Study strengthens link between neonicotinoids and collapse of honey bee colonies

Boston, MA — Two widely used neonicotinoids—a class of insecticide—appear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The study replicated a 2012 finding from the same research group that found a link between low doses of imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. The new study also found that low doses of a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative effect.

Further, although other studies have suggested that CCD-related mortality in honey bee colonies may come from bees’ reduced resistance to mites or parasites as a result of exposure to pesticides, the new study found that bees in the hives exhibiting CCD had almost identical levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of which survived the winter. This finding suggests that the neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD.

Honeycomb of Western honey bees (Apis mellifer...
Honeycomb of Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) with eggs and larvae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Continue reading “Study strengthens link between neonicotinoids and collapse of honey bee colonies”

Report: Central Italy residents ate mercury poisoned food for 30 years

Friday, 04 April 2014


Residents in a wide area of central Italy have eaten mercury-poisoned food for more than 30 years, the Italian Higher Institute for Health (ISS) said on Thursday.

“There is a concrete danger for human health bound to the ingestion of mercury that was conveyed through soil, sediment and surface water in the food chain,” the ISS said in a court-evidence report in a trial over harmful contamination. Continue reading “Report: Central Italy residents ate mercury poisoned food for 30 years”

Fukushima radiation might reach US coast at 3rd anniversary of catastrophe

EEV: Please review bottom links also… Getting mixed reports on the severity, from serious to of no concern.

Fukushima radiation might reach US coast at 3rd anniversary of catastrophe

Photo: EPA

Radioactive water from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown is expected to reach the West Coast by next month, according to one recently publicized scientific model, which will be the 3rd anniversary of the catastrophe, said Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, at Beyond Nuclear, anti-nuclear group.

The Fukushima meltdown scared millions of people across the world who were afraid that the radiation would spread to their shores. How valid do you think their fears are, and how much of it is just hysteria? Continue reading “Fukushima radiation might reach US coast at 3rd anniversary of catastrophe”

Record-high tainted water leak at Fukushima plant

– leaked water contained an extraordinarily high 230-million becquerels per liter of beta-ray emitting substances, consisting mainly of strontium 90.
NHK — Feb 21
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says 100 tons of water containing record high levels of radioactive substances overflowed from a storage tank.
Tokyo Electric Power Company officials on Thursday said workers on patrol found the leak in one of the tanks located on the mountain side of the Number 4 reactor building late Wednesday night.They said the leaked water contained an extraordinarily high 230-million becquerels per liter of beta-ray emitting substances, consisting mainly of strontium 90.

The level is about 7.6 million times the government’s permissible standard for the nuclide level of water allowed to be released into the sea.

It is also the highest level of radioactive substances detected so far in the series of tank leaks at the site.

They say they also detected 9,300 becquerels per liter of cesium 137 in the water. That is more than 100 times the government’s limit. Continue reading “Record-high tainted water leak at Fukushima plant”

Personal care products are possible sources of potentially harmful parabens for babies

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

Through lotions, shampoos and other personal care products (PCPs), infants and toddlers are likely becoming exposed to potentially harmful substances, called parabens, at an even higher level than adult women in the U.S., researchers have reported. They published their findings on parabens, which have been linked to reproductive and other health issues, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. Continue reading “Personal care products are possible sources of potentially harmful parabens for babies”

Study adds lung damage to harmful effects of arsenic / lung damage comparable to decades of smoking

Contact: John Easton john.easton@uchospitals.edu 773-795-5225 University of Chicago Medical Center

A new study confirms that exposure to low to moderate amounts of arsenic in drinking water can impair lung function. Doses of about 120 parts per billion of arsenic in well water—about 12 times the dose generally considered safe—produced lung damage comparable to decades of smoking tobacco. Smoking, especially by males, made arsenic-related damage even worse.

This is the first population-based study to clearly demonstrate significant impairment of lung function, in some cases extensive lung damage, associated with low to moderate arsenic exposure.

“Restrictive lung defects, such as we saw in those exposed to well-water arsenic, are usually progressive and irreversible,” said the study’s senior author, Habibul Ahsan, MD, MMedSc, Director of the Center for Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at the University of Chicago Medicine. “They can lead over time to serious lung disease.”

The study, conducted in Bangladesh and published early online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, adds to a growing list of arsenic-related health problems that includes skin, bladder and lung cancers, cardiovascular disease, cognitive deficits and premature death. An estimated 77 million people—nearly half of the residents of Bangladesh, the world’s eighth most populous country—live in areas where groundwater wells contain harmful amounts of arsenic.

Less is known about exposure to elevated arsenic levels from well water or foods in other parts of the world, including regions in Mexico and the United States. Researchers have recently begun to re-examine foods, such as rice syrup and apple juice, that contain more arsenic than the 10 parts per billion that is allowed in U.S. drinking water.

“It is challenging to conduct rigorous biomedical research in a place like Bangladesh that lacks the infrastructure for such projects,” Ahsan said, “but over the last 12 to15 years we have learned how to meet those challenges. We now have a large series of related findings that map out exposures and illustrate the severity of the problem.”

“Our findings reinforce the growing interest in looking more carefully at arsenic-exposure issues in the United States,” he added.

The study, coordinated by Ahsan and co-author Faruque Parvez, DrPH, of Columbia University, was the next step in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS), a long-term Bangladesh-based project, begun in 2000 and expanded in 2006.

A nation of major rivers and low-lying plains, Bangladesh is prone to frequent floods, which, along with sanitation shortcomings, have historically contaminated the nation’s drinking water. This led to high rates of infectious disease and child mortality. In the 1960s, more than 250,000 Bangladeshi children died each year from waterborne diseases.

To protect those children, international charity organizations launched a massive humanitarian effort to provide clean drinking water. They installed roughly 10 million hand-pumped wells to bring up water from deep underground.

Nearly 20 years later, by the early 1990s, scientists realized that this well-intentioned plan had gone astray. Though the underground water was free from the bacterial contamination of surface sources, it was tainted with inorganic arsenic, a toxic element. This was “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history,” according to the World Health Organization.

The HEALS team follows about 20,000 people in Araihazar, a region of central Bangladesh, about 20 miles east of the capital, Dhaka, with a wide range of arsenic levels in drinking-water wells. Between 2005 and 2010, the researchers evaluated 950 individuals who reported respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath to HEALS clinic doctors. The researchers tested each patient’s lung function and documented his or her arsenic levels.

They divided the patients into three groups according to arsenic exposure, using two related measures: how much arsenic was in their drinking water and how much was in their urine.

Then, local physicians trained by pulmonologist Christopher Olopade, MD, of the University of Chicago, rigorously measured each patient’s lung function using a spirometer with a focus on two standard lung-function tests: forced expiratory flow (FEV1, the amount of air a person can expel in one second) and forced vital capacity (FVC, the total volume of air exhaled after fully filling the lungs).

Both measures showed that arsenic’s effects were dose-dependent. After they corrected for possible confounders, the researchers found that:

  • One-third of the participants had been exposed to the lowest arsenic levels, less than 19 parts per billion in water. They had no detectable arsenic-related loss of lung function.
  • One-third had been exposed to drinking water with a relatively low arsenic dose, 19 to 97 parts per billion. Their lung function, as measured by FEV1 and FVC, decreased slightly but was not significantly different from the group with the lowest arsenic level in water.
  • One-third were exposed to a moderate dose, more than 97 parts per billion. For this group, both spirometric variables were significantly decreased. Their FEV1 decreased by about three times as much as those exposed to 19 to 97 parts per billion and their FVC fell by about six times as much.
  • Smoking amplified the damage. About 90 percent of the men tested smoked.

“These results clearly demonstrate significant impairment of lung function associated with lower concentrations than previously reported,” Ahsan said. “Those most affected were older, thinner, less educated and more likely to use tobacco. Many of these people have limited excess lung capacity. It made a significant difference in their lives.”

“This suggests that a large proportion of the country’s population are at increased risk of developing serious respiratory disease, including COPD, bronchitis and interstitial lung disease in the future,” the authors conclude.

“This is not just a problem for South Asia,” Ahsan said. “About 13 million people in the United States get water from a private well that contains more arsenic than the legal limit. And we are becoming more and more aware that exposure through certain foods might be a bigger issue than drinking water. No comparable, large, prospective study has been done in this country.”

###

The National Institutes of Health funded this study. Additional authors include Maria Argos from the University of Chicago; Mahbub Yunus, Rabiul Hasan, Alauddin Ahmed and Tariqul Islam from the University of Chicago and the Columbia University Arsenic Project Office in Dhaka; Vesna Slavkovich and Joseph H. Graziano from Columbia University; Yu Chen and Stephanie Segers from New York University; and Mahmud Akter from the National Asthma Center, Dhaka.

Cancer-causing arsenic retained in chicken meat – FDA

китай птица курица птичий грипп

Photo: EPA

After a year of dismissing the issue the FDA finally admitted that chicken meat sold in the United States does contain doses of arsenic – a highly poisonous cancer-causing chemical lethal in high does. Arsenic is reported to be added to the chicken feed purposely. According to the FDA’s own report, the arsenic is originally added to the bird feed later ending up in the meat that is sold in stores. In other words, the Americans who purchase regular chicken are forced to take dangerous amounts of arsenic along with, significantly increasing threat of developing cancer.

0Before the very recent study was conducted, the presence of the arsenic in the product was denied both by the FDA and the industry, with the explanation that the poison that had been fed to the birds actually was disposed of with the chicken feces. However, there was no scientific grounding for that claim.

0When the evidence became so undeniable and solid, Roxarsone, one of the chicken feed brands, was withdrawn off the shelves. Interestingly enough, the company which produces the Roxarsone feed is called Alpharma, LLC and is a subsidiary of Pfizer – a major pharmaceutical company.

0Though Alpharma made the decision to pull its product off the shelves across the country, it says it is not going to do so in other countries unless specifically ordered to.

0AP reports, “Scott Brown of Pfizer Animal Health’s Veterinary Medicine Research and Development division said the company also sells the ingredient in about a dozen other countries. He said Pfizer is reaching out to regulatory authorities in those countries and will decide whether to sell it on an individual basis.”

0With the arsenic-polluted feed removed from the stores, the FDA still stands its ground in protecting the product. It claims the amounts of the poison are too small to seriously harm the human system, at the same time admitting arsenic is a carcinogen, that is, cancer-provoking substance.

0The National Chicken Council is on the same page with the FDA, too, claiming the arsenic-fed chicken are safe to eat, not denying arsenic was fed to birds across the US.

0Surprisingly, along with the fight for the arsenic-filled chicken, the FDA at the same time is raiding elderberry juice manufacturers accusing them of selling “unapproved drugs. It also goes after raw milk and natural herbal products. In other words, it assures it is safe to consume arsenic, but raw milk or elderberry juice will kill you.

0Voice of Russia, Infowars

Diets of Pregnant Women Contain Harmful, Hidden Toxins ( like Tap Water )

UC Riverside study suggests that prenatal health care professionals do more to advise patients to avoid tap water, certain types of fish, caffeine, and canned goods that may put developing babies at risk

By on August 6, 2013

 

Foodstuffs

A UCR study finds that amid healthy foods consumed by pregnant women are others that contain hidden toxins.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pregnant women regularly consume food and beverages containing toxins believed to pose potential risks to developing fetuses, according to researchers at  the University of California, Riverside, suggesting that health care providers must do more to counsel their patients about the dangers of hidden toxins in the food supply.

In a peer-reviewed study published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal — “Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California” — a team of psychologists from UC Riverside and UC San Diego found that the diets of pregnant Hispanic women included tuna, salmon, canned foods, tap water, caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications that contain substances known to cause birth defects.

The study is unique in that it highlights the unseen dangers of consuming toxins in food and beverages that are not typically thought of as unhealthy for a fetus, said Sarah Santiago, a Ph.D. student in psychology at UCR. It also contributes to the body of literature aimed at assessing dietary habits of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic pregnant women.

“Unlike alcohol and nicotine, which carry a certain stigma along with surgeon general warnings on the packaging, tuna, canned foods, caffeine, and a handful of other foods and beverages with associated developmental effects are not typically thought of as unsafe,” Santiago explained. “Hopefully, this study will encourage health care providers to keep pregnant women well informed as to the possible dangers of unhealthy consumption habits.”

The research team — Kelly Huffman, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and the paper’s senior author; Santiago; and UCSD undergraduate student Grace Park — surveyed 200 pregnant or recently pregnant women at a private medical group in Downey, Calif., between December 2011 and December 2012. The women ranged in age from 18 to about 40, with Hispanic women accounting for 87 percent of the group. Nearly all had a high school degree, and about one-fourth had a college or post-graduate degree. More than two-thirds had an annual income of $50,000 or less.

Using a food questionnaire, participants reported how often and when during their pregnancy they ate certain foods, drank certain beverages, and ingested prescription and over-the-counter medications. Nearly all of the women reported eating meat while pregnant, with about three-quarters of them eating fish, typically tuna, tilapia and salmon. All reported eating fresh fruit, but fewer than one-third ate the recommended amount of more than one serving a day. Three-fourths ate canned goods, particularly fruits, vegetables and soup. Most reported drinking water, with 12 percent consuming tap water. Eighty percent consumed caffeinated beverages, and about 6 percent reported drinking alcohol sometime during their pregnancy. Most reported taking prenatal vitamins. Nearly half reported taking an over-the-counter medication — primarily acetaminophen — at least once and most reported taking prescription medications at least once.

The results are concerning, the researchers said.

“Consumption of tuna, salmon, canned goods, sugary desserts, fast foods, and drinking of tap water, caffeinated  beverages, and alcoholic beverages during pregnancy have been deemed unhealthy due to the appearance of environmental toxins found to have harmful effects in the developing offspring,” the researchers wrote.

Tuna contains methylmercury, and prenatal exposure has been associated with numerous developmental deficits involving attention, verbal learning, motor function and delayed performance. “Staggering” levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in farmed salmon. Prenatal exposure to PCBs has been linked to lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, and abnormal reflex abilities in newborns and to mental impairment in older children. Metal food cans are lined with a plastic that contains Bisphenol A (BPA), which leaches from the lining in cans into the food. Prenatal exposure to BPA has been associated in animal studies with hyperactivity, aggression and reproductive problems.

“This study has found that income is inversely correlated with canned food consumption, suggesting that women of low socio-economic status in particular may be especially at risk,” the UC Riverside psychologists found.

Tap water also contains prenatal toxins. In Downey, eight pollutants found in drinking water exceed the health guidelines set by federal and state agencies. Some of those contaminants are known to result in central nervous system defects, oral cleft defects, neural tube defects, low birth weight and risk of fetal death, the researchers said. Pregnant women should be encouraged to drink filtered or bottled water in areas where contamination levels are high, they advised.

Also problematic was the level of caffeine consumption, the research team found. Caffeine consumed during pregnancy is associated with fetal mortality, birth defects and decreased birth weights. Animal studies have found developmental delays, abnormal neuromotor activity, and neurochemical disruptions.

A handful of women in the study — 5.8 percent — reported drinking alcohol at some time during their pregnancy, less than the national estimate of 7.6 percent. Maternal drinking rates are highest among white women ages 35 to 44.

“We do not know whether this is something unique to Hispanic women, or ubiquitous among women of multiple ethnicities,” the researchers wrote. “The implications of this research are twofold:  Women of childbearing age hoping to conceive should be advised to eliminate all alcohol consumption, as effects of maternal drinking have dire consequences in the first trimester when the mother may not know she is pregnant. … It is also clear that prenatal medical professionals should discourage the consumption of dangerous foods, beverages and medications that women commonly report consuming during pregnancy.”

Not enough research has been conducted on certain substances to merit fail-proof labels of teratogenicity — that is, whether a substance causes developmental malformations. “Because regulation of prenatal consumption demands a very high level of evidence of teratogenicity, little-researched substances often go unregulated and health care professionals assume they are healthy,” Santiago explained. “The problem could also lie in reduced access to health care, or time constraints in prenatal consultations. Perhaps health care providers are informed, but fail to pass the information on to their clients for lack of time or because they assume the clients are already informed.”

Teratogenic substances often have subtle, though serious, effects that manifest later in development. “Research suggesting that a given substance does not cause physical abnormalities at birth may be misinterpreted as a green light for consumption — a grave mistake, considering that other research may exist demonstrating the long-term neural or behavioral abnormalities that result from consuming that substance during pregnancy,” Santiago added.

The research team continues to collect data on beliefs and attitudes about consumption of these substances during pregnancy in a search for clues as to why women continue to eat these substances, and where in the system interventions would be most appropriate.

RNA-interference pesticides will need special safety testing

Contact: Tim Beardsley tbeardsley@aibs.org 703-674-2500 x326 American Institute of Biological Sciences

A new technology for creating pesticides and pest-resistant crops could have effects on beneficial species that current toxicity testing will miss

Standard toxicity testing is inadequate to assess the safety of a new technology with potential for creating pesticides and genetically modifying crops, according to a Forum article published in the August issue of BioScience. The authors of the article, Jonathan G. Lundgren and Jian J. Duan of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, argue that pesticides and insect-resistant crops based on RNA interference, now in exploratory development, may have to be tested under elaborate procedures that assess effects on animals’ whole life cycles, rather than by methods that look for short-term toxicity.

RNA interference is a natural process that affects the level of activity of genes in animals and plants. Agricultural scientists have, however, successfully devised artificial “interfering RNAs” that target genes in insect pests, slowing their growth or killing them. The hope is that interfering RNAs might be applied to crops, or that crops might be genetically engineered to make interfering RNAs harmful to their pests, thus increasing crop yields.

The safety concern, as with other types of genetic modification and with pesticides generally, is that the artificial interfering RNAs will also harm desirable insects or other animals. And the way interfering RNA works means that simply testing for lethality might not detect important damaging effects. For example, an interfering RNA might have the unintended effect of suppressing the action of a gene needed for reproduction in a beneficial species. Standard laboratory testing would detect no harm, but there could be ecological disruption in fields because of the effects on reproduction.

