29 and learn more about their presentations and sessions below.
MONDAY, NOV. 13
Chairs: Susan Kane Driscoll, Ph.D., Senior Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Ashley Parks, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Environmental & Earth Sciences, Exponent; Robert M. Burgess, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Our appreciation of the ecological effects of microplastics in aquatic environments is rapidly advancing. However, this research has highlighted our limited understanding of the ecological effects of nanoplastics in aquatic environments. Consequently, this session will focus on clarifying the scientific challenges in research on the ecological effects of nanoplastics. In this context, we consider ecological effects to range from molecular toxicity to impacts on entire ecosystems.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14 | 1:30 P.M. EST
Chairs: Margaret McArdle, M.S., Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Katherine Anne Johnson-Couch, and Wesley S. Hunter, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Pharmaceuticals are necessary in the protection of both human and animal health, and as a result, are of global importance. Due to their use, human and veterinary pharmaceuticals may enter the environment through several pathways that result in discharge to land (e.g., land application of biosolids) and/or surface waters (e.g., down-the-drain, wastewater, runoff). As a result, unintended exposure to humans and non-target plants and animals may occur, leading to potential local, regional, national, and global effects. Therefore, from a One Health perspective, the environmental risk assessment of pharmaceuticals requires a comprehensive approach involving transdisciplinary collaboration from academia, government, industry, and non-government organizations to maintain environmental, animal, and human health.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14
Chairs: William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Camille Flinders, NCASI Inc.; Tham C. Hoang, Auburn University; James M. Lazorchak, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing (WET) and Whole Effluent Assessment (WEA) have been used to evaluate wastewater and ambient water toxicity since the 1940s. The use of WET/WEA are environmentally relevant because such approaches consider the aggregate effects of complex contaminant mixtures found in effluents and receiving waters. Most WET/WEA methods used in Europe and North America are based on standard test species that have proven reliable in producing predictable and reproducible toxicity estimates. However, ecologists have a concern about relying solely on the use of standard test organisms to protect sensitive species or appropriate surrogates of biota in certain water bodies.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14
Chairs: William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Allie Gobeil, Ph.D, Senior Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent
Regulatory requirements surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), bisphenol A (BPA), chemical filtering sunscreens, and other "chemicals of concern" in consumer products are accelerating rapidly both in the U.S. and globally. Increasing in tandem are consumer claims alleging that the presence of these chemicals in products causes advertising statements made by companies to be false or misleading. As a result, companies across various industries such as apparel, cosmetics, home goods, and electronics are scrambling to audit their supply chains, marketing protocols, and manufacturing processes to remain in compliance and good consumer standing.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15 | 10:00 A.M. EST
Chairs: Beatrice Hernout, Senior Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Thomas Bean, FMC Corporation; Barnett A. Rattner, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
For decades, ecological risk assessments (ERAs) for wildlife (defined as air breathing amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) have relied upon effects on apical endpoints, namely survival, growth and reproduction. A recent SETAC wildlife risk assessment workshop emphasized a key area for bringing risk assessments for wildlife into the 21st century was improving our ability to link non-standard endpoints, especially those at the molecular and cellular level that have consequences to higher level apical effects. Presently, the median lethal dose (oral LD50 or dietary LC50) are the endpoints used in acute wildlife risk assessments while the no-observed adverse effect level from endpoints related to adult health, reproductive, or developmental effects are often used for chronic wildlife risk assessment.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15
Chairs: William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Timothy J Canfield, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Patrick D. Guiney, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Misinformation, in the form of online posts, sound-bite statements, and agenda driven pundits has become an influential and growing problem within society. Misinformation can be both deliberate and purposefully misleading but appears more commonly as information unintentionally taken out of context and repeated for public consumption. As scientists, we also encounter more entrenched misinformation through the recent wide-spread outbreak of predator journals, that appear to have editorial boards or a peer-review processes, but actually do not exist. The best way for us to address misinformation in science and its communication to decision-makers is to identify examples that we encounter and provide opportunities for discussion as to how to guard against the use of misinformation when it is identified.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14 | 10:00 A.M. EST
Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) must evaluate the environmental impacts of any major actions, resulting in an environmental assessment (EA), an environmental impact statement (EIS), or a categorical exclusion. A categorical exclusion applies to actions that have been determined not to have a significant effect on the environment. When applicable, a categorical exclusion allows a drug sponsor to avoid the expense and effort of completing a full EA for a proposed action.
