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The drugs we release into the environment are likely to have a significant impact on plant growth, finds a new study nled by the University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University.
By assessing the impacts of a range of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the research has shown that the growth of edible crops can be affected by these chemicals – even at the very low concentrations found in the environment.
Published in the Journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, the research focused its analysis on lettuce and radish plants and tested the effects of several commonly prescribed drugs, including diclofenac and ibuprofen. These drugs are among the most common and widely used group of pharmaceuticals, with more than 30 million prescribed across the world every day.
The potential for these chemicals to influence plants is becoming increasingly relevant, particularly as waste management systems are unable to remove many compounds from our sewage. Drugs for human use make their way into soil through a number of routes, including the use of sewage sludge as fertiliser and waste water for irrigation.
Crop image via Shutterstock.
This study looked for a number of changes in edible plants, assessing factors such as water content, root and shoot length, overall size and how effectively the plants photosynthesised.
Each drug was shown to affect the plants in very specific ways, with marked differences between drugs that are closely related. For example, drugs from the fenamic acid class affected the growth of radish roots, whilst ibuprofen had a significant influence on the early root development of lettuce plants.
Dr Clare Redshaw, one of the scientists leading the project at the Medical School’s European Centre for Environment & Human Health, said: “The huge amounts of pharmaceuticals we use ultimately end up in the environment, yet we know very little about their effects on flora and fauna. As populations age and generic medicines become readily available, pharmaceutical use will rise dramatically and it’s essential we take steps towards limiting environmental contamination. We haven’t considered the impact on human health in this study, but we need to improve our understanding quickly so that appropriate testing and controls can be put in place.”
There have been growing concerns about the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, particularly as evidence emerges of the effects they can have on the development of animals and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Yet their ability to affect plant growth is poorly understood.
NIH scientists determine how environment contributes to several human diseases.
From the 25 November 2014 NIH Press Release
Using a new imaging technique, National Institutes of Health researchers have found that the biological machinery that builds DNA can insert molecules into the DNA strand that are damaged as a result of environmental exposures. These damaged molecules trigger cell death that produces some human diseases, according to the researchers. The work, appearing online Nov. 17 in the journal Nature, provides a possible explanation for how one type of DNA damage may lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and lung disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Time-lapse crystallography was used by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) researchers to determine that DNA polymerase, the enzyme responsible for assembling the nucleotides or building blocks of DNA, incorporates nucleotides with a specific kind of damage into the DNA strand. Time-lapse crystallography is a technique that takes snapshots of biochemical reactions occurring in cells.
Samuel Wilson, M.D., senior NIEHS researcher on the team, explained that the damage is caused by oxidative stress, or the generation of free oxygen molecules, in response to environmental factors, such as ultraviolet exposure, diet, and chemical compounds in paints, plastics, and other consumer products. He said scientists suspected that the DNA polymerase was inserting nucleotides that were damaged by carrying an additional oxygen atom.
“When one of these oxidized nucleotides is placed into the DNA strand, it can’t pair with the opposing nucleotide as usual, which leaves a gap in the DNA,” Wilson said. “Until this paper, no one had actually seen how the polymerase did it or understood the downstream implications.”
From the 6 November 2014 press release
Source:University of SheffieldSummary:Future ozone levels could be high enough to cause serious damage to plants and crops, even if emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced, says new research. And without sufficient reductions in emissions, ozone levels could also pose a risk to human health.
y combining projections of climate change, emissions reductions and changes in land use across the USA, an international research team estimate that by 2050, cumulative exposure to ozone during the summer will be high enough to damage vegetation.
Although the research findings — published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions — focus on the impact in the USA, they raise wider concerns for global air quality, according to lead researcher Dr Maria Val Martin, from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering
“Modelling future air quality is very complex, because so many factors need to be taken into account at both a global and local scale,” says Dr Val Martin. “The picture isn’t uniform across the USA, with some areas seeing much higher surface ozone levels than others. However, our findings show that the emissions reductions we’re expecting to achieve won’t guarantee air quality on their own, as they will be offset by changes in climate and land use and by an increase in wildfires. This is an issue that will affect all parts of the world, not just the USA.”
The research looked at air quality under two scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: one which envisages greenhouse gas emissions peaking in 2040 and then falling, the other in which emissions continue to rise until 2100. The team combined data on climate change, land use and emissions to create a picture of air quality across the USA in 2050.
The model showed that, if greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2040, then by 2050 surface ozone will remain below levels set to safeguard human health, despite increases in ozone caused by higher temperatures and changes in agriculture and forestation. If emissions continue to rise until 2100, then some areas of the USA will see surface ozone above the safe levels set for human health.
[Deep down I believe that climate change should not be addressed as a threat to our security, but as a threat against all of us humans. If we do not unite on a global basis, surely this will be a disaster for all of us. Climate disruption (it is not simple change!) knows no boundaries. The effects cannot be stopped at any border.]
Climate change is a threat multiplier, and the Defense Department is taking steps to incorporate this issue into all planning.
ASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2014 – Climate change is a threat multiplier, and the Defense Department is taking steps to incorporate this issue into all planning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Peru today.
Climate change has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges the world already confronts, from the spread of infectious diseases to spurring armed conflicts, Hagel said at the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas.
“The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” he said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline and trigger waves of mass migration.”
This already happening in the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification is placing millions at risk, and climate extremes in Australia are worrying leaders there. The Western Hemisphere is not immune, Hagel said. “Two of the worst droughts in the Americas have occurred in the past 10 years – droughts that used to occur once a century,” he added.
“In the Caribbean, sea level rise may claim 1,200 square miles of coastal land in the next 50 years, and some islands may have to be completely evacuated,” the secretary said. “According to some estimates, rising temperatures could melt entire glaciers in the Andes, which could have cascading economic and security consequences.”
These climate trends clearly will have implications for regional militaries, Hagel said, as more extreme weather will cause more natural disasters and military personnel will be called on to deliver humanitarian assistance and relief.
“Our coastal installations could be vulnerable to rising shorelines and flooding, and extreme weather could impair our training ranges, supply chains and critical equipment,” the secretary said. “Our militaries’ readiness could be tested, and our capabilities could be stressed.”
Climate change roadmap
Hagel announced a Defense Department Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap during his speech. The roadmap is based on science, he said, and describes the effects of climate change on DoD’s missions and responsibilities.
“We have nearly completed a baseline survey to assess the vulnerability of our military’s more than 7,000 bases, installations and other facilities,” Hagel said. “Drawing on these assessments, we will integrate climate change considerations into our planning, operations and training.”
Climate change affects everyone, and DoD will work with partner nations bilaterally and multilaterally to address the threat, the secretary said. “We will share our findings, our tools for assessment and our plans for resiliency,” he added. “We will also seek to learn from partner nations’ experiences as well.”
Hagel encouraged the Western Hemisphere nations represented at the conference to participate in the Defense Environmental International Cooperation program. “I recognize that our militaries play different roles and have different responsibilities in each of our nations,” he said. “I also recognize that climate change will have different impacts in different parts of the hemisphere. But there are many opportunities to work together.”
Peru will host a United Nations convention on climate change in two months, Hagel noted, adding that the militaries of the world must be part of the discussion. “We must be clear-eyed about the security threats presented by climate change, and we must be pro-active in addressing them,” he said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews
Related article from the Scout ReportClimate Science, Awareness and Solutions
The Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions (CSAS) team at Columbia University has a specific, targeted goal: a near universal carbon fee on fossil fuels. The group’s mission statement, under About Us, is a great place to start. Then explore Dr. James Hansen’s TED talk, an eighteen minute argument for the political responsibilities of climate scientists as well as regular citizens. The section titled Our Work will take readers to five headings – Climate Research, Climate Data, Public Awareness and Policy Solutions, 350.org, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and Our Children’s Trust – each of which links to timely and educational projects. Finally, the In the News section features videos and articles showcasing the work of Dr. Hansen and his fellow climate activists. [CNH]
From the 8 October post
Global food trade has come a long way. Is it for the better or has it made survival, nutrition, diversity and safety better. There is a vast, complicated web of food systems throughout the globe. I think it is an essential topic that influences public health or vice versa. Consumers have a variety of fruits and vegetables at their fingertips due to even more complex trade agreements. We have become dependent on import/export of foods, that many of us have completely lost touch or are growing up not knowing where our foods come from and how it came to be in its form. It is what we eat. Be advised that a good portion of what I do write about (rusty) will pinpoint New Mexico. However, much of what I write is based on a perspective of think local, act global and I feel that foodshed research is essential to that kind of thinking. Below are some examples.
High Food Price Index Coincides with Civil Unrest: Surely people fight over this stuff as it posits a large portion of a nation’s wealth. There are numerous studies done by economists and Food and Agriculture Organization that negatively correlate a global hunger index and food price index and incidences of civil unrest. According to a Cornell University study, an analysis of Arab nation uprisings coincided with food index price increases. They did also acknowledge and control for other social justice and political issues, but it would be difficult to ignore the relationship between food and other issues in a country.
This could be for a number of reasons, and I believe that this has to do with balancing expenses and food being the highest expense. It is one of my biggest monthly expenses and has been getting much harder to budget into the household income. And I cook often and find myself scratching my head wondering why $20 doesn’t go as far as it used to, but at least that is all I do and that is a privilege-not the case across the globe. This reached a high in 2010 and the anger was very apparent in Egypt.
Food shed and Local Economies: There is a significant economic impact that the food industry has on local markets, such as small rural communities that can make or break job opportunities and small business entrepreneurships. In New Mexico 90% of agricultural products directly or indirectly related to the food industry are exported as reported in Dreaming New Mexico. The same goes for imported food. However, much of the imported food is not the same shape as when it was imported and has been transformed into a food product.
In Rome, European experts publish a ‘common vision’ of priorities for marine research and action through 2020
Some 340 European scientists, policy-makers and other experts representing 143 organizations from 31 countries spoke with one voice today, publishing a common vision of today’s most pressing marine-related health and economic threats and opportunities.
In a declaration concluding a three day meeting in Rome, EurOcean 2014 participants also released an agreed, five-year roadmap to achieve expanded, more integrated and effective policy-oriented ocean scrutiny.
In addition to a rising tide of ocean-related threats to human health and economics, the conference statement points to major opportunities in such areas as marine biotechnology, offshore energy, and sustainable aquaculture to create much-needed jobs after one of the worst economic crises in recent history.
