At the beginning of the conference, the brilliant and charismatic organizer of the conference, Solange Cristina Garcia (Professor of Toxicology at the Federal university of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), gave a pointed and poignant introduction about ToxiLatin and toxicology research in Brazil, a country of over 207 million people.
In this opening address she discussed the 2014 founding of AstoxiLatin (Latin American Association of Environmental, Experimental and Nanomaterial Toxicology). The formation of this society was motivated, mainly, due to the lack of policy and availability of antidotes for cyanide exposure in people affected by the tragic Kiss nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil.
In Dr. Garcia’s address she discussed the political, social, and financial challenges facing the fifth most populated country in the world as well as the significant cuts in scientific research.
Nanomaterials and their toxic potentials received a significant amount of attention at ToxiLatin this year. Nanomaterials include substances such as polymers, metals, carbon nanotubes, and silicas and are omnipresent. They can be found in body lotions, shampoos, toothpaste, paint, antiperspirants, sunscreen and many other substances humans constantly encounter and dispose of.
When assessing the risks of nanomaterials, simply measuring the amount of nanomaterials is challenging. After disposal, nanomaterials can be found in water, sludge and soil. These different substrates create challenges in accurately measuring the presence of nanomaterials, which is necessary to determine how nanomaterials behave in the environment and if there are potential damaging effects on the environment and organisms.
Measuring nanomaterial levels is critical since exposure can have negative health consequences. Nanoparticles are unstable structures and have immunotoxic potential. Exposure to nanoparticles activates the immune system, and has been shown to cause release of cytokines including IL-1β.
ToxiLatin and Toxicology Publishing
As the Editor of BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology, I had the honor of participating in a roundtable of Editors discussing publishing in toxicology. Also present at the roundtable was Dr. Kai Savolainen, Editor of Human & Experimental Toxicology, and Dr. Michael Aschner, Editor of NeuroToxicology and a Section Editor for the ‘Toxicology’ section in BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology.
In this roundtable, which was particularly important for students, we discussed the importance of journal selection, intriguing titles, strong hypotheses and abstracts, and journal formats. We had an honest discussion of predatory journals, the current state of the challenges in finding reviewers, and dealing with reviewers’ split decisions.
One critical topic discussed was the conflict researchers in financially starved scientific communities, such as Brazil, experience when deciding to publish in an open access journal or to buy necessary experimental compounds. Of importance, I stated that when publishing in BMC, finances should not be a prohibitive factor in publishing in our journals.