[Press Release] The Human Health Costs of Losing Natural Systems: Quantifying Earth’s Worth to Public Health
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.”
- Impacts Of Losing Natural Systems On Human Health (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
- The human health costs of losing natural systems: Quantifying Earth’s worth to public health (eurekalert.org)
- Quantifying earth’s worth to public health: scientists urge focus on new branch of environmental health (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study: Ecosystem alterations leading to widespread human health impacts (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Human Health Depends On A Healthy Environment (freshwaddabrooks.com)
- Human Health Depends On A Healthy Environment (wonderfultips.wordpress.com)
- Human Health Depends On A Healthy Environment (huffingtonpost.com)
- Climate change effects on spread of disease (unmod360.wordpress.com)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) – A US Government Environmental Health Resource
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
- Brochures and fact sheets - for general information or background information for a presentation
Topics include substances (as formaldehyde) , manufactured products (as cell phones),medical conditions (as asthma) and general health (as children’s health).
- Environmental Health topics include conditions/diseases, environmental agents (as radon), exposure routes (as airways) and population research (as occupational health).
- Environmental Health Science Education website provides educators, students and scientists with easy access to reliable tools, resources and classroom materials.
- Kids’ Pages provide fun and engaging activities, songs, stories, jokes, and other resources designed to introduce children to the concept of how they interact with their environment and how the environment may affect their health.
- EHP Science Education
- Toxnet - Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.
- LactMed -A peer-reviewed and fully referenced database of drugs to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed. Among the data included are maternal and infant levels of drugs, possible effects on breastfed infants and on lactation, and alternate drugs to consider.
- Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) - Comprehensive, peer-reviewed toxicology data for about 5,000 chemicals.
- TOXMAP:® Environmental Health e-Maps -Geographic representation of estimated US releases of certain toxic chemicals reported annually to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Toxics Release Inventory/TRI)
- Household Products -links over 12,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients
- ToxTown -uses color, graphics, sounds and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public’s health. Tox Town’s target audience is students above elementary-school level, educators, and the general public.
- Environmental Health Disparities & Environmental Justice Meeting (July 29-31,2013) -focused on identifying priorities for action to address environmental health disparities (EHD) and environmental justice (EJ). This meeting brought together researchers, community residents, healthcare professionals, and federal partners committed to addressing EHD and EJ, in particular the grantees funded by NIEHS, EPA, NIMHD, CDC, OMH, and IHS. For the purposes of this meeting, EHD is defined as the unique contribution of the environment to health disparities.
Includes links to meeting materials and additional resources
- 3-D images show flame retardants can mimic estrogens in NIH study (eurekalert.org)
- Alternative Testing Strategies Needed to Cope With New Wave of Emerging Nanomaterials (azonano.com)
- Study: No link between mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors (eurekalert.org)
- Nanotechnology safety: New tests for determining health and environmental effects (nanowerk.com)
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.”
- Fracking health project puts numbers to debate (bostonherald.com)
- Pennsylvania project assesses health impact of fracking (oregonlive.com)
- Causes and Effects of Air Pollution (vickymaroo.wordpress.com)
- MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources (greencarcongress.com)
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.
- How to spot a clean restaurant (goerie.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.
- Plastic Cup Reduces Paper Waste at Landfills (polymersolutions.com)
- Bisphenol S, A Substitute For Bisphenol A, Could Also Spell Trouble(MedicalNewsToday)
- Concord, Mass. Becomes the First US City to Ban Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles (inhabitat.com)
- Link Between Fetal Exposure To PVC Plastic Chemical And Obesity In Offspring (medicalnewstoday.com)
- New Desktop Plastic Recycling Device Could Make 3D Printing More Planet-Friendly (thinkprogress.org)
- Do You Know How Many Types Of Plastic There Are? (recycledplasticpatiofurniture.wordpress.com)
- Biodegradable plastic: What you need to know (mnn.com)
- Ant Study Deepens Concern About Plastic Additives (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- How Plastics Make Us Fat (homepad.wordpress.com)
- Living in a ‘chemical soup’ > A recent study indicates that eating fresh food and avoiding food packaged in plastic reduces exposure to harmful chemicals. (newsreview.com)
- Rising levels of plastic waste on Arctic seafloor alarming (eco-business.com)
November 29, 2012 by evabein
The USDA is charged with promoting the interests of U.S agriculture while simultaneously educating the public about proper eating habits. As American’s consume more meat than ever before and health concerns begin to surface about the advisability of this consumption, the two roles of the USDA have come into conflict. Advising more moderate meat consumption would not be in the interest of the meat industry, yet promoting it would not be in the interest of public health. Since these stakeholders often hold opposing views, the USDA can often only promote one of their interests at a time; and, pressure from either side can determine which interest is promoted.
