SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
13 August 2015
Volume 16 Issue 8

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Recap of SETAC at the Society for Risk Analysis World Congress

Wayne Landis, Western Washington University, Kuan-Chun Lee, Procter & Gamble, Charles Menzie, SETAC Global Executive Director, and Jenny Stauber, CSIRO

SETACers Charlie Menzie (SETAC Global Executive Director), Jenny Stauber (CSIRO), and Wayne Landis (Western Washington University) with students at the July 2015 SRA World Congress in Singapore

SETAC has participated in the last three Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) World Congresses and continues to foster collaborations with this society. In July 2015 in Singapore, SETAC organized a double session titled “Ecological Risk Assessment in Tropical Asia/Pacific and Other Regions of the Pacific Basin,” and also presented a short course on ecological risk assessment (ERA). The platform session, chaired by Jenny Stauber and Wayne Landis, brought together about 20 academics, regulators and consultants to discuss the use of ecological risk assessment tools, their limitations and their application to tropical regions and the Pacific Basin. Seven presentations were interspersed with some really good questions and lively discussion.

Stauber introduced the session with a talk called “What’s unique about ERA in Tropical Asia/Pacific?” Tropical regions have unique ecosystems comprising sensitive habitats, unusual taxa and a unique biodiversity compared to temperate regions. Direct application of ERA techniques and tools developed for North America and Europe to tropical regions may not be appropriate due to differences in geochemistry, organic matter, climatic conditions and differences in the physiology of the evolutionarily distinctive biota. Stauber focused on metals risk assessment and described a tropical marine risk assessment of nickel, funded by NiPERA, as a case study in progress.

Landis discussed the use of the Bayesian network relative risk model in the context of an adaptive management scheme incorporating an observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop. This was followed by two talks from Rick Van Dam describing several large-scale risk assessments in tropical Northern Australia. These included contextualizing mining-related risks (through operations, decommissioning and closure) within the broader tropical landscape where risks associated with feral pigs, weeds, and fire, may be greater than that of mining.

The second session featured Charlie Menzie, who presented some of his past experiences in tropical Columbia and Ecuador that demonstrated the uncertainties between predicted and actual risk of aerial spraying of herbicides on environmental and human health.

The final two talks focused on the effects aspect of risk assessment. Zhen Wang compared tropical and temperate species sensitivities to nickel, while Jidapa Khatikarn described microscosm experiments to investigate the effects of triclosan on tropical freshwater community structure and function.

Menzie and Landis co-taught a SETAC-sponsored two-session course on ecological risk assessment during the conference. The first session reviewed a number of current techniques for ecological risk assessment using the EPA methodology as a basis. Several examples were used as case studies. In the second session, the adverse outcome pathway model was presented followed by a discussion of the statistical evaluation of exposure–response relationships. The remainder of the session demonstrated the application of the Bayesian network relative risk model in the assessment of sites with multiple stressors of various types. Twelve students from around the region attended the course.


Singapore will also be the host of the SETAC Asia/Pacific 2016 Conference from 16–19 September 2016. This event will mark the first SETAC geographic unit meeting in Southeast Asia. The theme is “Managing Environmental Quality in the Asian Century.” Session and short course proposals for the meeting are now being accepted.

SETAC Asia/Pacific will continue to build on training, engagement and learnings with the SRA community to advance the knowledge needed to protect environmental quality and resources.

Authors’ contact information:,, and jenny.stauber@csiro@au

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