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See detailFish consumption patterns and hair mercury levels in children and their mothers in 17 EU countries
Castano, Argelia; Cutanda, Francisco; Esteban, Marta et al

in Environmental Research (in press)

The toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) in humans is well established and the main source of exposure is via the consumption of large marine fish and mammals. Of particular concern are the potential ... [more ▼]

The toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) in humans is well established and the main source of exposure is via the consumption of large marine fish and mammals. Of particular concern are the potential neurodevelopmental effects of early life exposure to low-​levels of MeHg. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women, children and women of childbearing age are, as far as possible, protected from MeHg exposure. Within the European project DEMOCOPHES, we have analyzed mercury (Hg) in hair in 1799 mother-​child pairs from 17 European countries using a strictly harmonized protocol for mercury anal. Parallel, harmonized questionnaires on dietary habits provided information on consumption patterns of fish and marine products. After hierarchical cluster anal. of consumption habits of the mother-​child pairs, the DEMOCOPHES cohort can be classified into two branches of approx. similar size: one with high fish consumption (H) and another with low consumption (L)​. All countries have representatives in both branches, but Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Sweden have twice as many or more mother-​child pairs in H than in L. For Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia the situation is the opposite, with more representatives in L than H. There is a strong correlation (r=0.72) in hair mercury concn. between the mother and child in the same family, which indicates that they have a similar exposure situation. The clustering of mother-​child pairs on basis of their fish consumption revealed some interesting patterns. One is that for the same sea fish consumption, other food items of marine origin, like seafood products or shellfish contribute significantly to the mercury levels in hair. We conclude that addnl. studies are needed to assess and quantify exposure to mercury from seafood products, in particular. The cluster anal. also showed that 95​% of mothers who consume once per wk fish only, and no other marine products, have mercury levels 0.55 μg​/g. Thus, the 95th percentile of the distribution in this group is only around half the US-​EPA recommended threshold of 1 μg​/g mercury in hair. Consumption of freshwater fish played a minor role in contributing to mercury exposure in the studied cohort. The DEMOCOPHES data shows that there are significant differences in MeHg exposure across the EU and that exposure is highly correlated with consumption of fish and marine products. Fish and marine products are key components of a healthy human diet and are important both traditionally and culturally in many parts of Europe. Therefore, the communication of the potential risks of mercury exposure needs to be carefully balanced to take into account traditional and cultural values as well as the potential health benefits from fish consumption. European harmonized human biomonitoring programs provide an addnl. dimension to national HMB programs and can assist national authorities to tailor mitigation and adaptation strategies (dietary advice, risk communication, etc.) to their country's specific requirements. [less ▲]

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See detailMercury analysis in hair: Comparability and quality assessment within the transnational COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project
Esteban, Marta; Schindler, Birgit K.; Jiménez-Guerrero, José A. et al

in Environmental Research (in press)

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an effective tool for assessing actual exposure to chemicals that takes into account all routes of intake. Although hair analysis is considered to be an optimal biomarker for ... [more ▼]

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an effective tool for assessing actual exposure to chemicals that takes into account all routes of intake. Although hair analysis is considered to be an optimal biomarker for assessing mercury exposure, the lack of harmonization as regards sampling and analytical procedures has often limited the comparison of data at national and international level. The European-funded projects COPHES and DEMOCOPHES developed and tested a harmonized European approach to Human Biomonitoring in response to the European Environment and Health Action Plan. Herein we describe the quality assurance program (QAP) for assessing mercury levels in hair samples from more than 1800 mother–child pairs recruited in 17 European countries. To ensure the comparability of the results, standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sampling and for mercury analysis were drafted and distributed to participating laboratories. Training sessions were organized for field workers and four external quality-assessment exercises (ICI/EQUAS), followed by the corresponding web conferences, were organized between March 2011 and February 2012. ICI/EQUAS used native hair samples at two mercury concentration ranges (0.20–0.71 and 0.80–1.63) per exercise. The results revealed relative standard deviations of 7.87–13.55% and 4.04–11.31% for the low and high mercury concentration ranges, respectively. A total of 16 out of 18 participating laboratories the QAP requirements and were allowed to analyze samples from the DEMOCOPHES pilot study. Web conferences after each ICI/EQUAS revealed this to be a new and effective tool for improving analytical performance and increasing capacity building. The procedure developed and tested in COPHES/DEMOCOPHES would be optimal for application on a global scale as regards implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. [less ▲]

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See detailWheat yield sensitivity to climate change across a European transect for a large ensemble of crop models
Pirttioja, Nina; Carter, Timothy; Fronzek, Stefan et al

in Soussana, Jean-Francois (Ed.) Proceedings of the Climate Smart Agriculture 2015 conference (2015, March)

