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SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting Session Recordings
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View sessions from the SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., at the SETAC Live Learning Center.


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Amphibian and Reptile Ecotoxicology: Progress and Challenges in Understanding Chemical Effects, Exposure, and Risk

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Session Description: Understanding exposure, effects and risk of chemical contaminants to amphibians and reptiles remains a significant challenge for the field. Minimal regulatory requirements for research on reptiles and amphibians as well as the diversity of species, habitats and life histories add to the challenge of evaluating contaminant risks to herpetofauna. The purpose of this session is to (1) present data that represents recent advances in our understanding of the effects of chemical contaminants on amphibians and reptiles, (2) improve understanding of contaminant exposure in these organisms and (3) to highlight and discuss new methods and challenges for assessing risk to ensure conservation of amphibian and reptile populations in contaminated areas. We invite all manner of presentations involving reptiles and amphibians in ecotoxicology but submissions regarding the role of taxa-specific physiology (e.g., thermal physiology) and how this may interact or modulate contaminant exposure and effects are of particular interest. Authors are also encouraged to consider the application of their research to the improvement of the risk assessment process for herpetofauna. This session is sponsored by the Ecotoxicology of Amphibians and Reptiles Global Advisory Group. Submissions are welcomed from academia, industry, and government agencies to improve understanding of the exposure and effects of contaminants to these imperiled taxa.

 

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Assessing Contaminant Effects in Multi-stress Ecosystems

View session recordings: Part A | Part B

Session description: Aquatic ecosystems throughout the world are impaired and many in a state of crisis due to multiple stressors such as discharges from industry, agriculture, and treated urban wastewater. This is especially true for estuarine ecosystems where tributaries and major river systems converge with a high degree of human activity. Organisms also respond to habitat degradation, invasive species, and other site specific stressors (e.g., water diversions/controls), in addition to chemical contaminant exposures. The factors and associated interactions contributing to these aquatic ecosystem declines are admittedly complicated and multifaceted. Understanding issues of these types generally require a breadth of analytical techniques and an interdisciplinary team of investigators. Diagnoses of chemical stressor’s involvement in complex systems where factors are interrelated and vary spatially and over time are typically hindered by limited data so that robust statistical hypothesis testing and identifying clear relationships are challenging. This emphasizes the need for better data, new methodologies, and integrated assessments of multiple stress responses. This session will focus on integrated assessments of multiple stress responses and analyses of complex environmental data (e.g., the San Francisco Bay-Delta Pelagic Organism Decline). Presentations will highlight lessons learned in the following areas (1) research advances in the diagnosis or prognosis of toxic effects in multi-stress environments, (2) integrated assessment environments receiving multiple stressors, and (3) implications for ecosystem management (case studies for applications).

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Contaminants of Emerging Concern for Fish

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Session description: Rare and vulnerable fish species are exposed to a variety of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in chemically degraded habitats throughout the world. These CECs include current-use pesticides such as pyrethroids, flame retardants, industrial pollutants, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals. Exposure to and uptake of these contaminants by fish can lead to tissue residues that may be linked to biological endpoints. Adverse effects may result that range in scale from the molecular to the population, and to the species levels. Ultimately, the goal is to "bridge the gap” from bioaccumulation to effects. Topics of interest include uptake, metabolism, tissue residue approach, gene and protein expression, genotoxicity, immune response, endocrine disruption, and behavioral effects. Also of interest are the use of sentinel species, risk evaluation, and ecological modeling approaches to forecast the impact of these contaminants on fish species with high economic, cultural, or ecological value such as those listed as threatened or endangered.

 

 

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Decision Analysis for Valuation in Life Cycle Assessment

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Session description: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a powerful framework for the environmental evaluation of products, process or technology because it avoids burden shifting across life phases and across environmental impacts. Lessons from LCA studies can be used for product or technology development or to inform policy decisions. However, existing LCA framework and valuation practices are not equipped to manage the complexities of LCA data. Current valuation practices leading to single scores are too simplistic and limit uncertainty analysis. In addition, these valuation approaches rely in normalization databases that do not exist or have data gaps that distort results. Without proper data analysis tools, decision makers are left unaided and subjected to make decisions first impressions or previous stigmas. Therefore, there is an acute need for interpretation methods that can handle the complexities of LCA data. This session discusses advances in decision aid tools that handle uncertainty in weights and parameters, and advance technology comparative assessment.

