Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Analyzing the Life Cycle of Chemicals

From a page from the US EPA

EPA is combining different types of data to characterize impacts of chemicals to human health and the environment. The research provides accessible information to support scientific discovery and sustainable decisions. EPA researchers are using scientific advances to identify chemical characteristics and features that are associated with potential for environmental and human health impacts.

The research is generating chemical, biological and toxicological information to advance the understanding of relationships between chemical characteristics and potential impacts of use. This research will help EPA and others evaluate these chemicals prior to use to ensure they are the most effective and safest chemicals to use.

Our research analyzing the life cycle of chemicals focuses on four areas:

Nanoparticles and Emerging Materials

Sustainable Chemistry

Environmental and human health impacts of chemical use across the chemical/product life cycle

EPA is developing ways to efficiently evaluate environmental and human health impacts of chemical use across the chemical/product life cycle to support sustainability analysis, assessment of chemical alternatives and to help inform risk-based decisions.

Ecological Modeling

EPA evaluates the risk of pesticide use to threatened and endangered species. This research is using population effects and spatial distribution to develop ecological risk models to predict potential risk to ecological systems and the environment.

  • Markov Chain Nest Productivity Model: estimates the impact of pesticide exposures on the reproduction success of bird populations.
  • Web Ice: estimates acute toxicity to aquatic and terrestrial organisms for use in risk assessment.
  • EcoTox: Provides information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to ecologically relevant aquatic and terrestrial species. It includes more than 780,000 test records covering 12,000 aquatic and terrestrial species and 11,000 chemicals.
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October 19, 2015 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy [newspaper article]

Toxic Waters

From a 2009 NY Times article

(Yes this article is a bit old, but posting it because of water woes here in Toledo regarding microcystins, which fortunately are still at safe levels, in my humble opinion. Still, it seems to be wrecking havoc with our mayor’s election bid)

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Toxic Waters

Outdated Laws

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

All Articles in the Series »

Only 91 contaminants [ still true, I counted them today, 31 July 2015  at http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List ] are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] EPA’s 2012 Toxics Release Inventory Shows Air Pollutants Continue to Decline

TOXMAP, A Map of benzene release 2007-8 lower ...

TOXMAP, A Map of benzene release 2007-8 lower 48 US (Photo credit: Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Benzene_release_2007-8_lower_48_US.JPG Attribution: The US National Library of Medicine’s TOXMAP, http://toxmap.nlm.nih.govFrom the 4 February 2014 EPA press release

From the 4 February 2014 EPA Press Release

Total releases of toxic chemicals decreased 12 percent from 2011-2012, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report released today. The decrease includes an eight percent decline in total toxic air releases, primarily due to reductions in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions.

“People deserve to know what toxic chemicals are being used and released in their backyards, and what companies are doing to prevent pollution,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By making that information easily accessible through online tools, maps, and reports, TRI is helping protect our health and the environment.”

The 2012 data show that 3.63 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were either disposed or otherwise released into the environment through air, water, and land. There was also a decline in releases of HAPs such as hydrochloric acid and mercury, which continues a long-term trend. Between 2011 and 2012, toxic releases into surface water decreased three percent and toxic releases to land decreased 16 percent. 

This is the first year that TRI has collected data on hydrogen sulfide. While it was added to the TRI list of reportable toxic chemicals in a 1993 rulemaking, EPA issued an Administrative Stay in 1994 that deferred reporting while the agency completed further evaluation of the chemical. EPA lifted the stay in 2011. In 2012, 25.8 million pounds of hydrogen sulfide were reported to TRI, mainly in the form of releases to air from paper, petroleum, and chemical manufacturing facilities.

Another new addition to TRI reporting is a requirement for each facility located in Indian country to submit TRI reports to EPA and the appropriate tribe, and not the state where the facility is geographically located. EPA finalized this requirement in a 2012 rule aimed at increasing tribal participation in the TRI Program.

This year’s TRI national analysis report includes new analyses and interactive maps for each U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan area, new information about industry efforts to reduce pollution through green chemistry and other pollution prevention practices, and a new feature about chemical use in consumer products.

The annual TRI report provides citizens with critical information about their communities. The TRI Program collects data on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water, and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country.
The data are submitted annually to EPA, states, and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste. Many of the releases from facilities that are subject to TRI reporting are regulated under other EPA program requirements designed to limit harm to human health and the environment.

Also available is the expanded TRI Pollution Prevention (P2) Search Tool, which now allows users to graphically compare facilities within the same industry using a variety of environmental metrics.

Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their toxic chemical releases to EPA by July 1 of each year. The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 also requires facilities to submit information on waste management activities related to TRI chemicals.
More information on the 2012 TRI analysis, including metropolitan and micropolitan areas is available atwww.epa.gov/tri/nationalanalysis.