Making such “blue growth” sustainable, however, requires a greater investment in science —research to deliver knowledge, tools and advice on sustainable management of marine resources and a better understanding of ecosystems underpinning the maritime economy.
Demands on the seas for food, energy, raw materials and transport are steadily increasing, the statement notes. And while oceans “can provide solutions to many European and global policy challenges … (they) are neither inexhaustible nor immune to damage. In the context of rapid global change and human population growth, it is imperative to balance economic benefit with environmental protection and human wellbeing.”
“As a research community, it’s now time to reassess and reinvigorate our efforts to support these policy ambitions.”
Participants identified four high-level policy goals:
1. Valuing the ocean
Promoting a wider understanding of the importance of the seas and oceans in the everyday lives of European citizens.
2. Capitalizing on European leadership
Building on our strengths to reinforce Europe’s position as a global leader in marine science and technology
3. Advancing ocean knowledge
Building a much greater knowledge base through ocean observation and fundamental and applied research
4. Breaking scientific barriers
Addressing the complex challenges of blue growth and ocean sustainability by combining expertise and drawing from a full range of scientific disciplines.
From a recent blog item
There’s been a striking increase in the number of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases over the past three decades, and a major new scientific review suggests chemical pesticides—particularly glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup—are playing an important role in fueling the cancer.
The Roundup-Lymphoma Connection
The review [Free full text at above link], recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, examined 44 papers to see how 80 active ingredients in 21 different chemical classes impacted farmers’ risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer researchers found that exposure to glyphosate doubled a person’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That’s problematic, since the chemical is now so heavily used it’s winding up in the rain! The reason for the surge in glyphosate use can be attributed to the rise of genetically engineered crops. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, developed genetically engineered seeds that were designed to withstand heavy Roundup sprayings. In the last 20 years, the use of these seeds has skyrocketed.
Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:
One year after the fertilizer facility explosion in West, Texas, which destroyed and severely damaged nearby schools, an analysis by the Center for Effective Government finds that nearly one in ten American schoolchildren live and study within one mile of a potentially dangerous chemical facility.
The analysis, displayed through an online interactive map, shows that 4.6 million children at nearly 10,000 schools across the country are within a mile of a facility that reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Risk Management Program. Factories, refineries, and other facilities that report to the program produce, use, and/or store significant quantities of certain hazardous chemicals identified by EPA as particularly risky to human health or the environment if they are spilled, released into the air, or are…
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Originally posted on Patrick Mackie:
Environmental health practitioners, particularly those who studied and qualified in the last twenty years, will be very familiar with Margaret Whitehead and Göran Dahlgren’s model of the social determinants of health, shown below in the well-known model from their 1991 publication.
Environmental health as a profession works at the interfaces between, generally, people’s living and working conditions and their health and wellbeing. But these are only one set of environmental factors that affect health in terms of morbidity and mortality, and there are other governmental and social actors that can work together to intervene and change the outcomes for real people in the real world. That’s why the new public health arrangements in England are game-changing for the profession and for the health of the public generally, and that’s why finding an evidence-base to target suitable and effective interventions that will really make a difference for people is so important.
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An Expert Opinion: Jonathan Patz
Polar bears aren’t the only species threatened by climate change. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, has spent the last two decades studying the ways that a warming world will affect human health. In 2007, he shared the Nobel Prize as a lead author for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Patz, who holds degrees in medicine and public health, crisscrosses the globe to spread the word about the far-reaching impacts of climate change on our health and why better urban planning might be the answer.
When we think about the effects of climate change on our health, most of us probably think about big events like heat waves. Are there other, overlooked implications for public health?
One of the reasons I think that climate change poses an enormous public health risk is because of the multiple pathways through which the impacts will be experienced. When you have a heat wave, you get worsening of pollution effects. Also higher temperatures promote more ragweed pollen, and then all sorts of infectious diseases. There are so many diseases very sensitive to small shifts in temperature. It’s also extremes of the water cycle. Already we don’t handle heavy rainfall events very well. When it rains really hard, you’re going to find bacteria and viruses in the water.
But I think one of the biggest problems that’s the most difficult to study and document, could be the disruption of big populations: droughts forcing people to move, sea level rise. These are going to cause population-wide disruption, social upheaval. I think this could be a huge burden with mental health, post-traumatic stress, and things like that.
The disparity in carbon emissions (shown in the upper map) and prevalence of climate-senstive disease (lower map) between industrialized and non-industrialized countries is an ethical problem. Image by Jeff Miller, UW-Madison.
You’ve said that the way climate change is affecting our health is an ethical issue.
Where are today’s most climate-sensitive diseases like malaria, malnutrition, diarrheal disease? They’re mostly in poor countries, especially Africa and India. Then you ask the question, who’s causing global warming? Global warming is primarily from burning fossil fuels — that’s in the industrialized world. That’s the huge ethical dilemma. Those most vulnerable are the least responsible.
When I was meeting with the Dalai Lama two years ago, I was explaining to him that we didn’t know when we were developing the steam engine and oil- and gas-powered vehicles and powering our electricity with coal, we didn’t know that it was a bad thing. So now we know that. And the Dalai Lama asked me, he said, “Well, wait a minute, now that you know that, why are you still burning fossil fuels? It’s no longer ethical, with that knowledge.” I said to him, “That’s a good question. That’s a very good question.”
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. Are there concrete things people can do that will mitigate some of the negative effects on our health?
Well, this is the exciting piece of this that I really think is important. With every crisis there’s an opportunity.
The automobile, the dependence on the automobile, is really a very costly design for our health. We actually quantified the economic benefit and the health benefit if you took the 11 largest cities in the upper Midwest and you asked the question, what if short car trips, trips that are two and a half miles, were taken off the road? What would it mean for urban air quality? We found that we would save 500 lives a year, hundreds of thousands in hospitalizations, and about four billion dollars every year in savings from avoided health costs.
Now, what if half of those short car trips become bicycle trips, and only during the summer? That would save another 700 lives per year because of physical fitness. So we’re talking about eight billion dollars, about 1,300 lives saved. So, this is a golden opportunity — a huge public health dividend — to be able to design cities and design transportation for active transit, for biking, for walking.
You bike to work, right? Even in the Wisconsin winter?
I have recently bought studded snow tires and I do bike to work, but that’s not actually the message that I want to portray. Because I would say while I bike to work in the winter, I do it for speed and convenience. If I lived further away, I would probably take the bus.
One way to address the growing heroin epidemic? Address lifestyle and environment components.
Certainly would be a public health way to stem folks dependence on substances that can often diminish quality of life and death.
From the 4 January 2014 Science Daily article (read the entire article at this link)
Researchers have discovered that sensitivity to pain could be altered by a person’s lifestyle and environment throughout their lifetime. The study is the first to find that pain sensitivity, previously thought to be relatively inflexible, can change as a result of genes being switched on or off by lifestyle and environmental factors — a process called epigenetics, which chemically alters the expression of genes.
From the 27 January 2014 article
Research recently published examines how facial expression can trigger an emotional response. The authors set out to test this theory that mood can be governed by facial expression, to the extent that intensity of a person’s smile bears a relationship to well-being, fulfillment and longevity. They conducted a study on involuntary sun-induced frowning and relationship to emotional state of the subject.
by Alan J Gow on 2014/01/28While we know that some of the lifestyle choices we make are good or bad for our health and mental wellbeing, we might be less inclined to think about how the environment we live in affects us. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in how factors in our environment, for example the amount of green space in the area we live, might influence a range of important outcomes, from physical health and stress to mortality. A recent studyhighlighted that although living in areas with more green space has been linked to a range of better health outcomes, much of this work has used information from a single assessment. That creates a problem, as noted by the authors of the study:
“Are people happier and healthier due to the proximity of green space to their homes, or do healthier people move to greener areas?”
By accessing information about people moving to or from greener areas and following those people for 3 years after their move, the new study reported that moving to a greener area not only led to an improvement in mental health, but that this was maintained over time. This positive effect of green space received coverage in a number of media outlets, including the Daily Mail, Guardian, and BBC News, for example.
What did the research say?
Editor’s Note: The study is available at http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/4/1/45
DURHAM, NC – Children around the world who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods exhibit more aggressive behavior, says a new Duke University-led study that is the first to examine the topic across a wide range of countries.
Many U.S. studies have described a link between dangerous neighborhoods and children’s aggressive behavior. Authors of the new study wanted to determine whether the pattern held true in other cultures. To find out, researchers interviewed parents and children from 1,293 families in nine countries: China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
The study appears online today in the journal Societies.
The researchers asked families a series of questions about dangers in their neighborhoods. Based on the answers, the researchers scored the neighborhoods according to their degree of danger.
To measure children’s aggressive behavior, researchers asked parents and children to complete a widely used child-behavior checklist that captures behaviors such as screaming and threatening people. The researchers sought answers from mothers, fathers and children for the surveys, in order to obtain a fuller portrait.
In neighborhoods that parents described as highly dangerous, children exhibited higher levels of aggressive behavior. This link held true across all nine countries studied, based on parentsâ responses, said lead author Ann T. Skinner, a researcher with Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy.
“This is an incredibly diverse set of countries from around the world, representing countries from the developing and the developed world and including individualistic and collectivist societies,” Skinner said. “In all the countries we studied, we see that living in a dangerous neighborhood may affect kids negatively.”
The study further suggests that perilous neighborhoods may affect children indirectly, through their parents. In all nine countries, when children reported living in more dangerous neighborhoods, harsh parenting practices were more common, as was child aggression. However, adults’ and children’s perceptions differed on that point. More research is needed to determine whether or not dangerous neighborhoods promote harsh parenting practices, Skinner said.
The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant RO1-HD054805, Fogarty International Center grant RO3-TW008141 and the intramural program of the NIH, NICHD.
More diseases from air pollution uncovered by improved data material
Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers to become among the very best in the world to detect harmful diseases deriving from polluted air
IMAGE: This is professor Ole Hertel of Aarhus University. Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers…Click here for more information.
At rest, we breathe approx. 12-15 times per minute, and for each inhalation we change approx. one litre of air. Depending on the activity level, this makes up a daily quantity in the order of twenty cubic metres of air that – with its content of pollution in the form of particles and different gases – can make us ill depending on how polluted the air is.