Lundgren and Duan suggest that researchers investigating the potential of interference RNA pesticides create types that are designed to be unlikely to affect non-target species. They also suggest a research program to evaluate how the chemicals move in real-life situations. If such steps are taken, Lundgren and Duan are optimistic that the “flexibility, adaptability, and demonstrated effectiveness” of RNA interference technology mean it will have “an important place in the future of pest management.”

###

 

BioScience, published monthly, is the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS; http://www.aibs.org). BioScience is a forum for integrating the life sciences that publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles. The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is a meta-level organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents nearly 160 member societies and organizations. The article by Lundgren and Duan can be accessed ahead of print as an uncorrected proof at http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/ until early August.

The complete list of peer-reviewed articles in the August 2013 issue of BioScience is as follows. These are now published ahead of print.

Improving Ocean Management through the Use of Ecological Principles and Integrated Ecosystem Assessments. Melissa M. Foley, Matthew H. Armsby, Erin E. Prahler, Margaret R. Caldwell, Ashley L. Erickson, John N. Kittinger, Larry B. Crowder, and Phillip S. Levin

How Far Are Stem-Cell-derived Erythrocytes from the Clinical Arena? Xiaolei Li, Zhiqiang Wu, Xiaobing Fu, and Weidong Han

Invasive Plants in Wildlife Refuges: Coordinated Research with Undergraduate Ecology Courses. Martha F. Hoopes, David M. Marsh, Karen H. Beard, Nisse Goldberg, Alberto Aparicio, Annie Arbuthnot, Benjamin Hixon, Danelle Laflower, Lucas Lee, Amanda Little, Emily Mooney, April Pallette, Alison Ravenscraft, Steven Scheele, Kyle Stowe, Colin Sykes, Robert Watson, and Blia Yang

RNAi-based Insecticidal Crops: Potential Effects on Nontarget Species. Jonathan G. Lundgren and Jian J. Duan

Expert Opinion on Climate Change and Threats to Biodiversity. Debra Javeline, Jessica J. Hellmann, Rodrigo Castro Cornejo, and Gregory Shufeldt

Discovering Ecologically Relevant Knowledge from Published Studies through Geosemantic Searching. Jason W. Karl, Jeffrey E. Herrick, Robert S. Unnasch, Jeffrey K. Gillan, Erle C. Ellis, Wayne G. Lutters, and Laura J. Martin

Warning over ‘epidemic’ of skin allergies from chemical in cosmetics and household products

A chemical found in everyday cosmetics and household cleaning products may be responsible for an “epidemic” of painful skin allergies, doctors have warned.

Some well-known products that contain MI

 

7:00AM BST 07 Jul 2013

The preservative – known as MI – is used in a wide range of shampoos, moisturisers and shower gels as well as make-up and baby wipes.

But dermatologists warn people are being exposed to much higher doses than before, leading to a steep rise in allergies known as contact dermatitis where the skin becomes red and itchy and can sting and blister.

Experts say the chemical is second only to nickel in causing contact allergies. One in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK now have eczema, of which contact dermatitis is one of the most common types.

MI, which is short for methylisothiazolinone, is a preservative which is also found in paint. It is added to products to prevent unwanted growth of bacteria and yeasts.

Well-known products that contain MI found on sale in shops included Nivea body lotion, Wet Ones and Boots men’s face wash.

The substance is safe and non-toxic but European regulations now permit stronger concentrations than previously allowed.

Dr John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London, said: “We are in the midst of an outbreak of allergy to a preservative which we have not seen before in terms of scale in our lifetime.

“Many of our patients have suffered acute dermatitis with redness and swelling of the face. I would ask the cosmetics industry not to wait for legislation but to get on and address the problem before the situation gets worse.”

The chemical was previously mixed with another preservative, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) in a three-to-one ratio.

But concerns about MCI causing allergies meant some manufacturers started using MI as a single agent. Used alone, it has been included at a much higher concentration.

When the two compounds were used, MI it was found in concentrations of around four parts per million (ppm). But on its own a level of up to 100ppm, a 25-fold increase, is allowed under European regulations introduced in 2005.

Experts say that since its concentration in products increased there has been a serious rise in cases of contact dermatitis, particularly in the last two years. They believe there is a link.

The doctors will present their findings at the British Association of Dermatologists conference in Liverpool this week when they will call for use of the chemical to be re-evaluated.

Already, the European Society of Contact Dermatitis (ESCD) has written to the European Commission calling for an investigation into what levels are safe.

In the letter sent in January, Margarida Gonçalo, the president of the ESCD, said: “This new epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis from isothiazolinones is causing harm to European citizens; urgent action is required.”

Experts say incidents of allergies are occurring faster than they did to methyl­dibromo glutaronitrile, another preservative that was banned from use in cosmetics in 2005 after it was linked to an increase in eczema cases.

They believe the industry is aware of the link to contact allergies and some manufacturers have been quietly removing MI in the last six months.

Dr Ian White, a consultant dermatologist, at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology, said: “Bluntly, I think the European Commission has been negligent over this, they have had warning after warning. If it was food there would have been action.”

Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, the UK cosmetic trade association, said: “Cosmetic products are carefully made to ensure that they withstand normal use and this will generally include preservatives to prevent contamination by microorganisms and so keep the consumer safe.”

He added: “Human safety is the cosmetic industry’s number one priority; in fact it is the law. Every cosmetic product must undergo a rigorous safety assessment before it is placed on the market. The assessment covers all of the ingredients, the final product, how and where the product is to be used, how often and by whom and must be carried out by qualified assessors.”

A spokesman for Boots said the company would carefully assess the findings.

Record cesium level detected in fish caught near Fukushima nuclear plant: 7,400 times above safe limits

Kyodo

Online: Mar 16, 2013

Last Modfied: Mar 16, 2013

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday it detected a record 740,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in a fish caught in waters near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, equivalent to 7,400 times the state-set limit deemed safe for human consumption.

The greenling measuring 38 cm in length and weighing 564 grams was caught near a water intake of the four reactor units in the power station’s port on Feb. 21 during the utility’s operation to remove fish from the port.

Tepco has installed a net on the sea floor of the port exit in Fukushima Prefecture to make it hard for fish living near the sediments of contaminated soil to go elsewhere.

According to Tepco, the previous record of cesium concentration in fish was 510,000 Bq/kg detected in another greenling captured in the same area. Currently, fishermen are voluntarily suspending operations off the coast of the prefecture except for experimental catches.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/16/national/record-cesium-level-detected-in-fish-caught-near-fukushima-nuclear-plant/#at_pco=cfd-1.0

 

At least six tanks leaking at US nuclear waste site

23      Feb     2013
LOS ANGELES (AFP)

At least six underground tanks containing nuclear waste in the northwestern US state of Washington are leaking, but there is no imminent threat to public health, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The US Energy Department told the state last week that one tank was leaking at the Hanford nuclear site, but Energy Secretary Steven Chu informed its governor Jay Inslee on Friday that more leaks had been discovered.

“Secretary Chu let him know today that there are actually more tanks they’ve discovered leaking, at least six, possibly more,” Inslee’s spokeswoman Jaime Smith told AFP, after the meeting between Inslee and Chu in Washington DC.

“At this point we don’t believe that there’s any imminent threat to public health. Of course we’re concerned, because we don’t have any information yet about the extent of the leak or how long they’ve been going on.”

Asked for details of the leaking material, she said: “It’s nuclear waste. Different tanks have slightly different kinds of waste that they’re holding. We’re not clear yet on exactly what has been leaking for how long.”

The Hanford nuclear site in the southwest of the US state was used to produce plutonium for the bomb that brought an end to World War II.

Output grew after 1945 to meet the challenges of the Cold War, but the last reactor closed down in 1987. Its website says: “Weapons production processes left solid and liquid wastes that posed a risk to the local environment.”

The ecological threat extends to the Columbia River, it added, noting that in 1989 US federal and Washington state authorities agreed a deal to clean up the Hanford Site.

The Washington governor’s spokeswoman said they hoped for more information about the leaking tanks soon.

“The Department of Energy has committed to try and get us more information pretty quickly, hopefully within the next week or so. So we should have more information soon,” she said.

http://www.afp.com/en/news/topstories/least-six-tanks-leaking-us-nuclear-waste-site

 

Man-made chemicals cited in health scourges -UN report : “a global threat that needs to be resolved,”

Tue, 19 Feb 2013 13:59 GMT

Reuters

* Childhood cancers, male sperm count cited

* Action said needed to avert global threat

* Product labels may not identify components

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Man-made chemicals in everyday products are likely to be at least the partial cause of a global surge in birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, a U.N.-sponsored  research team reported on Tuesday.

These substances, dubbed EDCs, could also be linked to a decline in the human male sperm count and female fertility, to an increase in once-rare childhood cancers and to the disappearance of some animal species, they said.

“It is clear that some of these chemical pollutants can affect the endocrinal (hormonal) system and ….may also interfere with the development processes of humans and wildlife species,” the report declared.

The international group, academic experts working under the umbrella of the United Nations environmental and health agencies UNEP and WHO, issued their findings in a paper updating a 2002 study on the potential dangers of synthetic chemicals.

Declaring “a global threat that needs to be resolved,” the team said humans and animals across the planet were probably exposed to hundreds of these often little-studied or understood compounds at any one time.

“We live in a world in which man-made chemicals have become part of everyday life,” said their 28-page report, “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, 2012,” issued as a policy guide for governments.

EDCs include phthalates long used in making plastics soft and flexible. Products made from them include toys, children’s dummies, perfumes and pharmaceuticals, as well as cosmetics like deodorants that are absorbed into the body.

Another is Bisphenol A, or BPA, which is used to harden plastics and is found in food and beverage containers, including some babies’ bottles and the coating of food cans.

A few countries – including the United States, Canada and some European Union members – have already banned the use of some of them in certain products, especially those destined for the use of children.

But, the report said, “many hundreds of thousands” are in use around the world and only a small fraction had been assessed for their potential to spark disease by upsetting the endocrinal, or hormonal, systems of humans and animals.

Experts believe that in general, such chemicals can be absorbed into drinks and food from the containers they come in.

COMPONENTS NOT IDENTIFIED

The team, created by a 17-year-old chemical management body called the IOMC working with a range of U.N. agencies, said a key problem was that manufacturers of consumer products did not identify many of their chemical components.

Consequently, the researchers said, they had only been able to look at “the tip of the iceberg”. Disease risk from the use of EDCs – or what could be even more dangerous a combination of them – “may be significantly underestimated.”

Using studies of the effect of the chemicals on humans and animals, the team added, a link to EDCs could be suspected in breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, infertility, asthma, obesity, strokes, and Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases.

Babies exposed to EDCs in the womb or in puberty, these studies suggested, were especially vulnerable to developing these diseases in later life as well as behavioral and learning problems like dyslexia as children.

In many countries, these disorders affected 5-10 percent of babies born, while autism was now recorded at a rate of one percent. Childhood leukemia and brain cancer is also on the rise, according to the report.

“All of these complex non-communicable diseases have both a genetic and an environmental component,” it said.

“Since the increases in incidence and prevalence cannot be due solely to genetics, it is important to focus on understanding the contribution of the environment to these chronic disease trends in humans.”

The researchers said their report had been based largely on studies in the developed world. But the size of the problem in developing countries had yet to be adequately assessed due to a lack of data from Africa, Asia and Latin America.  (Reported by Robert Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/man-made-chemicals-cited-in-health-scourges–un-report/

Anti-snow chemicals used in Moscow take 1.3bn years to dissolve – report ( include K-40 (kalium-40) )

Published: 7 February, 2013, 18:19 Edited: 7 February, 2013, 18:19

Toxic and even radioactive elements have been found in de-icing substances used for clearing Moscow streets from snow, according to data gathered by a group of activists. City authorities deny the allegations.

­De-icing chemicals have never enjoyed public affection in Russia. They are mostly associated with damaged footwear and burned pet paws. However, annoyance turned to anger after community group ‘For Safety on Russian Roads’ announced the results of its recent investigation.

“I can, of course, emotionally say that yes, we are being poisoned by radiation and scattered with something horrible. But if we put emotions aside, we have now gathered samples of chemicals from sidewalks and found out that substances prohibited years ago are being used once again. These include Radionuclides,” says Roman Kornilov of For Safety on Russian Roads, as cited by Kommersant daily.

The group specifies that Moscow roads are being de-iced with yellow halite and a substance known by the abbreviation SBG.  Yellow halite is described as “exceptionally harmful for people and nature.” SBG is an electrolyte slime of Solikamsk Magnesium Works, i.e. industrial waste which contains toxic elements. These include K-40 (kalium-40), which takes 1.3 billion years to disintegrate and belongs to materials of third-class radioactive danger. It was prohibited for use in Moscow in 2006.

RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid
RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

The Russian internet has exploded with indignant comments: “The scariest thing is that little children inhale evaporations from those chemicals!!!”;“I’m not an expert in chemistry, but as the man in the street I can say that this year they scattered something unreal in Moscow… My leather shoes became completely ramshackle… P.S. I pity pets.”

Not everyone joined in the chorus of the panic-stricken, though.

“I became interested in what halite was and started searching Wikipedia… Halite, commonly known as rock salt, is the mineral form of sodium chloride (NaCl).” famous Russian blogger, Maksim Kononenko wrote.

It may be mere salt, however online shops selling de-icing substances specify that halite is not recommended for use in Moscow.

City authorities deny all allegations of harmful substances being used to remove snow from the streets.

“All chemicals used in Moscow went through state and environmental examination and were approved, so the accusations sound strange. Moreover, Moscow is not a city for experiments,” said a Moscow government official cited by RIA Novosti.

RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid
RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid

Moscow Duma MP Kirill Shchitov, however, decided to double-check and sent out inquiries to four institutions: the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office, Consumer Protection Agency and the city government’s Departments of Environmental Protection and of Housing and Public Utilities.

Scientists meanwhile say the point is not only the quality, but also the quantity of substances.

“Today we are allowed to use three times more salt than in previous years… The effect of salts on city utilities has grown and it’s going to instigate risks to industries and nature,” says Professor Dmitry Khomyakov, deputy head of the Agroinformatics Department at Moscow State University.

One recent example of how de-icing substances harm utilities is the February 1 blackouts in St. Petersburg, when 20,000 people were left without electricity. Lenenergo, the power company, laid the blame on the chemicals: “The reason for power grids breakdown was diffusion of chemicals over the city roads,” says the company’s press release.

Moscow officials say they simply can’t do without chemical agents, taking into account that this week saw record-breaking snowfalls – the heaviest in the Russian capital since the beginning of the century.

http://rt.com/news/moscow-anti-snow-chemicals-655/

Experiments show bisphenol S also disrupts hormone activity: BPS

Contact: Jim Kelly jpkelly@utmb.edu 409-772-8791 University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

BPA substitute could spell trouble

A few years ago, manufacturers of water bottles, food containers, and baby products had a big problem. A key ingredient of the plastics they used to make their merchandise, an organic compound called bisphenol A, had been linked by scientists to diabetes, asthma and cancer and altered prostate and neurological development. The FDA and state legislatures were considering action to restrict BPA’s use, and the public was pressuring retailers to remove BPA-containing items from their shelves.

The industry responded by creating “BPA-free” products, which were made from plastic containing a compound called bisphenol S. In addition to having similar names, BPA and BPS share a similar structure and versatility: BPS is now known to be used in everything from currency to thermal receipt paper, and widespread human exposure to BPS was confirmed in a 2012 analysis of urine samples taken in the U.S., Japan, China and five other Asian countries.

According to a study by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers, though, BPS also resembles BPA in a more problematic way. Like BPA, the study found, BPS disrupts cellular responses to the hormone estrogen, changing patterns of cell growth and death and hormone release. Also like BPA, it does so at extremely low levels of exposure.

“Our studies show that BPS is active at femtomolar to picomolar concentrations just like endogenous hormones —that’s in the range of parts per trillion to quadrillion,” said UTMB professor Cheryl Watson, senior author of a paper on the study now online in the advance publications section of Environmental Health Perspectives. “Those are levels likely to be produced by BPS leaching from containers into their contents.”

Watson and graduate student René Viñas conducted cell-culture experiments to examine the effects of BPS on a form of signaling that involves estrogen receptors — the “receivers” of a biochemical message — acting in the cell’s outer membrane instead of the cell nucleus. Where nuclear signaling involves interaction with DNA to produce proteins and requires hours to days, membrane signaling (also called “non-genomic” signaling) acts through much quicker mechanisms, generating a response in seconds or minutes.

Watson and Viñas focused on key biochemical pathways that are normally stimulated when estrogen activates membrane receptors. One, involving a protein known as ERK, is linked to cell growth; another, labeled JNK, is tied to cell death. In addition, they examined the ability of BPS to activate proteins called caspases (also linked to cell death) and promote the release of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates lactation and influences many other functions.

“These pathways form a complicated web of signals, and we’re going to need to study them more closely to fully understand how they work,” Watson said. “On its own, though, this study shows us that very low levels of BPS can disrupt natural estrogen hormone actions in ways similar to what we see with BPA. That’s a real cause for concern.”

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This research was supported by the Passport Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Fetal exposure to PVC plastic chemical linked to obesity in offspring: Over multiple generations

Contact: Tom Vasich tmvasich@uci.edu 949-824-6455 University of California – Irvine

UCI study identifies transgenerational effects of obesogen compound tributyltin

Irvine, Calif. — Exposing pregnant mice to low doses of the chemical tributyltin – which is used in marine hull paint and PVC plastic – can lead to obesity for multiple generations without subsequent exposure, a UC Irvine study has found.

