90 percent of pregnant women may have detectable levels of herbicides

Public Release: 22-Mar-2018

Study finds direct evidence of exposure of pregnant women to herbicide ingredient

Indiana University

INDIANAPOLIS — The first birth cohort study of its kind has found more than 90 percent of a group of pregnant women in Central Indiana had detectable levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the most heavily used herbicide worldwide.

Researchers from Indiana University and University of California San Francisco reported that the glyphosate levels correlated significantly with shortened pregnancy lengths.

“There is growing evidence that even a slight reduction in gestational length can lead to lifelong adverse consequences,” said Shahid Parvez, the principal investigator of this study and an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Science at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.

The study is the first to examine glyphosate exposure in pregnant women in the United States using urine specimens as a direct measure of exposure.

Parvez said the main finding of the study was that 93 percent of the 71 women in the study had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine. “We found higher urine glyphosate levels in women who lived in rural areas, and in those who consumed more caffeinated beverages,” he said.

“One thing we cannot deny is that glyphosate exposure in pregnant women is real,” Parvez said. “The good news is that the public drinking water supply may not be the primary source of glyphosate exposure, as we initially anticipated. None of the tested drinking water samples showed glyphosate residues. It is likely that glyphosate is eliminated in the water-treatment process. The bad news is that the dietary intake of genetically modified food items and caffeinated beverages is suspected to be the main source of glyphosate intake.”

Use of glyphosate is heaviest in the Midwest due to corn and soybean production. Its residues are found in the environment, major crops and food items that humans consume daily.

“Although our study cohort was small and regional and had limited racial or ethnic diversity, it provides direct evidence of maternal glyphosate exposure and a significant correlation with shortened pregnancy,” Parvez said.

The magnitude of glyphosate exposure in pregnant women and the correlations with shorter gestation length are concerning and mandate further investigation, he said. “We are planning, contingent upon funding, to conduct a more comprehensive study in a geographically and racially diverse pool of pregnant women to determine if our findings are the same.”

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The study, “Glyphosate exposure in pregnancy and shortened gestational length: a prospective Indiana birth cohort study,” was recently published in the journal Environmental Health.

Pesticide found in milk decades ago may be associated with signs of Parkinson’s

Public Release: 9-Dec-2015

 

Association in nonsmokers who drank more than 2 cups daily

American Academy of Neurology

MINNEAPOLIS – A pesticide used prior to the early 1980s and found in milk at that time may be associated with signs of Parkinson’s disease in the brain, according to a study published in the December 9, 2015, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“The link between dairy products and Parkinson’s disease has been found in other studies,” said study author R. D. Abbott, PhD, with the Shiga University of Medical Science in Otsu, Japan. “Our study looked specifically at milk and the signs of Parkinson’s in the brain.”

For the study, 449 Japanese-American men with an average age of 54 who participated in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study were followed for more than 30 years and until death, after which autopsies were performed. Tests looked at whether participants had lost brain cells in the substantia nigra area of the brain, which occurs in Parkinson’s disease and can start decades before any symptoms begin. Researchers also measured in 116 brains the amount of residue of a pesticide called heptachlor epoxide. The pesticide was found at very high levels in the milk supply in the early 1980s in Hawaii, where it was used in the pineapple industry. It was used to kill insects and was removed from use in the US around that time. The pesticide may also be found in well water.

The study found that nonsmokers who drank more than two cups of milk per day had 40 percent fewer brain cells in that area of the brain than people who drank less than two cups of milk per day. For those who were smokers at any point, there was no association between milk intake and loss of brain cells. Previous studies have shown that people who smoke have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Residues of heptachlor epoxide were found in 90 percent of people who drank the most milk, compared to 63 percent of those who did not drink any milk. Abbott noted that the researchers do not have evidence that the milk participants drank contained heptachlor epoxide. He also stated that the study does not show that the pesticide or milk intake cause Parkinson’s disease; it only shows an association.

“There are several possible explanations for the association, including chance,” said Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, who wrote a corresponding editorial. “Also, milk consumption was measured only once at the start of the study, and we have to assume that this measurement represented participants’ dietary habits over time.”

Chen noted that the study is an excellent example of how epidemiological studies can contribute to the search for causes of Parkinson’s disease.

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This study was supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Department of the Army, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Kuakini Medical Center.

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

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 28,000 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
Michelle Uher, muher@aan.com, (612) 928-6120

Weaker breaths in kids linked to early pesticide exposure

Public Release: 3-Dec-2015

 

University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley — Taking a deep breath might be a bit harder for children exposed early in life to a widely used class of pesticides in agriculture, according to a new paper by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

A new study has linked the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of 279 children living in California’s Salinas Valley with decreased lung function. Each tenfold increase in concentrations of organophosphate metabolites was associated with a 159-milliliter decrease in lung function, or about 8 percent less air, on average, when blowing out a candle. The magnitude of this decrease is similar to a child’s secondhand smoke exposure from his or her mother.

The findings, to be published Thursday, Dec. 3, in the journal Thorax, are the first to link chronic, low-level exposures to organophosphate pesticides — chemicals that target the nervous system — to lung health for children.

“Researchers have described breathing problems in agricultural workers who are exposed to these pesticides, but these new findings are about children who live in an agricultural area where the organophosphates are being used,” said study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “This is the first evidence suggesting that children exposed to organophosphates have poorer lung function.”

The children were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a longitudinal study in which the researchers follow children from the time they are in the womb up to adolescence.

The researchers collected urine samples five times throughout the children’s lives, from age 6 months to 5 years, and measured the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites each time. When the children were 7 years old, they were given a spirometry test to measure the amount of air they could exhale.

The study accounted for other factors that could affect the results, such as whether the mothers smoked, air pollution, presence of mold or pets in the home and proximity to highways.

“The kids in our study with higher pesticide exposure had lower breathing capacity,” said study lead author Rachel Raanan, who conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral scholar in Eskenazi’s lab. “If the reduced lung function persists into adulthood, it could leave our participants at greater risk of developing respiratory problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).”

The study did not examine the pathways for the children’s exposure to pesticides, but the researchers did recommend that farmworkers remove their work clothes and shoes before entering their homes. They also suggested that when nearby fields are being sprayed with pesticides, children be kept away and, if indoors, windows should be closed. Pesticide exposure can also be reduced by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

“This study adds exposure to organophosphate pesticides to the growing list of environmental exposures — including air pollution, indoor cook stove smoke and environmental tobacco smoke — that could be harmful to the developing lungs of children,” said Raanan. “Given they are still used worldwide, we believe our findings deserve further attention.”

The authors noted that although organophosphate pesticides are still widely used, most residential uses of organophosphate pesticides in the United States were phased out in the mid-2000s. In California, use of organophosphates in agriculture has also declined significantly from 6.4 million pounds in 2000, when the study began, to 3.5 million pounds in 2013, the year with the most recent pesticide use data. Just last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed eliminating all agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos, one of the most heavily used organophosphates, and others are also under evaluation, steps that will continue the trend of declining use.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an increasing cause of death around the world,” said study co-author and pulmonary specialist Dr. John Balmes, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental health sciences with a joint appointment at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. “Since we know that reduced lung function increases the risk for COPD, it is important to identify and reduce environmental exposures during childhood that impair breathing capacity.”

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA. Raanan’s fellowship was supported by the Environment and Health Fund in Israel.

Analysis of 21 studies shows exposure to pesticides is associated with 61% increased risk of developing diabetes

Public Release: 15-Sep-2015 Analysis of 21 studies shows exposure to pesticides is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes

Diabetologia

A meta-analysis of 21 studies presented at this year’s annual meeting the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) shows that exposure to pesticides is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes by 61%, with different types of pesticides showing varying levels of risk. The study is by Giorgos Ntritsos, University of Ioannina, Greece, and Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki and Dr Evangelos Evangelou, Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues.

How diabetes develops is considered to be an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Emerging evidence suggests that environmental contaminants–including pesticides–may play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetes. In this study, the researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies that assessed the association between exposure to pesticides and diabetes. The association between exposure to any pesticide and all types of diabetes was examined. Separate analyses for studies that looked only at type 2 diabetes (T2D) participants were performed.

A total of 21 studies were identified assessing the association between pesticides and diabetes, covering 66,714 individuals (5,066 cases/ 61,648 controls). Most studies did not report the specific diabetes type examined. In almost all of the studies analyses, pesticide exposure was determined by blood or urine biomarker analysis, one of the most accurate methods. The researchers found that exposure to any type of pesticide was associated with increased risk of any type of diabetes by 61%. In the 12 studies analysing only type 2 diabetes, the increased risk was 64% for those exposed to pesticides. For individual pesticides, increased risk was identified in association with exposure to chlordane, oxylchlordane, trans-nonachlor, DDT, DDE dieldrin, heptachlor and HCB.

The authors conclude: “This systematic review supports the hypothesis that exposure to various types of pesticides increases the risk of diabetes. Subgroup analyses did not reveal any differences in the risk estimates based on the type of studies or the measurement of the exposure. Analysing each pesticide separately suggests that some pesticides are more likely to contribute to the development of diabetes than others.”

The authors add that results need to interpreted with caution given the observational nature of the data which does not prove the causality of the observed associations. They are now performing additional analyses of the data and doing a further meta-analysis of pesticide exposure in relation to the other outcomes, including neurological outcomes and several cancers.

Pesticides: More toxic than previously thought?

Public Release: 6-Aug-2015

Changes in personality of jumping spiders suggest effects of insecticide exposure may have been underestimated

McGill University

Credit: Crystal Ernst

Insecticides that are sprayed in orchards and fields across North America may be more toxic to spiders than scientists previously believed. A McGill research team reached this conclusion after looking at changes in the behaviour of individual Bronze Jumping Spiders both before and after exposure to Phosmet, a widely used broad spectrum insecticide. It is a finding with far-reaching implications for agricultural production and ecosystem health.

“Bronze jumping spiders play an important role in orchards and fields, especially at the beginning of the agricultural season, by eating many of the pests like the oblique-banded leafroller, a moth that attacks young plants and fruit,” says Raphaël Royauté, a former McGill PhD student whose study on the subject was published in Functional Ecology recently. “Farmers spray insecticides on the plants to get rid of these same pests, and it was thought that it had little significant effect on the spiders’ behaviours. But we now know that this isn’t the case.”

The researchers discovered this fact by focusing on the way that exposure to insecticide affected the behaviour of individual spiders, including things like their ability to leap on prey and their interest in exploring new territory, both of which are crucial to their survival and to their role in keeping down pests.

Spider personalities

Even jumping spiders have personalities scientists have discovered. A “shy” individual will not make the same choices as a “bold” individual. This means that some individuals, because of their personality type, will capture more prey than others, and will therefore have a larger effect on local ecosystems.

“Most individuals have an individual signature in their behaviours, what scientist call “personality types” says Royauté. “Some individuals are willing to take risks when predators are present, explore new territories faster, or capture prey more quickly. But the effects of insecticides on personality types remains poorly described.”

The researchers found that, in general, the behaviour of spiders became more “unpredictable” and individuals behaved less according to their personality type once they were exposed to insecticide. This could be because some individuals are much more sensitive to the insecticide than others. Interestingly, they also found that male and female spiders were affected differently. Males who had been exposed to the insecticide were able to continue to capture prey as they had before, but “lost” their personality type when exploring their environment. Individual females, on the other hand, were much more affected in their ability to capture prey.

“By looking at the way that insecticides affect individual spider behaviours, rather than averaging out the effects on the spider population as a whole, as is traditionally done in scientific research, we are able to see some significant effects that we might have otherwise missed,” says Chris Buddle, who co-authored the paper. “It means we can measure the effects of insecticides before any effects on the spider population as a whole are detected, and in this case, it’s raising some red flags.”

The researchers hope that this study will lead to the reevaluation of procedures used to estimate the toxicity of insecticidal compounds by encouraging other researchers to pay more attention to effects occurring at the individual level.