Asthma attacks, wheezing, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are some of the more glaring examples of diseases we – in worst case – can get from the domestic air. The list of injuries due to air pollution in Denmark is long. This appears from a brand new article that professor Ole Hertel from Aarhus University, has written with a number of Danish colleagues at University of Copenhagen, the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University. “So the list of diseases detected in Denmark is long, but it does not mean that we have the world’s most polluted air. This is to be found in Asia, Africa and South America. Here, you typically find a yearly mean value of the particle pollution (PM10) of 50-200 micrograms per cubic metres of air, while the content in Copenhagen and other Western European Megacities typically is at a lower level – about 20-50 micrograms per cubic metre. But even in a “moderately polluted” air as we call it in Danish towns and cities, we find many serious injuries which come from the air that we breathe every day,” explains Ole Hertel.
In the article “Utilizing Monitoring Data and Spatial Analysis Tools for Exposure Assessment of Atmospheric Pollutants in Denmark”, Ole Hertel and his colleagues review the Danish experiences in combining measurements and models. By combining measurements on relatively few but well-chosen places with advanced models for spreading of air pollution, the researchers can calculate the air pollution down to the individual addresses.
Hertel and Co. review a number of Danish studies of the coherence between air pollution and injuries to health. A total of nine short-term studies have been published in Denmark, where researchers have demonstrated respiratory and cardiovascular diseases after episodes with increased air pollution, etc. Similarly, eleven studies demonstrate long-term injuries due to air pollution, e.g. lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and mortality.
IMAGE: Ole Hertel and his colleagues at Aarhus University can calculate the air pollution down to address accuracy with the AIRGIS model which combines information about emissions of air pollution and…Click here for more information.
The scientists’ ability to detect a wide range if different types of damages of the Danes’ health is due to the fact that Danish researchers represent some of the very best to demonstrate illnesses caused by air pollution on human health. This is obvious when we look at the model for spreading of air pollution, OSPM, which was developed by Danes and is now used in approx. twenty countries. This is also why Ole Hertel was invited to give an overview of the diseases detected to be a consequence of the air pollution in Denmark, first on a major international conference and afterwards in book form:
“We have some very unique health registers in Denmark and that is quite different from other countries. We are able to connect addresses and health registers with air-polluted areas. In Denmark, we have many cohort investigations where the same persons are followed during a long period of time. Here, we can link to other sorts of information and thus separate effects related to e.g. lifestyle from effects related to air pollution. For instance, the Danish Cancer Society makes a study of people’s diet and exercise habits in a so-called Diet, Cancer, Health study, and in addition you have the whole birth cohort where the same children have been followed from around the turn of the century until now,” explains Ole Hertel.
But not only do we have some of the world’s best health registers in Denmark;
“We also have some outstanding good pieces of information on traffic, buildings and infrastructure. This information we have concluded in the so-called
AirGis Model which uses digital road maps and building and road registers to determine the parameters we need for air quality calculations on address level. Therefore, we can come up with conclusions that are more precise than in other countries.” Ole Hertel emphasises that there are strong constrains around handling of personal information.
Ole Hertel points out one of the Danish results as particularly notable:
“It came as a surprise to me that the studies showed a connection between air pollution and diabetes. It is rather new information that air pollution can cause diabetes, and we are working on finding a biological explanation for this correlation. This is an example of the fact that our very detailed way of working in Denmark leads to precise results.”
It takes fifty litres of air to read this article
Dear reader, if you represent an average reader, you have just spent three minutes and 58 seconds to read this article – probably inclusive of pauses for thoughts (thank you for that!). During this time you have inhaled approx. fifty litres of air through your lungs, depending on your gender and size.
In this one hour webinar which is part of the Hot Topics series, representatives from four health jurisdictions in Washington State discuss their experiences developing policies and enforcing laws to promote smoke-free air in public places.
Air date: December 17, 2013
[recording will be freely available after Dec 17]
- Describe how public health agencies are being challenged by the presence of hookah lounges, vapor-producing products, and possibly marijuana lounges.
- List effective public policy or enforcement strategies for combating hookah lounges, vapor-producing products, and potential marijuana lounges.
- List three considerations when deciding whether to take legal proceedings against an establishment for violating Smoking in Public Places laws.
Local, state, and tribal public health practitioners; board of health members; health department legal counsel
Slides and Resources
- Slides will be posted immediately before the session.
- An Introduction to E-Cigarettes for States and Locals, Tobacco Control Network
While I do not have these sensitivities, I have met a few folks who do. One was a worker at a local food co-op. She said it was very difficult to find employment at places where she did not react to the chemicals in their environments.
This story also brings to mind how I was able to add hours to my part time non-faculty library position a few years back. The new hire (faculty) was unable to work, she had bad reactions to the new carpeting. It was the beginning of the academic year and the library was desperate to at least get the reference desk covered. So, I was asked, and I accepted.
This is a very long article, but it seems well researched. The power of the chemical/pharamaceutical industry in influencing policies was not totally surprising. However it is disturbing to see how far reaching it is with the cooperation of quite a few physicians and physician organizations.
It is also sad to see how folks with this condition are not taken seriously. I admit that I had not been as compassionate as I could have in the past.
Am thinking now, how are hospitals and other institutions open to the public addressing this? How responsible should they be in having buildings that are relatively free of sensitivity triggers? Would few triggering chemicals benefit us all?
By Ann McCampbell, MD, Chair, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Task Force of New Mexico
Published in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, January 2001, Issue #210
Movies like Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action depict the true stories of communities whose members became ill after drinking water contaminated with industrial waste. Their struggles clearly show how difficult it is for people to hold corporations responsible for the harm they have caused. Whether individuals are injured by exposures to contaminated air or water, silicone breast implants, cigarettes, or other chemicals, their quest for justice is usually a David versus Goliath battle that pits average citizens against giant corporations.
When confronted with the harm they have caused, corporations typically blame the victims, deny the problem, and try to avoid responsibility for the harm caused. The corporate response to people with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) has been no different. People with MCS are made sick from exposures to many common products, such as pesticides, paints, solvents, perfumes, carpets, building materials, and many cleaning and other products. But the manufacturers of these products would rather silence the messenger than acknowledge the message that their products are not safe.
To that end, the chemical manufacturing industry has launched an anti-MCS campaign designed to create the illusion of controversy about MCS and cast doubt on its existence. What has been said about the tobacco industry could easily apply to the chemical industry regarding MCS, that is, “the only diversity of opinion comes from the authors with … industry affiliations (1).”
It is a credit to the chemical industry’s public relations efforts that we frequently hear that multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) is “controversial” or find journalists who feel obligated to report “both sides” of the MCS story, or attempt to give equal weight to those who say MCS exists and those who say it does not. But this is very misleading, since there are not two legitimate views of MCS. Rather, there is a serious, chronic, and often disabling illness that is under attack by the chemical industry.
The manufacturers of pesticides, carpets, perfumes, and other products associated with the cause or exacerbation of chemical sensitivities adamantly want MCS to go away. Even though a significant and growing portion of the population report being chemically sensitive, chemical manufacturers appear to think that if they can just beat on the illness long enough, it will disappear. To that end, they have launched a multipronged attack on MCS that consists of labeling sufferers as “neurotic” and “lazy,” doctors who help them as “quacks,” scientific studies which support MCS as “flawed,” calls for more research as “unnecessary,” laboratory tests that document physiologic damage in people with MCS as “unreliable,” government assistance programs helping those with MCS as “abused,” and anyone sympathetic to people with MCS as “cruel” for reinforcing patients’ “beliefs” that they are sick. They also have been influential in blocking the admission of MCS testimony in lawsuits through their apparent influence on judges.
Like the tobacco industry, the chemical industry often uses non-profit front groups with pleasant sounding names, neutral-appearing third party spokespeople, and science-for-hire studies to try to convince others of the safety of their products. This helps promote the appearance of scientific objectivity, hide the biased and bottom-line driven agenda of the chemical industry, and create the illusion of scientific “controversy” regarding MCS. But whether anti-MCS statements are made by doctors, researchers, reporters, pest control operators, private organizations, or government officials, make no mistake about it – the anti-MCS movement is driven by chemical manufacturers. This is the real story of MCS.
In 1990, the Chemical Manufacturers Association (now the American Chemistry Council) vowed to work to prevent the recognition of MCS out of concern for potential lost profits and increased liability if MCS were to become widely acknowledged
The pharmaceutical industry is also involved in the effort to suppress MCS. Drug companies, which usually work with the medical profession to try to help patients, are working to deny help for those with MCS. This is extraordinary, but can be explained by the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is intimately linked to the chemical industry. That is, many companies that make medications also manufacture pesticides, the chemicals most implicated in causing MCS and triggering symptoms in people who are chemically sensitive.
Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories make both pharmaceuticals (14) and pesticides (15), while BASF makes pharmaceutical ingredients and pesticides (16). Even Bayer, famous for making aspirin, manufactures the popular neurotoxic pyrethroid insecticide Tempo (active ingredient cyfluthrin) (17). Novartis, Ciba, Dow, Eli Lilly, BASF, Aventis, Zeneca, and Bayer are all members of the American Chemical Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association), as are other pharmaceutical manufacturers, such as Dupont, Merck, Procter & Gamble, and Roche (18).
A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine outlined a myriad of ways that financial ties with the pharmaceutical industry may influence physicians (27). “The ties between clinical researchers and industry include not only grant support, but also a host of other financial arrangements. Researchers serve as consultants to companies whose products they are studying, join advisory boards and speakers’ bureaus, enter into patent and royalty arrangements, agree to be the listed authors of articles ghost written by interested companies, promote drugs and devices at company-sponsored symposiums, and allow themselves to be plied with expensive gifts and trips to luxurious settings” (p. 1516)
Even though MCS has gone by that name for over a decade, industry associates would have you believe that it goes by a myriad of other names, so many that it must not be describing anything legitimate. In fact, if an article starts out with a long list of possible names for MCS, you can be almost positive it is going to be critical of MCS. Referring to MCS as a “phenomenon” rather than an illness and using the term “multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome” also tend to be code for “it doesn’t really exist” or if it does, “it’s all in people’s heads.” Articles using these names are usually accompanied by other myths and put-downs, such as MCS has no definition, no objective findings, and no known prevalence, and is “only symptom-based,” a “belief system,” or “chemophobia.” People with MCS are also frequently dismissed as having an “unexplained illness,” as if they, rather than their physicians, were to blame for not adequately “explaining” it.
