Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Southern California Chapter

Volume 6, Issue 2 October 1999

  • Chapter News/President's Corner
  • Chapter Activities in Philadelphia
  • Dinner Meeting Review
  • Board Meeting Minutes
  • Coastal Clean-Up Day1999 - One Account
  • Meet Your Board Members II
  • Job Opportunities in WA
  • Calendar of Events

Please fill out and mail the application form and thanks for your continued support of SoCal SETAC.

Membership is fully tax deductible and a great bargain at $20. For additional application information, please contact Marilyn Schwartz at 858-458-9044 ext. 300 or by email at



If you have not renewed your membership during the past 18 months, now would be a great time to ensure you continue to get the SoCal SETAC Newsletter and information on Dinner Meetings as well as our Annual Meeting Next June.

1999-2000 Memberships run from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000.


President's Corner...

As 1999 hurtles past, we begin our slippery slope through the National Meeting and on into the holidays and another new year (I'll stay out of the dispute of when the millenium actually begins). If you plan to be at the National Meeting, take a look in this issue for ways to participate with the Chapter while you are there. Planning is in the works for our annual meeting next June and volunteers are needed to help with all aspects of the meeting - this promises to be a big topic of discussion at our Chapter meeting in Philadelphia, so bring your ideas (and we'll bring the snacks)!

As for a few updates from last quarter. First, my apologies to Ian Adam for neglecting to add his name to the first Meet the Board segment - hard to meet the board without an introduction. Sorry Ian! Second, our website-in-the-works is now fully up and running and can be found at Thanks to Chris Stransky for his efforts to teach himself a bit of website programming and make this happen as well as to SCCWRP for hosting us on their server. Something you would like to see added to the website? Let us know.

Thanks as well to Dr. Tom Dean of Coastal Resources for speaking at our September dinner meeting. Look for our next dinner meeting during the first quarter of 2000. We want your feedback on location for these evening events. Alternate between Los Angeles and San Diego or continue to split the difference? What will get you to join us next time? Topics of interest to you and your colleagues? We're listening!

Thanks to so many of you who renewed your membership at our recent dinner meeting. If you haven't yet done so, now is a great time to ensure you continue to get the SoCal SETAC Newsletter and information on Dinner Meetings as well as our Annual Meeting next June.

Hope to see many of you in Philadelphia. Have a wonderful fall and holiday season.

Marilyn J. Schwartz
Chapter President

SoCal Chapter Activities at the Annual SETAC Meeting in Philadelphia

contributed by Joe Gully

I am sure most of you who are going to the 20th Annual SETAC Meeting from November 14 - 18 in Philadelphia have already began making plans for travel, lodging, and social activities. The SoCal Chapter Board of Directors wanted to make sure you are aware of the activities we are planning for the meeting. First, the SoCal SETAC Chapter Meeting is scheduled for Monday 11/15/99 from 0730-0900 (0430-0600 PST, uugghhhhh!) in room 203B. The Board was discussing how we could best serve the membership during this meeting and the answer became obvious..... feed and water you folks! Therefore we are planning a complimentary, continental breakfast mixer for SoCal SETAC members. Please, set the alarm early, get to the mixer, and we promise plenty of coffee, juice, and pastries to get you moving.

In addition to the local chapter meetings, SETAC has planned a Regional Chapters Open Meeting to meet members from other regional chapters and exchange ideas, information, and simply socialize. This meeting is scheduled for Monday, 11/15/99 from 1800-1900 also in room 203B. Come to this meeting to hook up with friends to plan the evenings festivities. Rumor has it that the some SoCal Chapter folks may attempt to organize Monday Night Football party and pub crawl.

Finally, look for the regional chapters booth near the registration area. Members of the SoCal SETAC Board of Directors will be manning the booth sometime during the week so keep an eye out for us and feel free to come up and introduce yourself. Also, this is a great opportunity to get some of your friends and colleagues who are not members of SoCal SETAC to sign up.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we all look forward to seeing you and hope you have a great time at the 20th Annual SETAC Meeting.