For example, this summer, the USDA posted a statement on its website encouraging its employees to avoid meat on Meatless Monday (a campaign to improve personal and environmental health). But after objections from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, it was removed from the website. Given the competing interests, how should we know when the USDA’s actions are benefiting us or when they are aimed to benefit another interest?
- USDA to allow more meat, grains in school lunches (myfox8.com)
- Part 3 | Industry uses money, science to win over stomachs (kansascity.com)
- Big Beef: Beef’s raw edges (kansascity.com)
- Beef’s Raw Edges (kansascity.com)
A University of British Columbia and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) study has revealed that childhood poverty, stress as an adult, and demographics such as age, sex and ethnicity, all leave an imprint on a person’s genes. And, that this imprint could play a role in our immune response. …
Known as epigenetics, or the study of changes in gene expression, this research examined a process called DNA methylation where a chemical molecule is added to DNA and acts like a dimmer on a light bulb switch, turning genes on or off or setting them somewhere in between. Research has shown that a person’s life experiences play a role in shaping DNA methylation patterns. ..
“We found biological residue of early life poverty,” said Michael Kobor, an associate professor of medical genetics at UBC, whose CMMT lab at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) led the research. “This was based on clear evidence that environmental influences correlate with epigenetic patterns.” ..
- Genes, Immune System Shaped by Childhood Poverty, Stress (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Kobor, CMMT study shows genes and immune system shaped by childhood poverty, stress (aplaceofmind.ubc.ca)
- New Study: Stress Increases Risk of Mental, Physical Illness (baktoedenherbalproducts.wordpress.com)
The environment affects children differently than adults. Because their bodies are still growing, children are at greater risk if they are exposed to environmental contaminants. Contaminants are anything that can cause something to become unclean, polluted, or not pure. They can be found anywhere and some are unsafe. A toddler playing in dirt contaminated with high levels of lead can become sick from lead poisoning. A child with asthma playing outside when the air quality is bad may have an asthma attack. Environmental hazards are not just outside, but can also be found inside a child’s home or school. Children living in older homes with lead-based paint can get sick from breathing lead dust or swallowing chipping paint. Drinking water from a private well and even a community water system is also a concern if it’s contaminated. Bacteria and other harmful chemicals can be a threat to anyone’s health, but especially to young children.
- Organizations Urge Parents To Protect Children From Lead Poisoning (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- CDC Warns Laundry Detergent Pods Pose Health Risk (wibw.com)
- EPA Spends $1.2 Million to Provide ‘Asthma-Friendly Homes’ Training (cnsnews.com)
Environmental Health Ethics illuminates the conflicts between protecting the environment and promoting human health. In this study, David B. Resnik develops a method for making ethical decisions on environmental health issues. He applies this method to various issues, including pesticide use, antibiotic resistance, nutrition policy, vegetarianism, urban development, occupational safety, disaster preparedness, and global climate change. Resnik provides readers with the scientific and technical background necessary to understand these issues. He explains that environmental health controversies cannot simply be reduced to humanity versus environment and explores the ways in which human values and concerns – health, economic development, rights, and justice – interact with environmental protection.
