Alaska Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-Alaska) Webinars: July 28 & August 18, 2021

You can register for the July 28 webinar here.

Join CHE-Alaska on July 28 and August 18 for presentations on microplastic pollution in Alaska’s marine and terrestrial environments and the effects of plastic-born toxic chemicals on Alaska’s ecosystems and Alaskans’ health.  

On July 28, we will be joined by Veronica Padula from the Bering Sea Campus and Research Center at the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island to hear about her ongoing research and results from a 2020 study ‘Plastic-derived contaminants in Aleutian Archipelago seabirds…”. Phthalates, a known endocrine disruptor, were found in 100% of birds studied. Her work highlights the growing concern for high microplastic concentrations in remote environments and the potential toxic effects of chemical contaminants from plastics moving across the biological boundary into marine food webs. Contaminant circulation in food webs may also play a role in human exposure to phthalates and other plastic-dervied toxics.    

On August 18, we will be hosting a second microplastic-themed webinar with Dr. Sonia Nagorski from the University of Alaska Southeast. Dr. Nagorski has decades of experience studying water quality as an environmental geochemist and recently turned her attention to the emerging issue of microplastic contamination. Plastic is a material unknown to Earth prior to recent decades but has rapidly become a persistent and pervasive global pollutant. Together with a group of UAS undergraduates, Dr. Nagorski is conducting original investigations into the extent of microplastic occurrence in glaciers, rivers, beaches, rain, and snow in Juneau, Alaska.

In addition to these speakers, Samantha Tracy, from Alaska Community Action on Toxics, will be sharing findings from ACAT’s upcoming report on plastics, chemicals, and climate in Alaska, highlighting the most pressing health concerns related to plastic pollution in the Arctic and links to extractive industries in Alaska.

Registration for the August 18 webinar is open here, and a follow-up email will be sent out with additional details on August 1st. 

You can register for the July 28 webinar here



Veronica Padula is the Academic Program Director at the Bering Sea Campus and Research Center at Aleut Community of St. Paul Island. She received her Master’s in Fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 2013 and is currently working on her PhD at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at UAF, investigating the impacts of plastic marine debris and phthalate exposure on Bering Sea food webs. Her work also explores trends in marine debris in this region and threats to subsistence species on St. Paul Island, Alaska. 



Dr. Sonia Nagorski is an Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Alaska Southeast with a focus on environmental geochemistry and water quality. Dr. Nagorski has a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Montana, and much of her research examines the presence and sources of contaminants such as trace metals and black carbon in both natural and anthropogenically impacted stream and glacial systems. In addition, a recent investigation she participated in with several UAS undergraduates examined an emerging contaminant in her local waterways – microplastics.



Samantha Tracy is a Master’s of Science student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health studying Environmental Health. Her research focuses on exposures to emerging contaminants in drinking water and the potential impacts to immune function. She grew up in Eastern North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she received her B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Psychology. Prior to attending graduate school, Samantha worked with the National Park Service at Lake Mead National Recreation Area conducting research and educational programming on invasive species and resource management. Samantha spends her free time writing for a science communication blog, hiking, drinking coffee, and recently started adult Taekwondo classes. She is excited to work with ACAT as they combine her interests in environmental science, climate change, and public health in promoting a toxic free environment.



Plastic-Derived contaminants in Aleutian Archipelago seabirds with varied foraging strategies (Padula & Beaudreau, 2020) –

Estimating the abundance of floating macro-debris in the marine environment: a comparison between distance sampling and fixed-width strip-transect techniques – Sixth International Marine Debris Conference – Sauria et al, 2018

‘A binding global agreement to address the life cycle of plastics’ published in Science in July 2021 –

‘Call for global treaty to end production of Virgin Plastic by 2040’ publised in the Gaurdian summarizing findings of 2021 paper referenced above –

Phthalate Fact Sheet produced by Alaska Community Action on Toxics –

NOAA’s marine debris program –

United Nation’s Environment Program 2017 report on ‘Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics – Global Lessons and Research to Inspire Action and Guide Policy Change’ (275 pages) – 

5 gyres – Science to Solutions –

Break Free From Plastic –

The Plastic Pollution Coalition –

Veronica Padula’s past presentation on CHE-Alaska entitled ‘Plastics and Chemicals in the Marine Environment – Effects on Seabirds in the Bering Sea and on Global Marine Ecosystems