Read the entire press release here

Resources

What tools are available to help me conduct my own analysis?

A variety of online tools available from the Data and Tools webpage will help you access and analyze TRI data.

Where can I get downloadable files containing the data used in the 2012 National Analysis?

  • Basic Data Files: Each file contains the most commonly requested data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Basic Plus Data Files: These files collectively contain all the data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Dioxin, Dioxin-Like Compounds and TEQ Data Files: These files include the individually reported mass quantity data for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds reported on the TRI Reporting Form R Schedule 1, along with the associated TEQ data.
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February 9, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Getting Real About Chemical Risks

 

From the 14 October Cover Story at Chemical and Engineering News

Many people assume that the chemicals in their detergents, floor cleaners, and other household products have undergone rigorous safety testing. But little is known about the potential risks associated with most of the estimated 80,000 chemicals in commerce today.

While industry tries to dispel links to illnesses that go beyond what science can prove, the public is skeptical because companies have a financial stake in showing their products are safe. This leads both sides to look to the federal government for help.

The agency charged with overseeing the safety of chemicals in the marketplace is the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA has the authority to require industry to provide extensive toxicity data for pesticides. But for most other chemicals, EPA must show that a substance is likely to be a risk to human health or the environment in order to require industry to provide safety data. Manufacturers don’t often give toxicity data to EPA voluntarily, nor does the agency have the resources to assess tens of thousands of chemicals using traditional in vivo rodent-based studies.

Instead, EPA has turned to computational modeling. One ambitious effort, called ToxCast, aims to screen thousands of chemicals for biological activity using about 600 high-throughput biochemical and cell-based assays. The data are then integrated with existing in vivo animal toxicity data and structure-activity information to predict toxicity.

But ToxCast has had problems. Most of the assays were developed for drug discovery, not to assess the hazards of chemicals in the environment. For example, thyroid-disrupting compounds in the environment can work through multiple pathways, but commercial tests focus on just one—a chemical binding to the thyroid receptor. If a chemical acts on a different pathway it will test negative, even though it does disrupt the thyroid.

 

 

  • Haz-Map

    Links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms.

  • Household Products Database

    Information on the health effects of common household products under your sink, in the garage, in the bathroom and on the laundry room shelf.

  • TOXMAP

    Maps of hazardous chemicals with links to related health resources.

  • ToxMystery

    Interactive game for 7-11 years olds with lessons about household chemical hazards.

  • Tox Town

    An interactive guide about how the environment, chemicals and toxic substances affect human health.
    Tox Town en español

 

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

EPA Web Tool Expands Access to Scientific, Regulatory Information on Chemicals

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Environmental Protection Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

 

From the 9 September 2013 EPA press release

 

Release Date: 09/09/2013
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov, 202-564-7849, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

“This online tool will improve access to chemical health and safety information, increase public dialogue and awareness, and help viewers choose safer ingredients used in everyday products,” said James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The tool will make chemical information more readily available for chemical decision-makers and consumers.”

The ChemView web tool displays key health and safety data in an online format that allows comparison of chemicals by use and by health or environmental effects. The search tool combines available TSCA information and provides streamlined access to EPA assessments, hazard characterizations, and information on safer chemical ingredients. Additionally, the new web tool allows searches by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, use, hazard effect, or regulatory action. It has the flexibility to create tailored views of the information on individual chemicals or compare multiple chemicals sorted by use, hazard effect or other criteria. The new portal will also link to information on manufacturing, processing, use, and release data reported under the Chemical Data Reporting Rule, and the Toxics Release Inventory. 

In the months ahead, EPA will be continuously adding additional chemicals, functionality and links. When fully updated, the web tool will contain data for thousands of chemicals. EPA has incorporated stakeholder input into the design, and welcomes feedback on the current site.

By increasing health and safety information, as well as identifying safer chemical ingredients, manufacturers and retailers will have the information to better differentiate their products by using safer ingredients. 

In 2010, EPA began a concerted effort to increase the availability of information on chemicals as part of a commitment to strengthen the existing chemicals program and improve access and usefulness of chemical data and information. This included improving access to the TSCA inventory, issuing new policies for the review of confidential business information claims for health and safety studies, and launching the Chemical Data Access Tool. Today’s launch of the ChemView provides the public with a single access point for information that has been generated on certain chemicals regulated under TSCA.