This presentation will provide an overview of actions eligible to receive a categorical exclusion and illustrate the categorical exclusion justification process using a case study. We will also review "exceptional circumstances" that are considered prior to the determination that an action does not have a significant effect on the environment.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15 | 10:00 A.M. EST
Exponent Speakers: Charles Menzie, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Ann Michelle Morrison, Sc.D., Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Melissa Kleven, P.E., Principal Engineer, Environmental & Earth Sciences; Andrew Deines, Ph.D., Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Qiuyan Yu, Ph.D., Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences
Approaches to conducting cumulative impact assessment (CIA) in the context of actions within EJ communities are being considered at the national and state level. This paper draws upon our experience with assessing the risks/impacts of multiple stressors and involvement with complex projects involving multiple stakeholder groups. We view the scope of CIA as situation specific and involving addressing questions raised in concert with a proposed or existing project, permit, or set of conditions identified as problematic within the community. Because of varied multiple stressors and disparate nature of information, the foundational approach is necessarily generic and requires a means of integrating quantitative and qualitative information. The center of the approach incorporates a communication program and a suite of goals that will be stakeholder specific and a need to bring these together. The overall goal of the process involving CIA is informing decisions and thus the envisioned CIA approach is designed to compare alternative solutions that consider the stakeholders and project objectives and benefits along with project-related and cumulative impacts.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15 | 11:40 A.M. EST
Speaker: Barnett A. Rattner, U.S. Geological Survey
Co-Authors: Thomas Bean, FMC Corporation; Beatrice Hernout, Senior Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Jennifer Olker, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ecological risk assessments (ERAs) involving wildlife have historically focused on apical endpoints at the level of the individual organism, including survival, growth, and reproduction. However, since the 1960s, adverse effect measurements at levels of biological organization below the individual (e.g., molecular, cellular, tissue, organ) have been studied and developed for use in wildlife (e.g., alterations in DNA and RNA, inhibition and induction of enzymes, changes in protein synthesis, presence of metabolic products, impaired immune function, histopathological lesions, and physiologic and nonspecific response biomarkers). While these lower-level toxicological effect endpoints have been extensively used in retrospective ERAs for evaluation of chemical spills and contaminant site assessments, they have rarely been applied in prospective ERAs involving approval of pesticides, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals focused on wildlife.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14
Exponent Authors: Alexandra Steele, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences
Regulatory toxicity studies traditionally use endpoints such as mortality, growth, and reproduction. While these traditional endpoints provide reliable evidence in toxicity testing and provide a connection to toxicity effects on populations, interest in the use of behavioral endpoints in toxicity testing has been growing. This expanded interest has led to an increase in the number of studies and expansion of knowledge in relating behavior to ecotoxicology. Aquatic organisms have developed specific mechanisms such as identifying prey, avoiding predators, courtship displays, etc., important behaviors for an individual's fitness and for population dynamics and ecosystem function. Chemicals in the environment can impact aquatic organisms by disrupting or masking necessary behaviors. While interest in behavioral endpoints is driven by sensitivity, technical developments creating increasingly automated frameworks to measure behavior, and the potential to offer evidence on the mode of action of chemical contaminants provided by behavioral toxicity tests, regulatory bodies have produced guidance which influences the use of these measures.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14
Exponent Authors: Konrad Kulacki, Ph.D., Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Margaret Fleming, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Ecological & Biological Sciences; William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences
Cosmetics and personal care products (PCPs) may be returned to retailers for a number of reasons. Upon return, these products are processed through one of several possible pathways, from resale, to recycling, to incineration. In California, (waste) products recycled into repurposed materials or chemically transformed by incineration before subsequent landfilling are subject not only to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations to potentially define them as RCRA hazardous waste, but also to the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL), Chapter 6.5 under the California Code of Regulations (CCR; 22 CCR Section 66261.3), to potentially define them as non-RCRA hazardous waste. While CCR largely mirrors RCRA when defining waste as ignitable, reactive, or corrosive, the two regulations differ in defining product toxicity. Specifically, while RCRA incorporates exposure into its classification of toxicity (and by association, risk), the HWCL only relies on hazard information (often using the fathead minnow acute toxicity test) and does not incorporate likelihood of exposure. This can lead to materials being classified as non-RCRA hazardous waste, and thus subject to additional regulatory scrutiny and requirements, even when there may be no chance of any relevant biological receptors being exposed to the materials.