Since 1996, however, the chemical industry has taken a bold new approach to the name for MCS. It has made a concerted effort to rename MCS “idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEI).” It is quite clear that its motivation is to get the word “chemical” out of the name. This would be analogous to the tobacco industry trying to change the name of “smokers cough” to “idiopathic respiratory paroxysms.” Anything to try to distance the disease from its products.
MCS IN COURT
Perhaps the area where the chemical industry is most aggressively fighting MCS is in the courts. This is not surprising considering the fact that ESRI was founded to assist industries involved in MCS litigation. MCS cases commonly involve workers compensation, social security, toxic tort, disability or health insurance, and disability accommodations. MCS can also arise in divorce proceedings, child custody battles, and landlord-tenant and other disputes. In lawsuits where chemical manufacturers are directly involved, for example, when they are being sued for harm caused by their products, it is clear that attacks on the plaintiff’s credibility and medical condition, including MCS, come from the manufacturers. It is often unrecognized, however, how much the chemical industry is also involved in suppressing MCS in other lawsuits, through filing of briefs, supplying “expert” witnesses, and distributing anti-MCS literature to attorneys and witnesses.
IMPACTS OF MCS
The impact of MCS on individuals and society is huge, both in terms of its potential severity and the number of people affected. Many people with MCS have lost everything – including their health, homes, careers, savings, and families. They are chronically ill and struggle to obtain the basic necessities of life, such as food, water, clothing, housing, and automobiles, that they can tolerate. Finding housing that does not make them sicker, that is, housing that is not contaminated with pesticides, perfume, cleaning products, cigarette smoke residues, new carpets or paint, and formaldehyde-containing building products, is especially difficult. Many people with MCS live in cars, tents, and porches at some time during the course of their illness. In addition, people with MCS usually have financial difficulties. One of the most unjust aspects of the anti-MCS movement is that many expert witnesses are paid $500 per hour to testify against people disabled with MCS who are seeking that much money to live on per month.
And this medical condition is not rare. Prevalence studies in California (56) and New Mexico (57) found that 16% of the respondents reported being chemically sensitive. Additionally, in New Mexico 2% of the respondents reported having been diagnosed with MCS — the more severe form of chemical sensitivities — and in California, 3.5% reported having been diagnosed with MCS and being chemically sensitive. Although women report being chemically sensitive twice as often as men, which contributes to its “hysteria” label, those reporting chemical sensitivities are otherwise evenly distributed with respect to age, education, income, and geographic areas. Chemical sensitivities are also evenly reported among ethnic and racial groups, except for Native Americans, who reported a higher prevalence in both studies.
Resources (from http://annmccampbell.com/resourceslinks/)
Chemical Sensitivity Foundation – Dedicated to raising public awareness about multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org
Human Ecology Action League -Concerned about the health effects of environmental exposures www.healnatl.org
National Center for Environmental Health Strategies -Working to protect the public health and improve the lives of people affected by chemical and environmental exposures www.ncehs.org
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Report – Recommendations for constructing and maintaining public buildings to be more accessible for people with chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities, project of the National Institute of Building Sciences with funding from the federal Access Board -www.access-board.gov/research/ieq
Beyond Pesticides -Information and advocacy, identifying the risks of conventional pesticides and promoting non-chemical and least–toxic management alternatives www.beyondpesticides.org
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides- Works to protect people and the environment by advancing healthy solutions to pest problems, pesticide fact sheets www.pesticide.org
Healthy Hospitals -Controlling Pests Without Harmful Pesticides . Report by Beyond Pesticides and Health Care Without Harm www.beyondpesticides.org/hospitals/Healthy_Hospitals_Report.pdf
Scientists Urge Focus on New Branch of Environmental Health
NEW YORK (November 19, 2013) — A new paper from members of the HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) consortium delineates a new branch of environmental health that focuses on the public health risks of human-caused changes to Earth’s natural systems.
Looking comprehensively at available research to date, the paper’s authors highlight repeated correlations between changes in natural systems and existing and potential human health outcomes, including:
Forest fires used to clear land in Indonesia generate airborne particulates that are linked to cardiopulmonary disease in downwind population centers like Singapore.
Risk of human exposure to Chagas disease in Panama and the Brazilian Amazon, and to Lyme disease in the United States, is positively correlated with reduced mammalian diversity.
When households in rural Madagascar are unable to harvest wild meat for consumption, their children can experience a 30% higher risk of iron deficiency anemia—a condition that increases the risk for sickness and death from infectious disease, and reduces IQ and the lifelong capacity for physical activity.
In Belize, nutrient enrichment from agricultural runoff hundreds of miles upstream causes a change in the vegetation pattern of lowland wetlands that favors more efficient malaria vectors, leading to increased malaria exposure among coastal populations.
Human health impacts of anthropogenic climate change include exposure to heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease, respiratory allergens, and natural hazards as well as increased water scarcity, food insecurity and population displacement.
“Human activity is affecting nearly all of Earth’s natural systems—altering the planet’s land cover, rivers and oceans, climate, and the full range of complex ecological relationships and biogeochemical cycles that have long sustained life on Earth,” said Dr. Samuel Myers of the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Defining a new epoch, the Anthropocene, these changes and their effects put in question the ability of the planet to provide for a human population now exceeding 7 billion with an exponentially growing demand for goods and services.”
This post is a part of our Bioethics in the News series. For more information, click here.
By Sean A. Valles, Ph.D.
After winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has returned to the headlines. Heeding the growing body of climate evidence, they say, “it is extremely likely [95%-100% likely] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” (IPCC Working Group I 2013, pp. SPM-2, SPM-12). Unfortunately, according to a March Gallup poll:
In contrast to majority acceptance of global warming as real, Gallup finds Americans less than alarmed. One-third worry “a great deal,” and 34% expect it to threaten their way of life. These could be the attitudes that matter most when it comes to Americans’ support for public policies designed to address the issue (Saad 2013).
That skepticism about climate change’s seriousness (and, to a lesser extent, about humans’ responsibility for it) is impeding democratic action in the US. The leadership provided by a skeptical vocal minority has turned the public dialogue into a dispute over uncertainties in how we predict future climate, whether it is accusing researchers of inadequate “objectivity” (LaFramboise 2013) or publicizing pieces of climate data that seem inadequately explained (Darwall 2013). I encourage my bioethics colleagues to help change the conversation, and re-frame the US climate change dialogue to focus on one crucial fact: even with lingering uncertainties, climate change poses health risks that we would be foolish to ignore.
A 2009 special report by TheLancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission declares, “climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” (Costello, et al. 2009, p. 1693). These are bold words, especially coming from TheLancet—one of the most prestigious medical journals. The report lists a number of health risks: more numerous heat waves will worsen respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms (Costello, et al. 2009, p. 1702), mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases will spread and flourish in newly warm areas (Costello, et al. 2009, p. 1702), and extreme weather events will become more common and stronger (impacting mental health, access to food, access to sanitation infrastructure, etc.) (Costello, et al. 2009, p. 1706). The list goes on, and policy groups such as the EPA have demonstrated that they take it quite seriously. A recent article in Bioethics by Cheryl Cox MacPherson explains that such risks make it clear “Climate Change Is a Bioethics Problem” (MacPherson 2013, p. 305).
Unfortunately, bioethicists’ involvement in the climate change dialogue—a crucialmedical dialogue—has been the exception rather than the norm. Bioethicists are already expert communicators, researchers, interdisciplinary collaborators, and public advocates in the management of multiple intersecting risks and ethical considerations. They apply this expertise to issues such as tissue donation, vaccination, and pharmaceutical testing. I recommend that they add climate change to their list of priorities. Economic constraints, individual liberty, public welfare, being mindful of social justice; these sorts of difficult climate change considerations are very much in bioethicists’ wheelhouse.
Recent research on science communication indicates that pragmatically it would be a wise strategy to move health out of the background in the climate change dialogue. A recent study compared audience responses to three different presentations of climate change, “emphasizing either the risks to the environment, public health, or national security;” the researchers found that, “across audience segments, a public health focus was the most likely to elicit emotional reactions consistent with support for climate change mitigation and adaptation” (Myers, et al. 2012, p. 1105). Maibach et al. explains that the “dominant mental frame used by most members of the public to organize their conceptions about climate change is that of ‘climate change as an environmental problem’” (Maibach, et al. 2010, p. 2). We all hear plenty of talk about ‘saving the environment,’ but switching to a health frame would offer important benefits.
Re-defining climate change in public health terms should help people make connections to already familiar problems such as asthma, allergies, and infectious diseases experienced in their communities. The frame also presents the opportunity to involve additional trusted communication partners on the issue, notably public health experts and local community leaders (Maibach, et al. 2010, pp. 9-10).
Pictures of forlorn polar bears floating on melting blocks of ice have proved compelling for some people, but a health-centered approach looks more promising as a default strategy.
- Climate change is real, ignore the denialists (irishtimes.com)
- Pacific nations ‘very disappointed’ by Tony Abbott’s climate scepticism (theguardian.com)
- A new European report on climate extremes is out (realclimate.org)
- International Journal of Global Warming — Special Issue on Loss and Damage from Climate Change (Full Text Reports)
Source: International Journal of Global Warming
From press release (EurekAlert!):
An open access special issue of the International Journal of Global Warming brings together, for the first time, empirical evidence of loss and damage from the perspective of affected people in nine vulnerable countries. The articles in this special issue show how climatic stressors affect communities, what measures households take to prevent loss and damage, and what the consequences are when they are unable to adjust sufficiently. The guest-editors, Kees van der Geest and Koko Warner of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, introduce the special issue with an overview of key findings from the nine research papers, all of which are available online free of charge.
‘Loss and damage’ refers to adverse effects of climate variability and climate change that occur despite mitigation and adaptation efforts. Warner and van der Geest discuss the loss and damage incurred by people at the local-level based on evidence from research teams working in nine vulnerable countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal. The research papers pool data from 3269 household surveys and more than 200 focus groups and expert interviews.
The research reveals four loss and damage pathways. Residual impacts of climate stressors occur when:
- existing coping/adaptation to biophysical impact is not enough;
- measures have costs (including non-economic) that cannot be regained;
- despite short-term merits, measures have negative effects in the longer term; or
- no measures are adopted – or possible – at all.
