New flame retardant threat documented in Great Lakes

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

A flame retardant has been discovered in sediment of the Great Lakes for the first time, and researchers say it may be here to stay.

Researchers sampled sediment from lakes Michigan, Ontario and Superior to track organophosphate esters, a group of chemicals that are used as flame retardants.  All three locations showed that the concentration of one of them—TCPP—has increased rapidly since 2000. It has replaced a more toxic flame retardant that was phased out.

Full research article: Dandan Cao, Jiehong Guo, Yawei Wang, Zhuona Li, Kang Liang, Margaret B. Corcoran, Soheil Hosseini, Solidea M. C. Bonina, Karl J. Rockne, Neil C. Sturchio, John P. Giesy, Jingfu Liu, An Li, and Guibin Jiang (2017). “Organophosphate Esters in Sediment of the Great Lakes.” Environmental Science & Technology 51 (3), 1441-1449.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05484

Abstract: This is the first study on organophosphate ester (OPEs) flame retardants and plasticizers in the sediment of the Great Lakes. Concentrations of 14 OPEs were measured in three sediment cores and 88 Ponar surface grabs collected from Lakes Ontario, Michigan, and Superior of North America. The sum of these OPEs (Σ14OPEs) in Ponar grabs averaged 2.2, 4.7, and 16.6 ng g–1 dw in Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Ontario, respectively. Multiple linear regression analyses demonstrated statistically significant associations between logarithm concentrations of Σ14OPEs as well as selected congeners in surface grab samples and sediment organic carbon content as well as a newly developed urban distance factor. Temporal trends observed in dated sediment cores from Lake Michigan demonstrated that the recent increase in depositional flux to sediment is dominated by chlorinated OPEs, particularly tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCPP), which has a doubling time of about 20 years. Downward diffusion within sediment may have caused vertical fractionation of OPEs over time. Two relatively hydrophilic OPEs including TCPP had much higher concentrations in sediment than estimated based on equilibria between water and sediment organic carbon. Approximately a quarter (17 tonnes) of the estimated total OPE burden (63 tonnes) in Lake Michigan resides in sediment, which may act as a secondary source releasing OPEs to the water column for years to come.

Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals can Adversely Affect Brain Development

Read the full story from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Findings published today provide evidence that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) causes changes in thyroid hormone signalling, which disturbs brain development.

The results are published by Nature in a peer-reviewed paper in Scientific Reports entitled “Human amniotic fluid contaminants alter thyroid hormone signalling and early brain development in Xenopus embryos”.

ISTC Sustainability Seminar: Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment

March 16, 2017 , noon-1pm CST
In person at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (1 E. Hazelwood Dr., Champaign) or online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5431323938809870850

Presented by Sarah A. Zack – Pollution Prevention Extension Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and University of Illinois Extension.

The ecosystem impact of microplastics, a type of land-based marine debris that includes particles less than 5 millimeters in size, is of growing interest in the Great Lakes and other inland waters. Microplastic pollution in freshwater systems is still an emerging science and researchers have just begun to describe its scope, abundance, and distribution. There is still much to be learned about its long-term effects, including impacts to aquatic food webs. Since 2012, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) has been working to conduct and fund research and educate the public about microplastic pollution. IISG is dedicated to supporting continued research on emerging contaminants such as microplastics, and recognizes that there is a need for more information to determine the long-term effects of this pollution on Midwestern lakes and rivers. This seminar will discuss freshwater microplastic sources and types, relevant chemical and physical properties, and potential impacts, as well as provide an overview of the work done by IISG to address this emerging contaminant.

Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference

May 31, 2017 – June 1, 2017
I Hotel & Conference Center (1900 South First Street, Champaign, IL)

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) are co-organizing the Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference (ECAEC17) which will be held on May 31 – June 1, 2017, in Champaign, IL.

The conference is an expansion of the successful conference on pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment held in April 2016. It will feature presentations and posters on the latest in emerging contaminant research, policies, and education. In addition, there will be opportunities for discussion with those interested in all aspects of emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment.

ISTC and IISG encourage researchers, educators, businesses, government officials, outreach and extension professionals, environmental groups, and members of the general public to attend the conference.

The event will take place at the I Hotel Conference Center in Champaign, IL. On May 31, oral sessions will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. CDT, with a reception and poster session following from 4:15 – 6:00 p.m. On June 1, oral sessions and a panel discussion will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration will open mid-February. (Times are subject to change once the agenda is finalized.)

Visit the conference website for up-to-date information.

Contact Information:
Contact: Elizabeth Meschewski
Phone: 217-333-7403
E-Mail: elm2@illinois.edu
URL: http://www.istc.illinois.edu/events/ECAEC17/

Gore to Phase Out Perfluorinated Chemicals, Develop New Waterproofing Coatings

Read the full story from Environmental Leader.

Gore Fabrics says it will eliminate perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) of environmental concern from its products by 2023.

Gore, which supplies products including jackets and shoes to major outdoor apparel makers including Patagonia and The North Face, calls the move an “important milestone in its long-term journey towards continuously reducing the environmental footprint of its products throughout their full life cycle.”

Milwaukee bans coal-tar sealants after study shows they pollute streams

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Milwaukee banned coal-tar sealants Tuesday after a study blamed them for contaminating streams.

The Milwaukee Public Works Committee recommended a city ordinance to the general council that would ban the use of coal-tar sealants. The council approved the ban unanimously.

The ban was proposed in the wake of a recent study that found that as many as 78 percent of Milwaukee streams have toxic levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

NTP supports first study of BPA levels in U.S. factory workers

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

A new study, supported by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), is the first to look at occupational exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) among manufacturing workers in the United States.

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) led the study, which appeared Jan. 1 in the journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health. NIOSH is one of the member agencies of NTP, and the study was conducted as part of an ongoing collaboration between the two agencies.