 

 

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Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment of Soils

View session recordings: Part A | Part B

Session description: The development of new methods for assessment of risks posed by soil contaminants, and the increasing acceptance of the suite of standardized protocols to measure soil toxicology, have facilitated research on the bioavailability and toxicity of contaminants in soils worldwide. The current challenge is how to integrate these data into ecological risk assessments. This session provides a forum for researchers investigating the fate and effects of soil contaminants to report their latest results to concerned parties, and to discuss how this information can be used in risk assessment. The session aims to facilitate discussions among soil environmental toxicologists, environmental chemists, risk assessors, regulators, and citizen groups. It will provide participants with a comprehensive and broad review of the diverse and rapidly evolving fields of soil ecotoxicology and risk assessment.

 

 

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Emerging Approaches for Rational Design of Chemicals with Minimal Biological Activity

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Session description: Raised awareness about adverse biological activity of consumer products on human health is triggering a realization that the current paradigm for designing, producing and regulating chemicals must be reinvented to adequately protect human and eco-health. Such adverse effects arise because most commercial chemicals are not intentionally designed to minimize biological activity. Despite the grand challenge posed by rational design for safety, budding research is providing new tools that can be used not only to predict toxic endpoints, but to also rationalize how a chemical can be designed to minimize toxicity while retaining function. This session will provide a platform for discussing research developments that contribute to this effort, such as approaches that apply medicinal chemistry principles to design chemicals that lack biological activity; ones that apply in silico simulations of chemical/biological reactivity to predict toxicity, ones that derive property-based design guidelines to minimize the probability of adverse biological activity, or ones that utilize data from in vitro assays to reveal relationships between chemical structure, properties/reactivity, and biological activity. All of these approaches contribute to the goal of developing low-cost, up-front approaches to rational design for minimization of toxicity endpoints, thus reducing the cost of experimental testing. This session will further this central goal of green chemistry by providing a platform for discussion and collaboration of toxicologists and chemists.

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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

View session recordings: Part A | Part B (Free)

Session description: Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals in municipal and industrial effluents, surface waters, sediments, and tissues are impacting the environment. Pathways to the environment have been associated with wastewater discharges, landfill wastes, land application of biosolids, and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and biosolids have been implicated as sources of contaminants of emerging concern, such as metabolites of surfactants (e.g., alkylphenol ethoxylates), steroid hormones, plasticizers, and pharmaceuticals. CAFOs have the potential to discharge natural steroid hormones, growth promoters, and veterinary pharmaceuticals. The session focuses on: Why do some wastewater treatment designs (e.g., conventional vs. advanced, centralized vs. decentralized) manage CECs better than others? What is the mass loading of EDCs and pharmaceuticals to and from wastewater plants and how do operational characteristics impact efficiency? What are the loadings of EDCs and pharmaceutical from CAFOs? Are existing CAFO management practices (e.g., nutrient management plans) protective to the environment with respect to EDCs and pharmaceuticals? Is pretreatment of concentrated waste streams (e.g., hospital wastes, landfill leachates) efficient and cost effective for reducing loadings to the environment? Platform presentations will include reports on the fate of EDCs and pharmaceuticals within wastewater treatment plants, on-site wastewater systems, biosolids management, landfill wastes, and CAFOs. We anticipate that the audience for this session will include those who are interested in sources of EDCs and pharmaceuticals including toxicologists, engineers and chemists from research, regulatory organizations, and facilities operation (both WWTP and CAFO).

 

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Fate and Effects of Metals

View session recordings: Aquatic Biological Perspective: Dietary and Bioconcentration | Aquatic Biological Perspective: Toxicity Mechanisms

 

Session description: Advances in the understanding of interactions between accumulation, organism physiology and exposure geochemistry have been instrumental in the development of impact prediction models. Improving and refining current models requires data from a wide range of organisms, metals and water chemistries. The extension of this understanding to different endpoints, molecular mechanisms of toxicity, alternative routes of exposure (e.g., dietary), and mixtures of metals also requires more information. This session will host the latest research on these and similar issues and will be of interest to all those interested in the acute and chronic toxicity of metals to aquatic organisms.