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The work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

Under the influence: sublethal exposure to an insecticide affects personality expression in a jumping spider. Royauté R, et al (2015). Functional Ecology. 29: 962-970. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12413. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.12413/full

Contacts:

Dr. Raphaël Royauté
Department of Biological Sciences,
North Dakota State University

Prof. Chris Buddle
Department of Natural Resource Sciences
McGill University

Katherine Gombay
Media Relations
McGill University
514-398-2189

Big Win for Environmentalists Will Force EPA to Study Glyphosate

 

By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM 

 SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday agreed to analyze effects of glyphosate and three other commonly used pesticides on 1,500 endangered plants and animals in the United States.
     The settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity came more than 8 years after the environmental group sued the EPA, claiming it shirked its responsibilities for decades by refusing analyze pesticides’ effects on endangered species.
     The EPA agreed to complete assessments of the impact of glyphosate, atrazine and two other pesticides on endangered species by 2020.
     Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most commonly used agricultural chemical in the United States.
     France banned the sale of Roundup at garden centers throughout the country last week, two months after the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen.
     Atrazine is mainly used on corn, sugarcane and sorghum, and also is used on lawns and golf courses. Up to 80 million pounds of the pesticide are used in the United States each year, the Center said.
     The environmental group says the chemical chemically castrates frogs, and may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in humans.
     “The EPA should have banned this years ago,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center.
     In the United States, atrazine is second in popularity only to glyphosate.
     The EPA registered glyphosate in 1974 and re-registered it in 1993. Major increase in use of glyphosate in the past two decades has come with widespread adoption of herbicide-tolerant, genetically engineered crops such as corn and soy.
     The EPA has never completed any endangered species assessments of glyphosate at any point over the lifetime of the chemical on the market.
     “With more than 300 million pounds of this stuff being dumped on our landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage it’s doing,” Hartl said.
     Monsanto called the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s cancer warning “junk science.”
     “IARC’s work is not a study, and it references no new data or studies,” Monsanto’s chief technology officer Robb Fraley said. “Instead, IARC only looked at a limited number of existing studies. Respected agencies around the world have looked at the same studies, plus many more, and determined that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe. IARC’s process is not transparent, its decision is irresponsible, and has the potential to cause confusion about such an important issue as safety.”
     Fraley said glyphosate-based herbicides on the market meet rigorous standards set by regulatory and health authorities.
     Glyphosate has been blamed for the decline of the monarch butterfly, whose population has dropped by 90 percent since 1995.
     The Natural Resources Defense Council says the herbicide has almost eradicated milkweed, which monarchs use for forage.
     The NRDC in November 2014 filed a petition asking the EPA to immediately review glyphosate and its impact on monarchs and implement measures to limit the chemical’s harm to the species.
     Although agreeing that the monarch butterfly is in jeopardy, the EPA rejected the petition in a letter to NRDC Tuesday , stating that the EPA “at this time has not determined that glyphosate causes unreasonable adverse effects to the monarch butterfly.”
     “The primary concern for the monarch butterfly and its resources should not be focused on just glyphosate,” the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs Director Jack Housenger wrote. “The primary concern for monarch butterflies is the reduced availability of milkweed, which is necessary for their life cycle. Therefore, focusing on glyphosate may only result in intensified use of other herbicides that may be just as detrimental to monarch butterflies or pose other human health or ecological risks.”
     Housenger cited work in progress to protect the butterfly as a result of the White House Pollinator Task Force Plan, issued last month, and international work with Mexico and Canada to protect the butterfly’s migration pathway.
     Sylvia Fallon, director of the Wildlife Conservation Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA “apparently plans to study the monarch migration to extinction.”
     “Everyone loves the monarch, including the Obama White House. But love isn’t going to save monarchs from glyphosate,” Fallon said.
     The last time the EPA evaluated the general ecological impacts of glyphosate was in 1993, when only 10 million pounds were being applied annually.
     The Center for Biological Diversity’s 2007 federal lawsuit accused the EPA of violating the Endangered Species Act by registering and allowing the use of a number of pesticides in endangered species habitats in the San Francisco Bay Area without any assessment of the impact the chemicals might have on the species.
     The court issued an injunction in 2010 , restricting the use of 75 pesticides in eight Bay Area counties and giving the EPA five years to assess the potential harmful effects of the pesticides on 11 endangered species. The EPA has completed analysis of 59 of the 75 pesticides.
     Thursday’s settlement amends the 2010 order. The EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity agreed it would be more significant if a nationwide impact assessment was conducted on atrazine and glyphosate, as well as propazine and simazine, which are chemically similar to atrazine.
     “This settlement is the first step to reining in the widespread use of dangerous pesticides that are harming both wildlife and people,” said Hartl with the Center.
     Last year, the Center for Biological Diversity reached a nationwide settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that required the agency to analyze impacts on endangered species of five pesticides – carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl – which have been found to be toxic to wildlife and may pose a health risk to humans.
     The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/06/26/big-win-for-environmentalists-will-force-epa-to-study-glyphosate.htm

Impact of insecticides on the cognitive development of 6-year-old children

blic Release: 10-Jun-2015

INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale)

In an article published in the journal Environment International, researchers from Inserm (Inserm Unit 1085 – IRSET, the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health, Rennes), in association with the Laboratory for Developmental and Educational Psychology, LPDE (Rennes 2 University), provide new evidence of neurotoxicity in humans from pyrethroid insecticides, which are found in a wide variety of products and uses. An increase in the urinary levels of two pyrethroid metabolites (3-PBA and cis-DBCA) in children is associated with a significant decrease in their cognitive performances , particularly verbal comprehension and working memory. This study was carried out on nearly 300 mother and child pairs from the PELAGIE cohort (Brittany).

Pyrethroid exposure

Pyrethroids constitute a family of insecticides widely used in a variety of sectors: agriculture (various crops), veterinary (antiparasitics) and domestic (lice shampoo, mosquito products). Their mode of action involves blocking neurotransmission in insects, leading to paralysis. Because of their efficacy and relative safety for humans and mammals, they have replaced older compounds (organochorides, organophosphates, carbamate) considered more toxic.

Continue reading “Impact of insecticides on the cognitive development of 6-year-old children”

Bee warned — Study finds pesticides threaten native pollinators

Public Release: 4-Jun-2015

Cornell University

ITHACA, N.Y. – A new Cornell study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled “safe for bees” also indirectly may threaten native pollinators.

The research, published June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds the negative effects of pesticides on wild bees lessens in proportion to the amount of natural areas near orchards.

Thirty-five percent of global food production benefits from insect pollinators, and U.S. farmers have relied exclusively on European honeybees, whose populations have been in decline for decades due to colony collapse disorder.

Continue reading “Bee warned — Study finds pesticides threaten native pollinators”

Study links exposure to common pesticide with ADHD in boys

Public Release: 1-Jun-2015

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

A new study links a commonly used household pesticide with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens.

The study found an association between pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD, particularly in terms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, rather than inattentiveness. The association was stronger in boys than in girls.

The study, led by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is published online in the journal Environmental Health.

“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance,” says Tanya Froehlich, MD, a developmental pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s corresponding author.

Due to concerns about adverse health consequences, the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned the two most commonly used organophosphate (organic compounds containing phosphorus) pesticides from residential use in 2000-2001. The ban led to the increased use of pyrethroid pesticides, which are now the most commonly used pesticides for residential pest control and public health purposes. They also are used increasingly in agriculture.

Continue reading “Study links exposure to common pesticide with ADHD in boys”

Eating fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues linked with poor semen quality

PUBLIC RELEASE: 30-MAR-2015

HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Boston, MA – Men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues–such as strawberries, spinach, and peppers–had lower sperm count and a lower percentage of normal sperm than those who ate produce with lower residue levels, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It is the first study to look at the connection between exposure to pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables and semen quality.

The study will appear online March 30, 2015 in the journal Human Reproduction.

“To our knowledge, this is the first report to link consumption of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, a primary exposure route for most people, to an adverse reproductive health outcome in humans,” said Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology and the study’s senior author.

Multiple studies have shown that consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables results in measurable pesticide levels in urine. Other studies have uncovered associations between occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides and lower semen quality. But only a few studies have linked consumption of pesticide residues in food to health effects, and none had looked at the effects on semen quality.

Continue reading “Eating fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues linked with poor semen quality”

Herbicides raise resistance to medical antibiotics: study

 

English.news.cn   2015-03-24 16:15:26

WELLINGTON, March 24 (Xinhua) — Commonly used herbicides can increase bacteria resistance to antibiotics, according to a New Zealand-led study out on Tuesday.

Herbicides, used to kill plants, could be tested for killing bacteria, but they had never been tested for other effects on bacteria, said Prof. Jack Heinemann at the University of Canterbury, which led the study.

In the first study of its kind in the world, the team investigated what happened to species of disease-causing bacteria when they were exposed to common herbicides such as Roundup, Kamba and 2,4-D.

“We found that exposure to some very common herbicides can cause bacteria to change their response to antibiotics,” Heinemann said in a statement.

Continue reading “Herbicides raise resistance to medical antibiotics: study”

Monarch Butterflies food supply 99% destroyed by Monsanto’s herbicide

 

Friday, 06 February 2015

The multinational agricultural giant Monsanto’s signature herbicide Roundup Ready is leading to the decimation of Monarch butterfly populations, according to a report issued by the US environment watchdog Center for Food Safety.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction, because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” executive director at Center for Food Safety Andrew Kimbrell said in a press release announcing the study’s findings on Thursday. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide has wiped out 99 percent of milkweed in corn and soybean fields in the US Midwest since 1999, eliminating Monarch butterfly’s only source of food, the report said. The butterfly lays eggs on milkweed, the only food the larvae will eat.

“Milkweed growing in Midwest cropland is essential to the monarch’s continued survival. Without milkweed, we’ll have no monarchs,” biologist with Center for Food Safety and co-author of the report Martha Crouch said.

As a result, Monarch populations have dropped nearly 90 percent over the past 20 years as the use of the herbicide has expanded in US Midwest corn and soybean crops.

“Monarch butterflies have long coexisted with agriculture, but the proliferation of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered crops is threatening that balance. Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready corn and soybeans have radically altered farming practices, sharply increasing the extent, frequency and intensity of glyphosate use on farm land,” the Center for Food Safety said. Continue reading “Monarch Butterflies food supply 99% destroyed by Monsanto’s herbicide”

Pesticide linked to 3 generations of disease

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

24-Jul-2014

Methoxychlor causes epigenetic changes
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations.

“What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,” says Michael Skinner, WSU professor and founder of its Center for Reproductive Biology.

Epigenetic mechanisms
Epigenetic mechanisms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He and his colleagues document their findings in a paper published online in PLOS ONE. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

DDT replacement banned in 2003 Continue reading “Pesticide linked to 3 generations of disease”

Organic fertilizers and Crop intensification can be a long-term solution to perennial food shortages in Africa

Agriculture

Chemical Fertilizers degrade the soil and reduce food production over time

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
17-Mar-2014

Growing more food on the same size of land is key to increasing food production in Africa to meet the needs of an ever-growing population

Farmers in Africa can increase their food production if they avoid over dependence on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and practice agricultural intensification – growing more food on the same amount of land – using natural and resource-conserving approaches such as agroforestry.

According to scientists at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), crop production in Africa is seriously hampered by the degradation of soil fertility, water and biodiversity resources. Currently, yields for important cereals such as maize have stagnated at 1 tone per hectare. Climate change and increasing demand for food, animal fodder and fuel is likely to worsen the situation. Continue reading “Organic fertilizers and Crop intensification can be a long-term solution to perennial food shortages in Africa”

Common crop pesticides kill honeybee larvae in the hive

Date: January 27, 2014
Source:
Penn State
Four pesticides commonly used on crops to kill insects and fungi also kill honeybee larvae within their hives, according to new research. Scientists also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone — an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive — is highly toxic to honeybee larvae.
]
Bee feeding larva in the hive.

Credit: Maryann Frazier/Penn State

Four pesticides commonly used on crops to kill insects and fungi also kill honeybee larvae within their hives, according to Penn State and University of Florida researchers. The team also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) — an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive — is highly toxic to honeybee larvae. Continue reading “Common crop pesticides kill honeybee larvae in the hive”

Hormone disruptors are regenerating themselves in darkness / casting doubt on environmental risk assessments

Hormone disruptors rise from the dead

Broken-down pollutants reform in the dark, casting doubt on environmental risk assessments.

26 September 2013
The vast amounts of steroids that are fed to cattle in some countries end up in farm run-off and may affect the environment even after they are broken down by sunlight.

Melanie Blanding/Alamy

Hormone-disrupting chemicals may be far more prevalent in lakes and rivers than previously thought. Environmental scientists have discovered that although these compounds are often broken down by sunlight, they can regenerate at night, returning to life like zombies.

“The assumption is that if it’s gone, we don’t have to worry about it,” says environmental engineer Edward Kolodziej of the University of Nevada in Reno, joint leader of the study. “But we’re under-predicting their environmental persistence.”

“Risk assessments have been built on the basis that light exposure is enough to break down these products,” adds Laura Vandenberg, an endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who was not involved in the study. “This work undermines that idea completely.”

Endocrine disruptors — pollutants that unbalance hormone systems — are known to harm fish, and there is growing evidence linking them to health problems in humans, including infertility and various cancers1. But pinpointing specific culprits from the vast array of trace chemicals in the environment has proved difficult. Indeed, concentrations of known endocrine disruptors in rivers often seem to be too low to explain harmful effects in aquatic wildlife, says Kolodziej.

Beefed up

He and his colleague David Cwiertny, an environmental engineer at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, decided to find out whether the breakdown products of endocrine disruptors could be boosting their environmental impact. Their team focused on trenbolone acetate, a synthetic anabolic steroid used as a growth promoter in more than 20 million cattle in the United States each year (this practice is banned in the European Union).

Cattle metabolize the steroid into compounds such as 17α-trenbolone, a potent endocrine disrupter commonly found in agricultural run-off water. In laboratory tests, just a few tens of nanograms of these compounds per litre can skew sex ratios and decrease fertility in fish2, 3. Some manufacturers have argued that these metabolites pose little risk in rivers, however, because sunlight breaks them down rapidly.

Kolodziej and his team put solutions of 17α-trenbolone and related compounds through several cycles of light and dark in the laboratory. Although concentrations fell during the simulated daytime, the scientists were surprised to see that levels rebounded during the dark periods. At neutral pH and 25 ºC, it took about five days to regenerate 60% of a sample of 17α-trenbolone from its breakdown products. Higher temperatures or slightly acidic or alkaline conditions accelerated this process.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Vandenberg. Field biologists usually collect water samples during the day, she says, and nocturnal regeneration “would certainly have the potential to impact those results.” Moreover, field studies have rarely reported the pH and temperature of water samples, which could have a big effect on true concentrations of contaminants. “I don’t think that anyone had conceived it could be so important,” she says.

The team found the same regeneration process occurring in water samples taken from the Iowa River, and from a test pond seeded with manure from cattle that had been treated with trenbolone acetate. They also note that other steroids with similar chemical structures can regenerate in the same way, including dienogest, an oral contraceptive, and dienedione, an illicit anabolic steroid. The results are published in Science4.

Hiding in plain sight

Kolodziej says that the work casts considerable uncertainty over sampling results for steroid endocrine disruptors, and suggests that a survey of their breakdown compounds in the environment is now urgently needed.

