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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 3 hours 51 min ago
Ever buy a fish at a pet store that died within days of being put in an aquarium at home?
The plastic bag in which the fish traveled home may be the culprit, according to research by University of Maine marine scientist Heather Hamlin.
Hamlin and colleagues discovered that certain plastic bags with FDA food-grade approval leach nonylphenol (NP) in concentrations that are highly toxic to fish.
The chemical NP — also found in food packaging, cosmetics and laundry and dish detergents — binds to estrogen receptors. Even at low concentrations, it mimics estrogen, which feminizes and alters fertility in fish, thus threatening their existence.
NP also has been found to alter fish immune function and damage DNA.
Hamlin’s findings, published in the journal Chemosphere, demonstrate that NP may pose a greater health risk to people, the ocean and to aquatic wildlife than can be predicted from examining properties of plastic from one manufacturer, which is the method the FDA currently uses to test for toxicity.
“This study contributes to the growing body of research highlighting concerns with plastic contaminants,” says Hamlin, an assistant professor of aquaculture and marine biology.
“While not all plastic is bad, this study highlights difficulties in differentiating good from bad plastic, and it makes sense to reduce the use of plastics if alternatives, such as glass, are available.”
For the study, for 48 hours, captive-bred orchid dottybacks (Pseudochromis fridmani) were kept in synthetic seawater in Teflon bags, glass bowls or in plastic bags from one of two manufacturers. The FDA labels both types of plastic bags as food-safe polyethylene.
All of the fish in Teflon bags and glass bowls lived for the 48 hours, while 89 percent of the fish in one manufacturer’s plastic bags survived, says Hamlin, a reproductive endocrinologist interested in mechanisms by which environmental factors influence aquatic animal reproduction and development.
In the other manufacturer’s plastic bags (PE2), 60 percent of the fish died within the two days. Those that survived 48 hours in the plastic bags all died within eight days of being released in an aquarium. This, says Hamlin, demonstrates the exposure to NP caused irreversible damage to the fish.
In 48 hours, the NP concentration in the seawater in the PE2 bags was 163 parts per billion (ppb), which is nearly 24 times higher than the U.S. EPA water quality criteria for acute exposure of NP in seawater.
While this study tested for the ability of NP to leach into seawater, Hamlin says it’s possible that food stored in the PE2 plastic bags could absorb increased levels of NP as well and that it’s likely that risks to aquatic animals exposed to increasing quantities of plastic waste could be greater than previously realized.
In 2010, industry demand for NP was estimated to be more than 170,000 metric tons; another study estimated as many as 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010.
NPs, says Hamlin, enter aquatic systems though a number of ways, including wastewater discharge.
Studies have indicated NP can last for decades in estuary mudflats. And one survey of 93 organic wastewater contaminants in 139 streams in the United States revealed NP was one of the most commonly occurring contaminants and measured at higher concentrations than other contaminants.
Taking all of this into consideration, Hamlin says greater oversight on the manufacture of plastics and allowable thresholds of contaminant leaching is warranted.
Kathleen Marciano, who earned her degree in marine science with a concentration in aquaculture in 2014 from UMaine; and Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, helped lead the study.
Support for the project came, in part, from a Hatch Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Small Business Innovation Research.
Photo courtesy of Sea & Reef Aquaculture
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
WVII (Channel 7) reported 13 female students from high schools around the state are spending a week participating in Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future (SELF) at the University of Maine. The SELF Institute is a residential program that connects Maine girls from rural high schools to STEM careers through research, mentoring and community service in forest bioproducts. The group spent their week learning about different sustainable and renewable energy methods including hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wind power, and exploring Maine’s available resources through field trips, according to the report. “Surrounding them with a bunch of girls that are also interested in it might encourage them that yeah there are more females that are actually interested in science and math and can do it; do it just as well if not better than a lot of the guys,” said Lindsey Smith, SELF camp counselor.
Doug Allen, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by the Las Vegas Informer for the article “Long distance running: An interview with veteran peace activist Doug Allen.” When Allen, now 74 years old, arrived at UMaine in 1974, he helped found the Maine Peace Action Committee which is still going strong today, according to the article. Allen’s also a long-distance runner who runs five days a week, the article states.
Research by Todd Gabe, an economics professor at the University of Maine, was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci pushing forward a plan to raise the minimum wage in the city and tie future wage changes to inflation. If approved, Baldacci’s ordinance would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Bangor, bumping the lowest paid workers to $8.25 per hour in 2016, $9 per hour in 2017, and $9.75 per hour in 2018, according to the article. Gabe’s research found raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.25 per hour would impact 7 percent of workers in the Bangor metropolitan statistical area, the article states. At $9 per hour, 12 percent of the workforce would be affected, and at $9.75 per hour, 18 percent would see an increase, Gabe determined.