After exposing pregnant mice to TBT in concentrations similar to those found in the environment, researchers saw increased body fat, liver fat and fat-specific gene expression in their “children,” “grandchildren” and “great-grandchildren” – none of which had been exposed to the chemical.

These findings suggest that early-life exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds such as TBT can have permanent effects of fat accumulation without further exposure, said study leader Bruce Blumberg, UC Irvine professor of pharmaceutical sciences and developmental & cell biology. These effects appear to be inherited without DNA mutations occurring.

The study appears online Jan. 15 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

Human exposure to TBT can occur through PVC plastic particles in dust and via leaching of the chemical and other related organotin compounds from PVC pipes and containers.

Significant levels of TBT have been reported in house dust – which is particularly relevant for young children who may spend significant time on floors and carpets. Some people are exposed by ingesting seafood contaminated with TBT, which has been used in marine hull paint and is pervasive in the environment.

Blumberg categorizes TBT as an obesogen, a class of chemicals that promote obesity by increasing the number of fat cells or the storage of fat in existing cells. He and his colleagues first identified the role of obesogens in a 2006 publication and showed in 2010 that TBT acts in part by modifying the fate of mesenchymal stem cells during development, predisposing them to become fat cells.

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UC Irvine developmental & cell biology postdoctoral fellow Raquel Chamorro Garcia undergraduate student Margaret Sahu and former students Rachelle Abbey, Jhyme Laude and Nhieu Pham contributed to the current study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants ES-015849 and ES-015849-01S1).

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UC Irvine contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu.

News Radio: UC Irvine maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

Contact:

Tom Vasich 949-824-6455 tmvasich@uci.edu

UCI maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media. To access, visit www.today.uci.edu/experts.

People told to stay indoors as air pollution in Beijing reaches hazardous levels – off-the-chart air-quality reading of 728

 

Associated Press

 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

 

 

 

Air pollution levels in China’s notoriously dirty capital were at dangerous levels today, with cloudy skies blocking out visibility and warnings issued for people to remain indoors.

 

 

 

Local authorities warned that the severe pollution was likely to continue until Tuesday.

 

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center has reported air-quality indexes between 176 and 442 from its monitors throughout the greater Beijing area since yesterday. The index indicates the level of airborne PM 2.5 particulates, which are tiny particular matters considered the most harmful to health.

 

The air is considered good when the index is at 50 or below, but hazardous with an index between 301 and 500, when people are warned to avoid outdoor physical activities.

 

Monitors in Beijing reported air quality indexes above 300 yesterday, and the centre’s real-time reports showed Beijing remained heavily polluted today, with the indexes at or approaching 500 at 5pm from some monitoring stations.

 

A warning scrolled across the monitoring centre’s website said that the density of PM2.5 had reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of Beijing and that the polluted air was expected to linger for the next three days.

 

Monitors at the US Embassy in Beijing recorded an off-the-chart air-quality reading of 728 as of 4pm Saturday and said the PM2.5 density had reached 845 micrograms per cubic meter.

 

Readings are often different in different parts of Beijing.

 

According to rules issued by the city government in December, all outdoor sports activities are to stop and factories have to reduce their production capacity if Beijing’s official air-quality index exceeds 500.

 

Air pollution is a major problem in China due to its rapid pace of industrialization, reliance on coal power, explosive growth in car ownership and disregard to environmental laws.

 

In Beijing, authorities have blamed foggy conditions and a lack of wind for the high concentration of air pollutants.

 

Several other cities, including Tianjin on the coast east of Beijing and southern China’s Wuhan city, also reported severe pollution over the last several days.

 

AP

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/people-told-to-stay-indoors-as-air-pollution-in-beijing-reaches-hazardous-levels-8448944.html#

Biofuels cause pollution, not as green as thought – study: Will have small but significant effects on human mortality and crop yields

Sun, 6 Jan 2013 18:00 GMT

Reuters

* Trees could add to toxic ozone-Lancaster University

* Could cause almost 1,400 premature deaths in Europe a year

* Study shows biofuels not totally benign vs fossil fuels

By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle

OSLO, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Green schemes to fight climate change by producing more bio-fuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020, a study showed on Sunday.

The report said trees grown to produce wood fuel – seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal – released a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers’ crop yields.

“Growing biofuels is thought to be a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said Nick Hewitt, who worked on the study with colleagues from England’s Lancaster University.

“What we’re saying is ‘yes, that’s great, but biofuels could also have a detrimental effect on air quality’,” he added.

The report, in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked into the impact of a European Union scheme to slow climate change by producing more biofuels.

Hewitt told Reuters there would be a similar impact wherever biofuels were produced in large quantities in areas suffering air pollution, including the United States and China.

Poplar, willow or eucalyptus trees, all used as fast-growing sources of renewable wood fuel, emit high levels of the chemical isoprene as they grow, the study said. Isoprene forms toxic ozone when mixed with other air pollutants in sunlight.

“Large-scale production of biofuels in Europe would have small but significant effects on human mortality and crop yields,” said Hewitt.

“As far as we know, no one has looked at the air quality of growing biofuel crops before,” he added.

The report estimated that ozone from wood-based energy to meet the European Union’s 2020 goal would cause nearly 1,400 premature deaths a year, costing society $7.1 billion.

The European plan would also would reduce the annual value of wheat and maize production by $1.5 billion since ozone impairs crop growth, the study added.

LUNG PROBLEMS

Siting new biofuel plantations far away from polluted population centres would help limit ozone formation, the study suggested. Genetic engineering might be used to reduce isoprene emissions, it said.

Ozone can cause lung problems and is blamed for killing about 22,000 people a year in Europe. Overall air pollution, mainly from fossil fuels, causes about 500,000 premature deaths in Europe a year, according to the European Environment Agency.

Sunday’s study did not compare the potential damage caused by biofuels to the impact on human health from producing coal, oil or natural gas as part of policies to slow global warming. “We’re not in a position to make that comparison,” Hewitt said.

He noted that the main reason to shift to biofuels was to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuels, that U.N. studies project will become ever more damaging this century.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization estimates global warming has caused more than 140,000 deaths annually worldwide since the 1970s.

The biggest impact was recorded in developing nations where the floods, droughts and other disasters blamed on climate change left millions suffering from diarrhoea, malnutrition, malaria and dengue fever.

Burning biofuels is viewed as neutral for climate change because plants soak up carbon when they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, add carbon to the atmosphere from underground stores millions of years old.

Biofuels are often blamed for causing food price spikes by competing for cropland. Responding to such criticisms, the European Commission said last year it aimed to limit crop-based biofuels – such as from maize or sugar – to five percent of transport fuels. (Editing by Andrew Heavens)

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/biofuels-cause-pollution-not-as-green-as-thought-study/

 

Food allergies? Pesticides in tap water might be to blame

Contact: Christine Westendorf christinewestendorf@acaai.org 847-427-1200 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

New study finds chemicals used for water purification can lead to food allergies

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (December 3, 2012) – Food allergies are on the rise, affecting 15 million Americans. And according to a new study published in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame.

The study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies.

“Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”

Among 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy.

“Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States,” said Dr. Jerschow. “The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”

While opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy, according to the study such a change may not be successful.

“Other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy,” said Dr. Jerschow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase in food allergy of 18 percent was seen between 1997 and 2007. The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish.

Food allergy symptoms can range from a mild rash to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. The ACAAI advises everyone with a known food allergy to always carry two doses of allergist prescribed epinephrine. A delay in using epinephrine is common in severe food allergic reaction deaths.

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For more information about food allergies, and to locate an allergist to find relief, visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit  www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Press Note: This research was supported in part by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, components of the National Institutes of Health, through Clinical and Translational Science Award (grant numbers UL1 RR025750, KL2 RR025749, and TL1 RR025748)

Can your make-up harm your IQ? How 55per cent of lipstick contains traces of lead – and it could affect mental health

By  Sadie Whitelocks

PUBLISHED: 11:06 EST, 3  December 2012 |  UPDATED: 11:16 EST, 3 December 2012

A study involving 22 brands of lipstick found  that 55per cent contained trace amounts of lead.

Underwriters Laboratories revealed that 12 of  the lip products sampled tested positive for the toxic substance with the  highest levels at 3.22 parts per  million.

Commenting on the findings Dr Sean Palfrey,  medical director for the Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, warned that  even low-level lead exposure poses a serious health risk and could affect mental  health.

Toxic kiss? A study involving 22 lipstick brands found that 55per cent contained trace amounts of lead 

Toxic kiss? A study involving 22 lipstick brands found  that 55per cent contained trace amounts of lead

He told GMA, which  commissioned the study: ‘What we know now  is that even the  lowest levels of lead can harm your IQ, your behavior, your  ability to  learn.’

Many anti-lead activists also stress the need to shield children and pregnant  women.

Dr Halyna Breslawec, chief scientist  for the  Personal Care Products Council, added: ‘If you  were serious about the public  health aspects of lead poisoning you would not be looking at  lipstick.

‘You would be looking at locations where  children live. Do they live near  hazardous waste dumps – are they chewing  lead-containing paint  fragments?’

Currently there are no standards set by the  Food and Drug Administration limiting levels in lipstick and it is up to  manufacturers to decide on the safety tests performed.

GMA declined to comment on which lipstick  brands  had been tested, but said that it had selected a range of colours from  department stores and drugstores in the U.S.

Lead is not  intentionally put in lipstick  but many color  additives are mineral-based and contain trace levels of  lead naturally found in  soil, water and air.

Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe  Cosmetics, highlighted:  ‘Clearly the concerning part is that more than half of the lipsticks do contain lead, but half of them don’t,  proving  that it’s possible to manufacture a lipstick without lead.’

However the recent findings demonstrate that  progress is being made.

A 2010 study by the FDA found the highest  lead level in lipstick was 7 parts per million.

And another conducted earlier this year  revealed that 400 shades of popular  lipstick contained trace amounts of lead.

Lipsticks made by L’Oreal, Maybelline,Cover  Girl, NARS and Stargazer landed in the top ten, prompting the FDA to evaluate  whether it should recommend an upper limit.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2242289/Can-make-harm-IQ-How-55per-cent-lipstick-contains-traces-lead–affect-mental-health.html#ixzz2E45O3yuG Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Potentially toxic flame retardants found in many US couches

Contact: Tim Lucas tdlucas@duke.edu 919-613-8084 Duke University

DURHAM, N.C. — More than half of all couches tested in a Duke University-led study contained potentially toxic or untested chemical flame retardants that may pose risks to human health.

Among the chemicals detected was “Tris,” a chlorinated flame retardant that is considered a probable human carcinogen based on animal studies.

“Tris was phased out from use in baby pajamas back in 1977 because of its health risks, but it still showed up in 41 percent of the couch foam samples we tested,” said Heather Stapleton, associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

More manufacturers in recent years are treating their couches’ foam padding with chemical flame retardants to adhere to California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), she said.  TB 177 requires all residential furniture sold in California to withstand a 12-second exposure to a small open flame without igniting, to help reduce deaths and injuries from accidental home fires. Over the years, the statewide standard essentially has become a de facto national standard, due to the economic importance of the California market.

In many cases, the manufacturer may not know what chemicals have been used.  Most manufacturers buy their foam padding from a vendor who, in turn, buys the chemicals used to treat it from another vendor. The identity of the chemical flame retardants often gets lost along the way, or is protected under law as proprietary.

Stapleton and her colleagues analyzed 102 polyurethane foam samples from couches purchased for home use in the United States between 1985 and 2010.  They published their findings in a peer-reviewed study released Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In addition to finding Tris, the tests revealed that 17 percent of the foam samples contained the flame-retardant pentaBDE, which is banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states and was voluntarily phased out by U.S manufacturers in 2005.

PentaBDEs are long-lasting chemicals that over time migrate into the environment and accumulate in living organisms. Studies show they can disrupt endocrine activity and affect thyroid regulation and brain development. Early exposure to them has been linked to low birth weight, lowered IQ and impaired motor and behavioral development in children.

PentaBDE and Tris were the only flame retardants found in couches purchased before 2005.  After 2005, Tris was the most common flame retardant found. In addition, Stapleton and her colleagues identified two new flame-retardant chemical mixtures in more recently purchases couches for which there is little or no health data available.

“Overall, we detected flame-retardant chemicals in 85 percent of the couches we tested and in 94 percent of those purchased after 2005,” Stapleton said.  “More than half of all samples, regardless of the age of the couch, contained flame retardants that are potentially toxic or have undergone little or no independent testing for human health risks.”

“If a couch has a California TB 117 label, you can all but guarantee it contains chemical flame retardants,” Stapleton said. “But this is where labeling requirements get confusing:  the lack of a TB 117 label on a couch does not guarantee the absence of chemical flame retardants. It’s not that cut-and-dried.”

Stapleton said that so many new proprietary chemical flame retardants have been introduced in recent years that it has become very difficult for scientists to identify them all or determine their presence consumer products.

###

 

Co-authors of the study were Smitri Sharma, Gordon Getzinger and P. Lee Ferguson of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment; Thomas Webster of Boston University School of Public Health; and Michelle Gabriel and Arlene Blum of the Green Science Policy Institute and the University of California-Berkeley.

Funding for the study came from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a private donation to the Nicholas School from Fred and Alice Stanback.

New study: Many flame retardants in house dust — unsafe levels: study finds chemicals linked to cancer, learning problems, hormone disruption

Contact: Kathryn Rodgers rodgers@silentspring.org 617-332-4288 x225 Silent Spring Institute

Peer-reviewed study finds chemicals linked to cancer, learning problems, hormone disruption

A peer-reviewed study of the largest number of flame retardants ever tested in homes found that most houses had levels of at least one flame retardant that exceeded a federal health guideline. The journal Environmental Science & Technology will publish the study online on November 28, 12:01am Eastern.

The study led by scientists at Silent Spring Institute tested for 49 flame retardant chemicals in household dust, the main route of exposure for people and especially for children. Forty-four flame retardant chemicals were detected and 36 were found in at least 50% of the samples, sometimes at levels of health concern. The flame retardants found in house dust are in furniture, textiles, electronics, and other products and include hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and chemicals with unknown safety profiles.

The highest concentrations were found for chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants. This chemical group includes TCEP and TDCIPP (or chlorinated “Tris”), which are listed as carcinogens under California’s Proposition 65.

TDBPP (or brominated “Tris”) was banned from children’s pajamas in 1977 due to health concerns but is still allowed in other products, and was present in 75% of homes tested in 2011.

There are no federal rules requiring that flame retardants be safety tested. Among the limited number of flame retardants with EPA health risk guidelines, the study found five at levels higher than those guidelines — BDE 47, BDE 99, TCEP, TDCIPP and BB 153.

“Our study found that people are exposed to toxic flame retardants every day. These hazardous chemicals are in the air we breathe, the dust we touch and the couches we sit on. Many flame retardants raise health concerns, including cancer, hormone disruption, and harmful effects on brain development.  It is troubling to see that a majority of homes have at least one flame retardant at levels beyond what the federal government says is safe. Infants and toddlers who spend much time on the floor are at higher risk for exposure,” said Dr. Robin Dodson, a co-author of the study and a scientist with the Silent Spring Institute.

The study was conducted in California homes, because furniture manufacturers use flame retardants in products sold throughout the U.S. in order to meet California’s stricter flammability standard. Many health experts have called on California Governor Jerry Brown to make good on his promise to amend the requirement, which affects the health of people around the country.

This study complements a separate study, also being published in Environmental Science & Technology today (Nov. 28), that found many potentially problematic flame retardants in couches.  Both studies break new ground by revealing the wide range of flame retardants in use. The Silent Spring Institute study demonstrates that flame retardant chemicals in couches and other products wind up in house dust at levels of health concern.

Two PBDE formulations have been phased out due to health concerns, but other flame retardants with considerable evidence of toxicity, such as chlorinated organophosphates and HBCYD, appear to remain at high or increasing levels of use. Every home tested had HBCYD, which was prioritized by regulators in the US and Europe because of its persistence and concerns about human reproductive, neurological, and developmental effects.

Other flame retardants being used as replacements for PBDEs have unknown health implications.  The study found that levels of chemicals in Firemaster® 550 increased from 2006 to 2011, likely because it is being used as a replacement for PentaPBDE, which was phased out.

“When one toxic flame retardant is phased out, it’s being replaced by another chemical we either know is dangerous or suspect may be.  It’s not comforting to swap one hazardous chemical for its evil cousin. Instead, we should test chemicals before they are allowed on the market,” said Dr. Julia Brody, executive director of the Silent Spring Institute and co-author of the study.

Many of the detected chemicals show evidence of hormone disruption; in particular the PBDEs, HBCYD, and TBBPA affect thyroid hormone, which is important for brain development. The breakdown products of TDBPP (brominated “Tris”) damage DNA and cause mammary tumors in animal studies, raising concern about breast cancer in people.

“The potential harm from fire retardant chemicals used in furniture is very concerning. My research found that the California fire standard provides no meaningful protection against the hazard it addresses – furniture ignited by small flames. In view of the toxicity of substances put into furniture foam to meet the California standard, the rule does more harm than good,” according to Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas, an independent fire safety scientist.

Cesium in trout 110 times over limit

Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012

Kyodo

A mountain trout caught in the Niida River in Fukushima Prefecture contained 11,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, more than 110 times above the government limit for food products, a survey by the Environment Ministry showed.

Presenting its findings Friday on cesium in fish and insects in rivers, lakes and sea in Fukushima, the ministry said it also detected 4,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium in a smallmouth bass and 3,000 becquerels in a catfish caught at the Mano Dam in Iitate.

The maximum threshold for food items is 100 becquerels per kilogram.

It is only the second time the ministry has conducted such a survey, after undertaking a study between December and this February. The first data were published in July.