It also highlights a serious drawback in relying on studies that look for single environmental contaminants, rather than a spectrum of their derivatives, he adds. Chemical studies should be complemented with bioassays that use living cells to detect endocrine disruptors, Vandenberg adds.

Last year, a bioassay of this kind found androgens in 35% of freshwater samples tested, far more than chemical assays would suggest5. “What you really want to know is if there’s anything in there that can cause biological activity,” says molecular biologist Gordon Hager, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who developed the assay. Yet current environmental monitoring procedures still rely on checking “a list of chemicals, and they only know how to look for one thing at a time”, he says. “It’s a fool’s errand.”

Journal name:
Nature
DOI: doi:10.1038/nature.2013.13831

Two teaspoons of pesticide wipe out insects on 10-mile stretch of river

Minister demands curb on pesticide sale after it wipes out insects on 10-mile stretch of river

 

Two teaspoons of an insecticide poured down a kitchen sink has been held responsible for wiping out insect life on a 10-mile stretch of one of the country’s prime fishing rivers.

Richard Benyon demands curb on pesticide sale

Richard Benyon demands curb on pesticide sale Photo: Berkshire Media Group

 

3:42PM BST 26 Aug 2013

The incident, last month on the Kennet, caused ecological devastation on a stretch of river where anglers pay as much as £3,000 a season to fish.

Now Richard Benyon, an environment minister who is also the local MP, has asked his official to draw up curbs on the domestic sale of chlorpyrifos.

He has intervened after being approached by the Angling Trust.

“We have been pushing for regulations on how it is sold,” said Mark Lloyd, the Trust’s chief executive.

“It is freely available to everybody and without proper disposal it can cause a lot of damage.

“People will have tins which they then rinse out and even tiny amounts can be fatal to insects, which fish and birds feed off.

“In large enough quantities it can be fatal to fish as well.”

The incident on the Kennet was the latest in a series of scares involving the pesticide, which is regularly used on lawns and golf courses.

It was also held responsible for wiping out insect life on a large stretch of the River Roding in 1985, the River Wey in 2002 and 2003 and led to a significant number of fish being killed on the Rover Ouse in Sussex in 2001.

Following the incident on the Kennet, people were advised not to allow water from a stretch between Marlborough and Hungerford to come into contact with their skin.

In America the US Environment Protection Agency has placed limits on its use and the chemical was banned outright in Singapore for use in termite control in 2009.

Mr Benyon, who is the Conservative MP for Newbury, has asked officials to draw up measures to restrict its sale in Britain.

“I’m firmly on the side of those who want to make sure this never happens again.

“I think something as toxic as this should only be available to people with the qualifications to use it safely.

“I’ve asked Defra’s chemical regulations directorate to provide me with advice and I will act upon it.

“We want to make sure in the medium to the long term that we are protecting rivers like this from pollution incidents, whether they come agricultural use or personal use.

“Somebody could have just been cleaning out their garden, trying to clean algae out of their fishpond. We don’t know.”

Mr Benyon added: “In any river such an incident would cause me great concern but I am particularly upset that this should happen in my local river. I am really angered to hear of the devastating impacts for the ecology of the Kennet. This type of pollution is totally unacceptable”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/10266406/Minister-demands-curb-on-pesticide-sale-after-it-wipes-out-insects-on-10-mile-stretch-of-river.html

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.

India school lunch deaths: pesticide found in cooking oil

July 20, 2013 14:36

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

pesticide india lunches

School lunch that killed 23 children in India was found to have contained agricultural pesticide. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

A powerful insecticide killed 23 young Indian students last week, a forensic report has found.

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

The industrial-strength insecticide was found in the cooking oil used to make the meal. It was said to be five times stronger than commercial chemical insecticides.

“The report has found organophospharus in oil samples collected from the school where the mid-day meal was prepared and consumed by the children,” said Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer in Bihar state capital Patna, according to AFP.

“It was observed by the scientists of the Forensic Science Laboratory that the poisonous substance in the (food) oil samples was more than five times the commercial preparation available in the market.”

More from GlobalPost: Poverty, not poison, killed Indian school lunch kids

The victims, aged four to 12, were buried in the playfield near the primary school that served the lunch.

Another two dozen children are still being treated in hospital.

The deaths sparked protests in the region.

Authorities are still investigating how the chemical got into the cooking oil. No arrests have been made.

The lunch was part of India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme, which feeds 120 million children – often their only meal of the day.

The plan seeks to alleviate malnutrition and boost school attendance rates.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130720/india-school-lunch-deaths-pesticide-found-cooking-oi

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

Even Dirtier Food, Brought to You by the Environmental Protection Agency

Just when it seemed the United States Department of Agriculture might finally be taking a second look at crops engineered to resist pesticide application, another branch of government, the Environmental Protection Agency, now seems poised to raise the level of pesticides that can be sprayed on our food.

Apparently taking its orders from chemical giant Monsanto—which manufactures both agricultural chemicals and transgene plants that are resistant to them—the EPA hiked the amount of residue from the herbicide glyphosate that is allowed on several foods we eat, including carrots, sweet potatoes and mustard seeds. While the latest pesticide hike is geared toward non-GE crops rather than genetically engineered “Roundup-ready” crops, Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, tells TakePart that higher levels of glyphosate residues means farmers will spray our food with more herbicides and pesticides—increasing the health risks for humans, animals and the environment.

“The formula in its product (Roundup) is a lot more toxic than glysophate alone,” Freese says. “It’s very toxic to amphibians, but there have been studies linking Roundup to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans, which kills 30 percent of those who contract it. Farmers generally have less cancer overall because of their active lifestyles, but they show higher rates of this type of cancer. That’s really scary.”

A June 2013 study out of Thailand found that glyphosate “exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer.” This followed an MIT study in April that concluded that “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins,” adding that glyphosate’s “negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.” Scary indeed.


According to its website, the EPA sets tolerances for pesticide residues that may be found on food:

In establishing tolerances, EPA considers the toxicity of each pesticide, how much of the pesticide is applied and how often, and how much of the pesticide (i.e., the residues) remains in or on food. An added margin of safety ensures that residues remaining in foods are many times lower than amounts that could actually cause adverse health effects.

The pesticide tolerances set by EPA are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration, which monitors domestically produced and imported foods traveling in interstate commerce except meat, poultry, and some egg products.

This latest Monsanto-related controversy follows the case of the “zombie wheat” from earlier this year, where an Oregon farmer found Roundup-resistant wheat on his property, despite the crop’s absence from commercial production. (Monsanto was publicly skeptical that the GE wheat was its creation.)

Today, July 1, is the last day the EPA will be accepting public comments on the planned herbicide residue hike. Electronic comments may be made here. After today, the policy will go into effect immediately. Freese, of the Center for Food Safety, says he’d be “very surprised” if the EPA altered its ruling in any way in response to objections.

“They only look at the active ingredient itself (glyphosate) rather than the entire formula,” Freese says, “and they rely almost entirely on the companies contesting (Monsanto).”

http://news.yahoo.com/even-dirtier-food-brought-environmental-protection-agency-210821833.html

 

Toxic pesticides burn up in California wildfire

Published time: May 03, 2013 16:30                           

US Forestry fire fighters preapre to take on an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Camarillo, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

US Forestry fire fighters preapre to take on an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Camarillo, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

Hazmat teams are trying to contain a massive California wildfire that is threatening 2,000 homes. Locals are being warned not to inhale the smoke – especially since highly toxic pesticides have caught fire and are releasing dangerous chemical fumes.

The wildfire erupted in Southern California at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, forcing residents near Camarillo to evacuate their homes. The raging fire has already burnt more than 12 ½ sq. miles, and 15 homes have already sustained damage. A group of recreational vehicles in a mobile home park have been completely destroyed. About 2,000 other homes are at risk of destruction as the flames lick the edges of communities 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A small, local university canceled classes for the week as the fire threatened its campus, AP reports.

And while smoke inhalation is never healthy, the fumes of this wildfire are particularly dangerous: fire officials on Thursday warned that a store of highly toxic pesticides caught fire at an agricultural property in Laguna Farms, near the university campus. Fire officials have sent out health warnings, urging residents to avoid inhaling smoke – even if no flames are nearby.

A fire fighting helicopter comes in to make a water drop behind some home threatened by a wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

A fire fighting helicopter comes in to make a water drop behind some home threatened by a wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

 

Inhaling pesticides can burn internal organs and harm the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe. Doing so may also cause the pesticides to become absorbed in the bloodstream and disperse throughout the body. Severe cases of pesticide poisoning can lead to loss of reflexes, inability to breathe, unconsciousness or death. External exposure to pesticides can also burn through skin and eyes, in some cases causing blindness.

Firefighters in hazmat suits are currently dealing with the hazardous materials, and the Ventury County Fire Department is assessing the damage throughout the day on Friday, fire spokesman Bill Nash told AP. Wind gusts contributed to the spread of the fire, and unusually dry conditions have caused it to spread quickly. Friday “may be the hottest day of the week, and the humidity we do expect to plummet,” Nash told NBC.

“We’re faced with a situation right now where the vegetation on the hillsides, the moisture level is what we typically see in August.”

The Springs Fire rages along the Pacific Ocean north of the Ventura County Line May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn)

The Springs Fire rages along the Pacific Ocean north of the Ventura County Line May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn)

 

Ventura Country Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke warned the public that the fire is still growing rapidly, and that residents should keep away from it.

“We have conditions that are very dramatic, very dangerous for firefighters. This fire is growing,” he said. “We are asking members of the public to be very aware: This is very dangerous. This is still a moving fire. If you were asked to evacuate, it will be a while before you are allowed in. And if at one point you are uncomfortable, please leave the area. It’s not safe to stay.”

As of 2 a.m. Pacific time, the fire was within “seven or eight miles” of Malibu, Nash told NBC. But he reassured his team’s commitment to containing the flames. As of early Friday, the fire had reached about 10,000 acres and was 10 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

“We’ve got hot, dirty, unglamorous firefighting work going on right now, guys with shovels trying to scratch out lines on the ground,” he said. “We’ve got those guys on these steep hillside in the dark with nothing but the light of the fire and a flashlight.”

A firefighter battles to protect a CalTrans Maintenance Station and Fuel Depot from the Springs Fire near Pacific Coast Highway and the Los Angeles County Line at Malibu, California, May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Patrick Fallon)

A firefighter battles to protect a CalTrans Maintenance Station and Fuel Depot from the Springs Fire near Pacific Coast Highway and the Los Angeles County Line at Malibu, California, May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Patrick Fallon)

 

Meanwhile, residents who left their homes near Camarillo were waiting at evacuation centers. Mark Brewer, a 52-year-old man, told AP that the risk of wildfires is one that he always expected.

“This is a part of being in Southern California, just like earthquakes,” he said.

But it is rare that large stockpiles of pesticide go up in flames and threaten the health of surrounding communities. The last major pesticide fire occurred in June 1985 in Anaheim, California, after a warehouse storing organophosphates and carbamates went up in flames. The fire caused the evacuation of about 11,500 people and the closing of a freeway as the Coast Guard toxic waste team was called in to extinguish it.

Fire officials are still investigating the cause behind this week’s fire in Southern California.

 

http://rt.com/usa/toxic-pesticide-california-fire-779/

Study Shows Reproductive Effects of Pesticide Exposure Span Generations

For Immediate Release

Matt Shipman | News Services | 919.515.6386

Dr. Gerald LeBlanc | 919.515.7404

Release Date: 04.22.2013 Filed under Releases

North Carolina State University researchers studying aquatic organisms called Daphnia have found that exposure to a chemical pesticide has impacts that span multiple generations – causing the so-called “water fleas” to produce more male offspring, and causing reproductive problems in female offspring.

 

“This work supports the hypothesis that exposure to some environmental chemicals during sensitive periods of development can cause significant health problems for those organisms later in life – and affect their offspring and, possibly, their offspring’s offspring,” says Dr. Gerald LeBlanc, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at NC State  and lead author of a paper on the work. “We were looking at a model organism, identified an important pathway for environmental sex determination, and found that there are chemicals that can hijack that pathway.”

Environmental cues normally determine the sex, male or female, of Daphnia offspring, and researchers have been working to understand the mechanisms involved. As part of that work, LeBlanc’s team had previously identified a hormone called methyl farnesoate (Mf) that Daphnia produce under certain environmental conditions.

The researchers have now found that the hormone binds with a protein receptor called the Mf receptor, which can regulate gene transcription and appears to be tied to the production of male offspring.

In experiments, the researchers exposed Daphnia to varying levels of an insecticide called pyriproxyfen, which mimics the Mf hormone. The pyriproxyfen exposure resulted in Daphnia producing more male offspring and fewer offspring in total, with higher doses exacerbating both effects.

“At high concentrations, we were getting only male offspring, which is not good,” LeBlanc says. “Producing fewer offspring, specifically fewer female offspring, could significantly limit population numbers for Daphnia.”

And low exposure concentrations had significant impacts as well. At pyriproxyfen concentrations as low as 71 nanograms per liter, or 71 parts per trillion, the Daphnia would still produce some female offspring. But those females suffered long-term reproductive health effects, producing significantly smaller numbers of offspring – despite the fact that they had not been exposed to pyriproxyfen since birth.

“We now want to know specifically which genes are involved in this sex determination process,” LeBlanc says. “And, ecologically, it would be important to know the impact of changes in population dynamics for this species. Daphnia are a keystone species – an important food source for juvenile fish and other organisms.”

