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

Army Poisoned People in ’50s, Class Claims

By JOE HARRIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental pollutant has sex-skewing effect

Re-Post 2008

Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-707-94804
BioMed Central

Women exposed to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls – a group of banned environmental pollutants) are less likely to give birth to male children. A study published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health found that among women from the San Francisco Bay Area, those exposed to higher levels of PCBs during the 50s and 60s, were significantly more likely to give birth to female children.

Similar exposure is thought to have occurred in Wales, after a quarry on the edge of Groesfaen village near Cardiff was used as a toxic dumping ground from 1965 to 1972.

PCBs are persistent organic pollutants identified worldwide as human blood and breast milk contaminants. They were widely used in industry as cooling and insulating fluids for electrical equipment, as well as in construction and domestic products such as varnishes and caulks. PCBs were banned in the 1970s because of their general toxicity and persistence. They are associated with effects on immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems. Given the high quality measurements, this research provides the strongest evidence to date that PCBs affect sex ratio in human children.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, the lead author of the study, explains how marked the effect was, “The women most exposed to PCBs were 33% less likely to give birth to male children than the women least exposed”. The researchers measured the levels of PCBs in blood taken from pregnant women during a Bay Area study in the 1960s. When they compared these levels to the children’s sex, they found that for every one microgram of PCBs per litre of serum, the chance of having a male child fell by 7%.

As Hertz-Picciotto states, “These findings suggest that high maternal PCB concentrations may either favour fertilization by female sperm or result in greater male embryonic or fetal losses. The association could be due to contaminants, PCB metabolites or the PCBs themselves”.

This investigation will be useful for assessing problems likely to be faced by populations currently exposed to high levels of PCBs, such as those that rely on fish from contaminated lakes or who live near former manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, other chemicals with a similar structure to PCBs, such as the flame-retardants PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), are currently widely used in plastic casings and foam products. According to the authors, “PBDEs share many of the biochemical and toxicologic properties of PCBs. As levels of these substances rise in wildlife and human populations, studies like ours provide an indication of the potential effects of these newer compounds”.

 

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Notes to Editors:

1. A cohort study of in utero polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposures in relation to secondary sex ratio
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Todd A Jusko, M Judith Charles, Rebecca J Baker, Jean A Keller, Teri A Greenfield, Eric J Willman and Stuart W Teplin
Environmental Health (15 July 2008)

Article available at journal website: http://www.ehjournal.net/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com

2. Environmental Health is an Open Access, peer-reviewed, online journal that considers manuscripts on all aspects of environmental and occupational medicine, and related studies in toxicology and epidemiology.

Environmental Health is aimed at scientists and practitioners in all areas of environmental science where human health and well-being are involved, either directly or indirectly. Environmental Health is a public health journal serving the public health community and scientists working on matters of public health interest and importance pertaining to the environment.

3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

PCB cocktails for two: Effects Second Generation

Re-Post for filing 2008

Contact: Judith Jansen
bor2@ssr.org
608-256-2777
Society for the Study of Reproduction

 

Since the 1962 publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, awareness of how environmental toxicants can impact fertility has increased. In an article on p. 1091 of this issue, Steinberg and colleagues provide evidence that adverse reproductive effects of toxicants may extend not only to the children of exposed individuals, but also to the next generation. They treated pregnant rats with a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and found that reproductive markers were disrupted not only in the female offspring of these rats, but also in the “grand offspring,” which are derived from oocytes present in fetuses of the treated females. Changes in the second generation included blunting of preovulatory LH release, reduced progesterone concentrations and reduced uterine weights. The use of low doses of PCBs in this study increases the potential relevance of these findings to reproductive health.

Maternal exposure to persistent organic pollutants linked to urologic conditions in boys

Repost for filing 2008

Contact: Lacey Holt
lholt@auanet.org
American Urological Association

AUA 2008: Maternal exposure to persistent organic pollutants linked to urologic conditions in boys

ORLANDO, FL, MAY 18, 2008—Higher incidences of congenital anomalies, including cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) and hypospadias, were found in boys whose mothers had higher serum levels of certain organochlorine compounds, researchers say. Two separate studies presented today during the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Orlando confirmed existing hypotheses that maternal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals – including total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, such as Arochlor) and organochlorinated pesticides (such as dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT) may contribute to an increased incidence of these conditions.

