Category Archives: SWS People

Innovations

If everyone in the U.S. flosses their teeth according to ADA recommendations, every year our empty containers alone would fill a landfill the size of a football field. That’s 6 stories hight-just for the empty floss dispensers! 
                                  

The importance of flossing has been well established and tested in dental hygiene literature for over a century (invented in 1898) and twice annual when we visit our dentist. However, the waste generated from plastic floss containers has a significant impact not only on our landfills, our ocean but also on our own health. 

When researching this topic I was startled to discover the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “…classifies dental floss as a Class I device, which means it is deemed to be low risk and subject to the least regulatory controls“. The FDA has little regulator obligation on what comprises floss itself. Historically floss was once made from silk fibers. The FDA states that “…today, floss is usually made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments.”

With limited regulation on the makeup of floss, could it have harmful chemicals in it? After digging into the literature to answer this question I came across Boronow et al., 2019 published article:

Half Abstract:
Flossing with Oral-B Glide, having stain-resistant carpet or furniture, and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated water supply were also associated with higher levels of some PFASs. Product testing using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy confirmed that Oral-B Glide and competitor flosses contained detectable fluorine. Despite the delay between blood collection and interview, these results strengthen the evidence for exposure to PFASs from food packaging and implicate exposure from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based dental floss for the first time.

News Article:
https://www.boston25news.com/news/trending-now/dental-floss-dangers-new-study-addresses-potential-harms-of-flossing/902407735

Source:
Boronow, K. E., Brody, J. G., Schaider, L. A., Peaslee, G. F., Havas, L., & Cohn, B. A. (2019). Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 206-217. doi:10.1038/s41370-018-0109-y

Ocean Policy In The State Legislature:Report From the Seattle Aquarium

 

        
(Photo: Rich Yukubousky)

The 2019 legislative session has come to a close here in Washington state more than 2,000 bills were introduced in this Washington state legislative session. 

KEY VICTORIES FOR OUR OCEAN

All four of the key orca recovery bills passed! New laws to help protect our struggling southern resident orcas were a priority for state lawmakers this session. The new laws will:

  • Increase the distance between boats and southern resident orcas, add a go-slow zone around the orcas and create a licensing program for commercial whale-watching operators. These protections from vessel noise and disturbance will make it easier for orcas to forage and find prey.
  • Prevent toxic pollution by working to reduce certain chemicals that could harm sensitive species like orcas and vulnerable populations like kids.
  • Protect habitat for Chinook salmon—the primary food source for orcas—and forage fish by increasing the state’s ability to enforce existing habitat protection laws.
  • Reduce oil spill risk by establishing tug escort requirements for more oil tankers in the waters around the San Juan Islands.

Washington also took a key step toward reducing plastic packaging in our state! A bill passed that requires an assessment of the amount, types, management and disposal of plastic packaging sold into the state. The report must include draft legislation for plastic packaging stewardship. That bill will be in the 2021 session.

MORE WORK TO DO

The Reusable Bag Bill did not make it to a final vote. There was a lot of positive press and the word got out about the benefits for ocean health that would come from eliminating thin, single-use plastic bags. 

The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, did not quite make it across the finish line either. There was some funding in the budget for an Environmental Justice Task Force. The Seattle Aquarium will continue to lend our support to the organizations leading these important environmental justice efforts.

Next, the Seattle Aquarium will be turning their attention to federal policy and will participate in Capitol Hill Ocean Week in Washington, DC in June.

From Camano Coordinator Mikaela Montanari

 

This spring has been very productive and full of wonderful partnerships with many Sound Water Stewards and community members. I’ve just recently wrapped up my official SWS training as of April 25th and am now officially a Steward! The level of detail and topics covered is impressive! Equally impressive are the dedicated folks who keep our Volunteer Education Training going.

Thank you for your dedication and hard work. I have really appreciated the level of detail the facilitators bring to the table. You are in many ways the face of our organization for incoming volunteers. 

Spring Accomplishments:
This winter and spring Suzie Gaffney and I worked with Lincoln Alternative High School students to increase their sense of place as part of the Stillaguamish grant.   Suzie and Janet St. Clair began this project back in 2017 and to date, this will be the second year SWS has provided educational outreach to Lincoln High School. The second goal of this grant is to recruit and train Lincoln High School students to help SWS and Friends of Camano Island State Parks (FOSICP) with Nature Discovery Days (NDD). In order for the high school students to feel knowledgable enough for NDD they received training on coastal geology (taught by Jeff Wheeler), Intertidal Beach Monitoring (taught by Suzie Gaffney, pictured above), ocean acidification (taught by Mikaela Montanari), marine identification (taught by Mikaela Montanari, Suzie Gaffney, Trent Lowe, and Stacey Thompson), tree and plant identification (taught by Dr. Linda Brubaker), and in exchange they would teach Eat with Your Feet (Barnacle game taught by Pat Foss, shown on the right), forest ecology, and beach exploration during NDD. So far both the teacher and the students have enjoyed their SWS partnership!

