SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  8 November 2012
Volume 13 Issue 11

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XII Brazilian Ecotoxicology Conference: The Challenge of Sustainability

Paulo S M Carvalho, Federal University of Pernambuco


The XII Brazilian Ecotoxicology Conference was held 25-28 September 2012 at Porto de Galinhas Beach in Pernambuco State of northeastern Brazil. The theme of the conference was "The Challenge of Sustainability." Curiously, the first Brazilian Ecotoxicology meeting happened in 1992, the same year as the famous Rio Earth Summit conference. During the 20 years since the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was written, our Ecotoxicology Society and its conferences have grown steadily thanks to the effort of many people who have dedicated their time and their hearts to the improvement of the science of ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry in Brazil. Certainly these efforts have paid off and both have become a significant topic within Brazilian science and technology discussions. One year after the Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology officially became a chapter of SETAC Latin America (LA), this conference broke a new record, with a total attendance of 720 people, more than 40 invited speakers and international participants from Latin American countries such as Argentina, Peru and Chile, as well as from the US, UK, Portugal, Germany and France.

Brazil meeting attendance growth
Brazilian Ecotoxicology Conferences is on the incline

We had a total of 92 platform presentations and 820 posters presented by the participants during the three days of the meeting. Moreover, we had six keynote presentations (two per day) as well as five roundtable discussions and 15 talks by invited speakers.

After our official opening ceremony, Lorraine Maltby gave the opening plenary presentation on the evolving ecosystem services concept within SETAC, a topic which is important to our dream of sustainability. An opening cocktail reception and a great show of local folkloric dances by Perna de Palco Dance Company followed, giving the participants a good flavor of the rich culture from Pernambuco State, which is also among the top cities to enjoy Carnival in Brazil.

The first day started with platform presentations, followed by two keynote presentations. Allen Burton from University of Michigan, also representing SETAC, talked about the need for another paradigm change in ecotoxicology in his talk “Chemical Versus Holistic Approaches to Assess Risk and Manage Ecosystems.” Marisa Domingos, from University of Sao Paulo, presented an interesting and rich set of information on her research focused on the use of tropical plants for ecotoxicological monitoring encompassing parameters across several levels of biological organization. Marisa’s talk was followed by a two-hour break for lunch, enough for a good meal and even a walk or a swim on the beautiful beach of Porto de Galinhas.

After lunch, participants in one of the roundtables debated issues related to the use of antifouling biocides in Brazil and the other discussed Brazilian laws and environmental policies related to water quality, effluents and sediment contamination. Experts discussed the use of ecotoxicological as well as chemical information towards efficient enforcement of our laws, as well as environmental planning and decision making.

Right after the roundtables, six invited speakers gave the participants an update on diverse topics ranging from the state of Brazilian standardized ecotoxicology tests protocols, local water quality criteria development and industry approaches to reduce effluent toxicity as well. All these activities brought to the discussion representatives from academia, government and industry.

The poster presentations, which wrapped up the day, were also very popular. Students and professionals were able to share and discuss their science with their peers and all the experts present at the meeting. At night, the charming village of Porto de Galinhas provided a very interesting place to get to know people and not only talk about science but also enjoy good food and shop for local crafts. Dance lovers were also able to go to a local Forró night club and enjoy a very famous dance style from northeast Brazil.

The second day started again with a great set of platform presentations, well attended even by the brave Forró lovers. The keynote speakers of the second day were Diana Papoulias, from CERC-USGS, who talked about her extensive knowledge regarding endocrine disruption in fish and a very interesting 18-month study on the effects of estrogen exposure on largemouth bass. Tracy Collier, from NOAA, wrapped up the morning with a stunning overview of the evolving knowledge about the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon accident to humans and wildlife.

After lunch, one of the roundtables debated issues related to the genotoxicity of nanoparticles as well as other contaminants. The other roundtable discussed Brazilian laws and environmental policies related to bioaccumulation studies by the petroleum industry in oil and gas production areas. The roundtable was followed by presentations of six invited speakers giving the participants an update on diverse topics, including the need for accreditation of standardized ecotoxicology tests provided by consulting businesses. Topics also addressed the Brazilian federal legislation on agrochemicals and terrestrial ecotoxicology approaches, as well as examples from successful monitoring studies using molecular, environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology tests.

After a rich Brazilian-style coffee break, another set of 400 posters was presented, completing a total of 30 different subtopics discussed only in the posters, all of which can be checked out at the conference website.

At the end of the second day a lot of good ecotoxicological science had already been discussed. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, which happened during the meeting, we had our social dinner in the charming village of Porto de Galinhas, at the local Peixe na Telha restaurant.

The final day opened up with the last set of the 12 platform sessions, followed by a brilliant presentation in Portuguese by Dr. Nancy Denslow (from University of Florida, but who lived in Recife for some years in the past) on ecotoxicogenomics. Dr. Adalto Bianchini from Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil, finalized the keynote presentations, entertaining the audience with another great talk about the use of the biotic ligand model as a tool in environmental management.

Ecotox 2012: the best of Brazilian Ecotox science and hospitality at one of the many stunning sceneries along the Brazilian northeastern coast

Another good lunch at Hotel Armação, another walk on the beach for a relaxing digestion and the meeting headed to its final activities, with the last set of 15 talks, the last ones covering the Brazilian oil industry experience on evaluating the impacts of oil spill accidents, the role of public prosecutors in demanding enforcement of Brazilian laws concerning ecotoxicology testing and an overview of the US national monitoring program based on biomarkers in fish. A hot round table with lots of interesting discussion on the use of biomarkers as tools in environmental management and monitoring finalized the scientific content of the meeting.

The meeting ended with the assembly of our Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology, during which a decision was made about the next Brazilian Ecotoxicology Congress in September 2014, which will happen in the city of Guarapari, state of Espírito Santo, in southeastern Brazil. All members of the Brazilian Ecotoxicology Society, an SLA chapter, finished the meeting eager to find ways to encourage the participants in our very well-attended conferences to join both our local society and SETAC and get more people involved with SETAC’s philosophy of using a tripartite approach with science-based objectivity towards the solution of environmental issues.

We would like to thank the conference sponsors CAPES, CNPq, FACEPE, Petrobrás and SETAC. The conference was organized by the Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology and the Federal University of Pernambuco, UFPE. To find out more about this conference or view the conference proceedings, please head to the conference website.

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