“Like the previous survey, concentrations (of cesium) tended to be higher in rivers and lakes than in the sea. We want to grasp the extent of pollution by continuously conducting the survey,” a ministry official said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121118a8.html

 

Exposure to 3 classes of common chemicals may affect female development

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Mount Sinai Press Office newsnow@mountsinai.org 212-241-9200 The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that exposure to three common chemical classes—phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens—in young girls may disrupt the timing of pubertal development, and put girls at risk for health complications later in life. The study, the first to examine the effects of these chemicals on pubertal development, is currently published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“Research has shown that early pubertal development in girls can have adverse social and medical effects, including cancer and diabetes later in life,” said Dr. Mary Wolff, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Oncological Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Our research shows a connection between chemicals that girls are exposed to on a daily basis and either delayed or early development. While more research is needed, these data are an important first step in continuing to evaluate the impact of these common environmental agents in putting girls at risk.”

Phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens are among chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the body’s endocrine, or hormone, system. They are found in a wide range of consumer products, such as nail polishes, where they increase durability, and in cosmetics, perfumes, lotions, and shampoos, where they carry fragrance. Some are used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics such as PVC, or are included as coatings on medications or nutritional supplements to make them timed-release.

Dr. Wolff, co-principal investigator Susan Teitelbaum, PhD, Associate Professor, Preventive Medicine, and their team from Mount Sinai’s departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology recruited girls from the neighborhood of East Harlem, a unique minority population considered high risk. Working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Northern California, they analyzed the impact of exposure to environmental agents in a study that included 1,151 girls from New York, greater Cincinnati and northern California.

The girls were between 6- and 8-years-old at enrollment and between 7 and 9 at analysis. Researchers collected urine samples from the study participants and analyzed them for phenols, phthalates, and phytoestrogens, including 19 separate urine biomarkers.

The data showed that the three classes of chemical compounds were widely detectable in the study population, and that high exposure to certain chemicals was associated with early breast development. The strongest links were seen with phthalates and phytoestrogens, which were also among the highest exposures. One phenol, two phytoestrogens, and a subset of phthalates (those found in building products and plastic tubing) were associated with later puberty. However, the phthalates found in personal products such as lotion and shampoo, especially those with fragrance, were related to earlier breast and pubic hair development.

“We believe that there are certain periods of vulnerability in the development of the mammary gland, and exposure to these chemicals may influence breast cancer risk in adulthood,” Dr. Wolff continued. “Dietary habits may also have an impact. Further study is needed to determine how strong the link is.”

Consistent with previous studies, researchers also found that body-mass index (BMI) played a role in the onset of puberty. About a third of the girls were considered overweight, which is also an indicator of early breast development. As a result, some of the chemical associations differed in more or less obese girls. Researchers continue to study the impact of diet on pubertal development and eventual breast cancer risk.

“Exposure to these chemicals is extremely common,” Dr. Wolff continued. “As such, while the association between chemicals and pubertal development seems small, the impact on the overall population is significant.”

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Funding for the research was provided by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The data is published on Environmental Health Perspectives online at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0901690.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care. Last year, nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients, and there were nearly 450,000 outpatient visits to the Medical Center.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers, Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants. For more information, please visit www.mountsinai.org.

Medicine residues may threaten fish reproduction

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Joakim Larsson joakim.larsson@fysiologi.gu.se 46-317-863-589 University of Gothenburg

Researchers at Umeå University and the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered that traces of many medicines can be found in fish that have been swimming in treated waste water. One such medicine, the hormone levonorgestrel, was found in higher concentrations in the blood of fish than in women who take the contraceptive pill. Elevated levels of this hormone can lead to infertility in fish.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The fish in the study were exposed to treated waste water from three sewage treatment works in Stockholm, Umeå and Gothenburg. The study shows that levonorgestrel – which is found in many contraceptive pills, including the morning-after pill – can impact on the environment and constitutes a risk factor for the ability of fish to reproduce. Levonogestrel is designed to mimic the female sex hormone progesterone and is produced synthetically.

A study from Germany showed very recently that less than a billionth of a gram of levonorgestrel per litre inhibited the reproduction of fish in aquarium-based trials.
”We are finding these levels in treated waste water in Sweden,” explains Jerker Fick at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University.

For around ten years it has been known that synthetic oestrogen from contraceptive pills can affect fish that live downstream from sewage treatment works. The new study shows that synthetic progesterone-like hormones in contraceptive pills also carry risks.

The fish in the study were exposed to undiluted waste water, whilst in the natural environment there tends to be a degree of dilution in watercourses. But the study pointed out that there are also watercourses with very little dilution, and probably treatment plants that filter out the hormone less effectively than those included in the study. These findings will help to improve our understanding of which substances need to be removed from waste water.

“If we know how our medicines affect the environment, we will be in a better position to choose environmentally friendly alternatives, though we must always put the health of patients first,” says Joakim Larsson at the Sahlgrenska Academy, one of the researchers behind the study.

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CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS

Combined contraceptive pills contain synthetic forms of female sex hormones, such as synthetic oestrogen and progesterone-like hormones. The hormones that go into the pills vary between products, but levonorgestrel is a progesterone-like hormone that is used in many contraceptive pills, hormone implants and morning-after pills. It is thought that around 80-90 million women use the contraceptive pill worldwide, and that around 400,000 of them are Swedish.

The study was carried out as part of the MistraPharma research programme (www.mistrapharma.se).

Head injury + pesticide exposure = Triple the risk of Parkinson’s disease

Contact: Rachel Seroka
rseroka@aan.com
612-928-6129
American Academy of Neurology

MINNEAPOLIS – A new study shows that people who have had a head injury and have lived or worked near areas where the pesticide paraquat was used may be three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The study is published in the November 13, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Paraquat is a herbicide commonly used on crops to control weeds. It can be deadly to humans and animals.

“While each of these two factors is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s on their own, the combination is associated with greater risk than just adding the two factors together,” said study author Beate Ritz, MD, PhD, of UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “This study suggests that the physiological process that is triggered by a head injury may increase brain cells’ vulnerability to attacks from pesticides that can be toxic to the brain or the other way around, for example, chronic low dose exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of Parkinson’s after a head injury.”

The study involved 357 people with Parkinson’s disease and 754 people without the disease, all of whom lived in an agricultural area in central California. The participants reported any head injuries they had ever received with a loss of consciousness for more than five minutes.

The researchers determined participants’ exposure to the weed killer based on a 500-meter area around their home and work addresses, using a geographic information system (GIS) that combined data on paraquat use collected by the state of California’s Pesticide Use Reporting system with land use maps.

People with Parkinson’s disease were twice as likely to have had a head injury with loss of consciousness for more than five minutes as people who did not have the disease. Of the 357 people with Parkinson’s disease, 42, or 12 percent, reported ever having had such a head injury, compared to 50 of the 754 people without the disease, or 7 percent.

People with Parkinson’s disease were 36 percent more likely to have exposure to paraquat than those who did not have the disease. Of those with Parkinson’s, 169 had exposure to the weed killer, or 47 percent, compared to 291 of those without the disease, or 39 percent.

 

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The study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health and American Parkinson Disease Association.

To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, visit http://www.aan.com/patients.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

Media Contacts:

Rachel Seroka, rseroka@aan.com, (612) 928-6129

Angela Babb, APR, ababb@aan.com, (612) 928-6102

Human drugs make fish flounder

Contraceptives and antidepressants can reduce fish reaction times and reproductive rates.

16 November 2012

Scientists have known for years that human medications, from anti-inflammatories to the hormones in birth-control pills, are ending up in waterways and affecting fish and other aquatic organisms. But researchers are only beginning to compile the many effects that those drugs seem to be having. And it isn’t good news for the fish.

One such drug, fluoxetine, is the active ingredient in the antidepressant Prozac. Like some other pharmaceuticals, fluoxetine is excreted in the urine of people taking it, and reaches lakes and waterways through sewage-treatment plants that are unequipped to remove it.

Residues of some drugs — including the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) — in waterways seem to have adverse effects on fish behaviour.

Darren Staples/REUTERS

To investigate the effects of fluoxetine, researchers have turned to a common US freshwater fish species called the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Normally, fathead minnows show a complex mating behaviour, with males building the nests that females visit to lay their eggs. Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, the males tend to them by cleaning away any fungus or dead eggs.

But when fluoxetine is added to the water, all of this changes, said Rebecca Klaper, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute. Klaper presented her results this week at the 2012 meeting of the North American division of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Long Beach, California.

Female fathead minnows seem to be unaffected by the chemical, but at concentrations of fluoxetine that are roughly comparable to the highest levels documented in fresh water, male minnows start to spend more time building their nests. When the dose is increased tenfold, the males “become obsessive, to the point they’re ignoring the females”, Klaper said.

When fluoxetine concentrations are increased yet again, fathead reproduction completely halts. “The males start killing the females,” she said. Klaper also noted that if females are introduced a month after males are exposed to the chemical, the males no longer show this aggressive behaviour, but the females still don’t lay any eggs. “Something happens in that time,” she said.

Easy prey

Reproductive behaviour isn’t the only thing that can be affected by trace pharmaceuticals. At the same symposium, Dan Rearick, an aquatic toxicologist from St Cloud State University in Minnesota, reported that a chemical found in birth-control pills, 17-β-estradiol, reduced the ability of fathead minnow larvae to elude predators.

After exposing the larvae to estradiol, Rearick then subjected them to sudden vibrations, similar to those produced by approaching predators. Using high-speed videos, he measured how long it took the minnows to curve their bodies into a C shape — an escape behaviour known as a C-start. “They are preparing to dart away,” he explained. He found that, even at environmental levels of estradiol (20 or 100 nanograms per litre), the minnows’ reaction time was significantly slowed compared to control larvae that had not been exposed to estradiol.

In a second experiment, he raised hundreds of estradiol-exposed and control larvae, and repeatedly put ten larvae from both groups together in a tank with a predator, a bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). When half of the larvae in each experiment had been eaten, Rearick looked at which types of larvae were left.

The result agreed with the C-start experiments: of the surviving fish, only about 45% were from the estradiol-exposed group, with the majority of survivors coming from the control group (55%).

Population crash

That difference might not sound like much, but using a multi-generation population biology model, Rearick found that it would be enough to produce a rapid population crash in the estradiol-exposed fish. Even if the fish weren’t as badly affected, there would still be a slow, steady decline, he found. “There is probably a need for concern,” he said.

Earlier work by a team of US and Canadian scientists had already shown that, in a small lake deliberately contaminated with estradiol, the population of fathead minnows declined sharply1. “They attributed that to reproduction failure,” he said. “My data suggest it could be, in addition, an impact on larval survival.”

To find out more, Rearick compared gene expression in estradiol-exposed and unexposed fish. He found a significant increase in the expression of genes for the neurotransmitter dopamine in estradiol-exposed fish, suggesting that something might be occurring in their developing brains.

Klaper took a similar approach in her investigation of fluoxetine effects in fathead minnows, finding a cascade of gene-expression changes in the male minnows’ brains as the dose increased. “I’m in the process now of trying to figure out the [physiological] pathways these might be involved in,” she said.

Journal name:
Nature
DOI:
doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11843

References

Kidd, K. A. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 8897–8901 (2007).

http://www.nature.com/news/human-drugs-make-fish-flounder-1.11843

 

Study finds high exposure to food-borne toxins: preschool-age children had higher exposure to more than half the toxic compounds being measured. Even relatively low exposures can greatly increase the risk of cancer or neurological impairment.

Preschool children are particularly vulnerable to compounds linked to cancer and other conditions.

November 13, 2012
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —

In a sobering study published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers at UC Davis and UCLA measured food-borne toxin exposure in children and adults by pinpointing foods with high levels of toxic compounds and determining how much of these foods were consumed. The researchers found that family members in the study, and preschool children in particular, are at high risk for exposure to arsenic, dieldrin, DDE (a DDT metabolite), dioxins and acrylamide. These compounds have been linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, birth defects and other conditions. However, the study also points to dietary modifications that could mitigate risk.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto
Irva Hertz-Picciotto

“Contaminants get into our food in a variety of ways,” said study principal investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor and chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health at UC Davis. “They can be chemicals that have nothing to do with the food or byproducts from processing. We wanted to understand the dietary pathway pesticides, metals and other toxins take to get into the body.”

Researchers assessed risk by comparing toxin consumption to established benchmarks for cancer risk and non-cancer health risks. All 364 children in the study (207 preschool children between two and seven and 157 school-age children between five and seven) exceeded cancer benchmarks for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins. In addition, more than 95 percent of preschool children exceeded non-cancer risk levels for acrylamide, a cooking byproduct often found in processed foods like potato and tortilla chips. Pesticide exposure was particularly high in tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, dairy, pears, green beans and celery.

“We focused on children because early exposure can have long-term effects on disease outcomes,” said Rainbow Vogt, lead author of the study. “Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only measures risk based on exposures of individual contaminants. We wanted to understand the cumulative risk from dietary contaminants. The results of this study demonstrate a need to prevent exposure to multiple toxins in young children to lower their cancer risk.”

The researchers used data from the 2007 Study of Use of Products and Exposure-Related Behavior (SUPERB), which surveyed households in California with children between two and five to determine how their diets, and other factors, contribute to toxic exposure. Specifically, SUPERB homed in on 44 foods known to have high concentrations of toxic compounds: metals, arsenic, lead and mercury; pesticides chlorpyrifos, permethrin and endosulfan; persistent organic pollutants dioxin, DDT, dieldrin and chlordane; and the food processing byproduct acrylamide. Toxin levels in specific foods were determined through the Total Diet Study and other databases.

Perhaps most disturbing, preschool-age children had higher exposure to more than half the toxic compounds being measured. Even relatively low exposures can greatly increase the risk of cancer or neurological impairment.

“We need to be especially careful about children, because they tend to be more vulnerable to many of these chemicals and their effects on the developing brain,” says Hertz-Picciotto.

Though these results are cause for concern, the study also outlines strategies to lower family exposure. For example, organic produce has lower pesticide levels. In addition, toxin types vary in different foods. Certain pesticides may be found in lettuce and broccoli, while others affect peaches and apples.

“Varying our diet and our children’s diet could help reduce exposure,” said Hertz-Picciotto. “Because different foods are treated differently at the source, dietary variation can help protect us from accumulating too much of any one toxin.”

Families also can reduce their consumption of animal meat and fats, which may contain high levels of DDE and other persistent organic pollutants, and switch to organic milk. While mercury is most often found in fish, accumulation varies greatly by species. Smaller fish, lower on the food chain, generally have lower mercury levels. In addition, acrilomides are relatively easy to remove from the diet.

“Acrilomides come from chips and other processed grains, said co-author Deborah Bennett, associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at UC Davis. “Even if we set aside the potential toxins in these foods, we probably shouldn’t be eating large amounts of them anyway. However, we should be eating fruits, vegetables and fish, which are generally healthy foods. We just need to be more careful in how we approach them.”

The study also highlights a number of policy issues, such as how we grow our food and the approval process for potentially toxic compounds. Though the pesticide DDT was banned 40 years ago, the study showed significant risk of DDE exposure.

“Given the significant exposure to legacy pollutants, society should be concerned about the persistence of compounds we are currently introducing into the environment,” said Bennett. “If we later discover a chemical has significant health risks, it will be decades before it’s completely removed from the ecosystem.”

While the study has profound implications for dietary habits, more work needs to be done to quantify risk. Specifically, researchers need to determine how these food-borne toxins interact collectively in the body.

This research was funded by a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant #RD-83154001 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Other authors include Diana Cassady and Joshua Frost at the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and Beate Ritz at the UCLA Department of Epidemiology.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation’s leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master’s degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at medschool.ucdavis.edu.

Aquatic Weed Killer Allowed on Cotton: Because GMO Cotton is Failing as Weeds Adapt. Will allow Fluridone to be used above approved Safety limits

Aquatic Weed Killer Allowed on Cotton

By RAMONA YOUNG-GRINDLE

Aquatic Weed Killer Allowed on Cotton

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency is allowing Arkansas cotton growers to use fluridone on cotton through 2014, to avoid an expected 25 percent crop loss from aggressive weeds resistant to glyphosate, the commonly used pesticide, according to a new regulation.

“Since the introduction of glyphosate resistant cotton in 1997, twenty-one weed species have developed resistance to [it],” the regulation notes. Glyphosate-resistant palmer amaranth has become the most severe weed problem that Arkansas cotton growers face, according the regulation.

Fluridone is generally used on pond weeds such as duckweed, milfoil and watermeal, according to commercial pesticide websites.

The agency will revoke the time-limited tolerances allowing .1 parts per million of fluridone residues on cotton, before 2015 “if any experience with, scientific data on, or other relevant information on this pesticide indicate that the residues are not safe,” according to the regulation.

Learn more by clicking on the document icon for this action and others.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/11/09/52173.htm

 

Incidence of type 1 diabetes doubles in 20 years, continues rising at 3 percent per year — but why?

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Jessica Jonap Jessica@JonapPR.com 305-864-5521
Kaplan Publishing

Book investigates leading scientific hypotheses to explain mysterious increase

NEW YORK–The incidence of type 1 diabetes is now twice as high among children as it was in the 1980s, and 10 to 20 times more common than 100 years ago, according to peer-reviewed research uncovered in a new book from Kaplan Publishing.

While rising levels of type 2 diabetes are well known (and typically linked to increasing obesity), the corresponding rise in type 1, or “juvenile,” diabetes has rarely if ever been described in the news media, despite a substantial body of scientific evidence. While widely accepted by leading diabetes researchers, the increase in type 1 has as yet received scant attention from leading diabetes advocacy organizations.