The articles in this special issue provide evidence that loss and damage happens simultaneously with efforts by people to adjust to climatic stressors. The evidence illustrates loss and damage around barriers and limits to adaptation: growing food and livelihood insecurity, unreliable water supplies, deteriorating human welfare and increasing manifestation of erosive coping measures (e.g. eating less, distress sale of productive assets to buy food, reducing the years of schooling for children, etc.). These negative impacts touch upon people’s welfare and health, social cohesion, culture and identity – values that contribute to the functioning of society but which elude monetary valuation.
- The Majority of Americans Recognize the Climate is Changing (sustainableutah.wordpress.com)
This month (October 2013), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)published a Committee Opinion about exposure to toxic environmental agents. It describes “reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents” as a “critical area of intervention” for reproductive health care professionals because of “robust” evidence linking exposure to environmental agents to a range of adverse reproductive and development health outcomes. The Opinion goes on to state that while reproductive health professionals should provide in-clinic counselling on reducing chemical exposure, they also have a role to play beyond the clinical setting, in advocate “timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents”.
A similar paper was published on the same theme in the United Kingdom in June this year, when the UK equivalent of ACOG, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), issued a Scientific Impact Paper titled “Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy”. As did ACOG, the paper recommended a “safety-first approach” for dealing with the problem of being “exposed to a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals at low levels” for which “methods for assessing the full risk of exposure are not yet developed”. A list of things which women can do to reduce their exposure was given, and it was suggested that this information be conveyed to women by reproductive health professionals.
The difference in reaction to two similar papers in the US and UK media should be surprising, given that in the US coverage of chemicals issues is now an everyday occurrence, while UK outlets (outside the confines of the famously sensationalist Daily Mail) are much less likely to cover chemicals stories. Yet here we have a minor publication intended for reproductive health professionals having almost unprecedented impact across all the major UK papers.
Some people undoubtedly wanted there to be a controversy. It sells papers, for one thing. But it does not follow that the originating point of the controversy is itself controversial: there is a very real difference between creating a controversy through eliciting and reporting criticism, and reporting on conflicting opinions which are a direct result of intellectual controversy. In the latter case the controversy is a natural event; in the former, it is a manufactured one.
Journalists, talking heads and commentators should all be cognizant of this, and be aware that if one is going to comment on a controversy, it will not advance issues by treating a manufactured debate as if it is a genuine controversy. The fact is, only Sense About Science, a small handful of university professors and a few trade associations originally had anything at all to say about the RCOG report – and these same faces popped up in almost all the UK media coverage.
Nobody else noticed that RCOG had published their “list” for mothers, and they would not have done had this small group of experts and reporters not made such a fuss about it – just as virtually nobody in the US noticed, barring an advocacy group with a conservative reputation and the US chemical industry trade association.
In general, we know that most illnesses and diseases are caused by an interplay of genetics and environmental factors. While there is little we can do to alter genetic susceptibility, understanding what and how environmental factors exacerbate if not trigger illnesses and diseases can help you keep your child safe and healthy.
First, note that there are disease agents – chemical and biological – that your child is exposed to through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact with soil, food, water and the air. That’s called direct exposure. The opposite, indirect exposure, involves contact with disease agents through interactions with parents and caretakers. For instance, if the father who works in the construction industry comes home and holds his baby, the baby may inhale industrial fumes from his work clothes or chemical residue from the father’s worksite may be transferred from the father’s skin to the baby. Through both modes, children absorb disease agents that alter hormones and disrupt metabolic processes thereby triggering a number of childhood illnesses. It’s also important to recognize that exploratory behavior for children includes putting objects in the mouth, hand-to-mouth contact, which increases the risk for exposure to environmental disease agents.
The chart below lists a number of common childhood illnesses, an associated environmental agent and potential direct and indirect sources of exposures. Use this list to determine if there are any sources of disease agents that you should keep away from your child.
Environmental Agent Potential Exposures Abdominal Pain Lead Batteries, smelting, painting, ceramics, enameling, welding, plumbing Acute Psychoses Lead
Carbon disulfide mercury
Fungicide, maternal infection, wood preserving, removing paint from old houses, viscose rayon Angina Methylene chloride
Improperly vented indoor combustion sources, traffic exhaust, car repair, furnaces, water heaters, gas grill, foundry, wood finishing Asthma Formaldehyde
Plastics, textiles, lacquer, playing with pets, polyurethane kits Cardiac Arrhythmia Fluorocarbons
Refrigerator repair, automobile emissions, cigarette smoke, paint thinners, propane gas Dermatosis Solvents
Plastics, metal cleaning, electroplating, machining, housekeeping, leather tanning Headache Carbon monoxide
Unvented kerosene, tobacco smoke, firefighting, dry cleaning, wood finishing, gas grill, water heaters, furnaces, automobile exhaust, improperly vented indoor combustion mechanisms Hepatitis Halogenated hydrocarbons Healthcare workers, lacquer Pulmonary
Farming, welding, smelting, chemical operations
Many people assume that the chemicals in their detergents, floor cleaners, and other household products have undergone rigorous safety testing. But little is known about the potential risks associated with most of the estimated 80,000 chemicals in commerce today.
While industry tries to dispel links to illnesses that go beyond what science can prove, the public is skeptical because companies have a financial stake in showing their products are safe. This leads both sides to look to the federal government for help.
The agency charged with overseeing the safety of chemicals in the marketplace is the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA has the authority to require industry to provide extensive toxicity data for pesticides. But for most other chemicals, EPA must show that a substance is likely to be a risk to human health or the environment in order to require industry to provide safety data. Manufacturers don’t often give toxicity data to EPA voluntarily, nor does the agency have the resources to assess tens of thousands of chemicals using traditional in vivo rodent-based studies.
Instead, EPA has turned to computational modeling. One ambitious effort, called ToxCast, aims to screen thousands of chemicals for biological activity using about 600 high-throughput biochemical and cell-based assays. The data are then integrated with existing in vivo animal toxicity data and structure-activity information to predict toxicity.
But ToxCast has had problems. Most of the assays were developed for drug discovery, not to assess the hazards of chemicals in the environment. For example, thyroid-disrupting compounds in the environment can work through multiple pathways, but commercial tests focus on just one—a chemical binding to the thyroid receptor. If a chemical acts on a different pathway it will test negative, even though it does disrupt the thyroid.
Links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms.
Information on the health effects of common household products under your sink, in the garage, in the bathroom and on the laundry room shelf.
Maps of hazardous chemicals with links to related health resources.
Interactive game for 7-11 years olds with lessons about household chemical hazards.
An interactive guide about how the environment, chemicals and toxic substances affect human health.
Tox Town en español
From the 8 October 2013 post at OEH Science - Snapshots from the Worlds of Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology and Public Health
I recently published a letter in the International Journal of Epidemiology entitled “The case of acoustic neuroma: Comment on: Mobile phone use and risk of brain neoplasms and other cancers” in reply to a paper by Benson at al. who used the Million Women study to look at cancer risk from mobile phone use. The letter addressed the fact the authors instead of just reporting their findings (both negative and positive) in the abstract (which, lets face it is what most people read), they only reported the non-significant effects. The only statistically significant increased risk they found was for acoustic neuroma, which does fit in nicely with the conclusion of the IARCmonograph working group. However, they only reported this after the effect disappeared after pooling the data with the Danish prospective cohort. As I discussed in my letter, a more transparent, and generally more accepted method would have been to conduct a meta-analysis of all available studies. This meta-analysis (although with a typo) and my letter can be found here (link).
In the spirit of back to school, here is a great source for homework help in environmental health studies.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is one of 27 research institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) . The mission of the NIEHS is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives.
The NIEHS traces its roots to 1966, when the U.S. Surgeon General announced the establishment of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences within the NIH. In 1969, the division was elevated to full NIH institute status. Since then, the NIEHS has evolved to its present status as a world leader in environmental health sciences, with an impressive record of important scientific accomplishments and a proud history of institutional achievements and growth.
Today the NIEHS is expanding and accelerating its contributions to scientific knowledge of human health and the environment, and to the health and well-being of people everywhere (229KB)
Some Web sites/pages of interest
Listen to the voice of NPIC! Our new PestiBytes PODcasts feature NPIC specialists discussing common pesticide questions from people like you. PestiBytes are short (1-2 minute) interviews with NPIC pesticide specialists on each of the topics. Watch for more to come!
Available PestiByte PODcasts:
My yard is being sprayed; can my kids go out and play? Episode 22 – A specialist discusses ways to minimize exposure to children after lawn treatments. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:17 min., 1.4MB Don’t let pesticides make your bed bug problem worse! Episode 21 – A specialist discusses some do’s and dont’s about getting rid of bed bugs. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:26 min., 1.4MB Slug Baits with Iron Phosphate Episode 20 – A veterinarian gives pet owners some important information about slug & snail products containing iron phosphate. Download and Listen, View Transcript -2:11 min., 0.96MB Fasten the Lid. Protect Your Kids! Episode 19 – A specialist discusses how to store pesticides during and after use to keep kids from being exposed. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:26 min., 1.67MB The Crop Was Just Sprayed. Can I Work There Today? Episode 18 – A specialist provides information on reentering fields after pesticides have been applied. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:27 min., 1.69MB My Home is Being Sprayed. Should I Go or Stay? Episode 17 – A specialist discusses steps you can take to minimize your risk when your home is going to be treated with pesticides. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:05 min., 1.43MB Precautions for Using Spot-on Flea and Tick Products Episode 16 – A veterinarian gives pet owners some important pointers about using flea and tick spot-on treatments. Download and Listen, View Transcript -2:38 min., 4.95MB Can Bug Bombs Really Explode? Episode 15 – A specialist warns about the fire hazards of insecticide foggers and lists safety steps to take before setting off bug bombs. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:02 min., 3.73MB Don’t Distress Over Uninvited Guests (Roaches)! Episode 14 – A pesticide specialist discusses common problems with cockroaches in the home and simple ways to prevent infestations. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:06 min., 3.85MB Cover the Holes When Baiting for Moles (or Gophers)! Episode 13 – A specialist answers questions about the risks of gopher bait for dogs, and how to keep them from snacking on the bait. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:03 min., 3.85MB Pesticides and Food Containers Just Don’t Mix Episode 12 – A specialist points out the dangers of storing pesticides in any container other than the original container. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:06 min., 3.94MB Would I Hurt the Fish by Weeding and Feeding the Lawn? Episode 11 – A specialist explains ways to keep weed killers from harming fish.Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:50 min., 3.36MB Get Rid of the Mouse! With Kids In the House? Episode 10 – A specialist lists precautions to consider when thinking of using rat or mouse baits around pets and children. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:53 min., 3.45MB When to Plant After Using Weed Killer? Episode 9 – A specialist provides information about using weed killers to prepare a vegetable garden. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:44 min., 3.96MB With a Baby on the Way… Is It Okay to Spray? Episode 8 – A specialist discusses infant sensitivity to pesticides and lists some ideas for minimizing exposure. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:55 min., 4.41MB Could Snail Bait Hurt My Dog? Episode 7 – A specialist cautions dog owners about the risks of snail baits and provides ways to to protect their pets. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:56 min., 4.42MB Dirty Work Clothes: How Should I Wash Out Pesticides? Episode 6 – A specialist explains how to handle and launder clothes that are contaminated with pesticides. Download and Listen, View Transcript- 1:33 min., 3.57MB What Should I Do During Mosquito Spraying? Episode 5 – A specialist answers questions about why city health departments might spray for mosquitoes and ways people can avoid contact with the mosquito spray. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:39 min., 1.50MB Should Kids Use Bug Spray? Episode 4 – A specialist lists precautions a parent might take if they choose to use insect repellents on children.Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:07 min., 1.94MB A Mothball Mishap? Episode 3 – A specialist debunks mothball myths and describes how improper use of mothballs can lead to unpleasant or even unhealthy results. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:32 min., 1.41MB How Can I Wash Pesticides From Fruit and Veggies? Episode 2 – A specialist discusses how to best wash pesticide residues from produce, including potential risks of using household products to clean fruit and vegetables. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 1:41 min., 1.54MB About NPIC Episode 1 – Our director discusses how NPIC can assist people when making decisions about pesticides. Ways to contact NPIC are provided. Download and Listen, View Transcript – 2:07 min., 1.95MB
PestiBytes are brought to you by the National Pesticide Information Center, a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency and produced by OSU’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (7:30am-3:30pm PST), or email at email@example.com.