 

View session recording: Geochemical Perspective

Session description: The chemical speciation of metals is critically important to metal fate and effects in the environment. It impacts all aspects of the life cycle of metals in the environment including their release/source, bioavailability, transport, and ultimate fate. We must therefore constantly seek to increase our understanding of metal speciation in the environment and our ability to describe metal speciation, transport and fate in a quantitative manner. The purpose of this session is to highlight current research directed at these areas. Topics that will be addressed in the session include: (i) new techniques for measuring metal speciation in aquatic systems, (ii) modeling tools for describing the geochemical behavior in sediments and overlying waters, (iii) mechanisms for metal transformation and immobilization, (iv) metal interactions with relevant binding phases such as natural organic matter and mineral surfaces, and (v) application and validation of models using data from field sites. Key questions this session will attempt to answer include: What is being (or can be) done to increase our ability to predict metal speciation quantitatively? Are more mechanistic chemical descriptions required to adequately describe fate and effects of metals in the environment?

 

View session recording: Marine Concerns

Session description: Metal bioavailability approaches, such as the Biotic Ligand Model, have been successful in establishing Ambient Water Quality Criteria for freshwater environments. Using bioavailability methodologies, appropriate and protective regulatory criteria can be established in a site-specific manner. The majority of water on this planet is not fresh water though. The chemistry and biology of both metals and organisms change as salinity increases. This session will focus on research relevant to assessing the utility of metal bioavailability frameworks for regulatory purposes at elevated salinities (estuarine to full seawater). It is estimated that 70% of the world's population live in coastal environments and metal impacts in saltwater environments are potentially significant, with sources from municipal/industrial effluent, building material runoff, plumbing, anti-fouling paints and sometimes directly from mines and auxiliary facilities operating in coastal areas. To date, saltwater environments have not received as much research attention as freshwater environments and this session aims to pull together experts in the field and summarize the state of the art in understanding saltwater metal bioavailability. Relevant topics include basic saltwater-specific bioavailability research, physiological mechanisms, chemistry (speciation), role of organic matter, salinity as well as toxicity test species to expand the species sensitivity distribution in estuarine and marine environments.

 

View session recording: Regulatory and Risk Assessment Perspective

Session description: A number of new approaches have been recently been developed to reduce the uncertainty associated with metal toxicity estimates in soils, sediments and aquatic environments (e.g., biotic ligand approaches and SEM-AVS/Foc). The application of these significant advances in science and modeling for metals in aquatic and terrestrial environments can contribute to pollution prevention, discharge objectives, remediation goals and criteria development in regulatory programs. This session will review the significant advances in the science related to metals in the context of risk assessment and regulatory initiatives. There is a strong need to discuss, through examples, case studies and regulatory policy how the new science can, will be, or is being used.

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Innovative Environment: New Tools for Addressing Issues in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

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Session description: In today’s fast paced world, scientists in all disciplines often struggle to stay abreast of new ideas that could facilitate a better understanding of the environment. Innovative ideas can improve on something currently used, adapt something old to a new context, or be completely new. This session is intended to showcase new ideas and innovative technologies in the environmental sciences used to collect, store, manage, or analyze data. The development of smartphone technologies, crowd sourcing, social media, barcode/QR code readers, and other advances are being applied to environmental problems. Presenters are encouraged to submit papers with any new technology that improves our understanding of the environment.

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Life Cycle Assessment for Sustainable Practices

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The recent attention to quantitative approaches to informing sustainable decision making together with increase in awareness of LCA as a well-developed framework has led to the application of LCA in a wide variety of contexts. These applications have highlighted some of the ways in which LCA would benefit through the further development of methods for improving the resolution and inclusiveness of LCA models. This session focuses on new methods which augment the LCA framework to address these issues and the demonstration of new approaches through the use of decision-relevant case studies.

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Mercury Characterization and Contaminated Site Remediation

View session recordings: Part A | Part B

Session description: Mercury, in both its inorganic and organic forms, can negatively impact human and environmental health and exhibits complex environmental behavior. While great strides have been made in recent years towards understanding the behavior of mercury in the environment, remaining knowledge gaps present challenges to our basic and applied research efforts and may limit the effectiveness of well-intentioned remedial actions. For example, the apparent lack of response in mercury bioaccumulation in fish to decreasing mercury concentrations in water confounds remediation attempts. This session will serve as a forum to exchange information on all aspects of mercury contamination and remediation issues. We seek a diverse set of presentations that address topics including (but not limited to): mercury biogeochemistry and characterization in environmental media; characterization and modeling of mercury source areas and associated fluxes; assessment of toxicity and human and ecological health risks for mercury-contaminated media; new technologies for mercury removal or control; remediation case studies from a variety of mercury-contaminated sites. Innovative studies that couple multiple disciplines to advance our understanding and studies that employ novel analytical tools or remediation strategies are particularly desirable.