And while you are in Philadelphia - look for these papers being presented by your SoCal Chapter colleagues:

Screening Soils or Sediments at Dioxin-Contaminated Sites with the P450 Reporter Gene System (RGS) Correlates Well with the Chemical Characterization of TEQs. Anderson, JW* and Jennifer M. Jones, Columbia Analytical Services, Vista, CA.
Environmental assessment and monitoring of suspected dioxin-contaminated sites is costly and time-consuming. By employing a tiered approach, assessment of the dioxin content of even a large number of samples can be made cost-effective. In this approach, tier 1 involves the use of less-expensive in vitro screening assays, such as P450 Reporter Gene System (RGS), to analyze all samples from the site. RGS provides a rapid assessment of the total amount of dioxin-like contaminants in solvent extracts of sediment, soil, or tissues from a site. Extracts are applied to a human cell line (101L) which is stably transfected with a plasmid containing firefly luciferase linked to human CYP1A1 promoter sequences. By measuring luciferase production, RGS detects the transcriptional activation of CYP1A1 by coplanar organic compounds, including dioxins and furans, present in the extracts. Results are expressed as RGS Toxic Equivalents (RGS TEQ), based on the response to a standard mixture of dioxins and furans. The results of tier 1 screening for projects, including two marine sites and three terrestrial sites, totaled 137 sediment and soil samples. Selected samples went on to tier 2 chemical confirmation by EPA Method 8290. The federal (marine) projects chemically confirmed 100% of the total number of samples, while as little as 12 % confirmation at one site produced a very strong correlation in regression analysis of RGS TEQ and 8290 TEQ (r2 = 0.97). The final tier used the slopes of the regression curves to estimate the chemical TEQ of all samples at each site. Results demonstrate the cost-effective use of a tiered approach in environmental assessment and monitoring of dioxins.

The Application of P450 Reporter Gene System (RGS) in the Analysis of Sediments near Pulp And Paper Mills. Jones, Jennifer M., and JW Anderson*, Columbia Analytical Services, Vista, CA.
Cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) induction in fish and other animals has been reported following exposure to pulp and paper mill effluent. Dioxins and furans, as well as PAHs, are known inducers of CYP1A1 and have been found in sediments near pulp and paper mills. Retene, an alkyl-substituted phenanthrene, has been recently associated with effluent and found to induce CYP1A1 in fish. The objective of this study was to utilize an in vitro assay, RGS, to measure the transcriptional activation of human CYP1A1 by retene and by sediments collected near a pulp and paper mill. Retene was tested using short (6h) and long (16h) exposures to the RGS (human hepatoma) cell line, which is stably transfected with the firefly luciferase gene downstream of human CYP1A1 sequences. Retene was as potent as benzo[a]pyrene in inducing RGS, but was not as readily degraded by the cells. Extracts of sediments collected near a pulp and paper mill were analyzed, and the 16h RGS-derived TEQ values were strongly correlated with Chemical TEQ analysis of dioxins and furans determined by EPA 8290. Further, the ratio of RGS responses at 6h and 16h indicated the presence of PAHs in the extracts, which was confirmed by GC/MS analysis. Retene was detected at considerably higher concentrations than other PAHs. These data support the use of the RGS assay to detect the presence of CYP1A1-inducing compounds, and differentiate between dioxins/furans and PAHs, which may both be present in sediments near pulp and paper mills.

Dinner Meeting Review
September 15, 1999

Presentation by Dr. Thomas Dean, of Coastal Resources Associates, Inc. on:

Nearshore Vertebrate Predator Project Determining Recovery after the EXXON Valdez Oil Spill

contributed by Jack Anderson

Dr. Dean described the extensive investigations conducted by a large team of scientists in Prince William Sound for the past several years. The studies centered on populations of four vertebrate species found in earlier investigations to not be recovering from the spill of 1989. These species were the sea otter, the river otters, the harlequin ducks and the pigeon guillemots. The sea otters and the ducks primarily eat invertebrates, while the river otters and guillemots eat fish, making the selection a good one. Given the lack of recovery to before spill populations, the hypotheses being tested were 1) the effects were from continued exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons, 2) the effects were from lack of food, and 3) the effects were from limits on the rates on reproduction. The most recent studies indicated that both the harlequin ducks and sea otters had not recovered. While the sea otters from the more contaminated sites showed better condition (weight to length ratios), the population was not increasing at the same rate as the population in a non-impacted region. It appeared that the appropriate food was more abundant in the oil-contaminated region, but apparently contamination in that region was somehow affecting the juvenile survival. These studies are continuing and it may be determined that some small pockets of sediment contamination may need to be removed to aid in the recovery of some of the vertebrate predators.