Now veteran medical journalist Dan Hurley has gathered the evidence from published studies and investigative reporting in DIABETES RISING: How A Rare Disease Became A Modern Pandemic, And What To Do About It. Hurley, an award-winning reporter who has written often for the “Science Times” section of The New York Times, cites studies and analysis by some of the top researchers in the field documenting the long-term and ongoing rise.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1975, when he was an 18-year-old college freshman, Hurley knew nobody else at the time with the disease, which was then remarkably rare. “Now I know three other people with the disease who live in my own neighborhood,” Hurley says. “As both a person with type 1 diabetes and a reporter who has specialized in medical journalism for more than 20 years, I was shocked to learn in the course of researching this book that type 1 appears to be rising just as fast as type 2. I think the media has given so little coverage to the rise of type 1 because it simply doesn’t fit with the conventional wisdom that it’s supposed to be a super-rare disease caused by a genetic predisposition. Obviously, genes haven’t changed, so something in our environment or lifestyle has.”

Seeking to explain the mysterious rise in type 1, the book examines five leading scientific hypotheses that offer an explanation:

  • The “accelerator hypothesis,” which asserts that the rising weight and height of children over the past century has “accelerated” their tendency to develop type 1 by putting the insulin-producing beta cells in their pancreases under stress. 

     

  • The “sunshine hypothesis,” which holds that the increased time spent indoors is reducing children’s exposure to sunlight, which in turn reduces their level of vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”). Reduced levels of vitamin D, and reduced exposure to sunshine, have each been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. 

     

  • The “hygiene hypothesis,” which holds that lack of exposure to once-prevalent pathogens results in autoimmune hypersensitivity, leading to destruction of the body’s insulin-producing beta cells by rogue white blood cells. 

     

  • The “cow’s milk hypothesis,” which holds that exposure to cow’s milk in infant formula during the first six months of life wreaks havoc on the immune system and increases the risk to later develop type 1. 

     

  • The “POP hypothesis,” which holds that exposure to persistent organic pollutants increases the risk of both types of diabetes. ” 

The book cites recent studies which show that back in 1890, the reported annual death rate from diabetes for children under the age of 15 was 1.3 per 100,000 children in the United States. “Because any death due to diabetes in those days had to be caused by what we now call type 1, researchers consider the 1.3 per 100,000 figure to be a rough estimate of the yearly incidence of new cases at that time,” Hurley writes. “In Denmark, the rate was fairly similar, about 2 per 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. From that baseline, things took off. By the mid-1980s, the yearly incidence of new cases of type 1 had jumped to 14.8 per 100,000 children in Colorado. By the opening years of the 21st century, the incidence rate in six geographic areas of the United States, as measured in a new study run by the CDC, had climbed to 23.6 per 100,000 among non-Hispanic white children. The rates were 68 percent higher than those reported in Colorado in the 1980s, and more than twice as high as reported in Philadelphia in the 1990s.”

The book quotes Dr. Pina Imperatore, chief epidemiologist in the diabetes division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as noting that it’s important to recognize that reported rates in the past are subject to uncertainties. But, she said, “It seems the trend we’re seeing in the United States today is similar to what has been reported in Europe and worldwide, about a 3 percent increase annually in the incidence of type 1.”

While the CDC is now tracking the incidence of type 1 diabetes in six communities around the country, no national study is tracking rates as they occur elsewhere, Hurley notes. He cites a 2007 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association which called for “a coordinated approach for childhood diabetes surveillance (i.e. mandated case-reporting). Only then can society respond effectively to the serious and increasing challenge of diabetes in youth.”

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The book cites numerous peer-reviewed studies and editorials, including:

Edwin A.M. Gale, The Rise of Childhood Type 1 Diabetes in the 20th Century. Diabetes; Vol. 51; 2002 (Dec). Pages 3353-3361.

Ronny A. Bell, Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, Jennifer W. Beyer, et al: Prevalence, incidence, and clinical characteristics: the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. Diabetes Care, Vol. 32 (Supplement); 2009. Pages S102-S111.

Kendra Vehik, Richard F. Hamman, MD, Dennis Lezotte, et al: Increasing Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in 0- to 17-Year-Old Colorado Youth. Diabetes Care, Vol. 30; 2007. Pages 503-509.

Rebecca B. Lipton: Incidence of Diabetes in Children and Youth—Tracking a Moving Target. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 298 (no. 24); 2007 (June 27). Pages 2760-2762.

Reporters seeking a review copy of Diabetes Rising, or an interview with Dan Hurley, can contact Jessica Jonap at Jessica@JonapPR.com or 305-864-5521.

Dexatrim Evades Suit Over Chromium Content ( May of Contained Toxic HEXAVALENT Chromium)

By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge dismissed claims that the maker of the Dexatrim weight-loss supplement concealed the use of a hazardous chemical ingredient.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said lead plaintiff Joanne Arroyo had failed to make specific claims about the product’s danger or about consumer reliance on statements or omissions from the manufacturer when purchasing Dexatrim.

Arroyo claimed that Chattem Inc. deceived her by promoting the weight-loss supplement as “safe, healthy and appropriate for consumption.”

Chattem allegedly failed to disclose that Dexatrim contains a particularly dangerous type of chromium called hexavalent chromium. She alleged that credible scientific and medical authorities have identified this chromium as a dangerous chemical that gives rise to diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and dermatitis when ingested by humans.

Dexatrim’s website and product packaging did not list hexavalent chromium as an ingredient, nor did they warn consumers of its presence, Arroyo said. If Chattem had disclosed the presence of hexavalent chromium, consumers allegedly would not have purchased Dexatrim Max Complex 7 or other Dexatrim-brand products.

Arroyo brought the putative class action suit against Chattem in April, alleging negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law.

Chattem moved to dismiss all claims, which the court granted with leave to amend. After Arroyo advanced the same four causes of action in an amended complaint three months ago, Chattem again moved to dismiss on the basis of failure to state a claim.

Breyer agreed Tuesday that the complaint could not move forward.

“While plaintiff makes general allegations that hexavalent chromium is unsafe, she does not plead with the required particularly what level of hexavalent chromium makes Dexatrim Max Complex 7 unsafe,” Breyer wrote. “Many foods and drugs on the market are not one hundred percent safe, and general allegations that a product’s safety is less than one hundred percent do not give rise to a lawsuit for fraud. If it did, then every consumer would be able to bring a suit for economic injury anytime the consumer became aware of an additional, unlabeled product risk after his or her purchase.”

Arroyo also failed to describe when, where or how she was exposed to or accessed Chattem’s promotion, advertising and marketing of Dexatrim products prior to her purchase. Arroyo also never alleged that she knew about the dangers of hexavalent chromium before her purchase, Breyer wrote.

“In fact, at oral argument, Plaintiff’s attorney conceded that plaintiff did not know anything about hexavalent chromium’s dangers prior to purchasing the product,” the decision states. “Thus, plaintiff cannot show that – even had she read it – she relied on the absence of hexavalent chromium on the label in making her decision to purchase Dexatrim. Further, defendant argued at the motion hearing, and plaintiff did not contest, that there is no regulation requiring disclosure of hexavalent chromium on the ingredients list.”

Breyer dismissed Arroyo’s complaint with prejudice, finding that she failed to sufficiently establish that the presence of hexavalent chromium on Dexatrim’s label, website or promotional materials would have affected her purchasing decision.

 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/11/08/52118.htm

Superbug MRSA Identified in U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants

The School of Public Health News

November 5, 2012

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Kelly Blake, kellyb@umd.edu, 301-405-9418

 

University of Maryland-led study is first to document environmental source of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States

 

College Park, Md.–A team led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health has found that the “superbug” methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is prevalent at several U.S. wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). MRSA is well known for causing difficult-to-treat and potentially fatal bacterial infections in hospital patients, but since the late 1990s it has also been infecting otherwise healthy people in community settings.

 

“MRSA infections acquired outside of hospital settings–known as community-acquired MRSA or CA-MRSA–are on the rise and can be just as severe as hospital-acquired MRSA. However, we still do not fully understand the potential environmental sources of MRSA or how people in the community come in contact with this microorganism,” says Amy R. Sapkota, assistant professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and research study leader. “This was the first study to investigate U.S. wastewater as a potential environmental reservoir of MRSA.”

 

Because infected people can shed MRSA from their noses and skin and through their feces, wastewater treatment plants are a likely reservoir for the bacteria. Swedish researchers have previously identified the presence of MRSA in WWTPs in Sweden, and this new UMD-led study confirms the presence of MRSA in U.S. facilities. The study was published in the November issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

 

The research team, including University of Maryland School of Public Health and University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers, collected wastewater samples throughout the treatment process at two Mid-Atlantic and two Midwestern WWTPs. These plants were chosen, in part, because treated effluent discharged from these plants is reused as “reclaimed wastewater” in spray irrigation activities. The researchers were interested in whether MRSA remained in the effluent.

 

 

They found that MRSA, as well as a related pathogen, methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA),were present at all four WWTPs, with MRSA in half of all samples and MSSA in 55 percent.MRSA was present in 83 percent of the influent– the raw sewage–at all plants, butthe percentage of MRSA- and MSSA-positive samples decreased as treatment progressed. Only one WWTP had the bacteria in the treated water leaving the plant, and this was at a plant that does not regularly use chlorination, a tertiary step in wastewater treatment.

 

Ninety-three percent of the MRSA strains that were isolated from the wastewater and 29 percent of MSSA strains were resistant to two or more classes of antibiotics, including several that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically approved for treating MRSA infections. At two WWTPs, MRSA strains showed resistance to more antibiotics and greater prevalence of a gene associated with virulence at subsequent treatment stages, until tertiary chlorination treatment appeared to eliminate all MRSA. This suggests that while WWTPs effectively reduce MRSA and MSSA from influent to effluent, they may select for increased antibiotic resistance and virulence, particularly at those facilities that do not employ tertiary treatment (via chlorination).

 

“Our findings raise potential public health concerns for wastewater treatment plant workers and individuals exposed to reclaimed wastewater,” says Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein, environmental health doctoral student in the School of Public Health and the study’s first author. “Because of increasing use of reclaimed wastewater, further research is needed to evaluate the risk of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in treated wastewater.”

 

The paper Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Detected at Four U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants was written by Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein, Shirley A. Micallef, Shawn G. Gibbs, Johnnie A. Davis,Xin He, Ashish George, Lara M. Kleinfelter,Nicole A. Schreiber, Sampa Mukherjee, Amir Sapkota,Sam W. Joseph, and Amy R. Sapkota and published in the November 2012 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

 

For more information, please contact Kelly Blake, communications director for the School of Public Health at kellyb@umd.edu or (301) 405-9418.

 

 

Young adults’ blood lead levels linked to depression, panic disorder

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Todd Datz tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu 617-432-3952 JAMA and Archives Journals

Young adults with higher blood lead levels appear more likely to have major depression and panic disorders, even if they have exposure to lead levels generally considered safe, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Lead is a well-known neurotoxicant that is ubiquitous in the environment, found in air, soil, dust and water,” the authors write as background information in the article. Eliminating lead from gasoline has led to a dramatic decline in average blood levels, but remaining sources of exposure include paint, industrial processes, pottery and contaminated water. “Research on the neurotoxic effects of low-level lead exposure has focused on the in utero and early childhood periods. In adult populations, the neurotoxic effects of lead have been studied mainly in the context of occupational exposures, with levels of exposure orders of magnitude greater than that experienced by the general population.”

Maryse F. Bouchard, Ph.D., M.Sc., of the Universite de Montreal, Canada, and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,987 adults age 20 to 39 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. Participants underwent medical examinations that included collection of a blood sample, and also completed a diagnostic interview to identify major depressive disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

The number of young adults who met diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder was 134 (6.7 percent), 44 (2.2 percent) had panic disorder and 47 (2.4 percent) had generalized anxiety disorder. The average blood lead level was 1.61 micrograms per deciliter. The one-fifth of participants with the highest blood lead levels (2.11 micrograms per deciliter or more) had 2.3 times the odds of having major depressive disorder and nearly five times the odds of panic disorder as the one-fifth with the lowest lead levels (0.7 micrograms per deciliter or less).

Smoking is related to blood lead levels, so the researchers conducted additional analyses excluding the 628 smokers. Among non-smokers, the elevation in risk between the highest and lowest blood lead levels was increased to 2.5-fold for major depressive disorder and 8.2-fold for panic disorder.

Low-level lead exposure may disrupt brain processes, such as those involving the neurotransmitters catecholamine and serotonin, that are associated with depression and panic disorders, the authors note. Exposure to lead in individuals predisposed to these conditions could trigger their development, make them more severe or reduce response to treatment.

“These findings suggest that lead neurotoxicity may contribute to adverse mental health outcomes, even at levels generally considered to pose low or no risk,” they conclude. “These findings, combined with recent reports of adverse behavioral outcomes in children with similarly low blood lead levels, should underscore the need for considering ways to further reduce environmental lead exposures.”

###

(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66[12]:1313-1319. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by a fellowship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and by a career development award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Childhood lead exposure causes permanent brain damage

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Linda Brooks lbrooks@rsna.org 630-590-7762 Radiological Society of North America

CHICAGO – A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate brain function revealed that adults who were exposed to lead as children incur permanent brain injury. The results were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

“What we have found is that no region of the brain is spared from lead exposure,” said the study’s lead author, Kim Cecil, Ph.D., imaging scientist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and professor of radiology, pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Distinct areas of the brain are affected differently.”

The study is part of a large research project called the Cincinnati Lead Study, a long-term lead exposure study conducted through the Cincinnati Children’s Environmental Health Center, a collaborative research group funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Cincinnati Lead Study followed prenatal and early childhood lead exposure of 376 infants from high-risk areas of Cincinnati between 1979 and 1987. Over the course of the project, the children underwent behavioral testing and 23 blood analyses that yielded a mean blood lead level.

Lead, a common and potent poison found in water, soil and lead-based paint, is especially toxic to children’s rapidly developing nervous systems. Homes built before 1950 are most likely to contain lead-based paint, which can chip and be ingested by children.

“Lead exposure has been associated with diminished IQ, poor academic performance, inability to focus and increased risk of criminal behavior,” Dr. Cecil said.

Dr. Cecil’s study involved 33 adults who were enrolled as infants in the Cincinnati Lead Study. The mean age of the study participants, which included 14 women and 19 men, was 21 years. The participants’ mean blood lead levels ranged from 5 to 37 micrograms per deciliter with a mean of 14. Participant histories showed IQ deficiencies, juvenile delinquency and a number of criminal arrests.

Each participant underwent fMRI while performing two tasks to measure the brain’s executive functioning, which governs attention, decision making and impulse control. The imaging revealed that in order to complete a task that required inhibition, those with increased blood lead levels required activation from additional regions within the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain.

“This tells us that the area of the brain responsible for inhibition is damaged by lead exposure and that other regions of the brain must compensate in order for an individual to perform,” Dr. Cecil said. “However, the compensation is not sufficient.”

Imaging performed during a second task designed to test attention revealed an association between higher lead levels and decreased activation in the parietal region and other areas of the brain.

According to Dr. Cecil, the brain’s white matter, which organizes and matures at an early age, adapts to lead exposure, while the frontal lobe, which is the last part of the brain to develop, incurs multiple insults from lead exposure as it matures.

“Many people think that once lead blood levels decrease, the effects should be reversible, but, in fact, lead exposure has harmful and lasting effects,” she said.

Dr. Cecil believes that these findings lend support to previous reports from the Cincinnati Lead Study showing that the lasting neurological effect of lead exposure, rather than a poor social environment, is a key contributor to the subsequent cognitive and behavior problems in this group.

###

Co-authors are Kim M. Dietrich, Ph.D., M.S., Caleb M. Adler, M.D., James C. Eliassen, Ph.D., and Bruce P. Lanphear, M.D., M.P.H.

Note: Copies of RSNA 2009 news releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press09 beginning Monday, Nov. 30.

RSNA is an association of more than 44,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)

Editor’s note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the printed abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA Newsroom at 1-312-949-3233.

For patient-friendly information on x-rays, visit RadiologyInfo.org.

Pesticides exposure linked to suicidal thoughts

Contact: Melanie Haberstroh
melanie.haberstroh@kcl.ac.uk
44-207-848-3076
King’s College London

A new study in China has found that people with higher levels of pesticide exposure are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The study was carried out by Dr Robert Stewart from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London together with scientists from Tongde Hospital Zhejiang Province.

The agricultural pesticides commonly used in China are organophosphates which are in wide use in many lower income countries but have been banned in many Western nations. It is well known that they are very dangerous if ingested as an overdose but there is also biological evidence that chronic low-grade exposure to these chemicals, which are very easily absorbed into the body through the skin and lungs, may have adverse effects on mental health. This study is the first epidemiological evidence to suggest possible effects on suicidal thoughts.

The study was carried out in central/coastal China, a relatively wealthy area with a rapidly developing economy. In a very large survey of mental health in rural community residents, participants were also asked about how they stored pesticides. The study found that people who stored pesticides at home, i.e. those with more exposure, were more likely to report recent suicidal thoughts. Supporting this, the survey also found suicidal thoughts to be associated with how easily accessible these pesticides were in the home and that the geographic areas with highest home storage of pesticides also had highest levels of suicidal thoughts in their populations.

Given the high level of pesticide exposure and the high suicide risk in rural China, clarification of the causal mechanisms underlying this association and the development of appropriate interventions should be priorities for public health and health policy.

Dr Robert Stewart comments: ‘Organophosphate pesticides are widely used around the world although are banned in many countries because of their risk to health. They are particularly lethal chemicals when taken in overdose and are a cause of many suicides worldwide. Our research findings that suggest that higher exposure to these chemicals might actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts provides further support for calls for tighter international restrictions on agricultural pesticide availability and use.’

Dr Jianmin Zhang, Associate Chief Psychiatrist, Tongde Hospital of Zhejiang Province, and Vice Director, Zhejiang Office of Mental Health, China added: ‘The findings of this study suggested potential causal links and might partially account for the much higher incidence of suicide in rural than urban areas of China. However, further studies particularly with more precisely defined and assessed exposure are critically needed, as awareness of safer access to pesticides is important both to policy-makers and pesticide users.’