Features• Develops a method for ethical decision-making for environmental health controversies which incorporates insights from traditional ethical theories and environmental ethics
• Covers a wide range of timely and important issues, ranging from pesticide use to global warming
• Provides a description of the relevant background information accessible to an audience of educated non-specialists
- Downloads Environmental Stressors in Health and Disease book (ybiuqfb.typepad.com)
- Street Science: Community Knowledge and Environmental Health Justice (Urban and Industrial Environments) e-book downloads (ymiorip.typepad.com)
- Tulane gets $18.7M for environmental health (miamiherald.com)
- Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture? (eurekalert.org)
- Sewage Sludge Management: From the Past to Our Century (Environmental Health Physical, Chemical and Biological Factors) ebook (qysaubye.typepad.com)
- Dirty Soil and Diabetes: Anniston’s Toxic Legacy (climatecentral.org)
- Dade W. Moeller Publishes Fourth Edition of Environmental Health Textbook (prweb.com)
- Nano-pesticides: Solution or Threat for a Cleaner and Greener Agriculture? (merid.org)
- Pollution, Poverty, People of Color: No Beba el Agua–Don’t Drink the Water (newamericamedia.org)
- Research identifies specific bacteria linked to indoor water-damage and mold (eurekalert.org)
- UI center awarded $7.9 million grant for investigating environmental heath effects (thegazette.com)
- Good news on using recycled sewage treatment plant water for irrigating crops (eurekalert.org)
The extent to which our development is affected by nature or nurture – our genetic make-up or our environment – may differ depending on where we live, according to research funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
In a study published today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the Twins Early Development Study at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry studied data from over 6,700 families relating to 45 childhood characteristics, from IQ and hyperactivity through to height and weight. They found that genetic and environmental contributions to these characteristics vary geographically in the United Kingdom, and published their results online as a series of nature-nurture maps.
Our development, health and behaviour are determined by complex interactions between our genetic make-up and the environment in which we live. For example, we may carry genes that increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but if we eat a healthy diet and get sufficient exercise, we may not develop the disease. Similarly, someone may carry genes that reduce his or her risk of developing lung cancer, but heavy smoking may still lead to the disease….
An editorial published April 25 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1104285) calls for increased research to identify possible environmental causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in America’s children and presents a list of ten target chemicals including which are considered highly likely to contribute to these conditions.
Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, a leader in children’s environmental health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, co-authored the editorial, entitled “A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities,” along with Luca Lambertini, PhD, MPH, MSc, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai and Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute OF Environmental Health Sciences.
The editorial was published alongside four other papers — each suggesting a link between toxic chemicals and autism. Both the editorial and the papers originated at a conference hosted by CEHC in December 2010.
“A large number of the chemicals in widest use have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity and this is of great concern,” says Dr. Landrigan. “Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable.”……
CEHC developed the list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities to guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals are:
4. Organophosphate pesticides
5. Organochlorine pesticides
6. Endocrine disruptors
7. Automotive exhaust
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
9. Brominated flame retardants
10. Perfluorinated compounds
In addition to the editorial, the other four papers also call for increased research to identify the possible environmental causes of autism in America’s children. The first paper, written by a team at the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, found preliminary evidence linking smoking during pregnancy to Asperger’s disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism. Two papers, written by researchers at the University of California — Davis, show that PCBs disrupt early brain development. The final paper, also by a team at UC — Davis, suggests further exploring the link between pesticide exposure and autism.
- List of the top 10 toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities (eurekalert.org)
- List of the top 10 toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities (medicalxpress.com)
- Why Is Autism So Drastically on the Rise? An Environmental Horror Story (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Autism Q & A: Is autism really increasing? (babiestobigkids.wordpress.com)
- April is National Autism Awareness Month (hslnews.wordpress.com)
Pollution, Crime, and Education by Mike the Mad Biologist (And a Somewhat Related Mental Health Study)
This short blog entry points to examples of how there is most likely links between air pollution and brain development and function. For example a recent study indicates schools in areas of high air pollution have higher rates of absenteeism. Crime rates have gone down in areas where lead removal was a high priority.
While it can be argued there is no cause and effect in these cases, correlations do warrant further study.
Past blogs here have included articles on the interconnection between healthy environments and healthy people. In my humble opinion, it just makes sense that if one lives in surroundings with high risk factors, one will develop conditions and diseases one is predisposed to (and perhaps more!).
A related article in the professional literature examines the links between mental health and neighborhoods.While it does not address pollution, it does have a similar holistic approach in considering the many factors which may affect a person’s health and well being.
