From Monsoons to Microbes
Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human
NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1999
NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS • 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20418
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report and the committee were supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
From monsoons to microbes : understanding the ocean's role in human health / Ocean Studies Board,
Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 0-309-06569-0 (casebound)
1. Marine pollutionHealth aspects. 2. Marine microbiology. 3.
Marine pharmacology. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Ocean
RA600 .F76 1999 99-6094
From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health is available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 OR (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu
Cover art: Small single-celled algae known as dinoflagellates fall on the background of a rainstorm, along with a satellite image of a hurricane brewing over the tropical ocean. The dinoflagellates are watercolors taken from C.A. Kofoid and O. Swezy (1921), "The Free-Living Unarmored Dinoflagellata," Memoirs of the University of California, Vol. 5, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health
WILLIAM FENICAL, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
DANIEL BADEN, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
MAURICE BURG, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D.C.
DARRELL JAY GRIMES, The University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs
MICHAEL KATZ, March of Dimes, White Plains, New York
NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee
SHIRLEY POMPONI, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Inc., Fort Pierce, Florida
PETER RHINES, University of Washington, Seattle
PATRICIA TESTER, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Beaufort, North Carolina
JOHN VENA, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo
SUSAN ROBERTS, Study Director
SHARI MAGUIRE, Senior Project Assistant
Ocean Studies Board
KENNETH BRINK, Chair, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
ALICE ALLDREDGE, University of California, Santa Barbara
DAVID BRADLEY, Pennsylvania State University, State College
DAN BROMLEY, University of Wisconsin, Madison
OTIS BROWN, University of Miami, Florida
WILLIAM CURRY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
RANA FINE, University of Miami, Florida
CARL FRIEHE, University of California, Irvine
ROBERT GAGOSIAN, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
JOHN HOBBIE, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
EILEEN HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia
EDWARD HOUDE, University of Maryland, Solomons
JOHN KNAUSS, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett
ROBERT KNOX, University of California, San Diego
RAY KRONE, University of California, Davis
LOUIS LANZEROTTI, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, New Jersey
NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee
B. GREGORY MITCHELL, University of California, San Diego
NEIL OPDYKE, University of Florida, Gainesville
MICHAEL ORBACH, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina
TERRANCE QUINN, University of Alaska, Juneau
JAMES RAY, Equilon Enterprises LLC, Houston, Texas
GEORGE SOMERO, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California
PAUL STOFFA, University of Texas, Austin
KARL TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
MORGAN GOPNIK, Director
EDWARD R. URBAN, JR., Senior Program Officer
DAN WALKER, Senior Program Officer
SUSAN ROBERTS, Program Officer
ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Associate
SHARI MAGUIRE, Senior Project Assistant
LORA TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant
JENNIFER WRIGHT, Senior Project Assistant
ANN CARLISLE, Project Assistant
Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources
GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle
B. JOHN GARRICK, PLG, Inc., Newport Beach, California
THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.
KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
RICHARD A. MESERVE, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.
HUGH C. MORRIS, Canadian Global Change Program, Delta, British Columbia
RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario
H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens
THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park
VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida
E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park
MARY LOU ZOBACK, United States Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California
ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director
GREGORY H. SYMMES, Assistant Executive Director
JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer
SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate
MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility of advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
1998 has been declared the International Year of the Ocean (YOTO). This has led to the initiation of a number of activities meant to enhance the public's awareness of the ocean and to improve our ability to deal effectively with the hydrosphere. One useful and important activity that each of us could undertake as YOTO draws to a close would be to think about the ways the ocean affects our lives. Some connections are clear: people in the transportation industry might express concern about tides, winds and currents and how they affect the safety and economics of shipping. People in the fishing industry might recognize how their livelihoods depend on the health and productivity of the fishing grounds. The broader public might value the ocean as a source of food and recreation, and remember how the warm Pacific Ocean waters of the 1997–98 El Niño brought unusually warm, wet weather to much of the United States. There are many other immediate connections between the ocean and human activities.
However, this report examines another, less often recognized, aspect of how the ocean affects our lives; the implications of ocean phenomena for human health. That this issue has not been discussed broadly is probably a reflection of the diverse ways in which the ocean influences health. The following report explores the nature of these connections, considers the state of knowledge in important areas, and makes recommendations for how improvements can be made in human health through a better understanding of the oceans.
CHAIR, OCEAN STUDIES BOARD
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The Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health was charged with examining a variety of ways in which the oceans play a role in human health: from large-scale physical processes to micro-scale biochemical processes. This report is intended as an overview of these issues, a starting point for considering how the marine sciences have contributed and can continue to contribute to improving human health.
This study began with a workshop on the Ocean's Role in Human Health to bring together members of the ocean sciences, medical, and public health communities for discussion of various topics connecting the study of marine processes and marine organisms to the promotion of human health. The committee extends its gratitude to the following individuals who spoke at the workshop and provided background information for the report: Lorraine Backer, Robert Baker, Frances Carr, David Epel, Joan Ferraris, Sherwood Hall, Anwarul Huq, John Marchalonis, Baldomero Olivera, Joan Rose, Lynn "Nick" Shay, Benjamin Sherman, Erika Siegfried, Milan Trpis, and William Wiseman.
The committee is grateful for the assistance provided by the following individuals who provided additional background material, data, and figures for consideration and use by the committee: Donald M. Anderson, Paul Epstein, Eric L. Geist, George N. Pavlakis, Lynn "Nick" Shay, and Stephen A. Stricker. For their assistance in data gathering, preparation, and consultation the committee extends its thanks to the following individuals: Constance Carter and Adrienne Davis.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent
review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Duane Gubler, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Judith McDowell, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Jonathan Patz, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Roger Pielke, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Michael Roman, University of Maryland; Sandra Shumway, Southampton College, Long Island University; Patrick Walsh, University of Miami; and Jaw-Kai Wang, University of Hawaii. While the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
The committee gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) staff who helped to produce this report, particularly the study director, Susan Roberts, and the project assistant, Shari Maguire. For their efforts in bringing this activity to fruition, the committee wishes to thank Morgan Gopnik, OSB director; Daniel Walker, OSB program officer, and the staff of the Board on Health Sciences Policy at the Institute of Medicine. This study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
CHAIR, COMMITTEE ON THE OCEAN'S ROLE IN HUMAN HEALTH