The paper, “A Transgenerational Endocrine Signaling Pathway in Crustacea,” was published April 17 in PLOS ONE. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Ying Wang, a research associate at NC State; Charisse Holmes and Elizabeth Medlock, Ph.D. students at NC State; and Gwijun Kwon, a research technician at NC State. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

-shipman-

Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“A Transgenerational Endocrine Signaling Pathway in Crustacea”

Authors: Gerald A. LeBlanc, Ying H. Wang, Charisse N. Holmes, Gwijun Kwon and Elizabeth K. Medlock, North Carolina State University

Published: April 17, 2013, PLOS ONE

Abstract: Background: Environmental signals to maternal organisms can result in developmental alterations in progeny. One such example is environmental sex determination in Branchiopod crustaceans. We previously demonstrated that the hormone methyl farnesoate could orchestrate environmental sex determination in the early embryo to the male phenotype. Presently, we identify a transcription factor that is activated by methyl farnesoate and explore the extent and significance of this transgenerational signaling pathway. Methodology/Principal Findings: Several candidate transcription factors were cloned from the water flea Daphnia pulex and evaluated for activation by methyl farnesoate. One of the factors evaluated, the complex of two bHLH-PAS proteins, dappuMet and SRC, activated a reporter gene in response to methyl farnesoate. Several juvenoid compounds were definitively evaluated for their ability to activate this receptor complex (methyl farnesoate receptor, MfR) in vitro and stimulate male sex determination in vivo. Potency to activate the MfR correlated to potency to stimulate male sex determination of offspring (pyriproxyfen>methyl farnesoate>methoprene, kinoprene). Daphnids were exposed to concentrations of pyriproxyfen and physiologic responses determined over multiple generations. Survivial, growth, and sex of maternal organisms were not affected by pyriproxyfen exposure. Sex ratio among offspring (generation 2) were increasingly skewed in favor of males with increasing pyriproxyfen concentration; while, the number of offspring per brood was progressively reduced. Female generation 2 daphnids were reared to reproductive maturity in the absence of pyriproxyfen. Sex ratios of offspring (generation 3) were not affected in this pyriproxyfen lineage, however, the number of offspring per brood, again, was significantly reduced. Conclusions: Results reveal likely components to a hormone/receptor signaling pathway in a crustacean that orchestrates transgenerational modifications to important population metrics (sex ratios, fecundity of females). A model is provided that describes how these signaling processes can facilitate population sustainability under normal conditions or threaten sustainability when perturbed by environmental chemicals.

Contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be responsible for viruses entering the food chain, warn scientists

Contact: Sacha Boucherie S.Boucherie@elsevier.com 31-204-853-564 Elsevier

Pesticide application as potential source of noroviruses in fresh food supply chains

Human norovirus (hNoV), also known as the winter vomiting bug, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the world. The virus is highly contagious, causing vomiting and diarrhea, and the number of affected cases is growing. Currently there is no cure; sufferers have to let the virus run its course for a few days.

The consumption of fresh produce is frequently associated with outbreaks of hNoV but it remains difficult to identify where in the supply chain the virus first enters production.

A new study, published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology investigated whether contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be a source of hNoV. Farmers use various water sources in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables, including well water and different types of surface water such as river water or lake water – sources which have been found to harbour hNoV.

To test this theory, eight different pesticides were analyzed in the study; each was diluted with hNoV contaminated water. The researchers tested whether traces of the virus were present in the samples after the two elements were combined. Results showed that the infectivity of the norovirus was unaffected when added to the pesticide samples. In other words: pesticides did not counteract the effects of the contaminated water.

The authors conclude that the application of pesticides on fresh produce may not only be a chemical hazard, but may in fact also be a microbiological risk factor; both having consequences on public health.

###

Notes for editors

This article is “Persistence of human norovirus in reconstituted pesticides — Pesticide application as a possible source of viruses in fresh produce chains” by Katharina Verhaelen, Martijn Bouwknegt, Saskia A. Rutjes and Ana Maria de Roda Husman  (DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.11.007) and appears in International Journal of Food Microbiology published by Elsevier.

The article is available to credentialed journalists at no charge through free access to ScienceDirect, the world’s largest repository of scientific information. Please use your ScienceDirect media login and password to access the full text research paper. For a new media login, forgotten password or if you have any specific questions, please contact newsroom@elsevier.com

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Prenatal exposure to pesticide DDT linked to adult high blood pressure

Contact: Michele La Merrill mlamerrill@ucdavis.edu 347-791-1053 University of California – Davis

Infant girls exposed to high levels of the pesticide DDT while still inside the womb are three times more likely to develop hypertension when they become adults, according to a new study led by the University of California, Davis.

Previous studies have shown that adults exposed to DDT (dichlorodiplhenyltrichloroethane) are at an increased risk of high blood pressure. But this study, published online March 12 in Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to link prenatal DDT exposure to hypertension in adults.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a high risk factor for heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.

“The prenatal period is exquisitely sensitive to environmental disturbance because that’s when the tissues are developing,” said study lead author Michele La Merrill, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT in this country in 1972 after nearly three decades of use. However, the pesticide is still used for malaria control in other parts of the world, such as India and South Africa. That means children born in those areas could have a higher risk of hypertension as adults.

La Merrill said that traces of DDT, a persistent organic pollutant, also remain in the food system, primarily in fatty animal products.

The study examined concentrations of DDT in blood samples collected from women who had participated in the Child Health and Development Studies, an ongoing project of the nonprofit Public Health Institute. The CHDS recruited women who sought obstetric care through Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1959 and 1967. They also surveyed the adult daughters of those women to learn if they had developed hypertension.

“Evidence from our study shows that women born in the U.S. before DDT was banned have an increased risk of hypertension that might be explained by increased DDT exposure,” said La Merrill. “And the children of people in areas where DDT is still used may have an increased risk, as well.”

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The study’s co-authoring institutions were the Public Health Institute and Columbia University.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

EPA plays legal games to prevent banning of allegedly poisonous Chlorpyrifos

Pesiticide Foes Will Try to Work It Out With EPA

By JUNE WILLIAMS

SEATTLE (CN) – A 9th Circuit hearing over a pesticide that allegedly poisons farm workers and children ended with environmentalists agreeing to mediation.

Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used on various crops and golf courses, and as a wood treatment or mosquito hunter.

Concerned about its allegedly harmful health effects to humans, the Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 to force a ban on the chemical.

That federal case is currently stayed in New York pending a writ of mandamus that the groups are seeking in the 9th Circuit. Mandamus relief compels a public agency or governmental body to act on a usually neglected legal requirement.

The environmentalists told a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court last week that mandamus relief is necessary because the EPA has taken five years to respond to their petition asking for the ban.

Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles said the EPA had missed two previous deadlines for answering claims about the pesticide. The agency made a commitment to respond by November 2011, then changed the date to February 2012 but also missed that deadline.

Without a court-mandated deadline, the case would “languish and slip even further,” Boyles said.

When Judge Richard Paez asked for a possible timeframe, Boyles said: “The most important thing is you give them a date.”

“We believe that the evidence in the petition of 2007 was sufficient to support the ban of chlorpyrifos,” she added.

Paez then asked if the EPA could just ban the pesticide outright, leading Boyles to suggest three possible actions.

It could immediately issue a ruling that bans some or all usage; it could put out a proposed rule for comment; or it could deny the petition to ban chlorpyrifos, she said.

Until the EPA does one of those things, the case was “entirely in limbo,” Boyles added.

The FDA has a “tentative date” to respond by February 2014, but she urged the court to order a final ruling on any of the three options by that date.

EPA attorney David Carson called mandamus an “extreme remedy” and said this was not an extreme case. He said the EPA had dealt with “most” of the issues raised in the complaint, and had implemented “buffer zones” and “reduced application rates” to prevent spray drift of the pesticide.

The EPA needs more time to complete epidemiological studies before deciding whether to ban chlorpyrifos, he added.

Judge Ronald Gould said that it would be ideal if the EPA could complete the studies, but “it can’t go on forever.”

With prompting from Judge Raymond Fisher, who participated in the hearing through a remote video feed, both sides agreed to attempt resolution in mediation.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/02/11/54763.htm

 

Death knell for nerve agent pesticides in move to save bees

European Food Safety Authority states that neonicotinoid use acceptable ‘only…on crops not attractive to honey bees’

Charlie Cooper

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

European safety regulators have finally moved against nerve-agent insecticides blamed for a worldwide decline in bee populations, significantly increasing pressure for a UK ban on the chemicals.

In a report published today, the European Food Safety Authority stated for the first time that neonicotinoid use was acceptable, “only…on crops not attractive to honey bees” and that the chemicals pose “a number of risks” to bee health.

The findings add to a growing body of scientific evidence linking the use of neonicotinoid chemicals in agriculture with sharp falls in populations of bees and other pollinators.

Yesterday Defra, which has so far been reluctant to legislate on the insecticide threat to bees, said that it was awaiting the results of its own “extensive research”, which will be considered by the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

“If it is concluded that restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids are necessary, they will be brought in,” a Defra spokesman said.

Friends of the Earth called for the Government to “urgently remove” the named chemicals – clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid – from sale in the UK

“We can’t afford to dither when it comes to protecting these key pollinators,” said director Andy Atkins, director of Friends of the Earth. “Ministers must urgently remove these dangerous chemicals from sale, overhaul inadequate pesticide safety tests and ensure farmers have access to safe, effective alternatives to enable them to produce food without harming our bees.”

However, manufacturers were quick to downplay the significance of the EFSA report and claimed that banning the chemicals would have dire consequences for the farming industry.

Bayer, which makes the world’s most widely-used insecticide imidacloprid, warned against “over-interpretation of the precautionary principle” and said “multiple factors” were behind bee colony losses.

In a paper published a day before the EFSA report, the agrichemical industry claimed that banning neonicotinoids could cost the farming industry £620m in lost food production.

The report, by the EU think tank the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture, and funded by Bayer and Syngenta, which makes the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, also suggested one million jobs would be lost and the price of food would go up.

Mike Bushell, Principal Scientific Advisor at Syngenta said the EFSA study “focused on highly theoretical risks to bees.”

Dr Chris Hartfield, horticulture advisor to The National Farmers Union said that hasty changes to UK regulations might “do nothing to improve bee health, while compromising the effectiveness of crop production”, but conceded that “improving science” was enabling lawmakers to “identify gaps in current regulatory processes.”

The EFSA report concluded that, due to risk of exposure from pollen and nectar, the use of the three neonicotinoid chemicals was unacceptable on crops attractive to honey bees. The use of the insecticides on crops planted in greenhouses also posed a risk to bees by exposure by dust, the report said.

The report stopped short of recommending a ban on the chemicals but urged further investigation into the risks, particularly to other pollinators such as bumble bees, butterflies and moths, pointing out that the findings only looked at the impact on honey bees.

Bans on some neonicotinoid products have already been introduced in France, Germany and Slovenia.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/death-knell-for-nerve-agent-pesticides-in-move-to-save-bees-8454443.html

Commercial organic farms have better fruit and soil, lower environmental impact: ozone-depleting methyl bromide, which is slated to be replaced by the highly toxic methyl iodide over the protests of health advocates and more than 50 Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences.

2010 report posted for filing

Contact: John Reganold reganold@wsu.edu 509-335-8856 Washington State University

Study finds commercial organic farms have better fruit and soil, lower environmental impact

Research team compared fields and fruits in heart of nation’s strawberry patch

             IMAGE:   John Reganold is lead author of a PLoS ONE paper finding organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious berries than conventional farms while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically…

Click here for more information.     

PULLMAN, Wash.—Side-by-side comparisons of organic and conventional strawberry farms and their fruit found the organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious berries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse.

“Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems,” said John Reganold, Washington State University Regents professor of soil science and lead author of a paper published today in the peer-reviewed online journal, PLoS ONE. “We also show you can have high quality, healthy produce without resorting to an arsenal of pesticides.”

The study is among the most comprehensive of its kind, analyzing 31 chemical and biological soil properties, soil DNA, and the taste, nutrition and quality of three strawberry varieties on more than two dozen commercial fields—13 conventional and 13 organic.

“There is no paper in the literature that comprehensively and quantitatively compares so many indices of both food and soil quality at multiple sampling times on so many commercial farms,” said Reganold. Previous Reganold studies of “sustainability indicators” on farms in the Pacific Northwest, California, British Columbia, Australia, and New Zealand have appeared in the journals Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

All the farms in the current study were in California, home to 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries and the center of an ongoing debate about the use of soil fumigants. Conventional farms in the study used the ozone-depleting methyl bromide, which is slated to be replaced by the highly toxic methyl iodide over the protests of health advocates and more than 50 Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences. In July, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked the EPA to reconsider its approval of methyl iodide.

Reganold’s study team included Preston Andrews, a WSU associate professor of horticulture, and seven other experts, mostly from WSU, to form a multidisciplinary team spanning agroecology, soil science, microbial ecology, genetics, pomology, food science, sensory science, and statistics. On almost every major indicator, they found the organic fields and fruit were equal to or better than their conventional counterparts.

Among their findings:

  • The organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds.
  • The organic strawberries had longer shelf life.
  • The organic strawberries had more dry matter, or, “more strawberry in the strawberry.”
  • Anonymous testers, working at times under red light so the fruit color would not bias them, found one variety of organic strawberries was sweeter, had better flavor, and once a white light was turned on, appearance. The testers judged the other two varieties to be similar.

 

The researchers also found the organic soils excelled in a variety of key chemical and biological properties, including carbon sequestration, nitrogen, microbial biomass, enzyme activities, and micronutrients.

