SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
15 December 2016
Volume 17 Issue 12

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In Memoriam: Edward R. Long

Don MacDonald, MacDonald Environmental Sciences, and Chris Ingersoll, US Geological Survey (retired)

Edward R. LongOn 6 October, the field of sediment quality assessment lost one of its founding fathers after a brief illness. Ed was a great mentor and friend to all he met, with an easy-going personality, sharp sense of humor and a wry grin. He was born on 25 October 1942 in Vancouver, Washington, USA, and lived out his final days in Oregon with his wife and long-time friend Lynn (Virginia) Long. While many of us knew him as the father of sediment quality assessment, Ed had many other interests. In addition to being a fearless and successful racecar driver, Ed was a devoted sheep farmer, a talented gardener and an avid angler. Throughout his career, he was instrumental in developing methods for integrating sediment chemistry and toxicity data to establish effects-based sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) that have been used to assess and manage contaminated sediments across the globe.

Ed was an active member of SETAC throughout his career, participating in annual meetings, workshops and short courses. He published more than 100 reports and journal articles, with the journal articles alone cited more than 5,000 times (based on Web of Science). Ed earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in 1965. Two years later, he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Zoology, with a minor in Oceanography, from the same institution. Ed held a number of research positions prior to initiating his 26-year tenure as a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He “retired” from NOAA in 2001 and, true to form, immediately initiated a professional relationship with the Washington Department of Ecology as a sediment quality specialist. Although he “retired” for a second time in 2013, he was actively working on manuscripts until the very end.

As the widely acclaimed father of sediment quality assessment, Ed was renowned for his many contributions to the field. He developed and applied a variety of empirically based methods for evaluating relationships between sediment chemistry and sediment toxicity. Ed was the first to describe the Sediment Quality Triad, an approach for assessing freshwater, estuarine and marine sediments that utilizes multiple lines of evidence including results of laboratory sediment toxicity tests, benthic invertebrate community surveys and sediment chemistry. This seminal publication serves as the technical basis for designing and interpreting virtually all of the sediment assessments that have been conducted worldwide over the past 30 years.

Perhaps Ed was best known for his work on the development of effects-based, empirical SQGs for metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides and other priority pollutants for marine and estuarine sediments. He also conducted systematic evaluations of the predictive ability of these SQGs in marine and estuarine ecosystems and developed guidance on the applications and use of SQGs. Ed’s numerous assessments of sediment quality conditions in marine and estuarine ecosystems on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts represented an essential element of the National Status and Trends Program, with the resultant evaluations of the magnitude and extent of sediment contamination and associated biological effects supporting informed decisions on the management of contaminated sediments in the United States.

A memorial organized by Maggie Dutch, Washington Department of Ecology, and Judy Crane, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was held for Ed and his friends on 31 October (by webinar), providing many participants with an opportunity to share their memories regarding the personal and professional sides of Ed throughout his life. A slide show developed for the webinar can be obtained from ResearchGate or from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Ed will be missed, but his legacy and friendships will continue to shape our professional and personal lives.

If you are not already familiar with Ed’s work, please check out these publications to gain a better understanding of examples of his meaningful contributions to the assessment of sediments:

  • Long ER, Chapman PM. 1985. A sediment quality triad:  Measures of sediment contamination, toxicity and infaunal community composition in Puget Sound. Mar Poll Bull 16: 405-415.
  • Long ER, Field LJ, MacDonald DD.  1998.  Predicting toxicity in marine sediments with numerical sediment quality guidelines.  Environ Toxicol Chem 17:714-727.
  • Long ER, MacDonald DD. 1998. Perspective: Recommended uses of empirically derived sediment quality guidelines for marine and estuarine ecosystems. Hum Ecol Risk Assess 4:1019-1039.
  • Long ER, MacDonald DD, Smith SL, Calder FD. 1995. Incidence of adverse biological effects within ranges of chemical concentrations in marine and estuarine sediments. Environ Manage 19:81-97.
  • Long ER, Morgan LG. 1991. The potential for biological effects of sediment-sorbed contaminants tested in the National Status and Trends Program. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS OMA 52. Seattle (WA): NOAA. 235 p.
  • Long ER, Ingersoll CG, MacDonald DD. 2006. Calculation and uses of mean Sediment Quality Guideline quotients: A critical review. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40:1726-1736.

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