PCTC at SETAC 2016: PAHs in the Real World & the Data from San Antonio

PCTC was involved in several presentations at the 2016 annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC), held in Orlando. PCTC’s Executive Director, Anne LeHuray, teamed with Dr. Brian Magee, a toxicologist from ARCADIS, to propose and chair a session called PAHs in the Real World: Sources, Sinks, Bioavailability, and Toxicity. Academic, government, and industry scientists from around the world submitted 26 abstracts to be included in the session. At the Orlando meeting, 8 were highlighted as platform presentations (which means an oral presentation of results accompanied by PowerPoint® slides), and 16 posters.

Drs. LeHuray and Magee gave an introductory presentation titled Assessing PAHs in the Real World, with a focus on three regulatory policies that should be re-evaluated in light of scientific findings:

  1. hazard assessments for the PAHs throughout the world are largely based on anecdotal reports and out-of-date information, rather then the wealth of solid science that now exist;
  2. human health risk assessment methods were developed almost 30 years ago, before reliable data on real world risks of exposure to PAH-containing materials were available; and
  3. assessment of ecological risks too often relies on numeric guidelines that have little real world meaning.

The consequences of out-of-date policies regarding PAHs is vast overestimation of risk, leading to unwarranted regulations that can strangle industries with little environmental or health benefit.

PCTC also contributed funding allowing Drs. Sungwoo Ahn and Kirk O’Reilly of Exponent to prepare and present a poster summarizing their evaluation of PAH data from San Antonio sediments. Earlier in 2016, PCTC commissioned this evaluation and submitted it to the City of San Antonio. Analysis of the data demonstrated that PAHs in San Antonio sediment are largely derived from sources other than RTS. As PCTC has observed too often, however, local politicians seem more concerned with the appearance of “doing something,” and don’t much care whether that “something” is the right thing to do.





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