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See detailExamining wheat yield sensitivity to temperature and precipitation changes for a large ensemble of crop models using impact response surfaces
Pirttioja, Nina; Fronzek, Stefan; Bindi, Marco et al

in Rotter, Reimund; Ewert, Frank (Eds.) Modelling climate change impacts on crop production for food security - Abstract book (2014, February)

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See detailThe Coordinated Climate-Crop Modeling Project
McDermid, Sonali; Ruane, Alex; Hudson, Nick et al

Conference (2013, November)

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See detailDevelopment of a Standard Reference Material for Metabolomics Research
Phinney, K; Ballihaut, G; Bedner, M et al

in Analytical Chemistry (2013), 85(24), 11732-11738

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has developed a Standard Reference Material (SRM) to support technology ... [more ▼]

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has developed a Standard Reference Material (SRM) to support technology development in metabolomics research. SRM 1950 Metabolites in Human Plasma is intended to have metabolite concentrations that are representative of those found in adult human plasma. The plasma used in the preparation of SRM 1950 was collected from both male and female donors, and donor ethnicity targets were selected based upon the ethnic makeup of the U.S. population. Metabolomics research is diverse in terms of both instrumentation and scientific goals. This SRM was designed to apply broadly to the field, not towards specific applications. Therefore, concentrations of approximately 100 analytes, including amino acids, fatty acids, trace elements, vitamins, hormones, selenoproteins, clinical markers, and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), were determined. Value assignment measurements were performed by NIST and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SRM 1950 is the first reference material developed specifically for metabolomics research. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Coordinated Climate-Crop Modeling Project (C3MP)
Ruane, Alex; McDermid, Sonali; Hudson, Nicholas et al

Conference (2013, October)

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See detailFunctional traits are weak predictors of tree sapling growth worldwide
Paine, C. E. Timothy; Auge, Harald; Baraloto, Christopher et al

Conference (2013, June 26)

Functional traits, well-defined characteristics of organisms that influence or coordinate with ecological performance, promise that one may predict vital rates, such as survival and growth, by measuring a ... [more ▼]

Functional traits, well-defined characteristics of organisms that influence or coordinate with ecological performance, promise that one may predict vital rates, such as survival and growth, by measuring a few aspects of anatomy and physiology. Functional traits have been shown to correlate significantly, though weakly, with the relative growth rate (RGR) of trees in five Neotropical forests. Here, we estimated size-standardized height RGR for 26344 saplings of 240 species from 23 sites around the world using nonlinear models of growth. We then predicted the contribution of three functional traits (specific leaf area, wood density and seed mass) to individual RGR with a hierarchical Bayesian model. The three functional traits, alone and in combination, explained a relatively small amount of variance in RGR, with variation among continents and between temperate and tropical regions. We echo the calls for researchers to shift toward the measurement of 'hard' functional traits, with clear linkages to realized vital rates, rather than 'soft' functional traits, which are easier to measure but may only indicate the theoretical maxima of vital rates. Doing so would advance ecology onto a more solidly functional foundation. [less ▲]

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See detailUnderstanding root uptake of nutrients, toxic and polluting elements in hydroponic culture
Cornelis, Jean-Thomas ULg; Kruyts, Nathalie; Dufey, Joseph et al

in Asao, T. (Ed.) Hydroponics (2012)

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See detailThermal optimality of net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide and underlying mechanisms
Niu, Shuli; Fei, Shenfeng; Yuan, Wenping et al

in New Phytologist (2012), 194

• It is well established that individual organisms can acclimate and adapt to temperature to optimize their functioning. However, thermal optimization of ecosystems, as an assemblage of organisms, has not ... [more ▼]

• It is well established that individual organisms can acclimate and adapt to temperature to optimize their functioning. However, thermal optimization of ecosystems, as an assemblage of organisms, has not been examined at broad spatial and temporal scales. • Here, we compiled data from 169 globally distributed sites of eddy covariance and quantified the temperature response functions of net ecosystem exchange (NEE), an ecosystem- level property, to determine whether NEE shows thermal optimality and to explore the underlying mechanisms. • We found that the temperature response of NEE followed a peak curve, with the optimum temperature (corresponding to the maximum magnitude of NEE) being positively correlated with annual mean temperature over years and across sites. Shifts of the optimum temperature of NEE were mostly a result of temperature acclimation of gross primary productivity (upward shift of optimum temperature) rather than changes in the temperature sensitivity of ecosystem respiration. • Ecosystem-level thermal optimality is a newly revealed ecosystem property, presumably reflecting associated evolutionary adaptation of organisms within ecosystems, and has the potential to significantly regulate ecosystem–climate change feedbacks. The thermal optimality of NEE has implications for understanding fundamental properties of ecosystems in changing environments and benchmarking global models. [less ▲]