The authors conclusion-
This study has shown that for people living in deprived areas, the quality and aesthetics of housing and neighbourhoods are associated with mental wellbeing, but so too are feelings of respect, status and progress that may be derived from how places are created, serviced and talked about by those who live there. The implication for regeneration activities undertaken to improve housing and neighbourhoods is that it is not just the delivery of improved housing that is important for mental wellbeing, but also the quality and manner of delivery.
- Hidden risk: Mercury pollution’s costs to wildlife and people (grist.org)
- Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Environment And Diet Leave Their Prints On The Heart (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Asthma rate and costs from traffic-related air pollution are much higher than once believed (nextbigfuture.com)
- Pollution and evolution: Waters of change | The Economist (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment
This project strives to “ offer best practice models to improve our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment” [From their about page]
Links in each of the above 5 areas include related PBS series episodes and programs (as Tavis Smiley ), related studies (as Pew reports), and other related videos and news items.
Information about one this project’s DVD series Designing Healthy Communities (to be shown on PBS) may be found at http://designinghealthycommunities.org/designing-healthy-communities-complete-dvd-series/
- Coming Soon to PBS – “Designing Healthy Communities” (aa47.wordpress.com)
- Communities Learn the Good Life Can Be a Killer (NYTimes)
- A Syndemic Approach to Healthy Sustainable Cities (pollutionfree.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Sprawl Doctor to Host PBS Series on Urban Design and Public Health (dc.streetsblog.org)
- Communities Learn the Good Life Can Be a Killer (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Physical Environment V. Built Environment (happyspacesprojectblog.wordpress.com)
- Sustainable Cities for All (healthycities.wordpress.com)
- Public Interest Architect Joins Board of Trustees at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (prweb.com)
Developers in the last half-century called it progress when they built homes and shopping malls far from city centers throughout the country, sounding the death knell for many downtowns. But now an alarmed cadre of public health experts say these expanded metropolitan areas have had a far more serious impact on the people who live there by creating vehicle-dependent environments that foster obesity, poor health, social isolation, excessive stress and depression.
As a result, these experts say, our “built environment” — where we live, work, play and shop — has become a leading cause of disability and death in the 21st century.
- You: L.A. County takes step to promote exercise, reduce obesity (latimes.com)
- Sick of the suburbs: How badly designed communities trash our health (grist.org)
- Sick of the suburb (urbanvista.net)
- Responsible Urban Design (dirt.asla.org)
- A Syndemic Approach to Healthy Sustainable Cities (pollutionfree.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Sprawl Doctor to Host PBS Series on Urban Design and Public Health (dc.streetsblog.org)
- Communities Learn the Good Life Can Be a Killer (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Physical Environment V. Built Environment (happyspacesprojectblog.wordpress.com)
- Sustainable Cities for All (healthycities.wordpress.com)
- Public Interest Architect Joins Board of Trustees at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (prweb.com)
Epidemiology: What Is It and Why Should Adult Children Know About It? With Link to a Related Supercourse
It happens over and over again as I listen to the radio or read the news. I hear about an aging parent issue or a disease that is increasing in magnitude. Or sometime it’s a health issue that is affecting certain groups of people or a new bit of research the describes problems with an intervention — one that I thought was working well. Invariably these stories make me ask why? Sometimes I ask a more personal question, “If that seems to work for me, how come researchers say is isn’t effective?”
In just about every case, I answer my question by learning more about the study of epidemiology — a field that explores and collects data about how diseases specifically and health issues in general occur and affect people and in certain places. Epidemiology measures by some period of time. This short video from the Centers from Disease Control explains more.
Epidemiology can be difficult to understand, especially because people, including me, tend to personalize the issues. Here are just a few questions to illustrate this personalization.
- What risk factors for exposure to hazards contribute to aging parent falls as individuals age (in fact we are talking here about people over 60)? Why don’t people worry environmental health problems and do things early on to prevent falls?
- How come after years and years, I’m suddenly told that yearly mammograms are less important?
- Why are men being cautioned to reconsider using prostate tests for routine cancer screening?
- Why are older seniors now being told to consider getting fewer screening tests such as colonoscopies as they age?
Supercourse is a repository of lectures on global health and prevention designed to improve the teaching of prevention. Supercourse has a network of over 56000 scientists in 174 countries who are sharing for free a library of 5050 lectures in 31 languages.