Similar podcasts by the US NIH agency explore how environmental exposures affect our health. Each episode highlights ways researchers work in partnership with community groups to understand and address environmental health issues.
If you’re eating better and exercising regularly, but still aren’t seeing improvements in your health, there might be a reason: pollution. According to a new research report published in the September issue of The FASEB Journal, what you are eating and doing may not be the problem, but what’s in what you are eating could be the culprit.
“This study adds evidences for rethinking the way of addressing risk assessment especially when considering that the human population is widely exposed to low levels of thousands of chemicals, and that the health impact of realistic mixtures of pollutants will have to be tested as well,” said Brigitte Le Magueresse-Battistoni, a researcher involved in the work from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). “Indeed, one pollutant could have a different effect when in mixture with other pollutants. Thus, our study may have strong implications in terms of recommendations for food security. Our data also bring new light to the understanding of the impact of environmental food contaminants in the development of metabolic diseases.”
The day after I published this, I answered a related question about busyness at Quora.
Resources that were included in the answer are listed below.
With some 300 million people around the world living with asthma, a study by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) researchers that was released ahead-of- print found for the first time that maternal smoking can cause the third generation of offspring to suffer from the chronic lung disease.
The study, published online by theAmerican Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, reported that maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy is linked to asthma in the third generation in disease models. This is known as a “transgenerational” linkage because the third generation was never directly exposed to nicotine or smoking. Previous research had found nicotine exposure was linked to asthma in the second generation, or was a “multigenerational” cause of asthma.
“Even though there are multiple causes for childhood asthma, research linking this serious chronic condition to maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy for up to three generations should give mothers-to-be even more reasons to reconsider smoking,” said Virender K. Rehan, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and the corresponding author of the study. “Eliminating the use of tobacco during pregnancy could help halt the rise in childhood asthma and ensure healthier children for generations to come.”
The current study “paves the way for determining the epigenetic mechanisms” behind smoking and the transmission of asthma to future generations, the researchers concluded.
Want to learn more about epigenetic? Here’s some good Web sites
Related Psychiatric/Psychologic/Counseling Resources (via MedlinePlus)
Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, UT Arlington
Caption: Brian Fontenot, who earned his Ph.D. in quantitative biology from UT Arlington, worked with Kevin Schug, UT Arlington associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and a team of researchers to analyze samples from 100 private water wells.
Credit: UT Arlington
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A new study of 100 private water wells in and near the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic and selenium closest to natural gas extraction sites, according to a team of researchers that was led by UT Arlington associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Kevin Schug.
The results of the North Texas well study were published online by the journal Environmental Science & Technology Thursday. The peer-reviewed paper focuses on the presence of metals such as arsenic, barium, selenium and strontium in water samples. Many of these heavy metals occur naturally at low levels in groundwater, but disturbances from natural gas extraction activities could cause them to occur at elevated levels.
“This study alone can’t conclusively identify the exact causes of elevated levels of contaminants in areas near natural gas drilling, but it does provide a powerful argument for continued research,” said Brian Fontenot, a UT Arlington graduate with a doctorate in quantitative biology and lead author on the new paper.
He added: “We expect this to be the first of multiple projects that will ultimately help the scientific community, the natural gas industry, and most importantly, the public, understand the effects of natural gas drilling on water quality.”
Researchers believe the increased presence of metals could be due to a variety of factors including: industrial accidents such as faulty gas well casings; mechanical vibrations from natural gas drilling activity disturbing particles in neglected water well equipment; or the lowering of water tables through drought or the removal of water used for the hydraulic fracturing process. Any of these scenarios could release dangerous compounds into shallow groundwater………
While industrial 3D printers often use ventilation shafts and filters to evacuate airborne particles, commercially available printers are often set up in environments with little or no thought about the emissions they might be kicking out. In a new study looking into the particle emissions of home printers, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology identified that the operation of such devices in unventilated areas could potentially lead to health issues.
POPULAR HOME PRINTERS WERE CLASSIFIED AS HIGH EMITTERS
To conduct the test, Brent Stephens and his team used five models of popular 3D printers at Chicago-based 3D Printer Experience. The study doesn’t note the models used, the company advertises use of the UP Mini and MakerBot Replicator. According to the report, models using both ABS and PLA polymers as a plastic feedstock were classed as “high emitters” of ultrafine particles (UFPs), reporting similar emission rates (output, not toxicity) to the operation of a laser printer or the burning of a cigarette.
Because of their size, UFPs can be deposited in the lungs and absorbed directly into the bloodstream. High concentrations of UFPs have been linked to lung cancer, strokes, and the development of asthma symptoms. The study doesn’t detail the chemical constituents of ABS and PLA emissions, but ABS has previously been shown to have toxic effects, while PLA is a biocompatible polymer that has been widely used in drug delivery.
For now, researchers believe users should be cautious when operating 3D printers in “unvented or inadequately filtered indoor environments.” They also call for more experiments be conducted on a wider range of commercial printers, allowing experts to better understand the toxicity of particle emissions from devices and feedstocks currently in use.
I usually don’t reblog articles that endorse commercial products or alternative/complementary medicine (without biomedical evidence).
Still, this post had a lot of good information on testing and one’s rights.
A few years back at a library where I worked, some of the folks at circulation were having breathing difficulties. They believed it was the HVAC system, but did not report it. Now I wish I could have worked with them to report it….
The folks at the circ desk were union, I was not. So they were more protected than I…..
- MedlinePlus: Molds, including
- Molds (US Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA)
- Legal Aspects of Mold Contamination (Clean Water Partners – Environmental Law Experts)
For Renters,Landlords, Home Sellers, Home Buyers, Employers, Employees
- Mold – The “New” Hidden Pandemic Sweeping Across America (momsmoldresources.wordpress.com)
- Curious case of toxic mold pits Chamber of Commerce employees against City of Madison (al.com)
- Mold forces woman from home and into search for answers (al.com)
- Preventing mold from forming in your home (mysouthwestga.com)
- Understanding Mold (moldremoversnj.wordpress.com)
- The way crucial is actually Health in our life (meizitangstrongbuys.wordpress.com)
- Mycotoxins=diabetes? (larahentz.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on Mom's Mold Resources:
We are getting a lot of inquiries about where to go for testing and treatment after exposure to toxic levels of Mycotoxins from damp and moldy environments.
Unfortunately few doctors are experienced in testing or treating patients that are suffering from Biotoxin Illness and other health issues that arise after living or working for long periods of time inside of a home/office/school with poor indoor air.
My best advise is to try to find an Environmental Medicine Specialist either in the US or abroad. Surprisingly Spain has a high incidence of people affected by chemicals that require treatment for MSC (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) so there seems to be more Environmental Medicine doctors available there.
In the US I have been able to make contact with several doctors and centers who have treated people I have met along my journey.
Dr Gray in Arizona has been mentioned countless times by people…
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While many offices claim the cool temperatures are for computer performance…I think there is a better way to cool the computers without supercooling the office and building.
As the writer says, it is the overuse and supercooling which adds to global climate change.
Originally posted on Ideas:
Earlier this week, as the temperature in New York City hit the upper 90s and the heat index topped 100, my utility provider issued a heat alert and advised customers to use air-conditioning “wisely.” It was a nice, polite gesture but also an utterly ineffectual one. After all, despite our other green tendencies, most Americans still believe that the wise way to use air conditioners is to crank them up, cooling down every room in the house — or even better, relax in the cold blasts of a movie theater or shopping mall, where someone else pays the bills. Today Americans use twice as much energy for air-conditioning as we did 20 years ago, and more than the rest of the world’s nations combined. As a climate-change adaptation strategy, this is as dumb as it gets.
I’m hardly against air-conditioning. During heat waves, artificial cooling can save the lives of…
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“More than 100 health indicators — such as obesity, coronary disease and asthma — were studied within neighborhoods across Los Angeles and compiled into a health atlas, which includes a series of 115 maps. Results show that while economic disparities do affect health, so does land use. The atlas was released by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on his last day in office.
“Too often a person’s neighborhood determines their health destiny,” Villaraigosa said. The goal of compiling the atlas, he noted, was to ensure that city officials would consider how future development impacts neighborhoods where bike lanes, walking paths and parks could be integrated with new housing developments and transportation hubs.”