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Modeling and Interpreting Effects of Metals Mixtures

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Session description: While the concepts encompassing mixture toxicity and modeling have been around for decades, only recently have new approaches ("bioavailability models”) been expanded to consider metal mixture scenarios. Although current environmental regulations rarely require assessment of chemical mixtures, the development of efficient and economic science-based risk assessment approaches for metal mixtures are essential to preparing for future regulatory demands and vital for ensuring adequate environmental protection. The development of bioavailability-based approaches for predicting ecotoxicity of individual metals (e.g., biotic ligand models) has occurred over the last decade, and these approaches have been incorporated into metals risk assessment and derivation of environmental quality standards. In addition, novel analytical and statistical approaches for interpreting mixture effects have provided new insight into the mechanisms and interactions associated with metal exposure. To this end, the field of metals research has advanced to the point where the integration of principles of bioavailability can be applied to "real world” risk assessment scenarios. This session is intended to present the state of the science regarding modeling and interpretation of metals mixtures.

 

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Nanotechnology

View session recordings: Part A | Part B | Part C

This session contains presentations on the characterization and toxicity of carbon and metal nanoparticles/nanotubes, as well as the environmental fate, transport and bioavailability of these nanomaterials. Several presentations also delve into potential artifacts historically associated with nanoparticle toxicity testing.

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Policy and Litigation in an Uncertain World

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Session description: Regulators, legislators, and judges are routinely tasked to provide legal guidance on emerging environmental issues, such as hydraulic fracking or pharmaceuticals, PFCs, and PDBEs in water, where the research is lacking, not definitive, or hard to apply in a regulatory/litigation setting. The regulations or judgments have widespread consequences both to human and environmental health as well as financial costs to individuals, industries, and regulatory agencies. This session seeks to explore the interplay of scientific research, regulation and litigation. The aim is to discuss whether science is keeping up with the current evolution in regulations and the expectations of the general public. The session will also discuss whether science can meet the demand/cross examination in court. The outcome of the session will be gaining an appreciation of how scientific research should be the driver for lasting regulatory decisions.

 

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Quantitative Approaches to Mega-scale Risk Assessment

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Session description: In earlier years of environmental science, evaluating risk due to chemical release at the end of the pipe, or on a specific field or site represented the decision-scale at which new and exciting risk-based quantitative methods were originally created and matured. Today, mega-scale (i.e., regional, continental, global) environmental risk issues have been increasingly recognized at geographic scales beyond those in prior years. Corresponding advances in quantitative approaches for assessing risk at mega-scales (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico, the East Coast of the United States, or the entire European Union) are required to respond to a changing regulatory environment in the US and worldwide. Quantitative methods of analysis and modeling at mega-scales have fundamentally different mathematical and statistical properties than those typical of smaller scale assessments. In spatial statistics, for example, resolving the spatial covariance on a mega-scale when only sparse information and inconsistent sampling methodologies are available presents a major challenge in characterizing risk. Likewise, quantifying time trends over a large scale, and evaluating the interaction of temporal changes confounded with natural spatial variability in populations of interest have emerged as new and important issues in large scale assessment and decision-making. The development, application, and evaluation of process-based (mechanistic) models for mega-scale risk assessments increasingly challenge conventional modeling approaches, but provide opportunities for modelers to address critical environmental issues threatening mankind (e.g., overpopulation, climate change, pandemics). This session will bring together regulators interested in mega-scale risks and risk-management decisions with quantitative scientists to discuss the inherent difficulties in data-based and modeling approaches for large scale assessment and decision making. Topics will include survey design for large scale decisions, statistical models for spatial detection of impacts that occur over time, statistical assessment of temporal patterns on mega-scales, issues in uncertainty analysis on large scales, and unique aspects of process-based modeling for risk estimation at mega-scales.

 

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Risk Assessment of Pesticides to Honey Bees