View and search ChemView: http://www.epa.gov/chemview

 

 

 

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Tutorials/Finding aids, Workplace Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists to EPA: Include Women in Reproductive Health Research

Oncofertility Consortium Logo

Oncofertility Consortium Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the Northwestern University press release (October 17, 2012)

 

Northwestern scientists to meet with EPA to request important changes in guidelines

October 16, 2012 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO — A team of Northwestern University scientists will meet with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators in Washington D.C. Oct. 18 to advocate for important changes in the agency’s guidelines for reproductive health research.

“The problem is current research assessing the risk of toxins on reproductive health is not being uniformly investigated in both sexes and across the lifespan,” said Kate Timmerman, program director of the Oncofertility Consortium of Northwestern University, who will be one of the scientists meeting with the EPA. The reproductive health guidelines have not been updated since 1996 and need to be revised to reflect new research findings.

The Northwestern team will ask the EPA to expand the definition of reproductive health beyond pregnancy to include the lifespan of an individual.

“Reproductive health is important across the entire lifespan because your endocrine system affects your bone health, cardiovascular health and other systems in the body,” Timmerman said. Endocrine disrupters, sometimes triggered by environmental factors, can lead to increased risk for stroke and heart attack as well as osteoporosis.

The Northwestern scientists also will request that all EPA-sponsored research require appropriate testing in both sexes. Currently many toxicity studies are only conducted in male animal models with the assumption that females are affected the same way, but that isn’t necessarily true.

“What happens now is if researchers don’t see an effect in males, they won’t look in females,” Timmerman said. “But we know certain toxins in the environment can have a significant effect on females and not males and vice versa.”

Timmerman and colleagues will present a white paper to the EPA on how to improve and update the guidelines.

In addition to Timmerman, other Northwestern scientists meeting with the EPA

include Kimberly Gray, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern’s  McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; Mary Ellen Pavone, M.D., assistant

professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; and Francesca Duncan, reproductive scientist/research associate in the lab of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at the Feinberg School and director of the Oncofertility Consortium. Woodruff also is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EPA Releases Water Pollution Tool

From the EPA press release of 25 January 2012 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. Developed under President Obama’s transparency initiative, the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and allows for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant. Americans can use this new tool to protect their health and the health of their communities.

“Transparency leads to greater accountability and better information about pollution in our nation’s communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making the data we collect available in easy to use tools, we are keeping Americans informed about the health of the environment in their neighborhoods.”

Searches using the DMR Pollutant Loading Tool result in “top ten” lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations. …

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

12/21/2011: EPA Issues First National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants/ Historic ‘mercury and air toxics standards’ meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions

 

 

Cleaner Power Plants

12/21/2011: EPA Issues First National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants
           / Historic ‘mercury and air toxics standards’ meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions.

From the press release

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the first national standards to protect American families from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. 

EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America’s children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. …

 

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Protecting our children and communities by limiting emissions of mercury and other air toxics from power plants

More information at Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, including

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

EPA Improves Access to Information on Hundreds of Chemicals

 


From the 15 June 2011 EPA Press Release

Searchable databases on chemical toxicity and exposure data now available

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find data about chemicals. EPA is releasing two databases – the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB) – that scientists and the public can use to access chemical toxicity and exposure data. Improved access supports EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities of protecting Americans’ health by assuring the safety of chemicals and expanding the conversation on environmentalism.

“Chemical safety is a major priority of EPA and its research,” said Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These databases provide the public access to chemical information, data and results that we can use to make better-informed and timelier decisions about chemicals to better protect people’s health.”

ToxCastDB users can search and download data from over 500 rapid chemical tests conducted on more than 300 environmental chemicals. ToxCast uses advanced scientific tools to predict the potential toxicity of chemicals and to provide a cost-effective approach to prioritizing which chemicals of the thousands in use require further testing. ToxCast is currently screening 700 additional chemicals, and the data will be available in 2012.

ExpoCastDB consolidates human exposure data from studies that have collected chemical measurements from homes and child care centers. Data include the amounts of chemicals found in food, drinking water, air, dust, indoor surfaces and urine. ExpoCastDB users can obtain summary statistics of exposure data and download datasets. EPA will continue to add internal and external chemical exposure data and advanced user interface features to ExpoCastDB.

The new databases link together two important pieces of chemical research – exposure and toxicity data – both of which are required when considering potential risks posed by chemicals. The databases are connected through EPA’s Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR), an online data warehouse that collects data on over 500,000 chemicals from over 500 public sources.

Users can now access 30 years worth of animal chemical toxicity studies that were previously only found in paper documents, data from rapid chemical testing, and various chemical exposure measurements through one online resource. The ability to link and compare these different types of data better informs EPA’s decisions about chemical safety.

More information about the databases:
ToxCastDB: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ToxCastDB/Home.jsp
ExpoCastDB: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ExpoCastDB/Home.jsp
ACToR: http://actor.epa.gov 

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program 2009 Data is Now Available

The EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program 2009 Data is Now Available
 

Environmental journalism supports the protecti...