DNA analysis found the organically managed soils had dramatically more total and unique genes and greater genetic diversity, important measures of the soil’s resilience to stress and ability to carry out

Atrazine (Herbicide) causes prostate inflammation in male rats and delays puberty

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Robin Mackar rmackar@niehs.nih.gov 919-541-0073 NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

A new study shows that male rats prenatally exposed to low doses of atrazine, a widely used herbicide, are more likely to develop prostate inflammation and to go through puberty later than non-exposed animals. The research adds to a growing body of literature on atrazine, an herbicide predominantly used to control weeds and grasses in crops such as corn and sugar cane. Atrazine and its byproducts are known to be relatively persistent in the environment, potentially finding their way into water supplies.

The research, which is available online and will be featured on the cover of Reproductive Toxicology (Volume 30, Issue 4), found that the incidence of prostate inflammation went from 48 percent in the control group to 81 percent in the male offspring who were exposed to a mixture of atrazine and its breakdown products prenatally. The severity of the inflammation increased with the strength of the doses. Puberty was also delayed in the animals who received atrazine.

The doses of atrazine mixture given to the rats during the last five days of their pregnancy are close to the regulated levels in drinking water sources. The current maximum contamination level of atrazine allowed in drinking water is 3 parts per billion. The doses given to the animals were 0.09 (or 2.5 parts per million), 0.87, or 8.73 milligrams per kilogram body weight.

The research was led by Suzanne Fenton, Ph.D., and Jason Stanko, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. Fenton began the work as a researcher at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but completed the research at NIEHS, working closely with NIEHS pathologists. Both NIEHS and EPA provided financial support for the study.

“We didn’t expect to see these kinds of effects at such low levels,” Fenton said. She adds that this is the second paper to show low dose effects of atrazine metabolite mixtures. Fenton was the senior author on a 2007 paper which demonstrated low doses of the atrazine mix delayed mammary development in female siblings from the same litters used in this current study.

“It was noteworthy that the prostate inflammation decreased over time, suggesting the effects may not be permanent,” said David Malarkey, D.V.M., Ph.D., an NIEHS pathologist and co-author on the paper.

Fenton points out that these findings may extend beyond atrazine alone, and may be relevant to other herbicides found in the same chlorotriazine family, including propazine and simazine. All three of the herbicides create the same set of breakdown products.

Fenton says more research is needed to understand the mechanism of action of the chlorotriazines and their metabolites on mammary and prostate tissue. “These tissues seem to be particularly sensitive to the effects of atrazine and its breakdown products,” Fenton added.  “The effects may be due to the stage of fetal development at the time the animals were exposed.”

“We hope that this information will be useful to the EPA, as it completes its risk assessment of atrazine,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program.

Fenton will be presenting her research findings in September to the EPA, as part of its reassessment of atrazine. EPA announced in 2009 that it had begun a comprehensive new evaluation of atrazine to determine its effects on humans. At the end of this process, the agency will decide whether to revise its current risk assessment of atrazine and whether new restrictions are necessary to better protect public health. For more information about the EPA risk assessment, please visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/atrazine/atrazine_update.htm.

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The NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit our Web site at http://www.niehs.nih.gov. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/newslist/index.cfm) to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Reference: Stanko JP, Enoch RR, Rayner JL, Davis CC, Wolf DC, Malarkey DE, Fenton SE. Effects of prenatal exposure to a low dose atrazine metabolite mixture on pubertal timing and prostate development of male Long-Evans rats. Reprod Toxicol. Epub ahead of print. DOI:10.1016/j.reprotox.2010.07.006.

Prenatal exposure to pesticides linked to attention problems

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Sarah Yang scyang@berkeley.edu 510-643-7741 University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley — Children who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while still in their mother’s womb were more likely to develop attention disorders years later, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The new findings, to be published Aug. 19 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), are the first to examine the influence of prenatal organophosphate exposure on the later development of attention problems. The researchers found that prenatal levels of organophosphate metabolites were significantly linked to attention problems at age 5, with the effects apparently stronger among boys.

Earlier this year, a different study by researchers at Harvard University associated greater exposure to organophosphate pesticides in school-aged children with higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

“These studies provide a growing body of evidence that organophosphate pesticide exposure can impact human neurodevelopment, particularly among children,” said the study’s principal investigator, Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “We were especially interested in prenatal exposure because that is the period when a baby’s nervous system is developing the most.”

The study follows more than 300 children participating in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a longitudinal study led by Eskenazi that examines environmental exposures and reproductive health. Because the mothers and children in the study are Mexican-Americans living in an agricultural community, their exposure to pesticides is likely higher and more chronic, on average, than that of the general U.S. population.

Yet, the researchers pointed out that the pesticides they examined are widely used, and that the results from this study are a red flag that warrants precautionary measures.

“It’s known that food is a significant source of pesticide exposure among the general population,” said Eskenazi. “I would recommend thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them, especially if you’re pregnant.”

Organophosphate pesticides act by disrupting neurotransmitters, particularly acetylcholine, which plays an important role in sustaining attention and short-term memory.

“Given that these compounds are designed to attack the nervous system of organisms, there is reason to be cautious, especially in situations where exposure may coincide with critical periods of fetal and child development,” said study lead author Amy Marks, who was an analyst at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health at the time of the study.

Many of these same UC Berkeley researchers are also finding that children with certain genetic traits may be at greater risk, a finding that is being published the same day in a separate EHP paper. That study found that 2-year-olds with lower levels of paraoxonase 1 (PON1), an enzyme that breaks down the toxic metabolites of organophosphate pesticides, had more neurodevelopmental delays than those with higher levels of the enzyme. The authors suggest that people with certain PON1 genotypes could be particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure.

In the study on attention problems, researchers tested for six metabolites of organophosphate pesticides in mothers twice during pregnancy and in the children several times after birth. Together, the metabolites represent the breakdown products of about 80 percent of all the organophosphate pesticides used in the Salinas Valley.

The researchers then evaluated the children at age 3.5 and 5 years for symptoms of attention disorders and ADHD using maternal reports of child behavior, performance on standardized computer tests, and behavior ratings from examiners. They controlled for potentially confounding factors such as birthweight, lead exposure and breastfeeding.

Each tenfold increase in prenatal pesticide metabolites was linked to having five times the odds of scoring high on the computerized tests at age 5, suggesting a greater likelihood of a child having clinical ADHD. The effect appeared to be stronger for boys than for girls.

While a positive link between prenatal pesticide exposure and attention problems was seen for 3.5-year-olds, it was not statistically significant, a finding that did not surprise the researchers.

“Symptoms of attention disorders are harder to recognize in toddlers, since kids at that age are not expected to sit down for significant lengths of time,” said Marks. “Diagnoses of ADHD often occur after a child enters school.”

The UC Berkeley researchers are continuing to follow the children in the CHAMACOS study as they get older, and expect to present more results in the years to come.

The findings add to the list of chemical assaults that have been linked to ADHD in recent years. In addition to pesticides, studies have found associations with exposure to lead and to phthalates, which are commonly used in toys and plastics.

“High levels of the symptoms of ADHD by age 5 are a major contributor to learning and achievement problems in school, accidental injuries at home and in the neighborhood, and a host of problems in peer relationships and other essential competencies,” said UC Berkeley psychology professor Stephen Hinshaw, one of the country’s leading experts on ADHD, who was not part of this study. “Finding preventable risk factors is therefore a major public health concern.”

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Other co-authors of the paper on attention problems are Kim Harley, Asa Bradman, Katherine Kogut and Caroline Johnson at UC Berkeley’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research; Dana Boyd Barr at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health; and Norma Calderon at the Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas.

The authors of the PON1 paper include Nina Holland and Karen Huen at UC Berkeley’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety helped fund this research.

Genetically modified food should be grown and sold widely in Britain and consumer opposition to the technology is a “complete nonsense”, the Cabinet minister in charge of food and farming has said.

EEV: His Argument is based upon 100% absolutes of  consumption, pesticide reduction, and fear. Please refer to just one simple article linked here:
Aquatic Weed Killer Allowed on Cotton just listing 1 article as a counter to his open scientific ignorance. We can go into destruction of biodiversity next, but why bother he is just really, really dumb.

 

 

Food minister Owen Paterson backs GM crops

Mr Paterson is also understood to have disseminated his guide, entitled 'Punctuation Rules,' while in his last post as Northern Ireland Secretary.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Paterson, said: ‘Emphatically we should be looking at GM … I’m very clear it would be a good thing’ Photo: GEOFF PUGH

By Robert Winnett and James Kirkup

9:30PM GMT 09 Dec 2012

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, made the remarks as ministers prepare to relax controls on the cultivation of GM crops, which he said had “real environmental benefits”.

Some senior Government figures privately believe that the technology — which can increase crop yields and prevent disease — is essential in assuring Britain’s future food security and to avoid dependency on imports.

Any move to allow the use of GM crops could be highly controversial, but Mr Paterson dismissed critics of the technology as “humbugs” and said that the case for GM food now needed to be made “emphatically”.

The comments are likely to alarm opponents of GM food, who fear that the crops can cause environmental damage and even be harmful to human health.

The Coalition has so far allowed small-scale cultivation trials for GM food but its widespread use is effectively banned. Some GM products are contained in imported foods, but most supermarkets have banned the ingredients from their own-brand products because of public unease about the material.

In the late Nineties, Tony Blair, the former prime minister, promoted the use of GM food, but later retreated in the face of public scepticism and campaigns against “Frankenfoods”.

However, recent polls suggest that British hostility to GM technology is waning, and some senior ministers are keen to explore its use. The Government has recently run a low-key consultation exercise about new “agri-tech” measures to increase the efficiency of British farms. The consultation sought views on options including the increased use of GM crops.

A formal ministerial response is due next year, but insiders say the exercise is likely to lead to an increase in the use of the technology.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Paterson, said: “Emphatically we should be looking at GM … I’m very clear it would be a good thing.

“The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods.

“There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits.”

Those benefits include a reduction in the use of pesticides because some GM crops are pest-resistant, he said. That in turn reduces farmers’ fuel use.

The Environment Secretary also said that consumers were already unwittingly eating GM food on a regular basis, so concerns about human health are misplaced.

“There’s about 160 million hectares of GM being grown around the world,” he said. “There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed. So it’s a complete nonsense. But, the humbug! You know, large amounts of GM products are used across Europe.”

Mr Paterson would not be drawn on the consultation, but said he was confident that David Cameron would find an “appropriate moment” to back GM food.

“I’m very clear it would be a good thing,” he said. “So you’d discuss it within government, you’d discuss it at a European level and you’d need to persuade the public.”

Mr Paterson’s views on GM food are understood to be shared by a number of his colleagues, including David Willetts, the science minister.

Senior Liberal Democrats are also understood to be open to a change in policy.

During the past decade, the Lib Dems strongly opposed the increased use of GM technology for food, although the party’s election manifesto made no mention of the issue.

Some Lib Dem ministers fear that their party activists would strongly oppose any relaxation in the current rules, but others say the change must be considered.

David Heath, the Lib Dem farming minister, told farming groups last month that GM food was “one of the tools in the box” for increasing food production.

A senior party source told The Daily Telegraph that it should make the “rational” case for GM technology amid a growing global population and demand for food.

“This is something that we need to do to ensure that everyone has enough to eat in the years to come,” the source said. “Yes, some people have doubts and fears, but that’s something we should deal with, not run away from.”

Mr Paterson’s predecessor at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was Caroline Spelman. She also backed the “benefits” of GM crops, but did not lift the ban on their commercial cultivation.

The official Government policy on GM crops is “precautionary, evidence-based and sensitive to public concerns”. It describes the technology as “not wholly good or bad” and will consider licensing crops on a case-by-case basis.

Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides

Contact: Dave Weston d.weston@ucl.ac.uk 44-020-310-83844 University College London

Scientists have found that low-level exposure to organophosphates (OPs) produces lasting decrements in neurological and cognitive function. Memory and information processing speed are affected to a greater degree than other cognitive functions such as language.

The systematic review of the literature was carried out by researchers at UCL and the Open University. It is the first to attempt a quantitative evaluation of the data assimilated from 14 studies and more than 1,600 participants. The researchers used meta-analysis to obtain an overview of the literature and their findings are published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology.

“Meta-analysis combines the results of several studies and moves the discussion away from individual pieces of research, towards an overview of a body of literature,” says lead author Dr Sarah Mackenzie Ross (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology).

“This is considered to be the method of choice in situations where research findings may be used to inform public policy,” explains Professor Chris McManus (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology), co-author of the study.

Dr Mackenzie Ross continues: “This is the first time anyone has analysed the literature concerning the neurotoxicity of organophosphate pesticides, using the statistical technique of meta-analysis.

“The analysis reveals that the majority of well-designed studies undertaken over the last 20 years find a significant association between low-level exposure to organophosphates and impaired cognitive function.”

Pesticides prevent millions of people from starving to death and from contracting disease, but they are also harmful to humans under certain circumstances. Derived from World War II nerve gas agents, organophosphate pesticides are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They are used extensively in agriculture, by the military and also for domestic purposes.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) organophosphate pesticides are one of the most hazardous pesticides to vertebrate animals, responsible for many cases of poisoning worldwide.

The toxic effects of high level poisoning are well established but the possibility that long-term low-level exposure to OPs in doses below that causing acute toxicity causes ill health is controversial.

“In the UK a number of occupational groups have expressed concern that their health has been affected by exposure to organophosphates,” explains Dr Virginia Harrison (Open University), co-author of the study. This includes sheep farmers, who between 1988 and 1991 were required to dip sheep yearly in pesticide formulations containing OPs. Between 1985 and 1998 more than 600 reports of ill health following exposure to sheep dip were received by a government adverse reaction surveillance scheme.

