SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
13 January 2014
Volume 15 Issue 2

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Harmonizing the Chemistry: Highlights from the SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting in Nashville

Dan Snow, Chemistry Advisory Group

harmonizing chemistry

The sounds of chemistry resonated across the 680 oral presentations that were delivered in Nashville through 165 sessions, ranging from environmental to analytical and emerging and classical contaminants. The Chemistry Advisory Group (CAG) sponsored two sessions in Nashville, “Helping Contaminants Emerge: Non-targeted and Effect-directed Environmental Analysis” and ”Innovative Environment: New Tools for Addressing Issues in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.” Still, the “music” of chemistry was heard throughout the meeting.

CAG Business Meeting and Social
Congratulations to Alan Jones, 2014 chair-elect for the CAG steering committee (CSC)! Thank you for CSC service from Xuedong Chen and Colleen Rostad, who will be rotating off of the committee, and for second-term members, Elin Ulrich and John Kucklick, for their continuing efforts in catalyzing chemistry in SETAC. Congratulations to the 2013 CAG Chemist Travel Award winner Rockie Yarwood from the University of Maryland and SETAC–American Chemical Society student exchange awardee Rachel Marek from the University of Iowa!  The CAG social event continues to draw an impressive crowd. More than 100 SETAC members attended this event, providing opportunities to share ideas and strategies for building the chemistry community in SETAC. Sponsorship support for this event was provided by Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, Environmental & Turf Services, Inc., Fluid Management Systems Inc. and Procter & Gamble.

Helping Contaminants Emerge—Non-targeted and Effect-directed Environmental Analysis 
This was one of my favorite sessions this year, and the presenters really highlighted the opportunities and challenges associated with identifying emerging contaminants through non-targeted analysis. The session started with Ron Hites, and once again, the room was absolutely packed. Hites challenged the conventional approaches of how we identify environmental chemicals of concern. We often target chemicals with environmental stability, high-production volumes or known biological effects. Hites asked, “Is this a sustainable approach?”  Many of the presenters found success with a more general approach such as a basic extraction method, while focusing on higher trophic organisms. - Sascha Usenko, 2013 CAG Chair

Characterization and Processes of Atmospheric Pollutants
I had the privilege of co-chairing this session with Elin Ulrich and Amina Salamova. We had back-to-back great presentations, and I found myself taking notes on emerging compounds, new chemistry and hot topics such as the Gulf Oil Spill. Staci Simonich identified novel nitro-PAHs in Beijing particulate matter by simulating trans-Pacific transport atmospheric conditions in an indoor chamber. Marta Venier presented organophosphorus flame retardants atmospheric concentrations for the Chicago area at concentrations 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than recently banned or retired brominated flame retardants. - Sascha Usenko, 2013 CAG Chair

Eye Candy
This year, a new vendor came to the SETAC North America annual meeting and also gave a talk at the “Innovative Environments” session. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) publishes scientific research in both written and video format. I found this exciting because much of environmental research is better learned by watching, and this provides an effective way to see an example without having to travel to an expert’s laboratory. I was relieved to learn that they handle the videography and coach you to prepare the experiment in a way that can be filmed in one day. Kira Henderson’s talk was recorded and is available for viewing and listening at the SETAC Live Learning Center. - Elin Ulrich, 2012 CAG Chair

Unexpected Reactions
Environmental chemist Ed Kolodziej is sleuthing after undiscovered transformation products and reactions of anabolic steroids used in agriculture. While on the surface, most studied synthetic steroid metabolites seem rapidly degraded; under some conditions likely to occur in aquatic systems, products can be converted back into biologically active metabolites. Characterizing unexpected environmental chemistry will help better evaluate the ecological risks of these compounds. The results of this research, “Product-to-Parent Reversion of Trenbolone: Unrecognized Risks for Endocrine Disruption” published last year in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1243192). Help support our mission of highlighting  the “C” in SETAC. - Dan Snow,  2014 CAG Chair

In memoriam
In July, SETAC lost Kevin Johnson, a founding member of the CAG steering committee. Kevin was an excellent scientist and educator who helped shape the research landscape at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.  Kevin was an innovator and brought significant energy and creative thought to the CAG. The CAG exists, in part, because of his work.  Kevin was always looking for ways to personalize projects or activities, thus he designed and acquired the CAG fundraising buttons.  We will miss Kevin. Let us continue to advance SETAC through innovative approaches to assessment and improvement of the environment. – George Cobb

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