Board Meeting Minutes
September 15, 1999

contributed by Kat Prickett

On September 15, a SoCal SETAC Officer and Board of Directors meeting was held at Waters restaurant in Irvine, CA, prior to the Dinner Meeting held later that evening. A summary of the presentation by Dr. Tom Dean is also included in this issue of the newsletter. Thanks to Jack Anderson for filling in for President Marilyn Schwartz who, along with several other board members, was out of town attending a meeting with US EPA.

Board members have continued planning for the year 2000 SoCal SETAC Annual Conference/ Dinner Meeting. A two-day conference is currently in the works for early June. Potential session topics include TMDL issues, biochemical responses to chemical stressors, current status of San Diego Bay, and the Southern California Bight '98 project. Watch for the January issue of the newsletter for more details.

In addition, Eddy Zeng has taken the lead in planning for a joint meeting with the Southern California Environmental Chemist Society. This one-day event will be scheduled for February or March with the theme to be the toxicity of chemical contaminants.

The SoCal SETAC website is up and running! Thanks to Southern California Coastal Water Research for hosting the site, and to Chris Stransky and others who got it up and running. Check it out at htm. As promised, the website contains information regarding the goals of the chapter, current events, email links to all board members, application and change of address forms, the SoCal SETAC newsletter, and lots of interesting links. If you have suggestions or questions regarding the website please contact Chris Stransky at (858) 458-9044 ext. 217 or by email at

Serious consideration was given to the creation of the Marissa Gaumond Memorial Award. As many of you know, Marissa, who worked at Ogden Environmental, devoted a good deal of her time, energy, and enthusiasm to the Chapter. Last March, after a tough battle, Marissa succumbed to cancer. Board members discussed various ways to honor her memory through the creation of an award in her name. Discussion is ongoing on the frequency and form of the award, however, it was generally agreed that the award should recognize members who contribute exceptional service to the chapter. If you would like to provide input, please contact Marilyn Schwartz at (858) 458-9044 ext. 300 or by email at

Finally, it was decided to sponsor a continental breakfast for chapter members at the National SETAC meeting this November in Philadelphia. Look for the announcement of time and location in this edition of the newsletter.

SoCal SETAC Hits the Beach for California Coastal Cleanup Day 1999

contributed by Joe Gully

Saturday, September 18th was California Coastal Cleanup Day and the SoCal SETAC Board of Directors hastily tried to get the word out and organized a SoCal SETAC assault on the beach at the San Clemente Satae Park. Unfortunately, this information could not be distributed to the general membership until the Dinner Meeting in Irvine on September 15th so participation was much lower than it could have been with sufficient notice. A special thanks to Ian Adam, Carlita Matias (the only SoCal SETAC people I saw), and anybody else from the Chapter who participated.

Regardless of the number of SoCal SETAC members participating, my seven year old son, Colin, and I were heading down to the San Clemente State Park to show our appreciation for a beach on which we have spent many days surfing and playing. It was a cold morning with occasional drizzle as we left the parking lot, trashbags and tally sheet in hand, and began the walk down to the beach. On the way, Colin was fascinated by the sandstone cliffs and the visible sedimentary layers worn away by rain and runoff. We found ourselves winding our way up one of the bigger canyons where we ran across an alligator lizard trying to get warm. We spent several minutes looking at the critter and discussing the limitations of being "cold-blooded" before getting back to the beach. We continued walking south towards Cotton's Point and amused ourselves watching the sandpipers rush up and down the beach with the waves in their search for food. We also discussed how to tell a long-billed curlew, from a marbled godwit, from a willet. After all, there is always a quiz on the drive home.