Other groups affected include:

(1) Gulf War Veterans, who were exposed to pesticides on a daily basis during their tour of duty to protect them from pests such as sand flies, mosquitoes and fleas which carry infectious diseases

(2) airline pilots and cabin crew, who can be exposed to organophosphates in engine oil.

The researchers hope their findings will be of interest to Government advisory committees and departments who are currently reviewing the neurotoxicity of low level exposure to OPs; as well as farmers, Gulf War veterans and aviation workers who believe their health has been affected by exposure to OPs.

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Notes for Editors

1. For more information or to speak to Dr Sarah Mackenzie Ross please contact Dave Weston in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3844, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: d.weston@ucl.ac.uk

2. ‘Neurobehavioral problems following low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides: a systematic and meta-analytic review’ is published online in the Critical Reviews in Toxicology. Copies of the paper are available from UCL Media Relations.

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has 24,000 students from almost 140 countries, and more than 9,500 employees. Our annual income is over £800 million.

www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews

Pesticides claim one life and sickens 129 others as people desperate to get rid of bed bugs use the outdoor toxins in their BEDROOMS

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 20:58 EST, 28 November 2012 |  UPDATED: 20:58 EST, 28 November 2012

 

No one likes bed bugs. But in recent years as the infestation rate explodes people are increasingly poisoning themselves in an attempt to get rid of the unwelcome house guests.

Over a 4 year period, 129 people suffered mild to serious health issues when outdoor pesticides were used inside, according to a health advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Symptoms of  pesticide poisoning can include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,  dizziness and muscle tremors.

bed bug Reports of bed bug infestations have risen annually since 2006

 

The effects are so toxic one woman even died.

The unidentified 65-year-old North Carolina woman had a history of heart and kidney problems and became ill after  using the pesticides.

She and her husband went through nine cans of insecticide fogger, a separate kind of canned pesticide for their house’s walls and baseboards, and yet another type for the mattresses and box springs.

They reapplied everything to the mattresses and box springs just two days later, then went through another nine cans of yet another fogger.

Before she fell ill, the woman even put a flea and bedbug pesticide on her arms, sores on her chest, and her hair.

Two days after her second pesticide application she was found unresponsive by her husband.

She lingered in the hospital for nine days before passing away.

bed bug Read before you spray: CDC officials are asking people to be sure their pesticides are approved for indoor use after a rash of poisonings

‘Many people are somewhat desperate to find any solution,’ Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokeswoman, told NBC News. ‘This is something they’re not used to. Oftentimes, they’re tempted to use any insecticide that they can get their hands on.’

Bedbug victims with less tragic ends include Melissa Constantinou, 25, a personal  chef in Lowell, Mass..

Her  apartment was treated for infestation four times with Constantinou ever once worrying about the possible health effects.

‘Oh my gosh, it’s so emotionally  disturbing,’ she said. ‘I was willing to do whatever it took. I didn’t  think about the long-term effects at all.’

According to the National  Pesticide Information Center, inquiries about bedbugs nearly  doubled between 2007 and 2011, leading health agencies to view the issue as ‘an emerging national  concern.’

Especially as bedbug infestations have been on the rise.

bed bug Not in my bed: People often spray their homes multiple times over a short period to treat infestation

First-time service calls for bed bug treatment went from about 100 requests a month in January 2008 to roughly 300 per month by April 2012 according to a survey conducted by Jeff White,  technical director of the website BedBug Central.

‘Outdoor pesticides should not be used indoors under any circumstances,’ ATSDR officials warn.

The problems come from people using too much pesticide or applying it incorrectly.

‘A lot of them don’t understand that the label is the law,’ said David Stone director of the NPIC. ‘This product should not be applied  directly to the skin. That product should not be used on mattresses.’

In one example recorded by the CDC, an Ohio family – including four children and a roommate – became ill after an uncertified pesticide company used malathion to treat their apartment.

That pesticide is not registered for indoor use, but the crew used it so much they saturated the beds and floor coverings.

CDC experts said people should be careful to read the labels before using a pesticide indoors.

‘More importantly, follow the guidance  and make sure you’re using the right pesticide and that you’re treating  the right pest,’ said the CDC’s Burden, who noted that bedbugs often can resemble other critters at different stages in their life cycle.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2240148/Pesticides-claim-life-sickens-129-people-desperate-rid-bed-bugs-use-outdoor-toxins-BEDROOMS.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.

Chemical exposure before mid-30s may be critical in breast cancer development

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Emma Dickinson edickinson@bmjgroup.com 44-020-738-36529 BMJ-British Medical Journal

Postmenopausal breast cancer and occupational exposures

Occupational exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants before a woman reaches her mid-30s could treble her risk of developing cancer after the menopause, suggests research published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine .

Women exposed to synthetic fibres and petroleum products during the course of their work seem to be most at risk, the research suggests.

The researchers base their findings on more than 1100 women, 556 of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996/7 in Montreal, Canada, when aged between 50 and 75 and who had gone through the menopause.

The other 613 women, who were matched for age and date of diagnosis, had a range of other cancers, and were intended to act as a comparison group.

An expert team of chemists and industrial hygienists then set about investigating the women’s levels of exposure to around 300 different substances throughout the course of their employment history.

After taking account of the usual factors associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, the analysis indicated a link between occupational exposure to several of these substances.

Compared with the comparison group, this risk peaked for exposures before the age of 36, and was magnified with each additional decade of exposure before this age.

This resulted in women occupationally exposed to acrylic fibres running a seven-fold risk of breast cancer, while those exposed to nylon fibres almost doubled their risk.

When tumours were divided into their hormonal responsiveness, women whose cancers responded to oestrogen, but not progesterone, were at least twice as likely to have breast cancer for every 10 year period they were exposed to monaromatic hydrocarbons (a byproduct of crude oil) and acrylic and rayon fibres.

Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, found in petroleum products, before the age of 36, tripled the risk for women whose tumours were responsive to both oestrogen and progesterone.

The authors concede that their findings could be due to chance alone, but say they are consistent with the theory that breast tissue is more sensitive to harmful chemicals if the exposure occurs when breast cells are still active – in other words, before a woman reaches her 40s. And they point to the rising incidence of breast cancer in developed countries, which is likely to be due to a range of factors, including diagnosis of small slow growing tumours and changes in alcohol consumption.

But environmental and workplace factors are also thought to have a role, they suggest, with previously published evidence implicating exposure to certain chemicals, low frequency electromagnetic fields, and disruption of the body clock.

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Pesticide chlorpyrifos is linked to childhood developmental delays

2010 study posted for filing
Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

March 18, 2010—Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos—which is banned for use in U.S. households but is still widely used throughout the agricultural industry—is associated with early childhood developmental delays, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Findings of the study, “Chlorpyrifos Exposure and Urban Residential Environment Characteristics as Determinants of Early Childhood Neurodevelopment,” are online in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York City neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan. Chlorpyrifos was commonly used in these neighborhoods until it was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001. It is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables. The EPA registration of chlorpyrifos for agricultural use is currently under review, with a public comment period scheduled for the coming months.

“This study helps to fill in the gaps about what is known about the effect of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on the development of young children by showing that there is a clear-cut association between this chemical and delayed mental and motor skill development in children even when there are other potentially harmful environmental factors present,” said Gina Lovasi, PhD, lead author and Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology. Dr. Lovasi conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Mailman School.

As in previous research in the same study population, published in Pediatrics in 2006, this study controlled for gender, gestational age at birth, ethnicity, maternal education, maternal intelligence quotient, and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy. What this study adds is that building dilapidation and community-level factors such as percentage of residents living in poverty do not explain the association. After controlling for these factors, the research indicates that high chlorpyrifos exposure (greater than 6.17 pg/g in umbilical cord blood at the time of birth) was associated with a 6.5-point decrease in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point decrease in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds. “These associations remained statistically significant and similar in magnitude after accounting for dilapidated housing and neighborhood characteristics,” noted Dr. Lovasi.

Of the 266 children included as study participants, 47 percent were male, 59 percent were Hispanic of Dominican descent and 41 percent were Black. In addition, children living in neighborhoods with the highest levels of poverty also had lower test scores—a finding that was not affected by pesticide exposure.

Young children have greater exposure to pesticides than adults, since they tend to play on the floor or in the grass—areas where pesticides are commonly applied—and to place their hands and objects in their mouths. Pregnant women exposed to pesticides can also expose their unborn children to the chemicals.

Those who advocate for further restrictions on the use of pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, contend that such chemicals drift from treated agricultural fields to nearby yards, homes and schools, placing pregnant women and children at risk.

“Although this pesticide has been banned for residential use in the United States, chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus insecticides are still commonly used for a variety of agricultural purposes,” said study co-author Virginia Rauh, ScD, professor of clinical population and family health, and co-deputy director for the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. “We hope that the results of this study, further demonstrating the neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos under a range of community conditions, may inform public health professionals and policy-makers about the potential hazards of exposure to this chemical for pregnant women and young children.”

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The research was conducted with the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, a center funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mailman School of Public Health co-authors are Virginia Rauh, ScD, Frederica Perera, DrPH, Howard Andrews, PhD, Robin Garfinkel, PhD, Lori Hoepner, MPH, Robin Whyatt, DrPH, and Andrew Rundle, DrPH, and James Quinn, MA, Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

The only accredited school of public health in New York City and among the first in the nation, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting millions of people locally and globally. The Mailman School is the recipient of some of the largest government and private grants in Columbia University’s history. Its more than 1000 graduate students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, and the School’s 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness. Contact: Stephanie Berger, Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-4372, sb2247@columbia.edu

The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the broad range of factors that affect health. Additional information about the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, including application information, can be found at RWJFLeaders.org.

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.

PCBs, other pollutants may play role in pregnancy delay

Contact: Robert Bock or Marianne Glass Miller
301-496-5134
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

NIH study finds delays after exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals

Couples with high levels of PCBs and similar environmental pollutants take longer to achieve pregnancy in comparison to other couples with lower levels of the pollutants, according to a preliminary study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are chemicals that have been used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment. They are part of a category of chemicals known as persistent organochlorine pollutants and include industrial chemicals and chemical byproducts as well as pesticides. In many cases, the compounds are present in soil, water, and in the food chain. The compounds are resistant to decay, and may persist in the environment for decades. Some, known as persistent lipophilic organochlorine pollutants, accumulate in fatty tissues. Another type, called perfluorochemicals, are used in clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and the insulation of electrical wire.

Exposure to these pollutants is known to have a number of effects on human health, but their effects on human fertility– and the likelihood of couples achieving pregnancy– have not been extensively studied.

“Our findings suggest that persistent organochlorine pollutants may play a role in pregnancy delay,” said the study’s first author, Germain Buck Louis, Ph.D., director of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at NIH.

Dr. Buck Louis added that individuals may limit their exposure by removing and avoiding the fat of meat and fish, and by limiting the consumption of animal products.

The study was published online in Environmental Health Perspectives and is available online at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/2012/11/1204996/ In addition to researchers at the NICHD, the study also included investigators from the Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Emory University, Atlanta, and The EMMES Corp., Rockville, Md.

To conduct the study, the researchers enrolled 501 couples from four counties in Michigan, and 12 counties in Texas, from 2005 to 2009. The couples were part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) study, established to examine the relationship between fertility and exposure to environmental chemicals and lifestyle. An earlier analysis from the LIFE study found that high blood levels of lead and cadmium also were linked to pregnancy delay.

The women taking part in the study ranged from 18 to 44 years of age, and the men were over 18. Couples provided blood samples for the analysis of organochlorines (PCBs) and perfluorochemicals (PFCs). Women kept journals to record their monthly menstrual cycles and the results of home pregnancy tests. The couples were followed until pregnancy or for up to one year of trying.

The researchers calculated the probability that a couple would achieve pregnancy by using a statistical measure called the fecundability odds ratio (FOR). The measure estimates couples’ probability of pregnancy each cycle, based on their blood concentration of the compounds. A ratio less than one suggests a longer time to pregnancy, while a ratio greater than one suggests a shorter time to pregnancy.

The researchers examined PCB congeners, which are single, unique well-defined chemical compounds in the PCB category.

The lowest FORs were seen for couples in which the females were exposed to PCB congener 167 (FOR 0.79); and in which the males were exposed to PCB congener 138 (FOR=0.71).

For each standardized increase in chemical concentration the researchers measured, the odds of pregnancy declined by 18 to 21 percent for females exposed to PCB congeners 118, 167, 209, and the perfluorchemical, perfluorooctane sulfonamide. Perfluorooctane sulfonamide is one of a broad class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyls, which have been used in fire fighting foams.

With increasing exposure, the odds for pregnancy declined by 17 to 29 percent for couples in which males were exposed to PCB congeners 138, 156, 157, 167, 170, 172, and 209 and to DDE, produced when the pesticide DDT degrades in the environment. DDT is banned for use in the United States, but is still used in some countries.

The investigators noted that they cannot rule out that some of the delays they observed may have been due to exposure to multiple chemicals. They added that these associations would need to be confirmed by other researchers.

 

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About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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

 

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.’

 

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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.

On-the-job pesticide exposure associated with Parkinson’s disease

Contact: Jonathan Friedman jfriedman@thepi.org 408-542-5606 JAMA and Archives Journals

Individuals whose occupation involves contact with pesticides appear to have an increased risk of having Parkinson’s disease, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The development of Parkinson’s disease related to chemical exposure was identified in the late 20th century, according to background information in the article. Since then, occupations such as farming, teaching and welding have all been proposed to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, associations have been inconsistent and few previous studies have evaluated the direct relationship between occupational chemical exposure and disease risk.