- 10 (strongly suggested yet humorous) commandments for physicians when prescribing treatments (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- New guidelines for reporting epidemiological studies that involve molecular markers (eurekalert.org)
- Geographical Epidemiology (danielgillis.wordpress.com)
- Epidemiology: Type 2 Diabetes – Rising obesity and aging populations are driving diabetes trends (onlineindustryresearch.wordpress.com)
Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives
From the blog item by Allison Marron
I recently came across another WordPress blog which covered the concept of ecocide, a movement that would make environmental destruction a crime recognized at the international level. Although I’m unsure of how this would be enforced, how well this could be enforced, or how much of a priority this would be to counties compared to other international crimes (such as genocide), I think it’s an incredibly interesting and worthy concept for environmental health. Perhaps this is something that could be successful with a grassroots effort (one example being the grassroots campaign Eradicating Ecocide), or legislation starting at the state and country level before it gains support at the international level. Read the original WordPress blog post here.
- Ecocide (a wikipedia article that seems well referenced)
- Ecocide (Open Source Encyclopedia)
- Ecocide Trial this Friday at UK Supreme Court (philipcarrgomm.wordpress.com)
- Trial tests whether ‘ecocide’ could join genocide as global crime (climateinsight.wordpress.com)
- Ecocide: The 5th Crime Against Peace (cruzerism.wordpress.com)
- Stop the tar sands destruction – outlaw this ecocide | Polly Higgins (guardian.co.uk)
- Ecology Update : Mock trial finds Tar Sands spill ‘bosses’ guilty of ecocide (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
Concerns are being raised as to how modern lifestyles may cause physiological defense mechanisms in light of the dramatic increase of people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases, such as allergies,asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.
Researchers have conducted a perspective foresight study along the lines of the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) predictions, evaluating the challenges linked to chronic inflammatory diseases. Their findings, published in a supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology(JACI), the official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), report details of 10 key areas with the highest priority for research. …
…Determining the factors responsible for the development of chronic inflammatory diseases remains challenging. Even though epidemiological evidence clearly indicates environmental influence as being responsible, not everyone within these environments develops diseases; and despite the fact that susceptibility to chronic inflammatory disease evidently play an important role, genetics alone may not be the only determining factor, as susceptibility to disease in later life can be influenced by prenatal exposures. Another influencing factor that determines the likelihood of a person developing diseases like asthma and allergies in later life is whether or not a person is breastfed and exposed to microorganisms after birth. …
The supplement called “Gene-Environment Interaction in Chronic Disease – An ESF Forward Look,” by H. Renz, I.B. Autenrieth, P. Brandtzaeg, W.O. Cookson, S. Holgate, E. von Mutius, R. Valenta, and D. Haller appears as The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 128, Supplement (December 2011) published by Elsevier. It is freely available via the JACI website.
- Scientists identify strategies to conquer lifestyle and genetic factors related to chronic diseases (medicalxpress.com)
- Scientists identify strategies to conquer lifestyle and genetic factors related to chronic diseases (eurekalert.org)
- Scientists Identify Strategies To Conquer Lifestyle And Genetic Factors Related To Chronic Diseases (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Few Allergies In Unstressed Babies (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Personalized Treatment For Crohn’s Disease A Step Closer Following Gene Mapping (medicalnewstoday.com)
- The Asthma-Thrush Link (everydayhealth.com)
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of suffering allergy (fidest.wordpress.com)
- World Allergy Congress Presents Scientific Advancements in Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology (prweb.com)
A University of Cambridge study, which set out to investigate DNA methylation in the human heart and the ‘missing link’ between our lifestyle and our health, has now mapped the link in detail across the entire human genome.
The new data collected greatly benefits a field that is still in its scientific infancy and is a significant leap ahead of where the researchers were, even 18 months ago.
Researcher Roger Foo explains: “By going wider and scanning the genome in greater detail this time – we now have a clear picture of the ‘fingerprint’ of the missing link, where and how epigenetics in heart failuremay be changed and the parts of the genome where diet or environment or other external factors may affect outcomes.” …
DNA methylation leaves indicators, or “marks”, on the genome and there is evidence that these “marks” are strongly influenced by external factors such as the environment and diet. The researchers have found that this process is different in diseased and normal hearts. Linking all these things together suggest this may be the “missing link” between environmental factors and heart failure.
