Summary of SETAC Barcelona From the Meeting Co-Chairs
Damià Barceló (Catalan Institute for Water Research) and Carlos Barata (IDAEA – CSIC)
The SETAC Europe 25th Annual Meeting, which was held from 3–7 May in Barcelona, Spain, has so far been the largest meeting of SETAC Europe with more than 2,600 delegates from 69 different countries. It included 71 sessions, seven special sessions and three keynote presentations. Its success was due to the contribution and enthusiasm of all delegates presenting more than 2,600 platform presentations and posters, session chairs who prepared and coordinated their sessions, the program committee and SETAC staff who were responsible for evaluating and selecting sessions and abstracts months in advance and organizing local and leisure events. Many others contributed to the meeting’s success, not least of which were our three keynote speakers. Peter Calow, one of the co-founders of SETAC Europe and of ERA in Europe, lead the way at the opening ceremony Sunday night with his talk “Then and now….and beyond: some personal reflections on 25 years of the Society and its science.” John Colbourne, a renowned evolutionary biologist, followed on Monday with his talk “Towards a science-driven solution for cooperative and effective management of chemical risks,” which enlightened us with his revolutionary ideas of using “-omic” metadata and high-throughput assays to obtain environmental safety information for thousands of chemicals. Mira Petrovic completed the plenary talks on Tuesday with “Wastewater derived contaminants of emerging concern. Current and Future Challenges” as she spoke about emerging contaminants and their removal using new technologies in waste water treatment. Renowned scientists such as Joan Grimalt (Spanish Research Council), Mark Egsmore (EFSA Italy), Paolo Masoni (ENEA Italy) and Nico van Straalen (Amsterdam University) worked diligently to summarize the highlights of the meeting.
SETAC Europe meetings prioritize student involvement, thus there were several activities for them as well, including the Student Mentor Lunch, General Student Assembly, student party, Science Slam, Fun Run and awards for Best Student Poster and Platform Presentations. In Barcelona, students for the first time co-chaired sessions. Local people, such as staff from our Institute, and students also contributed behind the scenses, organizing and supervising local events. As scientists from academia working in the regulation aspects of chemicals, we were especially grateful to the numerous delegates coming from regulatory bodies within the European Union, such as EFSA and ECHA, as well as those from industry who attended. To implement new scientific advances into regulation, there is an urgent need to stablish a common framework for communication among academia, industry, regulators and society. The SETAC Europe 25th Annual Meeting, together with its coverage in local TV, radio and newspapers, was an ideal platform to accomplish this effort. Last but not least, the attractiveness of Barcelona as a world city also contributed to the meeting’s success.
The theme of the meeting was “Environmental protection in a multi-stressed world,” which was selected because Barcelona is located in the Mediterranean region, whose freshwater ecosystems are threatened by a variety of stressors, including water scarcity, chemical pollution, geomorphological alterations, changes in land uses, climate variability, invasive species and pathogens. Stressors are of diverse nature but cause adverse effects on biological communities and ecosystems. Ultimately, these effects threaten the water quality and biological diversity of European water bodies, as well as those around the world, with important economic consequences. One of the solutions highlighted at SETAC Barcelona was to clean and re-use the waste water.
Most topics of environmental toxicology and chemistry were covered, including aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicology, ecosystem responses, system biology and ecotoxicogenomics, adverse outcome pathways, endocrine disruption, metal toxicity, fate and behavior of contaminants, emerging contaminants, fate and effects of nanoparticles, long-term effects of pollution, wildlife ecotoxicology, life cycle assessment, risk assessment, exposure and effect modeling, predictive toxicology, pollution prevention and remediation, the impact of plastics in aquatic ecosystems, antimicrobial resistance in the environment, wastewater treatment and reuse, the use of behavioral responses to endocrine disrupters, the study of the human exposome, and consideration of ecological compensation on pesticide regulation. Highlights in this meeting included engineering technologies to remove contaminants and hence to reuse contaminated wastes (see Figure); managing multi-stress in ecological systems, the application of system biology and predictive toxicology into regulation of chemicals; bioavailability and toxicity of nanoparticles including microplastics in the environment and innovations in environmental analytical chemistry.
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