Image via WikipediaFrom the National Library of Medicine listerv item:

 

 

The National Library of Medicine TOXMAP (http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov) and TOXNET TRI (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?TRI) now include the 2009 Toxics Release Inventory data (TRI), the most current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data available.  http://www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/current_data/index.html

20,446 facilities reported to the EPA TRI program in 2009, with 77,610 submissions.
A complete list of TRI chemicals required to be reported to the EPA can be found at http://www.epa.gov/tri/trichemicals/index.htm.
TOXMAP maps the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals reported to the EPA, as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).    http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/lcra.html

TOXMAP covers on-site TRI releases only and also includes EPA Superfund data. http://www.epa.gov/superfund/
What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program

TRI contains information on the annual estimated releases of toxic chemicals to the environment and is based on data collected by the EPA. Mandated by the Pollution Prevention Act, TOXNET TRI data covers air, water, land, and underground injection releases, as well as transfers to waste sites, and waste treatment methods and efficiency, as reported by certain industrial facilities around the United States. TRI also includes data related to source reduction and recycling.
Visiting the Toxics Release Inventory Web site for the first time?
Try these Web pages first. Also, contact a reference librarian for assistance. Librarians at public libraries are helpful. Also consider academic libraries. Call ahead to see what services they provide to the general public. You will probably be pleasantly surprised!
  • TRI FAQ’s
  • EPA Learn the Issues (including Air , Wastes and Pollution, and Human Health)
  • TRI Explorer “is recommended for beginner to advanced users of TRI data. This on-line tool generates reports based on facilities, chemicals, geographic areas, or industry type (NAICS code) at the county, state, and national level. It provides information for on- and off-site disposal or other releases, transfers off-site, and other waste management data.”
  • Envirofacts “is recommended for beginner to advanced users of a wide variety of EPA datasets including TRI. EPA created the Envirofacts Warehouse to provide the public with direct access to information contained in its databases on Air, Chemicals, Facility Information, Grants/Funding, Hazardous Waste, Risk Management Plans, Superfund, Toxic Releases.”
  • TRI Tools includes the above two links and more
  • TRI Resources for data users

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EPA Chemical Access Tool gives health/safety information on manufactured chemicals

The EPA Chemical Access Tool is intended for individuals interested in learning more about chemicals that are manufactured or imported into the United States. This tool contains health and safety information submitted to EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

From the about page

The new chemical access tool enables you to search the following databases:

eDoc – The eDoc database includes a broad range of health and safety information reported by industry under TSCA Sections 4,5, 8(d), and 8(e).
TSCATS – The TSCA Test Submissions (TSCATS) database is an online index to unpublished, nonconfidential studies covering chemical testing results and adverse effects of chemicals on health and ecological systems.

HPVIS – The High Production Volume Information System (HPVIS) is a database that provides access to health and environmental effects information obtained through the High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge.

In some instances the search tool makes this information accessible for the first time. It provides results based on data that currently is in a searchable format. The amount of searchable data will increase over time as additional information either is reported to the Agency electronically or is scanned from historically submitted documents. If you do not receive results for a particular chemical, it does not mean EPA does not have information on that chemical; the results may not be in the repository yet. If you have questions or comments on this search tool, please contact Diane Sheridan.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

EPA Opens Access to Database on Chemical Hazard, Exposure and Toxicity Data


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find chemical information online. EPA is releasing a database, called ToxRefDB, which allows scientists and the interested public to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals. ToxRefDB captures 30 years and $2 billion of testing results.

“Tens of thousands of chemicals are in commerce and current chemical testing is expensive and time consuming. Results from chemical testing are scattered throughout different sources,” said Dr. Robert Kavlock, director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology. “ToxRefDB allows the public to search, find and compare available studies about chemical toxicity and potential health effects.” 

ToxRefDB (Toxicity Reference Database) captures thousands of in vivo animal toxicity studies on hundreds of chemicals. The database:

  • Stores detailed study design, dosing, and observed treatment-related effects using standardized vocabulary.
  • Provides detailed chemical toxicity data, for the first time, in a publically accessible and searchable format.
  • Enables linkages to other public hazard, exposure and risk resources by integrating with ACToR (Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource).
  • Captures over 30 years and $2 billion of animal testing results.
  • Connects to another EPA chemical screening tool called ToxCast, a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort that uses advanced science tools to help efficiently (~$20K per chemical) understand biological processes impacted by chemicals that may lead to adverse health effects.

From: EPA Opens Access to Chemical Information/Searchable database on chemical hazard, exposure and toxicity data now available

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

   

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