The data was presented to the media on Sunday, May 18, 2008, during press conferences starting at 8:00 a.m.

Mothers with high levels of organochlorine compounds in their bodies are at a greater risk of bearing sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). In a study (abstract #276) of 40 boys undergoing surgical treatment for the condition, researchers from New York and Michigan analyzed PCB serum levels from both the patient and the mother and compared the readings to residual PCB levels in the patients’ fatty tissue samples (taken at surgery). Patients ranged from eight to 18 months of age at the time of treatment.

Researchers’ analysis of the amount of OCC residue in the samples revealed that serum PCB levels reflect the fatty burden of OCC residues in the boys, and OCC concentration in maternal serum samples correlated with the son’s serum levels. Aggregate PCB levels and maternal levels of individual PCB congeners were significantly higher in boys with undescended testicles than in mothers of boys without the anomaly.

Researchers from Michigan and Atlanta presented similar findings (abstract #277) on congenital anomalies and chemical exposure. Using data from the Michigan Long-Term PBB Cohort, researchers examined individuals exposed to polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) during 1974-1974, including sons of mothers with known serum PBB levels, to determine whether in-utero exposure to PBB put male neonates at a greater risk for genitourinary (GU) or reproductive conditions. Self-reported data on varicocele, cryptorchidism, hypospadias and other GU and reproductive conditions was compared to estimated maternal PBB levels at the time of conception.

Of the sons whose mothers had measurable PBB levels at the time of conception, 35 reported GU conditions, including hernias (13), hydroceles (10), undescended testicles (9), hypospadias (5), phimosis (2) and varicocele (1). Sons whose mothers had PBB levels greater than 5 parts per billion were more likely to report these conditions than those whose mothers had lower levels. Maternal PBB levels were not found to have an impact on birth weight or estimated gestational age. 12.2 percent of boys with maternal serum levels greater than 5 were more likely to report GU conditions, compared to 5.5 percent of boys with lower maternal PBB levels.

“Mothers with known exposure to these enduring compounds should tell not only their own doctors but also their sons’ pediatricians,” said Anthony Y. Smith, M.D., a spokesman for the AUA. “These data underscore the importance of regular ‘well-baby checkups’ so that these easily treatable conditions are diagnosed promptly.”

About Pediatric Urological Conditions:

 

  • Cryptorchidism: Undescended testicles occur in 3 to 4 percent of full-term infants and, if left untreated, can lead to infertility and a greater risk of developing testicular cancer. In about 65 percent of patients, the condition spontaneously resolves by nine months of age. The condition is treated hormonally or surgically in patients whose testicles do not descend into the scrotal sac naturally. 

 

  • Hypospadias: One of the most common birth defects of the male genitalia, hypospadias varies in incidence around the world but can affect up to one in 125 boys. It occurs when the urethral opening is not positioned at the tip of the penis. Hypospadias can range in severity, depending on whether the urethral opening is minorly displaced on the glans penis (first degree), on the shaft of the penis (second degree) or not on the penis at all (third degree). Not all first-degree cases require treatment; surgical repair of severe hypospadias can involve multiple surgical procedures and, in some cases, mucosal grafting. 

 

  • Hydrocele: Approximately one in 10 male infants present with a hydrocele at birth. A fluid-filled sac surrounding a testicle, hydroceles are typically benign and painless and disappear in the first year of life. Hydroceles require treatment only when large enough to cause disfigurement or discomfort. Treatments include surgical excision and needle aspiration. 

About Organochlorine Compounds: Initially lauded for their chemical stability, PCBs (such as Araclor and its congeners) and organochlorinated pesticides such as DDT are lipid-soluble compounds actively produced around the world in the first half of the 20th century. After widespread use in agricultural and manufacturing applications (as plastizers, heat-stabilizing additives for PVC electric insulation, adhesives and paints), they were discontinued in both open and closed uses in the 1970s when health risks became apparent. Lipid soluble, the compounds are absorbed and dispersed to living tissue and, as a result, can have a cumulative effect and cause toxin damage across generations. The United States banned their domestic production in 1977.