Originally posted on saaphi:
In addition to socioeconomic disparities, the proximity of parks, walking paths and bike lanes affects the health of residents of Los Angeles. This correlation was discovered when 100 health indicators (including obesity, coronary heart disease, and asthma) were studied in neighborhoods across Los Angeles and compiled into a “health atlas.” Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is passing this information to the new mayor, Eric Garcetti, in the hopes that city departments will consider the importance of reducing environmental disparities in future development.
Originally posted on news@JAMA:
A recently identified tick-borne illness has been detected in 2 patients in the northeastern United States, according to case reports published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine as the US tick season begins to ramp up.
In 1995, when Japanese researchers identified the pathogen that causes this illness, a new species of Borrelia bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi, their work marked a new approach to identifying a novel infectious disease, according to an editorial published alongside the study. Most new diseases are identified after a person becomes ill, but these researchers sought to identify potential disease-causing agents in a known vector of other human pathogens, a tick of the Ixodes genus that transmits a related Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease in Japan and…
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Originally posted on Dr. Ibby Omole ND:
I would hope that after reading my first blog, some of you would have rushed out to replace your Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen with something that is a little bit better for your health.
Pesticides are a significant source of toxicity. People are exposed to pesticides via food and the environment in particular lawn care. While research is usually focused on massive pesticide exposure, low dose long-term pesticide exposure is difficult to capture. Not to mention the fact that pesticide residue has been linked to everything from hypospadias to decreased intelligence, learning and memory in children. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their immature organs, rapidly dividing and migrating cells, higher metabolic rate and smaller size.
Ways to decrease pesticide exposure.
1. Eat locally and organically. Summer is the perfect season to do this. Farmer’s markets are filled with everything from organic produce to baked goods and plants. Summer is also…
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By Anneclaire De Roos, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor
When I think about this National Public Health Week’s topic – ‘Healthy Homes’ – what immediately comes to mind are themes like injury, fire safety, lead, radon, mold, and secondhand smoke. Most people’s thoughts about healthy homes probably don’t include dust. How harmful can dust bunnies be? Actually, we’ve long known that people with asthma and allergies are sensitive to dust mites. And now there is ever-increasing documentation of a different type of health hazard from house dust – exposure to a diverse mix of pollutants including metals, pesticides, dioxins, flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and phthalates.
These chemicals adhere to dust particles and blow into your household after being stirred up by traffic, are released from your sofa or appliances as they degrade over time, are deposited from disintegrating home building materials, and are introduced from cigarette smoking or pesticide applications indoors. Some of the pollutants are known to cause adverse health effects, such as lead and dioxins. Others, including PBDE and phthalates, are not as well understood, although there is emerging evidence that these chemicals cause hormonal changes and may be particularly damaging when exposure happens during pregnancy or childhood.
The trouble arises because people inadvertently swallow small amounts of dust during their normal daily activities like eating, drinking, and breathing. For example, it’s well known that exposure to organochlorines, such as dioxins, comes from the diet – from fatty foods including fish, meat, and dairy. However, we are now learning that a major source of our exposure also comes from ingestion of dust, in amounts that rival dietary exposures. This is an especially important pathway of exposure for small children, who crawl on the floor and explore their environment using hand-to-mouth behavior. House cats also ingest very high amounts of house dust through self-grooming. In fact, studies in the US and Europe have found that house cats had 50 times higher blood levels of PBDEs than people.
Aside from not breathing or swallowing, or fruitlessly trying to change the behaviors of your toddler or pet, what can be done to reduce exposure to pollutants from household dust? The answers are somewhat obvious, but do require vigilance.
1) Avoid introduction of pollutants inside the home where possible, by banning smoking in the home and seeking alternatives to pesticide applications
2) Wipe your feet on a high-quality doormat before entering the home
3) Eliminate wall-to-wall carpeting and shag rugs, which trap dust
4) Vacuum frequently, ideally using a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a dirt finder
5) Wet-mop non-carpeted floor surfaces on a regular basis
6) Wipe down toys and other items your toddler contacts, using a wet cloth
In my review of the literature, I even saw a recommendation to wipe down your cat with a wet cloth on a daily basis (good luck with that!). Nevertheless, it makes good health sense to follow these recommendations, particularly during pregnancy or with toddlers in the home. At the very least, you will have a cleaner home to show for it.
From Failure to Listen -Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified, January 26, 2013
I have many theories on how to empower communities but understanding the genetic-environmental interplay is key. Frameworks that simplify these complex interactions can have a powerful impact in explaining the pivotal role of early childhood development and education in building healthy foundations.
The first five years are the most important, those are the years when important brain circuits develop (like roots from a tree) or some circuits remain dormant or die. Although the ability to learn continues way into “old age;” the stronger the circuits developed the more pertinent they become in guiding our behavior. These are the years we develop the foundation on which we build our identities.
The formative years begin at birth as our bodies grow and our brain develop. This is the time to make the greatest impact; ‘Pay now or pay a lot more later!’
For us to survive as a country or a society, children need to become the center of our policies. We need to bring back communities by sharing a common vision, and pooling our resources to help those in the community.
The individualistic thinking of me and my accomplishments ignores that we live in a connected world not a vacuum. We are responsible for each other’s accomplishments and faults. There is a larger collective sense that we are all part of and we should tap into more often.
Here is an example of Gene and Environment Simplified:
Society composed of many smaller communities, which are dynamic with each member belonging to many communities, moving in and out of a variety of communities.
The landscape surrounding my house is very similar to society. Individual sections represent communities and each group of plants represent neighborhoods where each plant reflects race, culture and our unique characteristic. There are obvious differences between plants and humans but early preventive interventions are most cost-effective for both….
From the Web site
The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Databaseexpands daily, and access to it is free of charge.
The Project began in 2001, and today includes six principal investigators at five universities, as well as a team of up to twenty graduate and undergraduate data extractors. Please learn more by clicking First Time Users and watching our Video Tutorials. Or visit our Blog, where we discuss what we are finding, view our Maps, or read our Researchreports.
First Time Users
Welcome to the WomanStats Database, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women.
The best way to acquaint yourself with the database and how to use it is to watch our Video Tutorials for beginners. The first video tutorial explains how to create a free account. The second teaches how to use the codebook and retrieve data from the View screen. The third covers reports, downloads, and maps. The fourth introduces you to other aspects of our web presence, such as our blog and social media.
Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:
May May Leung, PhD, RD is an assistant professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Her research expertise includes the development and evaluation of innovative health communication and community-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity.
Many of us are familiar with the golden grain with a funny spelling, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). This grain, which is considered one of the most complete non-animal sources of protein, is harvested in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. For generations, it has comprised a major part of the local diet however consumption patterns seem to be shifting as international demand for this nutritious food grows.
As a dietitian, it is promising to know that more people around the world are discovering this healthy grain, however, the impact on the local agri-community may not be as positive – local populations may be getting a mixed return on their agricultural…
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- Look out, seafood fans, something fishy is going on (shortformblog.com)
- 59% of the ‘Tuna’ Americans Eat Is Not Tuna (theatlantic.com)
- Something’s Fishy Here: WSJ Sentiment Tracker by NetBase (business2community.com)
Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:
Genetically modified food labeling is not the only labeling issue in the food supply. Now we have another problem.
How can you be sure that grouper or tuna you bought yesterday was really what it was promised to be? According to the labs at Oceana.org you can’t really trust the labeling of many common types of fish. And so far, there’s appears to be nothing we can do about it unless the consumer complains enough. Sushi lovers, beware – sushi is one of the most misrepresented of all. And while we’re discussing fish, insist on country of origin labeling, too.
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
EHS-Net Restaurant Food Safety Studies: What Have We Learned? – Laura Green Brown discusses the latest Environmental Health Specialists Network findings in restaurant food safety. This article is published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.
Restaurant Food Cooling Practices – EHS-Net article includes quantitative data on restaurants’ food cooling processes and practices such as whether cooling processes are tested and proven to be safe; temperature monitoring practices; refrigeration cooling practices, and cooling food temperatures.
EHS-Net Water Safety Projects – EHS-Net water safety projects include developing multisite projects with our funded partners. EHS-Net’s current multisite project looks at the seasonality of noncommunity water systems to understand how they provide safe drinking water and about vulnerabilities of those systems. Learn about EHS-Net partners’ individual projects to improve the practice of environmental health.
Read more about the Environmental Health Specialists Network in EHS-Net: Improving Restaurant Food Safety…
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The historic Oslo Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons has concluded with the announcement of a follow-up meeting to be hosted by Mexico. A wide range of states and organisations agreed that an understanding of the global humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonations should be the starting point for urgent action to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.
At the meeting hosted by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, 132 states, several UN agencies—including OCHA, UNDP and UNHCR—as well as the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and ICAN, presented their findings on the environmental, developmental, and health consequences of nuclear detonations. They concluded that no international response plan could effectively be put in place to respond to such an event. As the facts and evidence sank in, many states expressed their recognition of a shared responsibility to act to prevent any accidental or intentional use of these weapons of mass suffering.
The announcement by Mexico to build on the Norwegian initiative by hosting a further meeting provides a new platform from which to consolidate the humanitarian arguments and to engage all states in a constructive dialogue to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.
Dr Rebecca Johnson, ICAN Co-Chair said: “This Conference has shown that any use of nuclear armaments would cause mass suffering, with calculations of climate disruption and famine in non-nuclear as well as nuclear-armed countries. This global impact makes it the responsibility – and right – of everyone to take action to stop this from happening. The P5 have missed an opportunity for dialogue here, but it has not stopped countries moving forward. On the contrary, Mexico’s welcome decision to host a further meeting on this issue recognises that the nuclear weapon free countries have an important role to play.”
Thomas Nash, ICAN Steering Group member, said: “This conference is a new beginning towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is the first time states have come together to consider the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons. 130 countries have chosen to confront the horror of these weapons and have realised that far from being powerless to do anything about it, they can and must take responsibility for putting in place a long overdue international ban.”
Dr Bob Mtonga, ICAN Steering Group member and physician from Zambia: “This Conference has shown us that the countries that have renounced nuclear weapons and concluded regional Nuclear Weapons Free Zones, such as Africa and Latin America, are providing important moral leadership to carry forward international efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and prevent the global public health disaster that their use would create.”