The findings deepen our understanding of the genetic changes that can lead to heart diseaseand how these can be influenced by our diet and our environment. The findings can potentially open new ways of identifying, managing and treating heart disease.
The DNA that makes up our genes is made up of four “bases” or nucleotides – cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymie, often abbreviated to C, G, A and T. DNA methylation is the addition of a methyl group (CH3) to cytosine.
When added to cytosine, the methyl group looks different and is recognised differently by proteins, altering how the gene is expressed i.e. turned on or off.
DNA methylation is a crucial part of normal development, allowing different cells to become different tissues despite having the same genes. As well as happening during development, DNA methylation continues throughout our lives in a response to environmental and dietary changes which can lead to disease.
As a result of the study, Foo likens DNA methylation to a fifth nucleotide: “We often think of DNA as being composed of four nucleotides. Now, we are beginning to think there is a fifth – the methylated C.”
Foo also alludes to what the future holds for the study: “…and more recent basic studies now show us that our genome has even got 6th, 7th and 8th nucleotides… in the form of further modifications of cytosines. These are hydroxy-methyl-Cytosine, formylCytosine and carboxylCytosine = hmC, fC and caC! These make up an amazing shift in the paradigm…”
As in most studies, as one question is resolved, another series of mysteries form in its place. The study shows that we are still on the frontier of Epigenetics and only just beginning to understand the link between the life we lead and the body we have.
- Environment and diet leave their prints on the heart (eurekalert.org)
- Diet, environment leave their prints on the heart (scienceblog.com)
- Controlling patterns of DNA methylation (medicalxpress.com)
- Epigenetic changes often don’t last, probably have limited effects on long-term evolution, research finds (sciencedaily.com)
- Epigenetics again: will it cause a revolution in evolution? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Your Living Conditions as a Child May Be Detectable In Your DNA for Life By Clay Dillow (imullins89.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to the Genome Engineering Wordle (genome-engineering.com)
- Genome Engineering guest blog on BioNews: Europe leads the way in epigenome mapping (genome-engineering.com)
- Genome engineering – Method 3: Correction (genome-engineering.com)
- Carnival of Evolution #39 (genome-engineering.com)
A new research program funded by the National Institutes of Health will explore the role that a changing climate has on human health. Led by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the program will research the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to heat exposure; changing weather patterns; changes in environmental exposures, such as air pollution and toxic chemicals; and the negative effects of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
In addition to better understanding the direct and indirect human health risks in the United States and globally, one of the program’s goals is to determine which populations will be more susceptible and vulnerable to diseases exacerbated by climate change. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and those living in urban or coastal areas and storm centers may be at elevated risk. This program will also help to develop data, methods, and models to support health impact predictions.
“Governments and policy makers need to know what the health effects from climate change are and who is most at risk,” said John Balbus, M.D., NIEHS senior advisor for public health and lead for NIEHS’ efforts on climate change. “The research from this program will help guide public health interventions, to ultimately prevent harm to the most vulnerable people.”
The funding program is an outgrowth of two previous efforts led by NIH. A December 2009 workshop, sponsored by a trans-NIH working group, brought leaders in the field together to begin identifying priorities for NIH climate change research. NIH then led the ad hoc Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health in developing an outline of research needs, which are described in a report available atwww.niehs.nih.gov/climatereport.
From the 12 October 2011 Great Lakes Echo Blog
By Sara Matthews-Kaye
Editor’s note: Synthetic musk is one of the pollutants of emerging concern to be discussed Oct. 11-14 in Detroit at the 2011 Great Lakes Week. Detroit Public Television is providing ongoing coverage of Great Lakes Week at greatlakesnow.org
Some scientists worry that the chemicals that make lotion, soap, trash bags and a myriad of household products smell good are an emerging class of pollutants that threaten environmental and human health.
There is “supporting evidence that more study and research need to be done,” said Antonette Arvai, a physical scientist with the International Joint Commission, a U.S. and Canadian agency that will discuss newly emerging pollutants at its biennial meeting in Detroit this week.
Use of fragrant chemicals in the United States has doubled since 1990. Arecent study by the commission identifies synthetic musk fragrance, used in a great number of personal care and cleaning products, as a chemical of emerging concern.