 

###

 

Notes to editors

Pesticide exposure and suicidal ideation in rural communities in Zhejiang province, China by Jianmin Zhang, Robert Stewart, Michael Phillips, Qichang Shi & Martin Prince was published in the October issue of the WHO Bulletin. The full article can be accessed on http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/10/08-054122.pdf.

The analysis involved data from a survey of a representative sample of 9,811 rural residents in Zhejiang province who had been asked about the storage of pesticides at home and about whether or not they had considered suicide within the two years before the interview. The Chinese version of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) was administered to screen for mental disorder.

King’s College London

King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King’s is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.

King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres. For more information, visit: www.kcl.ac.uk.

King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King’s Health Partners. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world’s leading research-led universities and three of London’s most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.

Monsanto and others conspired with an Army experiment to secretly poison people with toxic chemicals in the 1950s, a class action claims

Army Poisoned People in ’50s, Class Claims

By JOE HARRIS

ST. LOUIS (CN) – Monsanto and others conspired with an Army experiment to secretly poison people with toxic chemicals in a giant segregated housing complex in the 1950s, a class action claims in City Court.

Lead plaintiff Benjamin Phillips Sr. claims defendants Monsanto, Parsons Government Services and SRI International participated in a study beginning in 1953 that lasted into the 1960s.

Phillips claims the study, the “Involuntary Chemical Study on PI Residents” or “ICS”, was conducted around the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis.

“This study consisted generally of the following: defendants, along with other known conspirators such as the United States Army) and unknown conspirators caused to be sprayed upon the residents and structures of PI chemicals, such as cadmium, including potentially radioactive cadmium, with the knowledge or consent of those resident, the administrators of PI or city or other government officials. The purpose of this study is unknown,” the complaint states. (Open parentheses in complaint.)

Phillips, who lived at Pruitt-Igoe at the time, claims the chemicals caused emotional psychological trauma and harm as well as personal injury.

He seeks actual and punitive damages for public nuisance, liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery. He is represented by Elkin Kistner, with Bick & Kistner.

The 33, 11-story buildings in the Pruitt-Igoe complex were torn down in the 1970s after the place became famous for its poverty, crime and segregation.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/10/30/51794.htm

The popular insect repellent deet is neurotoxic: Urgent Action Needed

2009 Report posted for filing

Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2165
BioMed Central

The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.

Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers, France, led a team of researchers who investigated the mode of action and toxicity of deet (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Corbel said, “We’ve found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals”.

Discovered in 1953, deet is still the most common ingredient in insect repellent preparations. It is effective against a broad spectrum of medically important pests, including mosquitoes. Despite its widespread use, controversies remain concerning both the identification of its target sites at the molecular level and its mechanism of action in insects. In a series of experiments, Corbel and his colleagues found that deet inhibits the acetylcholinesterase enzyme – the same mode of action used by organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. These insecticides are often used in combination with deet, and the researchers also found that deet interacts with carbamate insecticides to increase their toxicity. Corbel concludes, “These findings question the safety of deet, particularly in combination with other chemicals, and they highlight the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the development of safer insect repellents for use in public health”.

###

Notes to Editors

1. Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet
Vincent Corbel, Maria Stankiewicz, Cedric Pennetier, Didier Fournier, Jure Stojan, Emmanuelle Girard, Mitko Dimitrov, Jordi Molgo, Jean Marc Hougard and Bruno Lapied
BMC Biology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/5277085962613386_article.pdf?random=455930
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Mercyhurst study aims to identify sucralose levels in beach water

Oct 10, 2012 | Posted in News Releases

Faculty and student researchers at Mercyhurst University continue to investigate the presence of potentially harmful chemicals in the beach waters of Presque Isle State Park and have added a new one to their list: sucralose.  A chlorinated form of sucrose found in artificial sweeteners, sucralose is used in an estimated 4,500 products ranging from Halloween candies to diet sodas.

Studies suggest that approximately 95 percent of ingested sucralose is not metabolized by the body and is excreted into the water supply, said Dr. Amy Parente, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Mercyhurst.

Many chlorinated compounds have been found to be toxic to humans and, while sucralose appears to have limited toxicity, the long-term effects of exposure have yet to be determined. Common practices aimed at removing contaminants from wastewater have not been shown to be successful at reducing levels of sucralose, Parente said.

Parente’s preliminary research has identified detectable levels of sucralose in local Lake Erie waters, which may pose concerns for the environment. She has received a grant from the Regional Science Consortium at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center to confirm these levels, with the ultimate goal of understanding the impact on the local aquatic ecosystem.

Sucralose in the water can have repercussions like altered water taste and biological health effects, she said. Another problem is that sucralose in the environment can provide a false signal for nutrient availability so organisms feeling that their food supply is adequate show decreased foraging behavior, which can ultimately affect their ability to survive.
Five undergraduate students are assisting in the research project. They are Erin Cox, Juliane Harmon, Michael Gigliotti, Gregg Robbins-Welty and Kristen Vidmar.

http://www.mercyhurst.edu/news/news-releases/article/?article_id=2730

 

Prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ : polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

2009 study posted for filing

 

July 20, 2009 — Prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can adversely affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ, according to new research by the the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health. PAHs are chemicals released into the air from the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco. In urban areas motor vehicles are a major source of PAHs. The study findings are published in the August 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

 

The study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a component of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several private foundations, found that children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City had full scale and verbal IQ scores that were 4.31 and 4.67 points lower, respectively than those of less exposed children. High PAH levels were defined as above the median of 2.26 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3).

 

“These findings are of concern because these decreases in IQ could be educationally meaningful in terms of school performance,” says Frederica Perera, DrPH, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the CCCEH at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and study lead author. “The good news is that we have seen a decline in air pollution exposure in our cohort since 1998, testifying to the importance of policies to reduce traffic congestion and other sources of fossil fuel combustion byproducts.”

 

The study included children who were born to non-smoking Black and Dominican American women age 18 to 35 who resided in Washington Heights, Harlem or the South Bronx in New York. The children were followed from in utero to 5 years of age. The mothers wore personal air monitors during pregnancy to measure exposure to PAHs and they responded to questionnaires.

 

At 5 years of age, 249 children were given an intelligence test known as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of the Intelligence, which provides verbal, performance and full-scale IQ scores. The researchers developed models to calculate the associations between prenatal PAH exposure and IQ. They accounted for other factors such as second-hand smoke exposure, lead, mother’s education and the quality of the home caretaking environment. Study participants exposed to air pollution levels below the average were designated as having “low exposure,” while those exposed to pollution levels above the average were identified as “high exposure.” A total of 140 children were classified as having high PAH exposure.

 

“The decrease in full-scale IQ score among the more exposed children is similar to that seen with low-level lead exposure,” noted Dr. Perera. “This finding is of concern because IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world. Fortunately, airborne PAH concentrations can be reduced through currently available controls, alternative energy sources and policy interventions.”

Pesticide levels in blood linked to Parkinson’s disease, UT Southwestern researchers find

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center

DALLAS – July 13, 2009 – People with Parkinson’s disease have significantly higher blood levels of a particular pesticide than healthy people or those with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

In a study appearing in the July issue of Archives of Neurology, researchers found the pesticide beta-HCH (hexachlorocyclohexane) in 76 percent of people with Parkinson’s, compared with 40 percent of healthy controls and 30 percent of those with Alzheimer’s.

The finding might provide the basis for a beta-HCH blood test to identify individuals at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. The results also point the way to more research on environmental causes of Parkinson’s.

“There’s been a link between pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease for a long time, but never a specific pesticide,” said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and a senior author of the paper. “This is particularly important because the disease is not diagnosed until after significant nerve damage has occurred. A test for this risk factor might allow for early detection and protective treatment.”

About 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s, a number expected to rise as the population ages. The disease occurs when brain cells in particular regions die, causing tremors, cognitive problems and a host of other symptoms.

The study involved 113 participants, ages 50 to 89. Fifty had Parkinson’s, 43 were healthy and 20 had Alzheimer’s. The researchers tested the subjects’ blood for 15 pesticides known as organochlorines.

These pesticides, which include the well-known DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), were widely used in the U.S. from the 1950s to the 1970s but are more tightly regulated now. They persist in the environment for years without breaking down. In the body, they dissolve in fats and are known to attack the type of brain nerves that die in Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said.

“Much higher levels of the beta-HCH were in the air, water and food chain when the Parkinson’s patients were in their 20s and30s,” Dr. German said. “Also, the half-life of the pesticide is seven to eight years, so it stays in the body for a long time.”

Parkinson’s disease is more common among rural men than other demographic groups, but it is not a matter of a single factor causing the devastating disease, Dr. German said.

“Some people with Parkinson’s might have the disease because of exposure to environmental pesticides, but there are also genes known to play a role in the condition,” Dr. German said.

Although the current study points to an interesting link between the pesticide beta-HCH and Parkinson’s, there could be other pesticides involved with the disease, he said.

For example, the pesticide lindane often contains beta-HCH, but lindane breaks down faster. Beta-HCH might simply be a sign that someone was exposed to lindane, with lindane actually causing the damage to the brain, the researchers said.

In future research, Dr. German hopes to test patients from a wider geographical area and to measure pesticide levels in post-mortem brains. He and his team also are collecting blood samples from both patients with Parkinson’s and their spouses to see if a genetic difference might be making the one with Parkinson’s more susceptible to pesticides than the other.

###

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Padraig O’Suilleabhain, associate professor of neurology; Dr. Ramón Diaz-Arrastía, professor of neurology; and Dr. Joan Reisch, professor of clinical sciences.

Researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, including lead author Dr. Jason Richardson, and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey also participated in the study.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute on Aging, the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society, Rowe & Co. Inc., the Dallas Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences, including psychiatry.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

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Dr. Dwight German — http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,12533,00.html

Study: Flame Retardant ‘Firemaster 550’ Is an Endocrine Disruptor: causes extreme weight gain

For Immediate Release

Matt Shipman | News Services | 919.515.6386

Dr. Heather Patisaul | 919.513.7567

Release Date: 10.24.2012 Filed under Releases

The flame-retardant mixture known as “Firemaster 550” is an endocrine disruptor that causes extreme weight gain, early onset of puberty and cardiovascular health effects in lab animals, according to a new study spearheaded by researchers from North Carolina State University and Duke University.

Firemaster 550 is made up of four principal component chemicals and is used in polyurethane foam in a wide variety of products, ranging from mattresses to infant nursing pillows. The flame-retardant mixture was developed by Chemtura Corp., and was first identified by the research community in 2008. It was developed to replace a class of fire retardants being phased out of use because of concerns regarding their safety.  This new study represents the first public data on whether Firemaster 550 has potential health effects.

In this pilot study, pregnant lab rats were assigned to three groups: a control group, which was not exposed to Firemaster 550; a “low-dose” group, which ingested 100 micrograms of Firemaster 550 once per day throughout pregnancy and nursing; and a “high-dose” group, which ingested 1,000 micrograms on the same schedule. These environmentally relevant doses are lower than the doses used in industry-funded studies. Researchers then evaluated the physiological outcomes of the exposure in both the mothers (called dams) and the offspring (called pups).

Importantly, the researchers detected TBB, one of Firemaster 550’s component chemicals, in the fat of all the exposed dams and offspring, but none of the unexposed animals. This means the flame retardant is capable of crossing the placenta during pregnancy, reaching infants via breast milk, or both.

Because flame retardants that have been phased out are known to disrupt thyroid function, and Firemaster 550 includes chemicals with structural similarities, the researchers looked at circulating thyroid hormone levels in dams at the end of the nursing period. The high-dose dams had much higher thyroid hormone levels than the control group, while low-dose dams had marginally higher thyroid hormone levels. This is significant because thyroid hormones influence brain development during pregnancy, as well as a host of other biological functions, such as metabolism.

Researchers also found extremely rapid weight gain in the offspring. By the time they were weaned from nursing, high-dose male pups were 60 percent heavier than the control group – and high-dose female pups were 31 percent heavier than the control group.

The increased weight in female pups contributed to the early onset of puberty. The control group hit puberty at 33 days old, while the high-dose group hit puberty at 29 days.

High-dose female pups also had difficulty regulating their glucose levels as adults. High-dose males had thickened walls in the left ventricle of the heart, suggestive of cardiovascular disease.

“This study indicates that Firemaster 550 is an endocrine disruptor, and that raises a lot of important questions,” says Dr. Heather Patisaul, an assistant professor of biology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. “This was a small-scale study. We need to continue this work with a larger sample size and look at a broader range of potential effects related to obesity, thyroid hormone function and metabolic syndrome. We also want to determine which of the component chemicals in Firemaster 550 are responsible for the various effects.”

The paper, “Accumulation and Endocrine Disrupting Effects of the Flame Retardant Mixture Firemaster 550 in Rats: An Exploratory Assessment,” is published online in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology. Co-authors include NC State undergraduate Natalie Mabrey; NC State research technician Katherine McCaffrey; Heather Stapleton and Simon Roberts of Duke University; Robin Gear and Scott Belcher of the University of Cincinnati; and Joe Braun of Brown University. The research was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

-shipman-

Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“Accumulation and Endocrine Disrupting Effects of the Flame Retardant Mixture Firemaster 550 in Rats: An Exploratory Assessment”

Authors: Heather B. Patisaul, Natalie Mabrey and Katherine A. McCaffrey, North Carolina State University; Simon C. Roberts and Heather M. Stapleton, Duke University; Robin B. Gear and Scott M. Belcher, University of Cincinnati; and Joe Braun, Brown University

Published: Online Oct. 24 in Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology

Abstract: Firemaster 550 (FM 550), a fire-retardant mixture used in foam-based products, was recently identified as a common contaminant in household dust. The chemical structures of its principle components suggest they have endocrine disrupting activity, but nothing is known about their physiological effects at environmentally relevant exposure levels. The goal of this exploratory study was to evaluate accumulation, metabolism and endocrine disrupting effects of FM 550 in rats exposed to 100 or 1000 [micrograms]/day across gestation and lactation. FM 550 components accumulated in tissues of exposed dams and offspring and induced phenotypic hallmarks associated with metabolic syndrome in the offspring. Effects included increased serum thyroxine levels and reduced hepatic carboxylesterease activity in dams, and advanced female puberty, weight gain, male cardiac hypertrophy, and altered exploratory behaviors in offspring. Results of this study are the first to implicate FM 550 as an endocrine disruptor and an obesogen at environmentally relevant levels.

Researchers find possible environmental causes for Alzheimer’s, diabetes : nitrates

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean njean@lifespan.org Lifespan

Call for reducing nitrate levels in fertilizer and water, detoxifying food and water

Providence, RI – A new study by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have found a substantial link between increased levels of nitrates in our environment and food with increased deaths from diseases, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson’s. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Volume 17:3 July 2009).

Led by Suzanne de la Monte, MD, MPH, of Rhode Island Hospital, researchers studied the trends in mortality rates due to diseases that are associated with aging, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cerebrovascular disease, as well as HIV. They found strong parallels between age adjusted increases in death rate from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes and the progressive increases in human exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines through processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers. Other diseases including HIV-AIDS, cerebrovascular disease, and leukemia did not exhibit those trends. De la Monte and the authors propose that the increase in exposure plays a critical role in the cause, development and effects of the pandemic of these insulin-resistant diseases.

De la Monte, who is also a professor of pathology and lab medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says, “We have become a ‘nitrosamine generation.’ In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production. We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture.” She continues, “Not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking.”

Nitrites and nitrates belong to a class of chemical compounds that have been found to be harmful to humans and animals. More than 90 percent of these compounds that have been tested have been determined to be carcinogenic in various organs. They are found in many food products, including fried bacon, cured meats and cheese products as well as beer and water. Exposure also occurs through manufacturing and processing of rubber and latex products, as well as fertilizers, pesticides and cosmetics.

Nitrosamines are formed by a chemical reaction between nitrites or other proteins. Sodium nitrite is deliberately added to meat and fish to prevent toxin production; it is also used to preserve, color and flavor meats. Ground beef, cured meats and bacon in particular contain abundant amounts of amines due to their high protein content. Because of the significant levels of added nitrates and nitrites, nitrosamines are nearly always detectable in these foods. Nitrosamines are also easily generated under strong acid conditions, such as in the stomach, or at high temperatures associated with frying or flame broiling. Reducing sodium nitrite content reduces nitrosamine formation in foods.

Nitrosamines basically become highly reactive at the cellular level, which then alters gene expression and causes DNA damage. The researchers note that the role of nitrosamines has been well-studied, and their role as a carcinogen has been fully documented. The investigators propose that the cellular alterations that occur as a result of nitrosamine exposure are fundamentally similar to those that occur with aging, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

De la Monte comments, “All of these diseases are associated with increased insulin resistance and DNA damage. Their prevalence rates have all increased radically over the past several decades and show no sign of plateau. Because there has been a relatively short time interval associated with the dramatic shift in disease incidence and prevalence rates, we believe this is due to exposure-related rather than genetic etiologies.”

The researchers recognize that an increase in death rates is anticipated in higher age groups. Yet when the researchers compared mortality from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease among 75 to 84 year olds from 1968 to 2005, the death rates increased much more dramatically than for cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, which are also aging-associated. For example, in Alzheimer’s patients, the death rate increased 150-fold, from 0 deaths to more than 150 deaths per 100,000. Parkinson’s disease death rates also increased across all age groups. However, mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease in the same age group declined, even though this is a disease associated with aging as well.

De la Monte notes, “Because of the similar trending in nearly all age groups within each disease category, this indicates that these overall trends are not due to an aging population. This relatively short time interval for such dramatic increases in death rates associated with these diseases is more consistent with exposure-related causes rather than genetic changes.” She also comments, “Moreover, the strikingly higher and climbing mortality rates in older age brackets suggest that aging and/or longer durations of exposure have greater impacts on progression and severity of these diseases.”