We finally made it to a remote lifeguard tower where we would begin the task at hand. However, my discussion on how the perform this scientific endeavor was interrupted by a group of porpoise offshore which was much more interesting than my lecture. We began picking up the trash around the tower and Colin quickly got bored with trash and found it much more interesting to search for the perfect walking-stick among the tons of driftwood piled on the beach while I continued to pickup debris and catalogue the items. The number, volume, and variety of trash items on the beach was astounding and one quickly realized the futility of the task. Even with dozens of people combing the beach, it was impossible to remove all the trash. Besides the endless numbers of cigarette butts (the most common trash item) and pieces of styrofoam, scores of straws, plastic bottlecaps and food wrappers were picked up within a 100 foot radius of the tower. I also found some unusual items including a syringe and a military issue "detection kit" which did not explain what it was used to detect but required a facemask for protection and a watch because "timing is critical for detection." My experience was apparently not unique. According to a news report that weekend, over 2500 tons of trash were removed from California beaches and among the strange items found was a actual gravestone.

Despite Colin's limited participation, the lessons he learned during this event were significant and numerous. He learned about geology, biology, and the scientific method. He also witnessed the sheer magnitude of trash deposited on our beaches. Colin also understood our responsibility to spend a few hours picking up trash in order to preserve the innate beauty of this beach. And, in a bigger sense, this small activity reinforced the values of volunteerism and charity that my wife and I are ever trying to instill in our little boy. All in all, it was a terrific morning and we will be back again next year.

Meet Your Board

Dave Gutoff, City of San Diego

Greetings fellow SoCal SETAC members. As one of the new board members, it is my honor and duty to give a brief biography of my professional life to date in this second segment of Meet the Board. I attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and received a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Biology. After taking the GRE and being accepted for grad school I opted instead to join the Peace Corps and spent two and a half years in the Philippines working with local fisheries personnel and fishermen in various capacities, primarily trying to introduce alternative fishing techniques and developing marine algal aquaculture. I was able to experience firsthand pristine tropical reef environments and witness the destructiveness of some methods of harvesting fisheries products. I learned the difficulty of weighing social, economic, and environmental impacts when considering alternative harvest methods. I enjoyed the incredible hospitality of the Philippine people and learned much more than I was able to teach.

After my Peace Corps duty was complete, I traveled for several months throughout Asia and the Pacific and eventually ended up in Santa Cruz, CA where I found a job working for American Shellfish, a commercial oyster grower and seafood distributor in Moss Landing. After three or four months of pushing oysters around and delivering seafood to Santa Cruz restaurants, I was hired by a relatively new company called Marine Bioassay Laboratories, later to become Toxscan, Inc. I was originally hired to work on an aquaculture pilot project using Gracilaria sp and Gelidium sp, two red algae that had potential as a commercial source of agar, for use in bacteriology and medical research. Both species are common in the Monterey Bay area. When that contract ended, I was kept on to help out with bioassays on the discharge water of offshore oil platforms in the Santa Barbara channel, this was my first exposure to aquatic toxicology and I found it very interesting. I was subsequently involved with a variety of marine water quality issues including numerous sediment quality projects, intertidal surveys, and the construction of a flow-through seawater system and testing trailers on the beach in Northern Santa Cruz.

After a few of years working at Toxscan as marine bioassay manager, I was fortunate enough to receive a laboratory manager position with Dr. Tom Dean at Coastal Resources Associates in Carlsbad, CA. While working at Coastal Resources Associates I was introduced to many new aspects of toxicity testing including new protocol development, GLP laboratory procedures, new product testing, and the use of previously untested Alaskan species for sensitive life stage testing. I was also selected to be on the California Ocean Plan Protocol Review Committee while working for Tom, and was able to observe and participate in bioassay protocol development and learn the process of having them implemented into the California Ocean Plan. When the City of San Diego decided to bring their NPDES permit testing in house, I accepted an offer to help set up a new laboratory and set about converting an out-of-business delicatessen into a bioassay lab. Five years or so later my colleague, Lan Wiborg and I are responsible for the City's toxicity permit requirements as well as various other water quality related issues. I invite any interested persons to come and visit us in Point Loma, check out the lab, and meet some of the 25 other biologists that make up the City of San Diego's Marine Monitoring Program.