“When musk is applied to the structure of a cell wall, more toxins can pass through it,” Arvai said. The commission has recommended that scientists and regulatory authorities in both countries study the health risk of synthetic musks.
Concerns go beyond human health. Synthetic musk accumulates in aquatic organisms over time. A2009 studyinEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistryreported that two musk fragrances, Galaxolide and Tonalide, were found in every sample of fish taken from the North Shore Channel in Chicago.
A large portion of world-wide musk production is Galaxolide and Tonalide.
- 5 chemical threats to the Great Lakes (cbc.ca)
- Musk in Fragrance : Salt and Butter of Perfumery (boisdejasmin.typepad.com)
A new University of Minnesota study reveals that the release of treated municipal wastewater – even wastewater treated by the highest-quality treatment technology – can have a significant effect on the quantities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, often referred to as “superbacteria,” in surface waters.
The study also suggests that wastewater treated using standard technologies probably contains far greater quantities of antibiotic-resistant genes, but this likely goes unnoticed because background levels of bacteria are normally much higher than the water studied in this research.
The new study is led by civil engineering associate professor Timothy LaPara in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering. The study is published in the most recent issue ofEnvironmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was part of a unique class project in a graduate-level civil engineering class at the University of Minnesota focused on environmental microbiology.
- Wastewater treatment fosters antibiotic resistance? (junkscience.com)
- Major Wastewater Project Started on Tule River Reservation (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Wastewater recycling can multiply greenhouse gas emissions (eurekalert.org)
- Researchers study micropollutants in wastewater (kitsapsun.com)
- EPA: To Regulate Disposal of Fracking Wastewater (abcnews.go.com)
The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study
This article is available freely via Open Access. Please click on the above link to view it fully.
Objective To estimate the risks and benefits to health of travel by bicycle, using a bicycle sharing scheme, compared with travel by car in an urban environment……
Results Compared with car users the estimated annual change in mortality of the Barcelona residents using Bicing (n=181 982) was 0.03 deaths from road traffic incidents and 0.13 deaths from air pollution. As a result of physical activity, 12.46 deaths were avoided (benefit:risk ratio 77). The annual number of deaths avoided was 12.28. As a result of journeys by Bicing, annual carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by an estimated 9 062 344 kg.
Conclusions Public bicycle sharing initiatives such as Bicing in Barcelona have greater benefits than risks to health and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- City Cycle Schemes Save Lives, Cut CO2 (nlm.nih.gov)
- The health benefits of boris bikes (2020health.wordpress.com)
- Bike Sharing Could Save Lives: Study (huffingtonpost.com)
- Your Urban Biking Essentials (fitsugar.com)
- Bicycle-sharing system incorporates app and GPS (gizmag.com)
Changes in climate and precipitation have fostered the spread of mosquitoes that can spread dengue fever in many areas of the United States, according to a new analysis. (Image: James Gathany/CDC)
The United States faces growing health threats from infectious disease, extreme weather, and air pollution as a result of climate change, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published online today. Such effects are likely to be most pronounced in the Southeastern states, according to these findings.
The analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Climatic Data Center found that because of climate change, about half of the states are at risk of dengue fever outbreaks. Dengue fever viruses, which are transmitted by certain species of mosquitos, can cause infections with symptoms that may include high fever, headache, rash, pain, vomiting, and achy muscles and joints. In some cases, infection may result in dengue hemorrhagic fever, which also involves the development of blood spots under the skin and potentially fatal shock.
At least 28 states already have been colonized by the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus, and an estimated 173.5 million individuals live in these areas. Continued shifts in local climate and precipitation may increase the vulnerability of these areas to the spread of dengue, according to the analysis. But despite this growing concern, only 3 of the states at greatest risk—Florida, Maryland, and Virginia—have a plan in place for dealing with this potential health threat.
Other potential health risks related to climate change documented in the analysis include heat exhaustion and other complications related to extreme heat events, injuries caused by flooding, or exacerbations of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by increased smog, noted Jeremy Hess, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine in Emory University’s schools of Medicine and Public Health in Atlanta, during a press briefing….