 

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In addition to the author, Anthony Y. Smith, a member of the AUA Public Media Committee, will be on hand to provide expert commentary on the studies.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: Experts are available to discuss these studies outside normal briefing times. To arrange an interview with an expert, please contact the AUA Communications Office at the number above or e-mail Wendy Isett at wisett@auanet.org.

Chen JJ, Zhang G, Wasnick R, Priebe C, Roelof B, Steinhardt GF et al: Maternal Burden of organochloro-compounds associated with undescended testes. J Urol, suppl., 2008; 179: 97, abstract 276.

DeCaro JJ, Small CM, Terrell ML, Dominguez CE, Cameron LL, Wirth J, et al: Maternal exposure to polybrominated biphenyls and genitourinary conditions in male offspring. J Urol, suppl., 2008; 179: 97, abstract 277.

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 15,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs members and their patients, including UrologyHealth.org, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.

Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Could Increase Asthma Symptoms

Exposure to Common Toxic Substances Could Increase Asthma Symptoms

ScienceDaily (Aug. 31, 2012) — Children who are exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were commonly used in a range of industrial products, could be at risk of an increase in asthma symptoms, according to new research.

The study will be presented in a poster discussion September 2, 2012 at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Vienna.

PCBs were regularly used between 1930s and 1970s in a range of electrical equipment, lubricants and paint additives. They were eventually phased out due to the harm they were causing to the environment and animals.

Although they are not widely used now, the toxic substance does not break down easily. It can be transported in water and air and it can exist in the environment, particularly at waste sites, for a number of years.

Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia examined 240 children to assess the impact PCBs are having on asthma symptoms. They measured the levels of PCBs found in their blood, along with three pesticides, and also assessed prevalence of wheeze, a common symptom of asthma.

The results found that overall, those with higher levels of PCBs were more likely to report wheeze (odds ratio 1.61). The findings also suggest that the link between PCBs and wheeze was stronger in non-atopic (non-allergic) asthma.

Lead author, Professor Sly, from the University of Queensland, said: “Despite PCBs being banned from use in many countries, people are still suffering from the effects of these toxic substances. Our findings suggest that people with high levels of the chemicals in their blood stream are suffering from higher levels of wheeze, a common asthma symptom.

“This could be due to high concentration levels being passed from a mother to a baby while in the womb, or PCBs may be ingested if a person consumes contaminated food. They could also be inhaled from contaminated hazardous waste sites.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120831203414.htm

Environmental toxin Bisphenol A can affect newborn brain “poorer adaptation to new environments, as well hyperactivity as young adults” from a single exposure

Contact: Henrik Viberg henrik.viberg@ebc.uu.se 46-070-171-9060 Uppsala University

Newborn mice that are exposed to Bisphenol A develop changes in their spontaneous behavior and evince poorer adaptation to new environments, as well hyperactivity as young adults. This has been shown by researchers at Uppsala University. Their study also revealed that one of the brain’s most important signal systems, the cholinergic signal system, is affected by Bisphenol A and that the effect persisted into adulthood.

Our environment contains a number of pollutants, including Bisphenol A, which is used in plastics in a number of different applications. When plastic products are used, Bisphenol A can leak out, which is especially problematic as it is used in baby bottles, tin cans, plastic containers, plastic mugs, which are used by people of all ages. Both in Sweden and globally, Bisphenol A is widely used, and the substance has been found in human placentas, fetuses, and breast milk.

In recent years measurable amounts of Bisphenol have been found in dust from regular homes, but opinion differs regarding any negative effects of Bisphenol A, and risk assessments from various parts of the world present contradictory recommendations, even though the information used comes from the same research reports. Here in Sweden the Swedish Chemicals Agency and the Medical Products Agency are working on a ban for Bisphenol A in baby bottles and certain other plastic products.

In humans and mammals, the brain develops intensively during a limited period of time. In human babies, this brain development period runs from the seventh month of gestation through the first two years of life. The corresponding period for mice takes place during the 3-4 first weeks after birth. Uppsala researchers have shown in previous research studies that various toxic compounds can induce permanent damage to brain function when they are administered to newborn mice during this developmental period. Examples of such compounds are so-called brominated flame-retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and DDT.