Caroline M. Tanner, M.D., Ph.D., of the Parkinson’s Institute, Sunnyvale, Calif., and colleagues studied 519 individuals with Parkinson’s disease and 511 controls who were the same age and sex and lived in the same location. Participants were surveyed about their occupational history and exposure to toxins, including solvents and pesticides.

Working in agriculture, education, health care or welding was not associated with Parkinson’s disease, nor was any other specific occupation studied after adjustment for other factors.

Among the patients with Parkinson’s disease, 44 (8.5 percent) reported pesticide exposure compared with 27 (5.3 percent) of controls, such that occupational pesticide exposure was associated with an increased risk of the disease. “Growing evidence suggests a causal association between pesticide use and parkinsonism. However, the term ‘pesticide’ is broad and includes chemicals with varied mechanisms,” the authors write. “Because few investigations have identified specific pesticides, we studied eight pesticides with high neurotoxic plausibility based on laboratory findings. Use of these pesticides was associated with higher risk of parkinsonism, more than double that in those not exposed.”

Three individual compounds—an organochloride (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), an herbicide (paraquat) and an insecticide (permethrin)—were associated with a more than three-fold increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. All three have been shown to have effects on dopaminergic neurons—affected by Parkinson’s disease—in the laboratory.

“This convergence of epidemiologic and laboratory data from experimental models of Parkinson’s disease lends credence to a causative role of certain pesticides in the neurodegenerative process,” the authors conclude. “Other pesticide exposures such as hobby gardening, residential exposure, wearing treated garments or dietary intake were not assessed. Because these exposures may affect many more subjects, future attention is warranted.”

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(Arch Neurol. 2009;66[9]:1106-1113. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by an unrestricted grant from a group of current and former manufacturers of welding consumables awarded to The Parkinson’s Institute. Co-author Dr. Hauser has received fees for providing expert testimony in cases related to Parkinson’s disease in welders. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Common household pesticides linked to childhood cancer cases in Washington area : acute lymphoblastic leukemia

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
215-514-9751
Georgetown University Medical Center

Researchers caution that the study doesn’t prove cause and effect

Washington, DC – A new study by researchers at the Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center finds a higher level of common household pesticides in the urine of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer that develops most commonly between three and seven years of age. The findings are published in the August issue of the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.

Researchers caution that these findings should not be seen as cause-and-effect, only that the study suggests an association between pesticide exposure and development of childhood ALL.

“In our study, we compared urine samples from children with ALL and their mothers with healthy children and their moms. We found elevated levels of common household pesticides more often in the mother-child pairs affected by cancer,” says the study’s lead investigator, Offie Soldin, PhD, an epidemiologist at Lombardi. Soldin cautions, “We shouldn’t assume that pesticides caused these cancers, but our findings certainly support the need for more robust research in this area.”

The study was conducted between January 2005 and January 2008 with volunteer participants from Lombardi and Children’s National Medical Center who live in the Washington metropolitan area. It included 41 pairs of children with ALL and their mothers (cases), and 41 pairs of healthy children and their mothers (controls). For comparison purposes, the case pairs were matched with control pairs by age, sex and county of residence. Previous studies in agricultural areas of the country have suggested a relationship between pesticides and childhood cancers, but researchers say this is the first study conducted in a large, metropolitan area.

Urine samples were collected from all child-mother pairs and analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look for evidence of organophosphates (OP), the chemical name of some household pesticides. The body breaks down OP into metabolites which can be tracked in urine samples. The researchers say pesticides were detected in the urine of more than half of the participants, but levels of two common OP metobolites, diethylthiophosphate (DETP) and diethyldithiophosphate (DEDTP), were higher in the children with ALL compared to the control children (p< 0.03 and p< 0.05).

Also for the study, the mothers completed a questionnaire to collect information about the family’s exposure to pesticides, their medical history, home and neighborhood characteristics, diet, and history of smoke exposure. More case mothers (33 percent) than controls (14 percent) reported using insecticides in the home (p< 0.02), however there was no correlation found between high levels of the OP metabolites in urine and reported use of pesticides.

“We know pesticides – sprays, strips, or ‘bombs,’ are found in at least 85 percent of households, but obviously not all the children in these homes develop cancer. What this study suggests is an association between pesticide exposure and the development of childhood ALL, but this isn’t a cause-and-effect finding,” Soldin explains. “Future research would help us understand the exact role of pesticides in the development of cancer. We hypothesize that pre-natal exposure coupled with genetic susceptibility or an additional environmental insult after birth could be to blame.”

 

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The authors report no related financial interests. The study was funded by Lombardi’s Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute, and by philanthropic support from Debbie and Scott Amey.

About Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Lombardi is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to http://lombardi.georgetown.edu.

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through Georgetown’s affiliation with MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), home to 60 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.

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.

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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

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

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

Same Report 2 Titles ( Organic fruit and vegetables are no better for children, pediatricians claim ) – ( American Academy of Pediatrics Reviews The Benefits of Organic Foods )

Article # 1

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2nd article  at Bottom
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3rd and 4th  article link to the Actual PR release…From the OTA the Other the Original Release from the AAP
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Organic fruit and vegetables are no better for children, pediatricians  claim

By Associated Press

PUBLISHED:16:43 EST, 22  October 2012| UPDATED:16:44 EST, 22 October 2012

Organic fruits and vegetables are not necessarily safer or more nutritious than  conventional foods, a leading pediatricians group has claimed.

Parents who  want to reduce their kids’ exposure to pesticides may seek out organic produce,  but science has not proven that eating  pesticide-free food makes people healthier, the American Academy of Pediatrics  said.

‘Theoretically there could be negative  effects, especially in young children with growing brains,’  said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a co-author on the report.

Findings: Pediatricians have claimed pesticide-free foods, as those pictured, aren't necessarily safer or more nutritious for children than conventional foods
Findings: Pediatricians have claimed pesticide-free  foods, as those pictured, aren’t necessarily safer or more nutritious for  children than conventional foods

Yet Silverstein, a  pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, added that rigorous scientific evidence  is lacking.

‘We just can’t say for certain that organics  is better without long-term controlled studies,’ she said.

The report was published online on Monday in  Pediatrics and echoes a Stanford University study released last  month.

That research concluded that while eating  organic fruits and vegetables can reduce pesticide exposure, the amount measured  in conventionally grown produce was within safety limits.

More digging: Doctors said there were limited studies showing its damage
More digging: Doctors said there were limited studies  showing its damage

Since organic foods tend to be costlier, a  good strategy for penny-pinching parents concerned about pesticides is to buy  only organic versions of foods with the most pesticide residue – including  apples, peaches, strawberries and celery, Silverstein said.

But the pediatricians group says higher  prices on organic foods might lead some parents to buy fewer fruits and  vegetables over all.

They fear this is not a good strategy since  both have health benefits including reducing risks for obesity, heart disease  and some cancers.

Parents should aim to provide their families  a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not, along with plenty  of whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, the report  says.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2221619/Organic-fruit-vegetables-better-children-doctors-claim.html#ixzz2A58JY8ov Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Article # 2

American Academy of Pediatrics Reviews The Benefits of Organic Foods

by in Parenting

In the last few years the benefits of organic foods has always been a big question for many families. In fact Stanford University doctors recentlyrevealed that because they were ‘inadequately prepared when it came to answering their patients’ questions regarding the nutritional value of organic foods, they combed through thousands of studies on 237 of the most commonly compared organic and conventionally grown foods. In the end it was found that organic foods did not prove themselves to be any more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.  The big issue, however, is pesticide exposure.

Looking to make things a little easier for parents ‘confused by conflicting marketing messages regarding healthy food choices for their children’, the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) did their own research, which is scheduled to appear in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. Calling the report a major milestone for the organic sector, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) hails it as a confirmation of the significance of the benefits that organic provides.

“OTA commends the American Academy of Pediatrics—which is THE authority for pediatricians and parents—for examining the health and environmental benefits of organic foods. The science cited in this report points firmly towards positive aspects of organic farming, and confirms many reasons for purchasing organic foods,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director. She added, “This information will help empower parents as they make decisions about what to feed their children.”

Overall, the clinical report cited the following contributions of organic farming and food consumption:

  • Lower exposure to pesticides known to cause disease
  • Lower exposure to drug-resistant bacteria
  • Higher beneficial nutrient levels such as Vitamin C, total phenols and phosphorus
  • Lower levels of detrimental substances such as nitrates
  • Yields comparable to those of conventional farming techniques while avoiding environmental pollution and reducing fossil fuel consumption
  • Lower pesticide exposure for farm workers
  • Lower overall environmental impact than conventional farming.

Co-authors Dr. Joel Forman and Dr. Janet Silverstein added that there is a need for additional studies to improve our understanding of the long-term health effects of pesticide exposure from conventional foods and from the consumption of meat from hormone-treated animals, as well as to study nutritional aspects of food grown organically.

Agreeing that additional scientific research is needed to improve understanding of long-term health effects from dietary choices, Bushway added,

“It is clear that organic presents a valuable option for consumers who want to lower their families’ exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and reduces risk to farm workers and their families from exposure to toxic pesticides while maintaining agricultural productivity. With scientific research already demonstrating that pregnant women and children are uniquely vulnerable to exposure to pesticides, it is important to remember that organic food—particularly produce—is available at competitive prices at many venues, making this decision easier for parents.”

http://www.growingyourbaby.com/2012/10/22/american-academy-of-pediatrics-reviews-the-benefits-of-organic-foods/

Pesticide susceptibility in children lasts longer than expected: Some are 130 to 164 times more susceptible than others

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley — Although it is known that infants are more susceptible than adults to the toxic effects of pesticides, this increased vulnerability may extend much longer into childhood than expected, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Among newborns, levels of paraoxonase 1 (PON1), an enzyme critical to the detoxification of organophosphate pesticides, average one-third or less than those of the babies’ mothers. It was thought that PON1 enzyme activity in children approached adult levels by age 2, but instead, the UC Berkeley researchers found that the enzyme level remained low in some individuals through age 7.

Based upon the findings, reported this month in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the study authors recommend that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-evaluate the current standards for acceptable levels of pesticide exposure.

“Current EPA standards of exposure for some pesticides assume children are 3 to 5 times more susceptible than adults, and for other pesticides the standards assume no difference,” said Nina Holland, UC Berkeley adjunct professor of environmental health sciences and senior author of the paper. “Our study is the first to show quantitatively that young children may be more susceptible to certain organophosphate pesticides up to age 7. Our results suggest that the EPA standards need to be re-examined to determine if they are adequately protecting the most vulnerable members of the population.”

In 2001, the EPA began restricting organophosphate pesticides in products sold for use in homes, mainly because of risks to children. However, organophosphate pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, are still used in agriculture in the United States and elsewhere.

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), involves 458 children from an agricultural region who were followed from birth through age 7. Cord blood samples were collected from all children to determine their PON1 genotype and to obtain baseline measures of the enzyme’s activity level.

For more than 100 of the children in the study, researchers were able to obtain at least four additional measurements – at ages 1, 2, 5 and 7 – of PON1 activity. Almost all the children in the study had 2 to 3 time points assessed, for a total of 1,143 measurements of three types of PON1 enzyme activity.

One’s PON1 genotypic profile determines how effectively the enzyme can metabolize toxins. For example, people with two copies of the Q form of the gene – known as a QQ genotype – produce a PON1 enzyme that is less efficient at detoxifying chlorpyrifos oxon, a metabolite of chlorpyrifos, than the enzyme produced by people with two R forms of the gene. Similarly, individuals with two T forms of the PON1 gene on a different part of the chromosome generally have a lower quantity of the enzyme than do those with two C forms of the gene.

Previous research led by Holland found that some of the QQ newborns may be 50 times more susceptible to chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos oxon than RR newborns with high PON1 levels, and 130 to 164 times more susceptible than some of the RR adults.

Of the children in this latest study, 24 percent had the QQ genotype, and 18 percent had the TT genotype, both of which are associated with lower activity of the PON1 enzyme. Moreover, 7.5 percent of the children had both QQ and TT genotypes, which is considered an even more vulnerable profile.

On average, the quantity of enzyme quadrupled between birth and age 7. The greatest rise in enzyme activity was among children with the RR and CC variants of the PON1 gene, which quickly outpaced the increase in children with the QQ and TT genotypes.

The fact that enzyme activity remained low for certain kids with vulnerable genotypes well past age 2 was surprising for the study authors. The researchers are continuing to collect data for these children as they grow older to see if the pesticide susceptibility continues.

“In addition to its involvement in the metabolism of pesticides, many studies are now finding that PON1 may play an important role in protecting against oxidative stress, which is linked to diseases from asthma to obesity and cardiovascular disease,” said study lead author Karen Huen, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in environmental health sciences. “The children in our study whose genotypes are related to lower PON1 activity may not only be more susceptible to pesticides throughout much of their childhood, they may also be more vulnerable to other common diseases related to oxidative stress.”

Notably, other studies have found that PON1 genotypes vary by race and ethnicity, with the Q variants more common among Caucasians, less common among Latinos, and least common among African Americans. The majority of the subjects in this study were Mexican-American.

“What’s important about this study is that it shows that young children are potentially susceptible to certain organophosphates for a longer period of time than previously thought,” said Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and director of CHAMACOS and the Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research. “Policymakers need to consider these vulnerable populations when establishing acceptable levels of exposure to different pesticides.”

 

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Funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA helped support this research.

Association Found Between Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticide Exposure in French Farm Workers: pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration

2009 study posted for filing

Paris, France – June 04, 2009 – The cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, is unknown, but in most cases it is believed to involve a combination of environmental risk factors and genetic susceptibility. Laboratory studies in rats have shown that injecting the insecticide rotenone leads to an animal model of PD and several epidemiological studies have shown an association between pesticides and PD, but most have not identified specific pesticides or studied the amount of exposure relating to the association.