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See detailClinical validation of cutoff target ranges in newborn screening of metabolic disorders by tandem mass spectrometry: a worldwide collaborative project.
McHugh, David; Cameron, C. A.; Abdenur, J. E. et al

in Genetics in Medicine : Official Journal of the American College of Medical Genetics (2011), 13(3), 230-54

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See detailRevisiting ferrolysis processes in the formation of Planosols for rationalizing the soils with stagnic properties in WRB
Van Ranst, Eric; Dumon, Mathijs; Tolossa, A. et al

in Geoderma (2011), 163

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See detailFrom Non-invasive Site Characterization to Site Amplification: Recent Advances in the Use of Ambient Vibration Measurements.
Bard, P-Y; et al.; Havenith, Hans-Balder ULg

in Geotechnical, Geological and Earthquake Engineering : Earthquake Engineering in Europe (2010)

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See detailKit d'auto-évaluation du projet de service
Melen, Geoffroy; Van Hoye, Aurélie; Vandoorne, Chantal ULg et al

Learning material (2009)

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See detailExoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life
Kasting, J.; et al.; Hanot, Charles ULg et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces ... [more ▼]

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces with spectroscopy. Rocky planets within their star's habitable zones have the highest priority, as these have the potential to harbor life. Our science goal is to find and characterize all nearby exoplanets; this requires that we measure the mass, orbit, and spectroscopic signature of each one at visible and infrared wavelengths. The techniques for doing this are at hand today. Within the decade we could answer long-standing questions about the evolution and nature of other planetary systems, and we could search for clues as to whether life exists elsewhere in our galactic neighborhood. [less ▲]

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See detailExozodiacal Disks
Hinz, Phillip; Millan-Gabet, Rafael; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Lawson, P. R.; Traub, W. A.; Unwin, S. C. (Eds.) Exoplanet Community Report (2009)

From the viewpoint of direct imaging of exoplanets in the visible or infrared, exozodi dust disks can be both good and bad. An exozodi disk is good if it has structures (cleared regions or resonant clumps ... [more ▼]

From the viewpoint of direct imaging of exoplanets in the visible or infrared, exozodi dust disks can be both good and bad. An exozodi disk is good if it has structures (cleared regions or resonant clumps) that suggest the gravitational presence of planets, however it is bad if the dust fills the instrumental field of view with brightness that swamps the signal from a planet. Unfortunately, it takes very little dust to compete with or overwhelm the light from a planet: an Earth‐twin signal is roughly equal to a 0.1‐AU patch of Solar‐System‐twin zodi, in the visible or infrared. Thus, exozodi measurements are extremely important, but they are also difficult to make. Current limits of detection, in units of the Solar‐System brightness, are a few hundred using the Spitzer Space Telescope, about one hundred with the Keck Interferometer (KI), and about 10 expected from the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI). A small coronagraph or small interferometer in space is needed in order to reach the sensitivity required to detect the glow at the level of our own Solar System. [less ▲]

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See detailInfrared Imaging
Danchi, William; Lawson, Peter; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Lawson, P. R.; Traub, W. A.; Unwin, S. C. (Eds.) Exoplanet Community Report (2009)

A mid‐infrared mission would enable the detection of biosignatures of Earth‐like exoplanets around more than 150 nearby stars. The mid‐infrared spectral region is attractive for characterizing exoplanets ... [more ▼]

A mid‐infrared mission would enable the detection of biosignatures of Earth‐like exoplanets around more than 150 nearby stars. The mid‐infrared spectral region is attractive for characterizing exoplanets because contrast with the parent star brightness is more favorable than in the visible (10 million vs. 10 billion), and because mid‐infrared light probes deep into a planet’s troposphere. Furthermore, the mid‐infrared offers access to several strong molecular features that are key signs of life, and also provides a measure of the effective temperature and size of a planet. Taken together, an infrared mission plus a visible one would provide a nearly full picture of a planet, including signs of life; with a measure of mass from an astrometric mission, we would have a virtually complete picture. A small infrared mission would have several telescopes that are rigidly connected, with a science return from the detection and characterization of super‐Earth sized to larger planets near the HZ, plus a direct measure of the exozodi brightness in the HZ. In a large infrared mission, with formation‐flying telescopes, planets from an Earth‐twin and upwards in mass could be detected and characterized, as well as the exozodi. If proceeded by an astrometric mission, the detection phase could be skipped and the mission devoted to characterization, as in the visible case; lacking an astrometric mission, an infrared one could proceed alone, as was discussed for a visible coronograph, and with similar caveats. The technology needed for a large formation‐flying mission is similar to that for a small connected‐element one (e.g., cryogenics and detectors), with the addition of formationflying technology. The technology is now in hand to implement a probe‐scale mission; starlight suppression has even been demonstrated to meet the requirements of a flagship mission. However, additional development of formation‐flying technology is needed, particularly in‐space testing of sensors and guidance, navigation, and control algorithms. [less ▲]

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