Some key policy changes that need to be made in the United States in order to prevent illness and improve the health of millions of Americans have just been outlined in the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) latest Healthier Americareport.***
The report includes a range of suggestions that focus on the prevention of chronic diseases, which currently affect more than half of the U.S. population. This would also help address the health problems facing today’s youth who are set to be the first generation that are less healthy than their parents. …
The recommendations involve some new and innovative approaches:
- Implementing a series of foundational capabilities to improve the country’s health system as well as restructuring public health programs with sustained funding.
- Establishing partnerships with nonprofit hospitals to develop new community benefit programs and expand support for prevention.
- Encourage that insurance providers compensate for all types of prevention strategies
- Ensuring that the Prevention and Public Health Fund continues and improve awareness of the Community Transformation Grant program.
- Maintain workplace wellness programs with employers as well as local and state governments.
The report also includes information about recommendations that are already in action:
- The Accountable Care Community (ACC) brought more than 70 different partners to help patients with type 2 diabetes in and out of the doctor’s office. The ACC managed to reduce the cost of care by more than 10 percent per month for patients with type 2 diabetes – meaning savings of around $3,185 per person yearly.
- The Boston Children’s Hospital implemented The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) with the purpose of supporting children with asthma in the Boston area. The initiative helped reduce hospital admissions due to asthma-related causes by around 80 percent as well as reducing emergency visits due to asthma by 60 percent.
The report concludes that there are 10 main public health issues that need addressing:
- tobacco use
- healthy aging
- improving the health of minorities
- healthy babies
- environment health threats
- injury prevention
- controlling infectious diseases
- food safety
You’re standing in line at the grocery store when you realize that you don’t have your reusable bag. You’ll have to get a plastic bag. Again. You feel bad for a moment and then think that it’s just one bag. But it isn’t …
In the U.S. alone, 280 billion plastic bags are used each year, which is enough to stretch around the earth nearly 30,000 times. Making and using plastic bags has more repercussions than you might think. Check out the following infographic to see how exactly plastic bags affect our cities, our environment and even our economy.
Bust Out Your Reusable Bags, Alameda County; Ban Starts in Jan. (eastbayexpress.com)
Plastics have transformed modern society, providing attractive benefits but also befouling waterways and aquifers, depleting petroleum supplies and disrupting human health…
In a new overview appearing in the journal Reviews on Environmental Health, Halden and his co-author, ASU student Emily North, detail the risks and societal rewards of plastics and describe strategies to mitigate their negative impacts, through reconsideration of plastic composition, use and disposal.
“We are in need of a second plastic revolution. The first one brought us the age of plastics, changing human society and enabling the birth and explosive growth of many industries. But the materials used to make plastics weren’t chosen judiciously and we see the adverse consequences in widespread environmental pollution and unnecessary human exposure to harmful substances. Smart plastics of the future will be equally versatile but also non-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable energy sources,” says Halden….
..plastics may be manufactured at low cost using little energy and their adaptable composition allows them to be synthesized in soft, transparent or flexible forms suitable for a broad range of medical applications. Because they can be readily disposed of, items like latex gloves, dialysis tubes, intravenous bags and plastic syringes eliminate the need for repeated sterilization, which is often costly and inefficient. Such single-use items have had a marked effect on reducing blood-borne infections, including hepatitis B and HIV…
he benefits of global plastics use can come at a steep price in terms of both human and environmental health. Continuous contact with plastic products, from the beginning to the end of life has caused chemical ingredients — some with potentially harmful effects — to form steady-state concentrations in the human body.
In recent years, two plastic-associated compounds have been singled out for particular scrutiny, due to their endocrine-disrupting properties: Bisphenol A (BPA) and di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP). Studies of bioaccumulation have shown that detectable levels of BPA in urine have been identified in 95 percent of the adult population in the U.S. and both BPA and DEHP have been associated, through epidemiological and animal studies, with adverse effects on health and reproduction. These include early sexual maturation, decreased male fertility, aggressive behavior and other effects…
Biodegradeable plastics may break down in the environment into smaller polymer constituents, which may still pose a risk to the environment. Incineration liberates greenhouse gases associated with climate change. Landfilling of plastics, particularly in the enormous volumes now produced, may be an impractical use of land resources and a danger exists of plastics constituents entering the ground water. Finally, recycling of plastics requires careful sorting of plastic material, which is difficult. Recycled plastics tend to be of lower quality and may not be practical for health care and other application…
Many consumer products, such as water bottles and product containers, are made from various types of plastic. The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) established a classification system in 1988 to allow consumers and recyclers to properly recycle and dispose of different types of plastic. Manufacturers follow a coding system and place an SPI code, or number, on each plastic product, which is usually molded into the bottom. Although you should always verify the plastic classification number of each product you use, this guide provides a basic outline of the different plastic types associated with each code number.
Plastic marked with anSPI code of 1is made withPolyethylene Terephthalate, which is also known as PETE or PET. Containers made from this plastic sometimes absorb odors and flavors from foods and drinks that are stored in them. Items made from this plastic are commonly recycled. PETE plastic is used to make many common household items like beverage bottles, medicine jars, peanut butter jars, combs, bean bags, and rope. Recycled PETE is used to make tote bags, carpet, fiberfill material in winter clothing, and more.
Plastic marked with anSPI code of 2is made withHigh-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE. HDPEproducts are very safe and they are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks. HDPE products are commonly recycled. Items made from this plastic include containers for milk, motor oil, shampoos and conditioners, soap bottles, detergents, and bleaches. Many personalized toys are made from this plastic as well. (Please note: it is NEVER safe to reuse an HDPE bottle as a food or drink container if it didn’t originally contain food or drink!) Recycled HDPE is used to make plastic crates, plastic lumber, fencing, and more.
Plastic labeled with anSPI code of 3is made withPolyvinyl Chloride, or PVC. PVC is not often recycled and it can be harmful if ingested. PVC is used for all kinds of pipes and tiles, but it’s most commonly found in plumbing pipes. This kind of plastic should not come in contact with food items. Recycled PVC is used to make flooring, mobile home skirting, and more.
Plastic marked with anSPI code of 4is made withLow-Density Polyethylene, or LDPE. LDPE is not commonly recycled, but it is recyclable in certain areas. It is a very healthy plastic that tends to be both durable and flexible. Plastic cling wrap, sandwich bags, squeezable bottles, and plastic grocery bags are all made from LDPE. Recycled LDPE is used to make garbage cans, lumber, furniture, and more.
Plastic marked with anSPI code of 5is made withPolypropylene, or PP. PP is not commonly recycled, but it is accepted in many areas. This type of plastic is strong and can usually withstand higher temperatures. Among many other products, it is used to make plastic diapers, Tupperware, margarine containers, yogurt boxes, syrup bottles, prescription bottles, and some stadium cups. Plastic bottle caps are often made from PP as well. Recycled PP is used to make ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, and more.
Plastic marked with anSPI code of 6is made withPolystyrene, also known as PSand most commonly known as Styrofoam. It is commonly recycled, but it is difficult to do so and often ends up in landfills anyway. Disposable coffee cups, plastic food boxes, plastic cutlery, packing foam, and packing peanuts are made from PS. Recycled PS is used to make insulation, license plate frames, rulers, and more.
The SPI code of 7is used to designate miscellaneous types of plastic that are not defined by the other six codes. Polycarbonate and Polylactide are included in this category. These types of plastics are difficult to recycle. Polycarbonate, or PC, is used in baby bottles, large water bottles (multiple-gallon capacity), compact discs, and medical storage containers. Recycled plastics in this category are used to make plastic lumber, among other products.
Consumers can make better plastic-purchasing decisions if they understand SPI codes and potential health hazards of each plastic, and recyclers can more effectively separate plastics into categories. Always check a product’s classification code prior to recycling it or re-using it. It’s important to stay educated about plastic classification numbers and plastic types; remember, informed consumers can demand that plastics manufacturers provide better products.
Dietary changes since the early 1960s have fueled a sharp increase in the amount of mined phosphorus used to produce the food consumed by the average person over the course of a year, according to a new study led by researchers at McGill University.
Between 1961 and 2007, rising meat consumption and total calorie intake underpinned a 38% increase in the world’s per capita “phosphorus footprint,” the researchers conclude in a paper published online in Environmental Research Letters.
The findings underscore a significant challenge to efforts to sustainably manage the supply of mined phosphorus, a non-renewable resource widely used as fertilizer. When phosphorus is lost through agricultural runoff or sewage systems, it can pollute waterways downstream. In addition, because deposits are heavily concentrated in a few countries, global supplies and prices for the resource are vulnerable to geopolitical tensions…..
Very interesting thoughts on the goals of Western medicine. Should medicine be about alleviating suffering? Totally eradicating disease through industrializing medicine (thing drug companies)? If global health is indeed largely affected by socioeconomic factors, should medicine drive policies?
A new study, published Dec. 27 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, finds that vector-borne and parasitic diseases have substantial effects on economic development across the globe, and are major drivers of differences in income between tropical and temperate countries. The burden of these diseases is, in turn, determined by underlying ecological factors: it is predicted to rise as biodiversity falls. This has significant implications for the economics of health care policy in developing countries, and advances our understanding of how ecological conditions can affect economic growth.
According to conventional economic wisdom, the foundation of economic growth is in political and economic institutions. “This is largely Cold War Economics about how to allocate property rights — with the government or with the private sector,” says Dr Matthew Bonds, an economist at Harvard Medical School, and the lead author of the new study. However, Dr Bonds and colleagues were interested instead in biological processes that transcend such institutions, and which might form a more fundamental economic foundation…
The results of the analysis suggest that infectious disease has as powerful an effect on a nation’s economic health as governance, say the authors. “The main asset of the poor is their own labor,” says Dr Bonds. “Infectious diseases, which are regulated by the environment, systematically steal human resources. Economically speaking, the effect is similar to that of crime or government corruption on undermining economic growth.”
This result has important significance for international aid organizations, as it suggests that money spent on combating disease would also stimulate economic growth….
Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smart phones. The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.
CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of delivering real-time data to users’ cell phones and home computers-at any time. Data from the sensors can also be used to estimate air quality throughout the area where the devices are deployed, providing information to everyone – not just those carrying sensors…
“The people who are doing the most to reduce emissions, by biking or taking the bus, were the people who experienced the highest levels of exposure to pollutants,” said Griswold.
Users discovered that pollution varied not only based on location, but also on the time of the day. When Charles Elkan, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, drove into work in mid-morning, the readings on his sensor were low. But when he drove back home in rush hour in the afternoon, readings were sometimes very high….