Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

5 things that are bigger threats to your health than Ebola (with images)

5 things that are bigger threats to your health than Ebola (with images) · APHA · Storify.

Excerpt from an August 2014 post by the American Public Health Association

Ebola, the serious, often fatal disease spread by interaction with the blood or fluids of a symptomatic infected person, has been making headlines across the country. And for good reason: this is the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The public is asking questions and wondering if they’re at risk.

But the truth is, unless you live in West Africa, where the latest Ebola outbreak has been focused, or if you are a health worker whoworks with Ebola patients, you’re probably safe

1. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
2. Severe weather

…….

Read the entire post here

Ebola virus and the dread factor
       August 25 2014 item from Musings of an Academic Family Physician (and department chair) about this (dysfunctional) healthcare world and how to fix it

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Web site review] WHO: Public Health and Environment

     WHO: Public Health and Environment
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http://www.who.int/phe/en/

The World Health Organization (WHO) has crafted this site that is dedicated to “public health, social and environmental determinants of health (PHE).” On the site, visitors can look over the WHO’s publications and news releases, along with multimedia features and event listings. Guests should start by browsing the Publications which contain timely reports on pharmaceuticals in drinking-water and children’s environmental health. The Health Topics area contains information about how WHO is working to reduce indoor air pollution, outdoor pollution, and chemical safety. The site also contains links to its overall global strategy via working papers and policy statements. [KMG]

 

 

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Harsh socio-economic conditions affect the genetic health of children

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.

Social determinants of health - Dahlgren and Whitehead 1991

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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April 29, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Are green spaces happy places?

From the 28 January 2014 post at Research the Headlines

by  on 2014/01/28
Green SpaceWhile 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 MailGuardian, and BBC News, for example.

What did the research say?

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

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January 29, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] The Human Health Costs of Losing Natural Systems: Quantifying Earth’s Worth to Public Health

From the 19 November press release posted at Natural History Wanderings

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.

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 http://www.wcs.org/files/pdfs/PNAS-2013-Human-health-impacts-of-ecosystem-alteration.pdf

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.”

Read the entire press release here

November 27, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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From their About page

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.

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  • 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.

Related Links

  • Bioethics
  • 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

September 4, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , , | 1 Comment

[Reposting] ‘Safe’ Levels of Environmental Pollution May Have Long-Term Health Consequences

Environmental pollution

Environmental pollution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 29th August 2013 article at Science Daily

 

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.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental health news from the CDC – Food and water safety

Janice Flahiff:

 

 

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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March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Health and Environment: A Closer Look at Plastics

#6620 recycled plastic (PET) bottles

#6620 recycled plastic (PET) bottles (Photo credit: Nemo’s great uncle)

From the 23 January 2013 article at Science News Daily

 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…

Read the entire article here

From the 23 January 2013 article at The American Medical Network

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.

Read more:Health and environment: a closer look at plastics – Food & Nutrition -Public Health -http://www.health.am/ab/more/health-and-environment/#ixzz2ItM9aR2g

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] (USDA) Pulled in Two Directions

From the 29 November 2012 post at BonAppeTERP :Terps talk about eating and living sustainably at UMD

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?

 

December 13, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Childhood Poverty, Stress, May Shape Genes And Immune System

From the 22 October 2012 article at Medical News Today

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.” ..

[youtube=[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaNH56Vpg-A]]

 

October 29, 2012 Posted by | environmental health, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Children’s Environmental Health (Informative Web Page with Links from the US CDC)

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Children’s Environmental Health Web site

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.

Click here for the Daily Air Quality Forecast

Related articles

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Book] Environmental Health Ethics

From the summary at Cambridge University Press

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

June 25, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nature or nurture? It may depend on where you live

From the 12 June 2012 EurekAlert

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….

June 12, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Toxic Chemicals Suspected to Cause Autism and Learning Disabilities

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:

1. Lead

2. Methylmercury

3. PCBs

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.


April 26, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

January 30, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment

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]

The present focus areas are Health,Transportation, Design, Food, and People.

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/

Excerpt:

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.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Epidemiology: What Is It and Why Should Adult Children Know About It? With Link to a Related Supercourse

From the 14th January posting at As Our Parents Age – Timely Topics for Adult Children

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?

Click here to read the rest of the blog item

Related Resource

Supercourse: Epidemiology, Global Health, and the Internet

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.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives

 

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

 

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December 24, 2011 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

Chronic Diseases – How To Overcome Genetic And Lifestyle Factors

From the 12 December 2011 Medical News Today article

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.

Read the entire article

 

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Environment And Diet Leave Their Prints On The Heart

From the 30 November 2011 Medical News Today article 

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. 

DNA Methylation in E. coli

DNA methylation in E.coli

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change

 

National Institutes of Health

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NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change.

Excerpts from the Environmental News Bits Blog item

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.

November 20, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragrant chemicals may pose threat to humans, environment | Great Lakes Echo

Fragrant chemicals may pose threat to humans, environment | Great Lakes Echo.

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 WeekDetroit 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.

Lotions, soaps and other pleasant smelling cosmetics may contain harmful chemicals. Photo: Normann Copenhagen (Flickr)

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.

Read the entire article

November 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Even The Cleanest Wastewater Contributes To More ‘Super Bacteria’

 

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...

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From the 16 November 2011 Medical News Today article

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.

 

Read the article

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study

Estació del Bicing de Barcelona de l'Hospital ...

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From an 8 August posting at the (UK) NHS Bolton Library blog

Source: The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study — Rojas-Rueda et al. 343 — bmj.com.

This article is available freely via Open Access. Please click on the above link to view it fully.

Abstract

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.

August 9, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

US Faces Growing Health Threats From Climate Change

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)

From the 3 August 2011 News at JAMA article (Journal of the American Medical Association)

 

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

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | 2 Comments

Environmental Pollutants Lurk Long After They ‘Disappear’

From a 20 July 2011 Science Daily article

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….

Read the article

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

American Council on Science and Health – Public and Environmental Issues Information Resource

American Council on Science and HealthAmerican Council on Science and Health

 

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….

Read the entire article

July 26, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , | Leave a comment

Prenatal exposure to some pesticides can lead to lower IQs

From a May 20 Blog Upstream item by Elizabeth Grossman

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

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Public Health Initiatives (with research summaries) funded by NIH

NIEHS Campus

The National Institutes of Health funds public health studies through the National Institute of Environmental Sciences.

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..”

including…

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.

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.

 

 

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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