….The NRDC has posted maps ***online that allow individuals and public health officials to assess local risks. Additionally, the site provides information on what is included in the preparedness plans of states who have already begun planning for these climate change risks, which can serve as templates for other states or local areas, according to Knowlton.
These health risk maps by the Natural Resources Defense Council include state/county maps in these areas
- Average number of extreme heat days
- Areas vulnerable to Dengue Fever
- Ozone Smog and Allergenic Ragweed
- You: Dengue may strike back in August (nation.com.pk)
- What’s Bugging You? Prevention Is Best Medicine for Keeping Pesky Insect Bites at Bay (aad.org)
The health implications of polluting the environment weigh increasingly on our public consciousness, and pharmaceutical wastes continue to be a main culprit. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that current testing for these dangerous contaminants isn’t going far enough.
Dr. Dror Avisar, head of the Hydro-Chemistry Laboratory at TAU’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment, says that, when our environment doesn’t test positive for the presence of a specific drug, we assume it’s not there. But through biological or chemical processes such as sun exposure or oxidization, drugs break down, or degrade, into different forms — and could still be lurking in our water or soil….
- Environmental Danger Lurks in Joplin, Mo. Debris (abcnews.go.com)
- Green Cleaning Spruces Up Environment (webmd.com)
- New study outlines economic and environmental benefits to reducing nitrogen pollution (physorg.com)
From the Internet Reviews column (by Joni Roberts and Carol Drost) of the July issue of College and Research Libraries News
The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) Web site is a collection of publications by ACSH staff and external publications/media reports on public and environmental health issues. The majority of the content comes from external sources, such as journals and news broadcasts.
The site is structured around six sections that are organized by tabs at the top of the screen: “Home,” “Health Issues,” “News Center,” “Publications,” “Events,” and “FactsAndFears.” However, the site is confusingly split between ACSH-related content and non-ACSH content….
…“FactsAndFears” has the newest and most abundant content; four to six new posts are added daily and are exclusively based on external sources (e.g., “Are Breastfed Babies Better Behaved?” from the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood). “FactsAndFears” content is excluded from the homepage and the site archive. The posts, however, can be found through the Quick Search box on most of the pages, and this section also has its own separate archive….
- Environmental Health Student Portal – Connecting Middle School Students to Environmental Health Information (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- K-12 Science and Health Education (Also, good ideas to keep kids busy this summer!) (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
New York City’s low-income neighborhoods and California’s Salinas Valley, where 80 percent of the United States’ lettuce is grown, could hardly be more different. But scientists have discovered that children growing up in these communities — one characterized by the rattle of subway trains, the other by acres of produce and vast sunny skies — share a pre-natal exposure to pesticides that appears to be affecting their ability to learn and succeed in school.
Three studies undertaken independently, but published simultaneously last month, show that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides — sprayed on crops in the Salinas Valley and used in Harlem and the South Bronx to control cockroaches and other insects — can lower children’s IQ by an average of as much as 7 points. While this may not sound like a lot, it is more than enough to affect a child’s reading and math skills and cause behavioral problems with potentially long-lasting impacts, according to the studies.
“This is not trivial,” said Virginia Rauh, one of the study authors, speaking from Columbia University, where she is deputy director of the university’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health and professor of population and family health. What is particularly significant, she said, is that these studies involved so many children from such different communities, yet produced consistent evidence of the pesticides’ effects on cognitive skills and short-term memory
- Today In The News: Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Linked to Lower IQ (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Prenatal pesticide exposure linked to lower IQ in kids (ctv.ca)
- Prenatal pesticide exposure tied to lower IQ in children (eurekalert.org)
Summaries of supported public health initiatives may be found at Public Health Impacts.
“Discoveries by NIEHS-funded scientists have led to the development of prevention strategies, health and safety guidelines, and potential treatments for asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other environmentally-related diseases..”
This research has yielded numerous studies on indoor pollution and respiratory health, and led to the development of air sampling techniques used in research settings worldwide.
- Children’s Environmental Health
Research on the annual costs of environmentally-related diseases in American children will be useful in developing new strategies and guidelines for the detection and prevention of childhood illnesses.
- Pesticides & Neurodevelopment
The discovery of an enzyme that provides protection against the toxicity of pesticide compounds has led to the development of new treatments for nerve agent exposures.