SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  August 2010
Volume 11 Issue 8

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SETAC’s first webinar a success on multiple levels

Bruce Vigon, SNA Scientific Affairs Manager

Following organizing discussions at the 2009 New Orleans meeting, SETAC has taken the first steps toward leadership in scientific communication outreach through “eKnowledge” (webinars, virtual classroom forums and the like). There is a growing and global demand for SETAC members’ recognized expertise in key areas that can best be delivered using one or more of these emerging delivery channels.

Building upon a very influential Pellston workshop, SETAC recently hosted its inaugural webinar on Science-Based Guidance for the Evaluation and Identification of PBTs and POPs: An Overview. Designed for both practicing scientists and regulatory managers, the event drew nearly 100 attendees (individuals and groups). 

Most POPs regulations define persistence in terms of degradation half-lives.

Three outstanding presenters from the different geographic and sectoral units of the Society committed significant time and energy to ensure the success of the event. Dr. Gary Klečka, Senior Fellow with the Toxicology and Environmental Research and Consulting Laboratory of The Dow Chemical Company led off the webinar with a summary of the regulatory and historical background of the science of POPs-PBTs. Klečka set the tone for the webinar by providing some definitions and explaining the basis for the keen interest in this class of materials. He also emphasized the need for solid science to be able to assess the myriad fate and effects properties of these compounds. Intertwined with his explanation were key points on SETAC’s responses to the scientific need in the form of two Pellston workshops and various publications. He then went on to address considerations relating to several of the covered technical areas including environmental persistence and overall persistence, multimedia partitioning, and long-range transport potential. Understanding the process of chemical bioaccumulation in aquatic and terrestrial organisms is vital. The audience showed particular interest in the discussion of long-range transport of POPs and PBTs. In conjunction with the simulation modeling discussed, this area of science was identified as an excellent topic for a future, more in-depth webinar.

Dr. Derek Muir, a senior research scientist with Environment Canada followed with his presentation on bioaccumulation, ecotoxicity and significant adverse ecological effects. Ecotoxicity and ecological effects is a difficult topic due to the interplay among laboratory data, field data and risk computations as well as the need to extrapolate when data gaps exist. This section, too, elicited some probing questions, especially regarding the use of various data sets and data synthesis methods such as QSARs. Although Muir was able to answer several of the questions during the webinar, the application of data in the tiered approach for assessment of significant adverse effects (SAE) proved to be another topic of interest for future webinars.

RAIDAR model

During the final part of the webinar, Dr. Michael McLachlan, professor of analytical environmental chemistry and deputy head of the Department of Applied Environmental Science of Stockholm University, provided an integrating perspective regarding exposure to wildlife and humans. He also showcased the use of models to assess exposure and ultimately risk. This segment of the webinar proved interesting both from the standpoints of environmental analytical chemistry and computer-based modeling for defining exposure and risk profiles. One particular model, known as the RAIDAR Model, was illustrated in a case study, and audience feedback suggests the entire area of exposure and risk modeling would be of interest for future webinars.

Despite the 90-minute length of the webinar and the breadth of topics covered in the overview, participants stayed tuned until the end. Further, the response rate for the post-webinar survey was phenomenal, and attendees provided thorough and meaningful feedback. Besides the in-depth topics in the POPs-PBT series mentioned previously, a list of other ideas, subjects for future webinars was generated from the participants’ input. Based on the positive response, SETAC webinars will become an integral part of the SETAC eKnowledge landscape.

Under the guidance of SETAC’s global Executive Director, Mike Mozur, a team has been assembled to work with curriculum and instructional experts within the organization to create and deliver additional eKnowledge products.

For more information or to share your thoughts on future webinar topics, eKnowledge modules or any other educational outreach efforts of the Society, contact Bruce Vigon at 850-469-1500 ext. 106 or

To purchase a copy of a webinar recording, visit

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