Renee Kelly, director of economic development initiatives and co-director of the Foster Center for Student Innovation, was interviewed for a story in the June 22 issue of SAGE Business Researcher titled, “Should academic capitalism shape teaching and research?” The story explores the role of universities as engines of economic development, including the ethical questions regarding the potential of corporate funding “to harm the ability of faculty to teach and research freely.” Leading the story are details about UMaine’s partnership with Acadia Harvest in Brunswick, Maine, which Kelly describes as a win-win for the university, the startup and UMaine.
Mount Desert Islander reported Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, addressed the first Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Science Cafe gathering in June at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor. Wahle’s talk covered the effects of ocean acidification, varying water temperatures and ocean current movement on the spread of lobster larvae and population, according to the article.
The University of Maine football team will have six of its contests broadcast on television throughout the 2015 season. Three games will be shown nationally under the league’s television package and several will air on WVII-ABC 7 Bangor, the official Black Bear television affiliate.
Maine’s home opener against Rhode Island will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 26 on the American Sports Network. The Black Bears homecoming showdown with Yale at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 17 will be shown locally on WVII. The following week, Maine will host Stony Brook on WVII, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. Oct. 24.
On Oct. 31, the Black Bears will travel to Villanova for a nationally televised broadcast on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Maine’s final two home contests will close out the TV package for the Black Bears with the Nov. 7 date with Towson kicking off at 7 p.m. on the American Sports Network and on WVII at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 14 against Elon.
The TV schedule is subject to change. All broadcasts on WVII also will be shown on WPME-Portland and Fox College Sports.
Tickets to home Black Bear football games are available online or by calling the ticket office at 207.581.BEAR.
Cason Snow, metadata librarian/cataloger at the University of Maine was recently awarded a Judges’ Spotlight Award for the 2015 ENnie Awards for his book “Dragons in the Stacks: A Teen Librarian’s Guide to Tabletop Roleplaying.” The book was published in 2014 by Libraries Unlimited and is a part of their Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series.
The book explains why role playing games are so effective at holding teenagers’ attention, identifies their specific benefits, outlines how to select and maintain a RPG collection, and demonstrates how they can enhance teen services and be used in teen programs. Detailed reviews of role-playing games are included as well, with pointers on their strengths, weaknesses and library applications.
The Gen Con EN World RPC Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming. The Ennies give game designers, writers and artists the recognition they deserve. It is a people’s’ choice award, and the final winners are voted upon online by the gaming public.
Snow is the author of several articles on role playing in libraries including “Playing with History: A Look at Video Games, World History, and Libraries;” “Tabletop Fantasy RPGs: Tips for Introducing Role-Playing Games in Your Library;” and “Dragons in the Stacks: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games and Their Value to Libraries.” He received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a master of arts degree in history from Northern Illinois University.
The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald reported that Ryan Low, vice president of administration and finance at the University of Maine, will become the chief financial officer for the University of Maine System. The promotion is part of the system’s move toward combining the financial management of the seven universities, according to the Press Herald. Low is tasked with overseeing the system’s Unified Finance and Administrative Model, which trustees approved in May as part of Chancellor James Page’s One University initiative, according to the BDN. Under that model, the system creates the budget and passes allocations down to campuses instead of campuses proposing their own budgets to the system, the BDN article states. “Ryan has the financial acumen, commitment to collaboration and credibility needed to unify our seven, siloed, financial systems into one seamless, statewide model,” said Samuel Collins, UMS board of trustees chairman.
An archival University of Maine photograph of cows grazing in front of Carnegie Hall Library in the early 1900s is on the cover of the July issue of College and Research Libraries News. Andrew Carnegie donated $50,000 to construct Carnegie Hall as the campus library in 1907, according to the Association of College & Research Libraries publication. In 1947 the library moved to what is now the Raymond H. Fogler Library. The image is part of Fogler Library’s DigitalCommons collections.
Ivan Fernandez, a professor in the Climate Change Institute and School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, was mentioned in the Portland Press Herald article, “Sea change: Challenge of climate change presents opportunity for new energy.” The article focused on a recent Envision Maine event to discuss climate change and Maine’s economy. More than 300 business owners, civic leaders and scientists attended the event which featured 30 presentations on the many threats associated with a warming climate, according to the article. Fernandez suggested the best response for dealing with climate change challenges is to multiply the ways residents creatively address interlinked economic and ecological challenges.
The Weekly and The Maine Edge published a University of Maine news release about scientists who traveled to Mongolia to learn about processes that launch Earth out of an ice age. Aaron Putnam, a research associate with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, is conducting glacial geology research with doctoral student Peter Strand. Fieldwork will include mapping and collecting samples of moraines and glacial geomorphologic features around Khoton Nuur. Strand and Putnam are blogging about their experiences during the monthlong trek, which is being done in collaboration with Mongolia University of Science and Technology.