In an entirely new study these researchers examined whether exposure to Bisphenol A during the neonatal period can cause permanent damage to brain function. In the experiment different doses of Bisphenol A were given to mice when they were ten days old. The mice underwent a so-called spontaneous behavior test as young adults, in which they were made to change cages from their well-known home cage to another identical one during one hour. Normal mice are very active during the first 20 minutes, exploring the new home environment. This activity declines during the next 20 minutes, and in the final 20 minutes it drops even more, and the mice settle down and sleep.

“In our study we found that a single exposure to Bisphenol A during the short critical period of brain development in the neonatal period leads to changes in spontaneous behavior and poorer adaptation to new environments, as well as hyperactivity among young adult mice. When this is examined again later in their adult life, these functional disturbances persist, which indicates that the damage is permanent and do not in fact disappear,” says Henrik Viberg at the Department of Organism Biology.

Using the same behavioral method, it was also examined whether the individuals that had received Bisphenol A during their neonatal period reacted differently than normal individuals to adult exposure to nicotine, which would indicate that one of the brain’s most important signal systems, the cholinergic signal system, was affected. Normal animals exposed as adults to the given dose of nicotine experience dramatically increased activity compared with animals that were not exposed to nicotine. Animals that had been exposed to Bisphenol A during their neonatal period and then received nicotine as adults did not evince the same hyperactivity as normal animals at all. This indicates that the choligernic signal system had been affected and that these individuals had had developed increased sensitivity to this type of exposure in adulthood. Once again, this effect was induced during the neonatal period but persisted into adulthood.

“We have previously seen this type of effect from several other environmental toxins that are still prevalent in both indoor and outdoor environments. As these effects are similar to each other, it’s possible that several different environmental toxins, including Bisphenol A, may work together in causing disturbances during brain development. This in turn may mean that the individual dosages of the various environmental toxins that are required to cause disturbances may be lower than those we examined in our studies of, for example, Bisphenol and brominated flame-retardants,” says Henrik Viberg.

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This research is published in the scientific journal Toxicology.

Dose-dependent behavioral disturbances after a single neonatal Bisphenol A dose, Toxicology, In Press, Uncorrected Proof, Henrik Viberg, Anders Fredriksson, Sonja Buratovic, Per Eriksson doi:10.1016/j.tox.2011.09.006

For more information please contact Henrik Viberg, tel: 46-18-471 7695; mobile: 46-70-171 9060, e-mail: henrik.viberg@ebc.uu.se

Link shown between environmental toxicants and atherosclerosis

Environmental toxicants such as dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides can pose a risk for cardiovascular disease. For the first time a link has been demonstrated between atherosclerosis and levels of long-lived organic environmental toxicants in the blood. The study, carried out by researchers at Uppsala University, is being published online this week in ahead of print in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the most common cause of death in industrialized countries, and the most important underlying cause of these diseases is atherosclerosis. Unbalanced blood fats, diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure are traditionally recognized risk factors for atherosclerosis.

Previous studies have also reported possible links between cardiovascular disease and high levels of persistent (long-lived and hard-to-degrade) organic environmental toxicants, such as dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides. These compounds are fat-soluble and can therefore accumulate in vessel walls. However, no earlier studies have investigated possible links between exposure to these compounds and atherosclerosis.

The current study measured the circulating levels of the above group of compounds in about 1,000 Swedes living in Uppsala. Atherosclerosis in the carotid artery was also measured using ultrasound.

The findings show a clear connection between increasing levels of environmental toxicants and atherosclerosis, even after taking into consideration the traditional risk factors. There was also a link to tangible signs of fat accumulation in vessel walls.

“These findings indicate that long-lived organic environmental toxicants may be involved in the occurrence of atherosclerosis and thereby lead to future death from cardiovascular diseases,” says Lars Lind, professor at the Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University.

“In Sweden, and in many countries in the world, many of these substances are forbidden today, but since they are so long-lived they’re still out there in our environment. We ingest these environmental toxicants with the food we eat, and since they are stored in our bodies, the levels grow higher the older we get,” says Monica Lind, Associate Professor in Environmental Medicine at Occupational and Environmental Medicine

These researchers are now going on to study how these compounds affect atherosclerosis in experimental models. They are also going to monitor the individuals included in their study to determine whether a direct connection exists between exposure to these substances and the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes in humans