View session recordings: Part A | Part B

Session description: Over the past several years, commercial beekeepers in the United States have experienced unprecedented colony losses. Although no single cause has been identified, multiple factors have been identified as potentially contributing to those losses, including pests, disease, poor nutrition, pesticide exposure, beekeeping practices and honey bee genetics. This session will focus on pesticides as stressors to honey bees and methods for assessing risks of pesticides to bees. Due to the importance of honey bees to production agriculture, there has been a marked increase in research on the effects of pesticides to honey bees. This session will include a review of current regulatory frameworks for pesticide risk assessment for honey bees, including discussions of integrating data on pesticide exposures and effects at the individual and colony-levels. This session will also include presentations that focus on the individual components of the risk assessment process, such as assessing pesticide exposures through different routes (e.g., diet, contact), assessing effects to different honey bee castes or life stages (e.g., larvae or adult worker bees), statistical analyses of data, and understanding how effects measured on individual bees relate to colony-level effects and the capacity of the colony to recover. The current North American and European regulatory frameworks for honey bee risk assessment are based on tiered approaches where the first tier relies upon limited chemical-specific empirical data (i.e., laboratory-based toxicity studies) and simplifying conservative assumptions regarding exposure. The second and third tiers rely upon semi-field and full-field studies, respectively, which increase the amount of chemical-specific information available and realism; however, these higher-tier studies can also increase the uncertainties associated with data. Higher-tier field studies involving free foraging bees will also be discussed during this session, along with case studies. An important component of this session will be discussions of the existing state of the science related to honey bee risk assessments, the associated uncertainties, and how these uncertainties can be reduced.

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Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fly Ash Recovery Project

View session recordings: Part A | Part B

Session description: This all-day special symposium presents information on the history and progress of the response to the December, 2008, spill of 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash from TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant into the Emory River. Presenters will share information on how TVA and other agencies responded to identify the nature and extent of the spill, evaluated immediate risks to human health and the environment, and transitioned the project from an emergency response action to a clean-up and remediation project conducted under the provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The symposium will include presentations on the project’s environmental monitoring program, results of key components of that program, approaches used for risk assessment and establishing remedial goals, the evaluation of alternative risk management strategies, and the selection of remedial actions. The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion. A poster session concurrent with the special symposium also is proposed.

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What Do We Know About the Ecological Risk of Personal Care Product Ingredients?

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Session description: The term "personal care products" commonly refers to a wide variety of functionally diverse consumer products found in health and beauty departments of drug and department stores. Some of these products do meet the definition of "cosmetics” under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (e.g., skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, toothpastes, and deodorants), while others are regulated as a "drug” because they function as such. Among these are skin protectants such as diaper ointments, mouthwashes marketed with therapeutic claims, and treatments for dandruff or acne. Some of the products may even meet the definitions of both a cosmetic and a drug. This may happen when a product has two intended uses (e.g., a shampoo may be classified as a cosmetic if its intended use is to cleanse the hair and as a drug if its intended use is to treat dandruff). Ingredients of emerging concern from personal care products include nano-UV-blockers such as titanium dioxide, antimicrobial agents such as nano-silver and triclosan, and preservatives such as parabens. This session will be devoted to our understanding of the ecological risk of personal care product ingredients. Moreover, the session will explore what we know about their fate and occurrence in the environment, and their potential exposure and effects on aquatic and terrestrial organisms including ecotoxicity and endocrine-mediated effects.

 

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Wildlife Exposure and Effects Relative to Emerging Anthropogenic Substances

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Session description: Human activities have generated large quantities of a wide range of anthropogenic substances, which are subsequently released to the environment via point and non-point sources. These emerging substances may include organic (e.g., organochlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, perfluorinated compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and various polymer additives) or inorganic (e.g., heavy metals) chemicals and synthetic materials (e.g., plastic polymers). Terrestrial or aquatic wildlife may be exposed to these substances mainly via food, but also likely through dermal exposure or inhalation. Persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals, such as the persistent organic pollutants (POPs), may be transferred through food webs, reaching high levels in top predator species. Synthetic materials, such as fragments of the microplastics, may be opportunistically taken up by birds, fish or marine mammals, causing them to choke or even to die. Polymer additives or absorbed POPs may be simultaneously ingested. Anthropogenic substances may be metabolized or microbially transformed, resulting in degradation products that exhibit different environmental behavior or toxic effects compared to their parent compounds. Exposure to these anthropogenic substances, as well as their degradation products, may produce various toxic effects or other health concerns in sentinel wildlife species. To advance our knowledge of wildlife exposure to anthropogenic substances, topics for this session include, but are not limited to: (1) Types and abundances of emerging substances in sentinel wildlife species; (2) Exposure sources and pathways in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; (3) Food-web transfer and dynamics; (4) Biotransformation or metabolism of emerging substances and the resulting products; (5) Toxic, ecotoxic and risk/benefit evaluations of emerging substances. In order to recruit 5–6 designated presenters for our session, we will send invitations to a group of scientists who have conducted top-notch research in the related topics. We will also encourage graduate students to present their work in our session.

 

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