The researchers graphed and analyzed mortality rates, and compared them with increasing age for each disease. They then studied United States population growth, annual use and consumption of nitrite-containing fertilizers, annual sales at popular fast food chains, and sales for a major meat processing company, as well as consumption of grain and consumption of watermelon and cantaloupe (the melons were used as a control since they are not typically associated with nitrate or nitrite exposure).

The findings indicate that while nitrogen-containing fertilizer consumption increased by 230 percent between 1955 and 2005, its usage doubled between 1960 and 1980, which just precedes the insulin-resistant epidemics the researchers found. They also found that sales from the fast food chain and the meat processing company increased more than 8-fold from 1970 to 2005, and grain consumption increased 5-fold.

The authors state that the time course of the increased prevalence rates of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes cannot be explained on the basis of gene mutations. They instead mirror the classical trends of exposure-related disease. Because nitrosamines produce biochemical changes within cells and tissues, it is conceivable that chronic exposure to low levels of nitrites and nitrosamines through processed foods, water and fertilizers is responsible for the current epidemics of these diseases and the increasing mortality rates associated with them.

De la Monte states, “If this hypothesis is correct, potential solutions include eliminating the use of nitrites and nitrates in food processing, preservation and agriculture; taking steps to prevent the formation of nitrosamines and employing safe and effective measures to detoxify food and water before human consumption.”

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Other researchers involved in the study with de la Monte include Alexander Neusner, Jennifer Chu and Margot Lawton, from the departments of pathology, neurology and medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The study was funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health. Two subsequent papers have been accepted for publication in the near future that demonstrate experimentally that low levels of nitrosamine exposure cause neurodegeneration, NASH and diabetes.

De la Monte, Suzanne M., Alexander Neusner, Jennifer Chu and Margot Lawton. “Epidemilogical Trends Strongly Suggest Exposures as Etiologic Agents in the Pathogenesis of Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 17:3 (July 2009) pp 519-529.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (http://www.j-alz.com) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease and clinical trial outcomes. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has an Impact Factor of 5.101 according to Thomson Reuters’ 2008 Journal Citation Reports. The Journal is published by IOS Press (http://www.iospress.nl).

Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital (www.rhodeislandhospital.org) in Providence, RI, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Many of its physicians are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of cancer, cardiology, diabetes, emergency medicine and trauma, neuroscience, orthopedics, pediatrics, radiation oncology and surgery. Rhode Island Hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding. It is home to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the state’s only facility dedicated to pediatric care, which is ranked among the top 30 children’s hospitals in the country by Parents magazine. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.

WHEN in Rome, you get a little hit of cocaine with every breath.

  • 20 October 2012
  • Magazine issue 2887.

A study of psychotropic drug levels in ambient air from eight Italian cities found background levels of cocaine, cannabinoids – the active ingredients in marijuana – nicotine and caffeine in every urban centre.

Turin had the highest concentrations of cocaine, says Angelo Cecinato at the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research in Rome. Meanwhile, Bologna and Florence had some of the highest cannabinoid levels, which Cecinato attributes to the large student populations in the two cities. The drug concentrations are much too low to have an effect, though.

—————–

Abstract

Psychotropic substances were monitored in eight big cities of Italy over one year, starting in May 2010, in the frame of the Ariadrugs Project. Yearly average concentrations ranged from 0.02 ± 0.01 to 0.26 ± 0.11 ng/m3 for cocaine, from 0.05 ± 0.05 to 0.96 ± 1.37 ng/m3 for cannabinoids, from 16 ± 6 to 61 ± 28 ng/m3 for nicotine, and from 1.0 ± 0.8 to 8 ± 7 ng/m3 for caffeine. Palermo and Turin were the cities suffering the lowest and the highest psychotropic substance concentrations, respectively. Nicotine and cocaine exhibited trends less seasonally modulated than common air toxicants. Caffeine and cannabinoids peaked in winter dropping close to zero from May to August. In Rome, where various anthropic contours were investigated in February 2011, differences were observed both in net concentrations and ratios of psychotropic substances vs. regulated toxicants. Ambient drugs look as a consequence of addiction and their burdens give insights about the corresponding consumes.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628874.600-drugs-in-the-italian-air-are-nothing-to-snort-at.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749112003612

 

 

Rogue geoengineer’s ocean field test condemned : Dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the sea

14:45 17 October 2012 by Michael Marshall

Frustration has bubbled up about the actions of a rogue climate hacker. Independent geoengineer Russ George has reportedly attempted to fertilise a patch of ocean in the north-east Pacific, drawing criticism from researchers who have done similar trials in the past.According to The Guardian newspaper, George dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the seanear the Canadian Haida Gwaii archipelago in July.Iron can trigger plankton blooms, which lock carbon away if they sink. Several research teams have carried out field trials in the past to determine the method’s effectiveness, but those involved in these earlier experiments say George’s actions cannot be sanctioned.George’s field test appears to contravene existing regulations governing geoengineering experiments. The London Convention and Protocol, which regulates the dumping of waste and other material at sea, passed a resolution in 2008 stating that “ocean fertilisation activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed”. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has also placed a moratorium on geoengineeringif it affects biodiversity.”I am disturbed and disappointed, as this will make legitimate, transparent fertilisation experiments more difficult” says Victor Smetacek of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, who carried out iron fertilisation research experiments in 2004 and 2007.

Profit driven?

George was previously CEO of Planktos, a company that sought to sell carbon credits off the back of iron fertilisation – and Smetacek and other researchers fear that such financially motivated endeavours will make basic research in the field difficult.

“This is extremely unhelpful for those of us wanting to do some serious work on iron fertilisation,” says Richard Lampitt of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre.

Both researchers argue that tests of geoengineering should be run as a public good, but not for profit as George has attempted in the past.

Lampitt is a member of the In-Situ Iron Studies (ISIS) Consortium. This calls for more experiments on iron fertilisation, but also advocates a strict code of conduct that includes carrying out research openly and abiding by the London Convention. Lampitt and other ISIS members yesterday issued a statement criticising George for ignoring these principles.

Not everyone agrees that the field test was immoral. Fish farms and sewage dumping regularly fertilise the ocean, but do not draw the same level of ire, argues Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. “Apparently, dumping raw sewage simply to save the cost of sewage processing is less repugnant than fertilising the ocean in hopes of increasing fish yields.”

Ecological benefits?

New Scientist was unable to reach George for comment. In his latest endeavour, he appears to have been assisted by Haida villagers. Guujaww, the president of the Haida Nation, confirmed that the iron fertilisation experiment took place and told New Scientist that George “convinced one of our villages that this was good”.

In theory at least, dumping iron could boost the ocean ecosystem, improving the Haida’s fisheries. Dust from a 2008 volcanic eruption in Alaska may have caused a plankton bloom, leading to record salmon populations in 2010 (Fisheries and Oceanography, doi.org/jjb).

Satellite pictures taken at the time (see above) suggest an increase in phytoplankton to the west of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, although it is not clear that this was a direct consequence of the iron dumping, as such blooms happen regularly naturally.

“Determining the local effects of iron fertilisation against the background of natural variations is difficult, and impacts on fisheries, ocean biota and carbon cycling harder still”, say the ISIS team in their statement.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22390-rogue-geoengineers-ocean-field-test-condemned.html

Antibiotic contamination a threat to humans and the environment

Contact: Maria Granberg
maria.granberg@bioenv.gu.se
46-766-229-534
University of Gothenburg

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, spend August in Sisimiut on the west coast of Greenland studying the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and the effects of antibiotic emissions on communities of bacteria living in marine sediments. More specifically, they were investigating how communities of bacteria in sediment and clay on the seabed are affected by exposure to antibiotics.

“We know very little about what happens to antibiotics that end up in the ocean, but several substances can accumulate in sediments where biodegradation occurs extremely slowly,” says researcher Maria Granberg.

More than 10,000 tonnes of antibiotics are consumed in Europe each year, and 30-60% pass through animals and humans completely unchanged. The different substances then reach the ocean via hospitals, municipal sewage, fish farms and run-off from agriculture and landfills.

The research group from the University of Gothenburg are focusing on the potential effects of accumulating antibiotics in the seabed.

“Our aim is to document the sea’s natural microbial structure and function as well as resistance patterns, so that we can determine if and in what way things change as a result of human activity,” says Maria Granberg.

Greenland is home not only to areas of very clean water, the like of which just does not exist in Sweden, but also highly polluted water. As such, it is an excellent location for studying environmental impacts.

“Greenland has no sewage treatment whatsoever, which means that waste water from inhabited areas is discharged straight into the sea,” says Maria Granberg. “So Greenland is home to both very clean and very polluted waters, which is great for comparing environmentally pristine areas with polluted ones.”

The soft sediments on the seabed act as a reservoir for hard-to-break-down substances that are released into the environment. Even substances that are not discharged directly into the sea gradually find their way there from the land and air via rainwater. This means that antibiotics can affect marine sediment ecosystems over a long period, with detrimental effects on natural marine communities of bacteria, among other things.

“The presence of antibiotics in the marine environment is worrying as it can result in widespread resistance to antibiotics in marine bacteria with unknown consequences for the spread of resistance genes to bacteria that can reach humans through the consumption of seafood and fish.”

The marine sediment bacteria being studied are also important from a global perspective as they metabolise both nitrogen and carbon, which are linked to both eutrophication and climate problems. A key aspect is also that resistance genes can be transferred between bacteria.

“We know very little about how antibiotics affect natural systems and how antibiotic resistance develops and spreads in these systems,” says Maria Granberg. “This knowledge is, however, vital if we are to identify the sources of, and understand, the mechanisms behind the development of antibiotic resistance, which constitutes a threat to both the functioning of ecosystems and human health.”

 

###

This year’s research trip was a collaboration between the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences and the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, the Department of Arctic Technology at the Technical University of Denmark and the Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil in Switzerland.

Contact:

Maria Granberg, +46 766 229 534, maria.granberg@bioenv.gu.se

Carl Johan Svensson, +46 702 999 569, carl-johan.svensson@neuro.gu.se

Revealed: Children’s jewelry that contains toxic cadmium which causes cancer STILL on sale after federal crackdown

By Associated Press Reporter

PUBLISHED:23:07 EST, 14  October 2012| UPDATED:23:53 EST, 14 October 2012

 

Federal regulators failed to pursue recalls  after they found cadmium-tainted jewelry on store shelves, despite their vow to  keep the toxic trinkets out of children’s hands, an Associated Press  investigation shows.

Officials at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety  Commission also have not warned parents about the contaminated items already in  their homes.

More than two years after the AP revealed  that some Chinese factories were substituting cadmium for banned lead, the CPSC  still hasn’t determined the extent of the contamination.

Toxic trinkets: These pieces of jewelry, which were marketed for small children, contain high levels of toxic cadmium  

Toxic trinkets: These pieces of jewelry, which were  marketed for small children, contain high levels of toxic cadmium

There are no known injuries or deaths due to  cadmium in children’s  jewelry, but contaminated jewelry can poison in two ways:  slow and  steady through habitual licking and biting, or acutely through  swallowing. The CPSC estimates that several thousand kids are treated  annually  at U.S. emergency rooms for accidentally ingesting jewelry.

Once in the body, cadmium stays for decades.  If enough accumulates, it can cripple kidneys and bones– and cause  cancer.

Contaminated jewelry is surely less prevalent  in the U.S. than before its widespread presence was first documented. However,  rings, bracelets and pendants containing cadmium and marketed for preteen girls  were purchased over the last year.

The AP and representatives of two consumer  groups were able to buy the items in Los Angeles, suburban San Francisco,  central Ohio and upstate New York.

Despite touting its work as a model of  proactive regulation, the agency tasked with protecting Americans from dangerous  everyday products often has been reactive — or inactive.

Take a ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ the CPSC  conducted at stores nationwide. Testing showed that six different items on  shelves — including one referred to as a ‘baby bracelet’ — were hazardous by  the agency’s guidelines. Yet the agency neither pursued recalls nor warned the  public about the items, records and interviews show.

In addition, the CPSC allowed Wal-Mart and  Meijer, a smaller Midwest chain, to pull from shelves jewelry that flunked  safety testing without telling parents who had previously purchased such items.  And it did not follow through on evidence it developed that cadmium jewelry  remains on sale in local shops.

Agency staffers have consistently sided with  firms that argued their high-cadmium items shouldn’t be recalled — not because  they were safe in the hands of kids, but because they were deemed not to meet  the legal definition of a ‘children’s product.’ Also, the CPSC trusted retailers  and jewelry importers to self-police their inventories for cadmium, but did not  check whether they had done so for at least a year.

Damage control: Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, claims she has worked to curtail toxic jewelry 

Damage control: Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the U.S.  Consumer Product Safety Commission, claims she has worked to curtail toxic  jewelry

In response to AP’s reporting, the CPSC said  it did all it could given limited resources. A spokesman credited the agency’s  focus on intercepting jewelry before it got onto shelves as the reason that  cadmium did not become the widespread scourge that lead was several years  ago.

To be sure, the CPSC does have  challenges.

Though the agency’s resources have been  growing, by federal standards the CPSC is a minnow — a $115 million budget  supports just 545 full-time employees responsible for regulating thousands of  products.

And, under agency rules, it is difficult to  mandate that a firm recall an item.

While CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has  claimed credit for reducing the presence of cadmium in children’s jewelry, in  fact, faster and more forceful efforts have come from elsewhere.

For example, major retailers including  Wal-Mart and Target began requiring safety testing — not the CPSC.

And new laws in six states and national legal  settlements — not the CPSC — created strict, binding limits on cadmium in  jewelry.

Putting it  to the test

To examine the agency’s performance on the  cadmium issue, the AP conducted three rounds of testing, analyzed hundreds of  agency test results and reviewed hundreds of pages of internal documents  obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Dozens of regulators,  scientists, members of industry, or consumer advocates were  interviewed.

National chain stores — which closely manage  their public images and invest in product testing — appear to have cleaned up  their inventories. Shops that sell discount jewelry are a different  story.

The AP made three visits to a dozen small  shops in Los Angeles’ jewelry district during a 19-month period ending in March.  A reporter bought bracelets, necklaces and charm bracelets that salespeople said  would make a good gift for a kindergartner.

Self-policing: Claire's is one of the national chains, along with Wal-Mart, has stopped selling Chinese-made jewelry that has been contaminated 

Self-policing: Claire’s is one of the national chains,  along with Wal-Mart, has stopped selling Chinese-made jewelry that has been  contaminated

Twenty of 64 items purchased were at least 5  percent cadmium, and often much higher, according to tests using an Olympus  Innov-X X-ray fluorescence gun that estimates what metals are in jewelry.  Subsequent lab testing showed that several pendants were hazardous based on CPSC  guidelines. One was 85 percent cadmium.

Additional proof that cadmium jewelry was  being sold comes from testing by two advocacy groups, the California-based  Center for Environmental Health and Michigan-based Ecology Center. Lab results  indicated that trinkets bought at Halloween costume stores last fall in the San  Francisco Bay area and discounters in New York and Ohio over the winter were  between 20 and 30 percent cadmium.

While the items would appeal to kids, they  weren’t recalled, apparently because the CPSC did not consider them children’s  products. If jewelry isn’t ‘primarily intended’ for kids 12 and under, it’s an  adult product — and adult products have no cadmium restrictions.

Results of the testing by AP and the advocacy  groups reinforce ongoing reporting on the larger question – whether the CPSC has  kept its word on taking the strongest steps possible to clean up store shelves  and children’s jewelry boxes.

In fact, the CPSC has been aware that cadmium  jewelry was being sold in some discount shops since at least September 2010.  That’s when the agency’s lab reported hazardous readings from a children’s  pendant bought at a small shop in New York City.

As with jewelry AP bought in Los Angeles,  there were no manufacturer markings on the packaging – and that made it  difficult to track the pendant to its source.

The agency’s investigator bought all the  samples at the shop, but didn’t look to see whether the pendant was sold  elsewhere, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

‘We’ve got to make some tough decisions with  our investigators in terms of when they stay on the trail,’ Wolfson said. ‘There  needs to be a rationale for it.’

Slow repose from the  Consumer Products Safety Commission

In January 2010, Tenenbaum mobilized her  agency in reaction to AP’s initial investigation. She told parents to toss cheap  metal trinkets and promised to investigate all high-cadmium jewelry the agency  learned about.

While five jewelry recalls followed, none  began at the agency’s initiative. The first three covered products AP  highlighted; the last two came after companies approached the CPSC. All the  recalls were voluntary.

Then the recalls stopped, though not because  the CPSC thought cadmium was gone from the marketplace.

Still on shelves: Even after the Consumer Product Safety Commission promised to crack down on toxic jewelry, it's still available on store shelves across the nation 

Still on shelves: Even after the Consumer Product Safety  Commission promised to crack down on toxic jewelry, it’s still available on  store shelves across the nation

Instead of clearing contaminated products  from store shelves, the agency focused on a policy of restricting future flow.  At first, that meant warning Asian manufacturers to stop substituting cadmium  for lead. Later, the agency started scattered cargo checks at U.S. ports and  pressed a private-sector group led by the jewelry industry to adopt voluntary  cadmium limits.

It took nearly two years for those standards  to be enacted. And while several cadmium jewelry shipments were intercepted,  with just 19 inspectors at 15 ports, the agency touches a minuscule fraction of  the billions of consumer goods that enter the U.S. each year.

At a product safety conference in March,  Tenenbaum claimed victory: ‘The proactive steps we have taken in China, at the  ports, and in the standards environment have stopped cadmium from being the next  lead.’

But it wasn’t until early 2011, a full year  after AP’s original report, that the agency had began seriously checking  children’s jewelry on store shelves. Even then, the scale of sampling was not  great enough to draw broad conclusions.