A new epidemiological study involving the exposure of French farm workers to pesticides found that professional exposure is associated with PD, especially for organochlorine insecticides. The study is published in Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Alexis Elbaz M.D., Ph.D., of Inserm, the national French institute for health research in Paris, and University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris 6), the study involved individuals affiliated with the French health insurance organization for agricultural workers who were frequently exposed to pesticides in the course of their work. Occupational health physicians constructed a detailed lifetime exposure history to pesticides by interviewing participants, visiting farms, and collecting a large amount of data on pesticide exposure. These included farm size, type of crops, animal breeding, which pesticides were used, time period of use, frequency and duration of exposure per year, and spraying method.

The study found that PD patients had been exposed to pesticides through their work more frequently and for a greater number of years/hours than those without PD. Among the three main classes of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), researchers found the largest difference for insecticides: men who had used insecticides had a two-fold increase in the risk of PD.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that environmental risk factors such as professional pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration,” notes Dr. Elbaz.

The study highlights the need to educate workers applying pesticides as to how these products should be used and the importance of promoting and encouraging the use of protective devices. In addition to the significance of the study for those with a high level of exposure to pesticides, it also raises the question about the role of lower-level environmental exposure through air, water and food, and additional studies are needed to address this question.

Gulf War veterans display abnormal brain response to specific chemicals

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Katherine Morales
katherine.morales@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center

This is Dr. Robert Haley from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

 

DALLAS – March 20, 2009 – A new study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers is the first to pinpoint damage inside the brains of veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome – a finding that links the illness to chemical exposures and may lead to diagnostic tests and treatments.

Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, said the research uncovers and locates areas of the brain that function abnormally. Recent studies had shown evidence of chemical abnormalities and shrinkage of white matter in the brains of veterans exposed to certain toxic chemicals, such as sarin gas during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The research, published in the March issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging,enables investigators to visualize exact brain structures affected by these chemical exposures, Dr. Haley said.

“Before this study, we didn’t know exactly what parts of the brain were damaged and causing the symptoms in these veterans,” he said. “We designed an experiment to test areas of the brain that would have been damaged if the illness was caused by sarin or pesticides, and the results were positive.”

In designing the study, Dr. Haley and his colleagues reasoned that if low-level sarin or pesticides had damaged Gulf War veterans’ brains, a likely target of the damage would be cholinergic receptors on cells in certain brain structures. If that was so, administering safe levels of medicines that stimulate cholinergic receptors would elicit an abnormal response in ill veterans.

In the study, 21 chronically ill Gulf War veterans and 17 well veterans were given small doses of physostigmine, a substance which briefly stimulates cholinergic receptors. Researchers then measured the study participants’ brain cell response with brain scans.

“What we found was that some of the brain areas we previously suspected responded abnormally to the cholinergic challenge,” Dr. Haley said. “Those areas were in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, thalamus and amygdala, and the thalamus. Changes in functioning of these brain structures can certainly cause problems with concentration and memory, body pain, fatigue, abnormal emotional responses and personality changes that we commonly see in ill Gulf War veterans.”

A previous study funded by the U.S. Army found that repetitive exposure to low-level sarin nerve gas caused changes in cholinergic receptors in lab rats.

“An added bonus is a statistical formula combining the brain responses in 17 brain areas that separated the ill from the well veterans, and three different Gulf War syndrome variants from each other with a high degree of accuracy,” Dr. Haley said. “If this finding can be repeated in a larger group, we might have an objective test for Gulf War syndrome and its variants.”

An objective diagnostic test, he said, sets the stage for ongoing genetic studies to see why some people are affected by chemical exposures, and why others are not. New studies would also allow the selection of homogenous groups of ill veterans in which to run efficient clinical trials for treatments.

Dr. Haley first described Gulf War syndrome in a series of papers published in January 1997 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In previous studies, research from Dr. Haley showed that veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome had lower levels of a protective blood enzyme called paraoxonase, which usually fights off the toxins found in sarin. Veterans who served in the same geographical area and did not get sick had higher levels of this enzyme.

Dr. Haley and his colleagues have closely followed the same group of tests subjects since 1995. In 2006, UT Southwestern and the Department of Veterans Affairs established a dedicated, collaborative Gulf War illness research enterprise in Dallas, managed by UT Southwestern.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a longtime supporter of Gulf War research, facilitated that agreement and secured a $75 million appropriation over five years for Gulf War illness research.

 

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This study was funded, in part, by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the current study included Drs. Jeffrey Spence and Patrick Carmack, assistant professors of clinical sciences; Drs. Michael Devous and Frederick Bonte, professors of radiology; and Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry. Researchers from Southern Methodist University also participated.

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

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

Dr. Robert Haley — http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,12888,00.html

Exposure to insecticide may play role in obesity epidemic among some women: DDE, DDT

Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University

Researchers study fish-eater cohort along Lake Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Prenatal exposure to an insecticide commonly used up until the 1970s may play a role in the obesity epidemic in women, according to a new study involving several Michigan State University researchers.

More than 250 mothers who live along and eat fish from Lake Michigan were studied for their exposure to DDE – a breakdown of DDT. The study, published as an editor’s choice in this month’s edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, analyzed DDE levels of the women’s offspring.

Compared to the group with the lowest levels, those with intermediate levels gained an average of 13 pounds excess weight, and those with higher levels gained more than 20 pounds of excess weight.

“Prenatal exposure to toxins is increasingly being looked at as a potential cause for the rise in obesity seen worldwide,” said Janet Osuch, a professor of surgery and epidemiology at MSU’s College of Human Medicine, who was one of the lead authors of the study. “What we have found for the first time is exposure to certain toxins by eating fish from polluted waters may contribute to the obesity epidemic in women.”

Though DDT was banned in 1973 after three decades of widespread use, the chemical and its byproducts remain toxic in marine life and fatty fish. The study was funded by a $300,000 grant from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Osuch said the study’s findings can have a huge impact on how researchers treat – and seek to prevent – obesity. The research team has been awarded a $1 million grant from the same federal agency, the ATSDR, to assess the impact of pollutants and toxins on a wide variety of disorders by determining the importance of second- and third-generation health effects.

“This line of research can transform how we think about the causes of obesity and potentially help us create prenatal tests to show which offspring are at higher risks,” she said.

The mothers who were studied are part of a larger cohort of Michigan fish eaters along Lake Michigan who were recruited in the early 1970s. In 2000, Osuch and research partners approached the cohort and began to identify daughters aged 20 to 50 years old.

“These findings not only apply to the offspring of women in our cohort but to any woman who has been exposed to high levels of DDE when she was growing in her mother’s womb,” Osuch said. “Mothers with the highest DDE levels are women who have consumed a lot of fish or high-fat meats.”

Current recommendations for eating fish call for limiting it to two meals per week; including tuna fish sandwiches. The study also looked at the effects of a second pollutant, PCBs, but found no correlation with weight and body mass index.

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Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving

Why We Need Insects–Even “Pesky” Ones

Photo of yellow flowers of evening primrose in Ithaca, New York.

A large natural population of evening primrose (yellow flowers) in Ithaca, New York.

Credit and Larger Version

October 4, 2012

View a video interview with Anurag Agrawal of Cornell University.

Image of Cornell University professor Anurag Agrawal.
View Video
Hard evidence of evolution.
Credit and Larger Version

At first blush, many people would probably love to get rid of insects, such as pesky mosquitoes, ants and roaches. But a new study indicates that getting rid of insects could trigger some unwelcome ecological consequences, such as the rapid loss of desired traits in plants, including their good taste and high yields.

Specifically, the study–described in the Oct. 5, 2012 issue of Science and funded by the National Science Foundation showed that evening primroses grown in insecticide-treated plots quickly lost, through evolution, defensive traits that helped protect them from plant-eating moths. The protective traits lost included the production of insect-deterring chemicals and later blooms that gave evening primroses temporal distance from plant-eating larvae that peak early in the growing season.

These results indicate that once the plants no longer needed their anti-insect defenses, they lost those defenses. What’s more, they did so quickly–in only three or four generations.

Anurag Agrawal, the leader of the study and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, explains, “We demonstrated that when you take moths out of the environment, certain varieties of evening primrose were particularly successful. These successful varieties have genes that produce less defenses against moths.”

In the absence of insects, the evening primroses apparently stopped investing energy in their anti-insect defenses, and so these defenses disappeared through natural selection. Agrawal says that he was “very surprised” by how quickly this process occurred, and that such surprises, “tell us something about the potential speed and complexities of evolution. In addition, experiments like ours that follow evolutionary change in real-time provide definitive evidence of evolution.”

Agrawal believes that his team’s study results are applicable to many other insect-plant interactions beyond evening primroses and moths. Here’s why: The ubiquitous consumption of plants by insects represents one of the dominant species interactions on Earth. With insect-plant relationships so important, it is widely believed that many plant traits originally evolved solely as defenses against insects. Some of these anti-insect plant defenses, such as the bitter taste of some fruits, are desirable.

“This experimental demonstration of how rapid evolution can shape ecological interactions supports the idea that we need to understand feedbacks between evolutionary and ecological processes in order to be able to predict how communities and ecosystems will respond to change,” said Alan Tessier, a program director in NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences.

“One of the things farmers are trying to do is breed agricultural crops to be more resistant to pests,” said Agrawal. “Our study indicates that various genetic tradeoffs may make it difficult or impossible to maintain certain desired traits in plants that are bred for pest resistance.”

In addition, oils produced by evening primroses have been used medicinally for hundreds of years and are beginning to be used as herbal remedies. Agrawal’s insights about pests that attack these plants and about chemical compounds produced by these plants may ultimately be useful to the herbal and pharmaceutical industries.

Agrawal says that most previous real-time experiments on evolution have been conducted with bacteria in test tubes in laboratories. “One of things we were excited about is that we were able to repeat that kind of experiment in nature. You can expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing in future. We will keep our experiment running as a long-term living laboratory. ”

More information about this study is available from a Cornell University press release.

-NSF-

Cover of the October 5, 2012, issue of the journal Science.
The research results are described in the Oct. 5, 2012, issue of the journal Science.
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Common food additive found to increase risk and speed spread of lung cancer : inorganic phosphate

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Keey Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society

New research in an animal model suggests that a diet high in inorganic phosphates, which are found in a variety of processed foods including meats, cheeses, beverages, and bakery products, might speed growth of lung cancer tumors and may even contribute to the development of those tumors in individuals predisposed to the disease.

The study also suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates may play an important role in lung cancer treatment. The research, using a mouse model, was conducted by Myung-Haing Cho, D.V.M., Ph.D., and his colleagues at Seoul National University, appears in the first issue for January of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

“Our study indicates that increased intake of inorganic phosphates strongly stimulates lung cancer development in mice, and suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates may be critical for lung cancer treatment as well as prevention,” said Dr. Cho.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the world and is also the most frequently diagnosed solid tumor. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) constitutes over 75 percent of lung cancers and has an average overall 35-year survival rate of 14 percent. Earlier studies have indicated that approximately 90 percent of NSCLC cases were associated with activation of certain signaling pathways in lung tissue. This study revealed that high levels of inorganic phosphates can stimulate those same pathways.

“Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell proliferation in lung tissue, and disruption of signaling pathways in those tissues can confer a normal cell with malignant properties,” Dr. Cho explained. “Deregulation of only a small set of pathways can confer a normal cell with malignant properties, and these pathways are regulated in response to nutrient availability and, consequently, cell proliferation and growth.

“Phosphate is an essential nutrient to living organisms, and can activate some signals,” he added. “This study demonstrates that high intake of inorganic phosphates may strongly stimulate lung cancer development by altering those (signaling) pathways.”

In the study, lung cancer-model mice were studied for four weeks and were randomly assigned to receive a diet of either 0.5 or 1.0 percent phosphate, a range roughly equivalent to modern human diets. At the end of the four-week period, the lung tissue was analyzed to determine the effects of the inorganic phosphates on tumors.

“Our results clearly demonstrated that the diet higher in inorganic phosphates caused an increase in the size of the tumors and stimulated growth of the tumors,” Dr. Cho said.

Dr. Cho noted that while a moderate level of phosphate plays an essential role in living organisms, the rapidly increasing use of phosphates as a food additive has resulted in significantly higher levels in average daily diets. Phosphates are added to many food products to increase water retention and improve food texture.

“In the 1990s, phosphorous-containing food additives contributed an estimated 470 mg per day to the average daily adult diet,” he said. “However, phosphates are currently being added much more frequently to a large number of processed foods, including meats, cheeses, beverages, and bakery products. As a result, depending on individual food choices, phosphorous intake could be increased by as much as 1000 mg per day.”

“Although the 0.5 percent was defined as close to ‘normal,’ the average diet today is actually closer to the one percent diet and may actually exceed it,” Dr. Cho noted. “Therefore, the 0.5 percent intake level is actually a reduced phosphate diet by today’s scale.”

Dr. Cho said future studies will help refine what constitutes a “safe” level of dietary inorganic phosphate, with recommendations that will be easily achievable in the average population.

“The results of this study suggest that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates has a place in lung cancer treatment, and our eventual goal is to collect sufficient information to accurately assess the risk of these phosphates,” he said.

John Heffner, M.D., past president of the ATS, stated that this line of investigation in animals addresses the complex interactions between host factors and the environment that underlie cancer in man. “We know that only some patients who smoke develop lung cancer but the reasons for this varying risk are unknown. This study now provides a rationale for funding case-control studies in humans to determine the potential role of dietary phosphates in promoting cancer.”