The University of Maine was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about a manuscript by author and UMaine alumnus Stephen King. An Auburn bookstore manager believed he had the working version of a manuscript that eventually became “Under the Dome,” a King novel that was turned into a TV series, according to the article. Marsha DeFilippo, King’s assistant, said the manuscript is a copy and not an original, the article states. DeFilippo said King has donated many of his original papers to Fogler Library. “Most of it is already at the University of Maine,” she said.
The Maine Edge reported on scheduled public star shows in July at the University of Maine’s Emera Astronomy Center. The Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium shows are held 7 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Additional shows at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays will run throughout the summer. Friday nights in July feature “Astronaut” and Sunday afternoons feature “Magic Tree House: Space Mission,” for younger sky watchers. “Secret of the Cardboard Rocket” will be shown on Tuesdays, with “Cosmic Journey” on Thursdays. Admission to all shows is $6, and seating is limited.
University of Maine graduate and former field hockey standout Holly Stewart will compete at the 2015 Pan American Games, a qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Stewart of North Vancouver, British Columbia was one of 16 women selected to the Canadian field hockey team that will compete in the Toronto tournament from July 10–26.
The winner of the Pan American Games will earn a spot at next year’s summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stewart wrapped up her UMaine career this past fall. Earlier in June, she was named the 2015 America East Woman of the Year.
Team Canada’s schedule is online.
Mainebiz mentioned the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center in an article about Brunswick-based Harbor Technologies Inc. which creates hybrid composite beams for bridge construction. The company works with research facilities including the UMaine Composites Center for testing, according to the article. Roberto Lopez-Anido, a civil engineering professor at UMaine, said he has seen the lab grow from nothing when he first arrived on campus 17 years ago to a world-class accredited testing facility whose industry clients range from Fortune 500 companies to startup firms developing innovative products and processes, the article states. Lopez-Anido said the center provides a valuable service to Harbor Technologies and other Maine composites companies. “Our mission is to support industry in this region, to help them get products into the market,” he said. “We’re also training students to get proficient in working with these products so that they have the skills to work at these Maine companies after they graduate.”
David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, was quoted in an Associated Press article about the abundance of rain in June and how it has affected Maine farmers. The rain has saturated some low-lying crops, made fields too muddy for farm machinery and delayed the first cutting of hay in some parts of northern New England, according to the article. Yarborough said wild blueberry growers needed rain after a dry spring, but the timing of the rain and cooler weather prevented maximum pollination, potentially reducing the crop’s size. The Portland Press Herald, Times Union and The Caledonian-Record carried the AP report.
Jessica Miller, a clinical bioethicist at Eastern Maine Medical Center and chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News article “Should the Internet pay for your health care? Maine kidney surgery raises ethical quandary.” A 24-year-old South Portland mother who used an online crowdfunding campaign to cover her kidney transplant raised nearly $50,000, eight times the amount sought, according to the article. Royles’ transplant surgery was delayed because the hospital was leery of federal regulations that prohibit individuals from profiting off the donation of an organ, the article states. Miller said online campaigns for medical care raise a unique set of issues. “The spaghetti supper draws on community relationships and community identity,” Miller said. “The GoFundMe, the Indigogo, the YouCaring [sites] draw on strangers. It’s almost like you have to fill in your own gaps. In your mind, what is a deserving patient? There’s no context,” Miller said, adding the gaps leave room for morally loaded judgements. “It rewards the perfect patient,” she said. “The cute child with cancer might be more likely to have their campaign funded than, say, a woman who has a campaign to obtain an abortion.”
The Portland Press Herald spoke with Gianna Marrs, director of student financial aid at the University of Maine, for the article “In many Maine households, parents shoulder high costs of college.” According to Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest private education lender, two-thirds of parents help pay for college, while the average amount saved in advance by parents is only $10,400, the article states. Marrs told the Press Herald her office receives the most calls in March, April and May, as parents seek help calculating costs and explore borrowing options. “We’re not being a good nation of savers, whether it’s for retirement or our children’s college education,” she said. “That really puts pressure on students to pay their own way through college.”
Wiscasset Newspaper reported the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole will celebrate its 50th anniversary with summer events including Wednesday Walking Tours, Science on Tap Seminars and an open house. From July 1 through Aug. 19, visitors are invited on Wednesday mornings for a walking tour of the center’s waterfront laboratories, according to the article. The 90-minute tours will highlight current research projects focusing on lobster ecology and fisheries management, shellfish aquaculture, remote sensing, coastal food webs, and ocean acidification, the article states. The first Science on Tap Seminar will be presented by UMaine marine scientist Bob Steneck on July 8. The open house on Aug. 8 will feature activities for all ages to introduce visitors to the plants and animals that share the shore and learn about marine research tools and technology, the article states.