TUESDAY, NOV. 14
Exponent Authors: Alexandra Steele, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Konrad Kulacki, Ph.D., Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences; Chris White, Ph.D., Senior Managing Scientist, Polymer Science & Materials Chemistry
The fate of plastics in the environment is an area of growing research and public concern. Plastics in the environment, the definition of recyclability, and producers' roles and responsibilities for the end-of-life management of their products, have also recently drawn increased attention from legislators and regulators. Plastics-related regulations are increasing in the U.S., primarily at the state level, signaling a changing reality for packaging and other single-use product manufacturers. Several states have passed or are considering Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation that will incentivize producers to either make their glass, paper, or plastic packaging and products more readily recyclable or else cover the actual costs of recycling these items. In addition, states are also developing legislation related to recyclability claims and labelling, as well as restricting the additives that may be used in plastic packaging.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15
Speaker: William A. Stubblefield, Oregon State University
Co-Authors: Valerie Chatterley, Venveco; Michelle C. Knowlen, EcoAnalysts, Inc.; Joy A. Mcgrath, GHD; Mary Ann Rempel-Hester, EcoAnalysts, Inc.; Dayang (Cindy) Wang, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Environmental & Earth Sciences, Exponent
Emissions from the combustion of high sulfur heavy fuel oil (HFO) have been suggested to increase risks to human health and the environment. Beginning in 2020, the International Maritime Organization International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) required vessels to comply with new sulfur air emission standards by: 1) using a very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) or 0.1% sulfur marine gas oil (MGO), or 2) installing an "appropriate exhaust alternative method." To comply with the new standards, most cruise ship operators installed Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) on their vessels. The EGCS removes 98 percent of sulfur oxides from exhaust air emissions, as well as many pyrogenic and petrogenic PAHs and metals, by spraying ambient seawater into the engine exhaust prior to vessel release. EGCS can be operated in a "closed-loop, i.e., minimal overboard discharge, "open loop", discharging EGCS washwater "buffered" with ambient seawater, or hybrid configuration that can be operated in open- or closed-loop mode. The goal of this study was to evaluate potential environmental risks associated with the operation of open-loop EGCS.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15
Authors: William Goodfellow, BCES, M.S., Practice Director and Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Timothy J. Canfield, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Patrick D. Guiney, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Misinformation has become an influential and growing problem within science communication. These can be simple online posts, overstatement of sound bites in press releases and journal article abstracts, and maybe the most troubling, the known or unintentional agendas driven by pundits. Misinformation can also be deliberate and purposefully misleading or perhaps even more common, unintentional or taken out of context and repeated for public consumption. For example, several years ago SETAC North America began an initiative to distribute SETAC Multibriefs to help inform our scientific community of instances where information that was regularly cycling through various online outlets regarding how scientific findings were being communicated. It was the contention that informed scientists are better equipped to continually address situations when science misinformation is encountered.
As scientists, we also encounter more entrenched and often deliberate misinformation through the wide-spread outbreak of predator journals (i.e., rapid publication, lack of editorial policies, broad and often undefined scopes), that appear to have editorial boards or peer-review processes, but in actuality they do not exist. Many of these outlets publish articles that have clear advocacy agendas, using the opportunity to hide under the cover of peer-reviewed literature. As scientists in the SETAC community, we can utilize our peer-reviewed journals, annual meetings, focus topic meetings and curated workshops to continually look for ways to provide forums and opportunities, by citing, sharing, and building on relevant and accurate science information that has been tested and continues to be cross-checked through the exchange and assessment of our scientific peers.
THURSDAY, NOV. 16
Authors: Susan Kane Driscoll, Ph.D., Senior Managing Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Jason James, Ph.D., APSS, Managing Scientist, Environmental & Earth Sciences, Exponent; Charles Menzie, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Ecological & Biological Sciences, Exponent; Frank Dombrowski, WEC Energy Group; Rodolfo Jaffe, Ramboll
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are often contaminants of concern in sediments adjacent to former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) sites. Laboratory sediment toxicity tests can be used to develop remediation goals for the protection of sensitive ecological receptors such as benthic invertebrates. Data from MGP sites will be used to examine the relationship between various exposure metrics and toxicity to the standard test species, Hyalella azteca. Exposure metrics include bulk concentrations of PAHs in sediment, concentrations of PAHs in porewater measured with solid phase microextraction (SPME), and Toxic Units (TU) based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's equilibrium partitioning sediment benchmarks for PAH mixtures. Issues related to the development of remediation goals from regression models, including treatment of replicate data from toxicity testing and treatment of outliers will be discussed. An alternative approach to developing remediation goals from toxicity tests, the Receiver Operating Characteristic Curve (ROC) methods, will also be discussed.