Tenenbaum said in an interview that  inspectors didn’t check store shelves earlier because agency scientists had not  decided what cadmium levels would qualify a piece of jewelry as hazardous. And  they haven’t checked more since 2011 due to other priorities, particularly items  that children have died using, such as faulty cribs and ATVs.

Damage  control

Before 2010, the consumer agency ignored  scattered reports of cadmium-contaminated jewelry. Emails obtained under FOIA  show an agency working in the days immediately following AP’s initial report to  turn revelations about past indifference into a success story. But a  reconstruction of the ensuing events suggests an agency that started out strong  soon began to back off.

Just six months in office in early 2010,  Tenenbaum found in cadmium an opportunity to contrast herself with her  predecessor, who was cast as weak and ineffective during the 2007-08 Chinese  product scares.

‘These are a priority for the Chairman, so  they are to be given priority,’ a senior official in CPSC’s compliance division  emailed testing lab colleagues about samples of bracelet charms on January 14,  2010.

Two weeks later, the agency announced the  first-ever cadmium-related recall — 55,000 ‘The Princess and The Frog’  movie-themed pendants sold at Walmarts.

Almost immediately, Tenenbaum was shaping the  narrative the agency would tell and retell — that fast action allowed it to  ‘get ahead’ of the cadmium problem.

By early 2011, the CPSC had finally done a  national ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ to gauge what was on store shelves. That  February, CPSC chemists reported a troubling analysis of three jewelry samples  bought by agency inspectors. Testing showed that hazardous amounts of cadmium  would dissolve into the stomach acid of a child who swallowed the  jewelry.

Over the next few weeks, three more items  failed the test, including the baby bracelet.

While the number of jewelry pieces with  hazardous readings was not great — 711 samples were screened — some of the six  items had even more alarming cadmium readings than jewelry that had been  recalled. One was 27 times higher than the agency’s acceptable limit.

Yet the CPSC neither informed consumers nor  initiated recall efforts. Instead, the agency asked a distributor where two of  the items were found to destroy its inventory. For another item, the inspector  only rounded up all samples in the store.

Spokesman Wolfson gave several reasons why  the agency took no further action. Two of the items were discontinued in 2005,  according to the distributor, which meant ‘a recall was not warranted’ —  despite the 2011 purchase.

One had packaging that didn’t identify the  manufacturer or distributor. And in the three other cases, field inspectors had  picked up jewelry that they thought was for children but that agency  headquarters decided was actually for adults.

‘We firmly believe that we took the right  action based upon the work we did and the information we gathered,’ Wolfson  said.

Because there were no recalls, the agency  can’t reveal what the products were or where they were bought.

Aside from the jewelry sweep, in at least two  cases the agency let major retailers avoid informing the public that they had  pulled jewelry after their testing turned up cadmium.

In May 2010, Wal-Mart announced it had  removed ‘the few products’ that failed checks it started doing on children’s  jewelry; it did not identify the items. The retailing giant had started running  a European Union safety test that was similar to the stomach-acid test the CPSC  used.

Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said that  despite failing a safety test, the items were not dangerous. He would not share  the results.

‘We’re talking about components within these  items that just didn’t rise to the level where it posed a safety risk,’ he  said.

Because Wal-Mart unilaterally yanked the  products, no public notification was required by CPSC – and Wal-Mart gave  none.

The agency never pressed for a recall of  items that had already been sold.

A similar scenario occurred at the Midwest  retailer Meijer.

The CPSC learned of jewelry with hazardous  test readings but, despite a pledge to follow any leads about cadmium jewelry,  didn’t open an investigation until AP began asking about the items six months  later.

The agency never pressed for a recall because  it decided the jewelry was primarily intended for teens or adults, not  children.

Yet on the sales receipt, the items were  listed as ‘girls jewelry’ and ‘girls accessories’ and a Meijer spokesman  described them as “children’s jewelry.” He said they were briefly removed from  store shelves, then returned, then pulled again when AP began  inquiring.

Nowhere were the agency’s conclusions more  curious than the biggest recall of 2010 — 12 million drinking glasses sold by  McDonald’s to promote the animated movie ‘Shrek Forever After.’ Cadmium used in  red decorations on the glass could rub onto a child’s hand, and eventually get  into the mouth.

Months after the recall, the agency said the  glasses shouldn’t have been pulled because they were not mainly for  kids.

And then there was the agency’s assessment of  brightly colored bracelet charms shaped like flip flops. Sold exclusively by  Wal-Mart, the charms were 90 percent cadmium.

‘Before you decide for certain that you want  to recall the Flip Flop Charms, take a look at the image of the product in the  attached email,’ Wal-Mart’s then-director of product safety and compliance, Kyle  Holifield, wrote the CPSC in January 2010. ‘There just isn’t anything about the  product itself or its packaging to indicate that it was designed or intended  primarily for use by children.’

Holifield’s email only included the front of  the packaging. The back of the packaging says the charms are “For ages 3 and  over.”

According to guidelines drafted by Wal-Mart’s  own product safety staff and endorsed by the jewelry industry, such labeling  statements make jewelry a children’s product.

That should have made the charms subject to  cadmium limits — and eligible for a recall.

In a written statement, Wal-Mart said: ‘When  CPSC asked us about this item, we considered it an adult jewelry item because it  was displayed alongside other adult jewelry-making items, and not intended for  use by children.’

Even CPSC field investigators who collected  items for sale during the ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ were confused by what  qualifies as children’s jewelry under agency guidelines. At headquarters, CPSC  experts decided some of the products were not for children after all.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217841/Federal-regulators-fail-warn-parents-toxic-cadmium-childrens-toys.html#ixzz29LM3FUBX Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Stream in India has record high levels of drugs

2009 study posted for filing

By Margie Mason

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PATANCHERU, India — When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000.

 

And it wasn’t just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet — a soup of 21 active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.

Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India’s poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.

“If you take a bath there, then you have all the antibiotics you need for treatment,” said chemist Klaus Kuemmerer at the University of Freiburg Medical Center in Germany, an expert on drug resistance in the environment who did not participate in the research. “If you just swallow a few gasps of water, you’re treated for everything. The question is for how long?”

Unprecedented results

Last year, The Associated Press reported that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals had been found in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans. But the wastewater downstream from the Indian plants contained 150 times the highest levels detected in the United States.

At first, Joakim Larsson, an environmental scientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, questioned whether 100 pounds a day of ciprofloxacin could really be running into the Iska Vagu stream. He was so baffled by the unprecedented results he sent the samples to a second lab for independent analysis.

 

When those reports came back with similarly record-high levels, Larsson knew he was looking at a potentially serious situation. After all, some villagers fish in the stream’s tributaries, while others drink from wells nearby. Livestock also depend on these watering holes.

Some locals long believed drugs were seeping into their drinking water, and new data from Larsson’s study presented at a U.S. scientific conference in November confirmed their suspicions. Ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic, and the popular antihistamine cetirizine had the highest levels in the wells of six villages tested. Both drugs measured far below a human dose, but the results were still alarming.

“We don’t have any other source, so we’re drinking it,” said R. Durgamma, a mother of four, sitting on the steps of her crude mud home a few miles downstream from the treatment plant. High drug concentrations were recently found in her well water. “When the local leaders come, we offer them water and they won’t take it.”

An increasing concern

Pharmaceutical contamination is an emerging concern worldwide. In its series of articles, AP documented the commonplace presence of minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals in U.S. drinking water supplies. The AP also found that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals were almost ubiquitous in rivers, lakes and streams.

The medicines are excreted without being fully metabolized by people who take them, while hospitals and long-term-care facilities annually flush millions of pounds of unused pills down the drain. Until Larsson’s research, there was consensus among researchers that drug makers weren’t a source.

The consequences of the India studies are worrisome.

As the AP reported last year, researchers are finding that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain pharmaceuticals. Some waterborne drugs also promote antibiotic-resistant germs, especially when — as in India — they are mixed with bacteria in human sewage. Even extremely diluted concentrations of drug residues harm the reproductive systems of fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild.

 

In the India research, tadpoles exposed to water from the treatment plant that had been diluted 500 times were nonetheless 40 percent smaller than those growing in clean water.

Far-reaching impact

The discovery of this contamination raises two key issues for researchers and policymakers: the amount of pollution and its source. Experts say one of the biggest concerns for humans is whether the discharge from the wastewater treatment facility is spawning drug resistance.

“Not only is there the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolving; the entire biological food web could be affected,” said Stan Cox, senior scientist at the Land Institute, a non-profit agriculture research center in Salina, Kan. Cox has studied and written about pharmaceutical pollution in Patancheru. “If Cipro is so widespread, it is likely that other drugs are out in the environment and getting into people’s bodies.”

Before Larsson’s team tested the water at Patancheru Enviro Tech Ltd. plant, researchers largely attributed the source of drugs in water to their use, rather than their manufacture.

In the United States, the EPA says there are “well defined and controlled” limits to the amount of pharmaceutical waste emitted by drug makers.

India’s environmental protections are being met at Patancheru, says Rajeshwar Tiwari, who heads the area’s pollution control board. And while he says regulations have tightened since Larsson’s initial research, screening for pharmaceutical residue at the end of the treatment process is not required.

Factories in the United States report on releases of 22 active pharmaceutical ingredients, the AP found by analyzing EPA data. But many more drugs have been discovered in domestic drinking water.

Possibly complicating the situation, Larsson’s team also found high drug concentration levels in lakes upstream from the treatment plant, indicating potential illegal dumping — an issue both Indian pollution officials and the drug industry acknowledge has been a past problem, but one they say is much less frequent now.

M. Narayana Reddy, president of India’s Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association, disputes Larsson’s initial results. “I have challenged it,” he said. “It is the wrong information provided by some research person.”

Reddy acknowledged the region is polluted but said that the contamination came from untreated human excrement and past industry abuses. He and pollution control officials also say villagers are supposed to drink clean water piped in from the city or hauled in by tankers — water a court ordered industry to provide. But locals complain of insufficient supplies, and some say they are forced to use wells.

Larsson’s research has created a stir among environmental experts, and his findings are widely accepted in the scientific community.

“That’s really quite an incredible and disturbing level,” said Renee Sharp, senior analyst at the Washington-based Environmental Working Group. “It’s absolutely the last thing you would ever want to see when you’re talking about the rise of antibiotic bacterial resistance in the world.”

A matter of resistance

The more bacteria are exposed to a drug, the more likely that bacteria will mutate in a way that renders the drug ineffective. Such resistant bacteria can then possibly infect others who spread the bugs as they travel. Ciprofloxacin was once considered a powerful antibiotic of last resort, used to treat especially tenacious infections. But in recent years many bacteria have developed resistance to the drug, leaving it significantly less effective.

“We are using these drugs, and the disease is not being cured — there is resistance going on there,” said Dr. A. Kishan Rao, a physician and environmental activist who has treated people for more than 30 years near the drug factories. He says he worries most about the long-term effects on his patients potentially being exposed to constant low levels of drugs.

Patancheru became a hub for largely unregulated chemical and drug factories in the 1980s, creating what one local newspaper has termed an “ecological sacrifice zone” with its waste. Since then, India has become one of the world’s leading exporters of pharmaceuticals, and the United States — which spent $1.4 billion on Indian-made drugs in 2007 — is its largest customer

Hypertension and cholesterol medications present in water released into the St. Lawrence River

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Julie Gazaille
j.cordeau-gazaille@umontreal.ca
514-343-6796
University of Montreal

Universite de Montreal research team on the water upstream and downstream from the Montreal wastewater

This press release is available in French.

Montreal, January 26, 2009 – A study conducted by Université de Montréal researchers on downstream and upstream water from the Montreal wastewater treatment plant has revealed the presence of chemotherapy products and certain hypertension and cholesterol medications.

Bezafibrate (cholesterol reducing medication), enalapril (hypertension medication), methotrexate and cyclophosphamide (two products used in the treatment of certain cancers) have all been detected in wastewater entering the Montreal treatment station. However, only bezafibrate and enalapril have been detected in the treated water leaving the wastewater treatment plant and in the surface water of the St. Lawrence River, where the treated wastewater is released.

This study was conducted due to the sharp rise in drug consumption over the past few years. In 1999, according to a study by IMS Health Global Services, world drug consumption amounted to $342 billion. In 2006 that figure doubled to $643 billion. A significant proportion of the drugs consumed are excreted by the human body in urine and end up in municipal wastewater. Chemotherapy products, such as methotrexate, are excreted by the body practically unchanged (80 to 90 percent in their initial form).

Chemotherapy for fish?

The pharmaceutical compounds studied were chosen because of the large quantities prescribed by physicians. “Methotrexate and cyclophosphamide are two products very often used to treat cancer and are more likely to be found in water,” says Sébastien Sauvé, a professor of environmental chemistry at the Université de Montréal. “Even though they treat cancer, these two products are highly toxic. This is why we wanted to know the extent to which the fauna and flora of the St. Lawrence are exposed to them.”

Method and quantities

Professor Sauvé’s team validated a rapid detection method (On-line SPE-LC-MS/MS ) (1) for pharmaceutical compounds under study in the raw and treated wastewater of the Montreal wastewater treatment plant.

The quantities of bezafibrate and enalapril detected in the raw wastewater, treated wastewater and surface water at the treatment station outlet are respectively 50 nanograms per litre, 35 ng L and 8 ng L for bezafibrate and 280 ng L, 240 ng L and 39ng L for enalapril.

“All in all, these quantities are minimal, yet we don’t yet know their effects on the fauna and flora of the St. Lawrence,” Professor Sauvé explains. “It is possible that some species are sensitive to them. Other ecotoxicological studies will be necessary. As for the chemotherapy products detected in the raw wastewater but not in the treated wastewater, one question remains: did we not detect them because the treatment process succeeded in eliminating them or because our detection method is not yet sophisticated enough to detect them?”

A new threat to the aquatic environment

The release locations of wastewaters treated by the treatment stations are the main source of drug dispersion into the environment. Because of their high polarity and their acid-base character, some of the pharmaceutical compounds studied have the potential to be transported and dispersed widely in the aquatic environment. In Montreal, the wastewater treatment station treats a water volume representing 50 percent of the water treated in Quebec and has a capacity of about 7.6 million cubic metres per day, making it the largest physicochemical treatment station in the Americas. This is why it is important to develop a simple, rapid, precise and inexpensive method, Professor Sauvé points out.

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This study was published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring and produced by researchers from the Department of Chemistry of the Université de Montréal and the Environment Canada Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Division. It was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Council for Science and Technology of Mexico, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the St. Lawrence Action Plan and Health Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan.

(1)On-line solid-phase extraction liquid chromatography coupled to polarity-switching electrospray tandem mass spectometry

On the Web:

About the Université de Montréal: www.umontreal.ca/english/index.htm

To consult the complete study: www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/EM/article.asp?doi=b817570e

Note: Professor Sauvé is available for interviews on Monday and Tuesday, January 26th and 27th

Study links water pollution with declining male fertility : Anti-androgen Contamination

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Sarah Hoyle
s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk
44-013-922-62062
University of Exeter

New research strengthens the link between water pollution and rising male fertility problems. The study, by Brunel University, the Universities of Exeter and Reading and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, shows for the first time how a group of testosterone-blocking chemicals is finding its way into UK rivers, affecting wildlife and potentially humans. The research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and is now published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study identified a new group of chemicals that act as ‘anti-androgens’. This means that they inhibit the function of the male hormone, testosterone, reducing male fertility. Some of these are contained in medicines, including cancer treatments, pharmaceutical treatments, and pesticides used in agriculture. The research suggests that when they get into the water system, these chemicals may play a pivotal role in causing feminising effects in male fish.

Earlier research by Brunel University and the University of Exeter has shown how female sex hormones (estrogens), and chemicals that mimic estrogens, are leading to ‘feminisation’ of male fish. Found in some industrial chemicals and the contraceptive pill, they enter rivers via sewage treatment works. This causes reproductive problems by reducing fish breeding capability and in some cases can lead to male fish changing sex.

Other studies have also suggested that there may be a link between this phenomenon and the increase in human male fertility problems caused by testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Until now, this link lacked credence because the list of suspects causing effects in fish was limited to estrogenic chemicals whilst testicular dysgenesis is known to be caused by exposure to a range of anti-androgens.

Lead author on the research paper, Dr Susan Jobling at Brunel University’s Institute for the Environment, said: “We have been working intensively in this field for over ten years. The new research findings illustrate the complexities in unravelling chemical causation of adverse health effects in wildlife populations and re-open the possibility of a human – wildlife connection in which effects seen in wild fish and in humans are caused by similar combinations of chemicals. We have identified a new group of chemicals in our study on fish, but do not know where they are coming from. A principal aim of our work is now to identify the source of these pollutants and work with regulators and relevant industry to test the effects of a mixture of these chemicals and the already known environmental estrogens and help protect environmental health.”

Senior author Professor Charles Tyler of the University of Exeter said: ”Our research shows that a much wider range of chemicals than we previously thought is leading to hormone disruption in fish. This means that the pollutants causing these problems are likely to be coming from a wide variety of sources. Our findings also strengthen the argument for the cocktail of chemicals in our water leading to hormone disruption in fish, and contributing to the rise in male reproductive problems. There are likely to be many reasons behind the rise in male fertility problems in humans, but these findings could reveal one, previously unknown, factor.”

Bob Burn, Principal Statistician in the Statistical Services Centre at the University of Reading, said: ”State-of- the- art statistical hierarchical modelling has allowed us to explore the complex associations between the exposure and potential effects seen in over 1000 fish sampled from 30 rivers in various parts of England.”

The research took more than three years to complete and was conducted by the University of Exeter, Brunel University, University of Reading and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Statistical modelling was supported by Beyond the Basics Ltd.

The research team is now focusing on identifying the source of anti-androgenic chemicals, as well as continuing to study their impact on reproductive health in wildlife and humans.