I’m looking forward to summer activities like Nature Discovery Days May 20th & 21st, Intertidal Beach Monitoring, and Low Tide events!

From Whidbey Coordinator Allie Hudec

 
Thank you so much to all of you that were willing to make it to the Penn Cove Water Festival. It was a big hit! We had over 100 contacts at the booth and out at the wharf. Our interpreters were certainly busy out there helping kids with the scavenger hunt and telling them about the bones. Our performing barnacles were on point as well, with a little plankton soup from the Whidbey Watershed Stewards booth next door they put on quite a show. Again, thank you to those who joined us and to those who were helping at Hearts and Hammers as well. We are so lucky to live in a county that has so many people willing to give their time and talents to make this world a better place.
 

We have many opportunities coming down the road! Be sure to make it to the monthly meeting on May 22nd at 10 AM, it will be followed by the opportunity fair so you can see what volunteer opportunities are available.

Thank you for all you do!

Allie Hudec

From the Executive Director Nan Maysen

 April was busy for most of us, I think! I was really happy to attend the Camano Monthly Meeting and meet a few more of you and become ever more familiar with all the activities going on on both islands. It was also great to participate in the last VET class for the spring that was a joint class at Deception Pass. I find these occasions to be in touch with you all are really valuable to me on the many other days I am working “behind the scenes”. On what? you ask? Well – –

As some of you know – SWS will be re-publishing Getting to the Waters Edge this summer – thanks the efforts of many of YOU, so I have been finding businesses and organizations who are interested in helping us to fund the publication so that the proceeds from sales can help our income stream over the next 5 – 10 years!  It has also been a great way for me to build relationships with our community and partners. 

I am working with Board members and both Allie and Mikaela on some of our “internal” SWS needs as we address ways to enhance committee-staff communication and support, clarify the structure and define guidelines that help staff and committees work together and grow, and bringing the long-awaited “Volunteer Handbook” into reality.  We are also working together to address some needs in the Information Technology arena – as we keep up and transition with ongoing changes in technology, social media and information management.  I continue to see my contribution as working with the board to provide direction that makes it easier and more effective and efficient for all of you and staff to accomplish our collective SWS goals.

There are always lots of ongoing administrative tasks that keep me on my toes (record keeping, reporting, etc) and I sneak in some time for developing strategies for funding and looking for opportunities for collaboration. Our grant from the Town of Coupeville includes funding for a few new components of the Coupeville Wharf exhibit, so soon Allie and perhaps Kelly will be developing that. There is no shortage of ways for SWS to make more contributions in our island communities, as our capacity increases!  

Greetings from the new Executive Director

By Nan Maysen

The new year has brought exciting changes for both Janet St Clair, SWS former Executive Director, and myself as SWS new Executive Director. Janet left SWS to fill her new position as Island County Commissioner, and I am very much in gratitude to her for the guidance she provided over the past 16 months. I am also very enthusiastic to serve the volunteers, staff, and board of this remarkable organization!

I bring a lot of familiarity with the SWS mission and history and programs from my 23 years in Bellingham where I was involved in watershed education with the city and county – even including WSU and Beach Watchers! For several of the past 18 years, I have integrated program development and business management into my work in conservation, education and tourism mostly in the southern Salish Sea (Whatcom and Skagit Counties) but also stints in South-central Alaska (Prince William Sound and Southeast). Prior to 2015 when I moved to Coupeville, I lived on Samish Island and worked for WSU Beach Watchers and Friends of Skagit Beaches and Skagit MRC to coordinate volunteers, manage grants, and develop “transitional programs” including Salish Sea Stewards and Beach Naturalists. (Some name confusion might arise with my past history, as people in Whatcom knew me for 25 years as “Nancy May” and in Skagit County for 5 years as “Nancy Olsen” – but I am happy to say my name will NEVER change going forward – and I can advise anyone of the downside of name-changes!! )

We all know how special these communities are on Camano and Whidbey that we have chosen to call “home” – and probably all of you have stories of how you came to care enough about them to learn and contribute to the wellbeing of the shoreline habitat through Sound Water Stewards. It is both the natural and the human communities of these two islands that brought me here to settle. I knew I wanted to be somewhere with people enjoying, understanding, caring for and securing the health and beauty of our natural systems. And it is the remarkable commitment of members and contributions of SWS that has me excited to serve in this capacity as Executive Director.

The changes coming in the next couple of months – with my own new role and shifts in coordinator positions – remind me of the littoral drift waves that lap the shore and collectively move little grains of sand and pebbles incrementally down the shoreline to build the beach. My first weeks of working with SWS have me grateful, reassured and excited: grateful for the efforts and guidance of the board and staff the past 3 years, reassured that the corps of volunteers are as capable and enthusiastic as ever, and excited to become a part of the team!

I look forward to getting to know all of you better and work with you.