Author Interviews, Nature, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 05.09.2017 Interview with: Ashley Larsen, PhD Assistant professor Bren School of Environmental Science & Management University of California, Santa Barbara What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The relationship between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes has been recognized as an important question for quite some time, and there have been many good studies on the topic. Since randomly exposing people to different levels of pesticides is clearly unethical, researchers focused on the health consequences of non-occupational pesticide exposure often have to choose between detailed studies that follow a couple hundred or couple thousand individuals through pregnancy or larger scale studies that use easier to observe, but less accurate metrics of pesticide exposure (e.g. nearby crops or crop types). Here we tried to provide complementary insight by bridging the gap between detail and scale using detailed pesticide use data and individual birth certificate records for hundreds of thousands of births in an agriculturally dominated region of California. While we found negative effects of pesticide use on birth outcomes including low birth weight, preterm birth and birth abnormalities, these effects were generally in the magnitude of a 5-9% increase in probability of an adverse outcome, and only observed for individuals exposed to very high levels of pesticides. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, PLoS, Toxin Research / 05.05.2017 Interview with: Dr. Antonio J. Signes-Pastor, PhD Institute for Global Food Security Queen’s University Belfast Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine Dartmouth College Lebanon, NH What is the background for this study? Response: Inorganic arsenic is a human carcinogen, which has also been associated with several adverse health effects including neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic outcomes. Early life exposure is of particular concern since it may adversely impact on lifetime health outcomes. If low inorganic arsenic drinking water is available the main source of exposure is the diet, especially rice and rice-based products, which are widely used during weaning and to feed infants and young children. In order to reduce exposure, the EU has recently regulated (1st January 2016) the inorganic arsenic maximum level of 0.1 mg/kg for rice products addressed to infants and young children. This level is also under consideration by the US FDA. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Toxin Research / 10.04.2017 Interview with: Keith Fluegge BS Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER) Cleveland Graduate School, The Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The research letter discusses the possible link between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism. Earlier research suggested a link, although there remained quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the findings at the time. The purpose of the study was to briefly highlight the role of environmental exposure to the agricultural and combustion pollutant, nitrous oxide (N2O), as a possible etiological factor in neurodevelopmental disorders. We have published a series of epidemiological investigations, reviews, and correspondences discussing this possibility. In my continued research on this topic, I learned that rainfall and extreme weather-related events, like hurricanes, drive N2O emissions, especially from nitrogen amended soils. Exposure to this particular air pollutant may, therefore, plausibly undergird the relationship between rainfall precipitation and risk of autism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 05.04.2017 Interview with: Sumi Dinda, PhD, NRP, IC. Associate Professor Biomedical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Sciences, School of Health Sciences and Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Biological Sciences School of Health Sciences Oakland University Rochester, MI 48309. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Bisphenol-S (BPS), a substitute for bisphenol-A (BPA), has been suggested to be an endocrine disrupting compound interfering with normal hormonal activity. This bisphenol analogue is found in plastic substitutes, paper currency, and most products marked “BPA free.” Endocrine disrupting compounds interfere with the normal hormonal activity in the body. Bisphenols, specifically, disrupt the proper functioning of estrogen receptors, such as ERα causing interference with the normal activity of the hormone estrogen. Studies suggest BPS induces ERα pathways via its estrogen-mimicking properties in the body causing increased cell proliferation resulting in increased breast cancer risk. Despite the hope of a safer substitute, studies have shown that BPS exhibits similar estrogenic activity compared to its analogue BPA, due to their structural commonalities. BRCA1 is a commonly mutated gene in breast cancer; therefore, it is also important to study the effects of BPS on the expression of this protein. The potency of the endocrine disrupting abilities of BPS compared to BPA could show whether BPS is a suitable alternative to BPA in many everyday products. The results of this study may contribute to the understanding of the relationship between ERα, BRCA1 expression and Bisphenol-S in breast cancer treatment and prevention. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 05.04.2017 Interview with: Jing Liu, Ph.D. Associate Professor College of Environmental & Resource Sciences Zhejiang University Hangzhou, China What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In addition to consistent observations of earlier pubertal onset in female since late 19th century, acceleration in male pubertal development also has been reported in more recent studies. Improved nutrition, health and living conditions may contribute to the secular trend towards an earlier pubertal onset. However, the potential role of environmental agents, specifically endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), also has been emphasized. Pyrethroids are among the currently used pesticide classes placed on the list of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as potential EDCs. Pyrethroids are one of the top 10 classes of pesticides and account for greater than 30% of global insecticide usage. Increased human exposure to pyrethroids is thought to occur mainly via residues in diets and indoor residential use. The metabolites of pyrethroids have been widely identified in urine samples of adults, children and adolescents worldwide and the detection rate is usually more than 60% in human populations. Here, we recognize pyrethroids as a new environmental contributor to the observed secular trend toward earlier male sexual maturity. For the first time to our knowledge, this work reveal a significant and positive association between pyrethroids exposure and gonadotropins levels in 463 Chinese boys, in which a 10% increase in 3-PBA (a common urinary metabolite of pyrethroids) is associated with more than 2% increase in both LH and FSH. Boys with increased urinary levels of 3-PBA have a significantly increased risk of earlier pubertal development, in which the odds of being in an advanced testicular volume and genitalia stage are increase by 113% and 268%, respectively. Because it is difficult to test the direct causality of environmental risk factors in humans, we further sought to identify in animals how pyrethroids alter the timing of puberty. Postnatal exposure to a widely used pyrethroid pesticide, cypermethrin, can accelerate pubertal timing and induce circulating levels of gonadotropins and testosterone in male mice. Our findings reveal the activation of voltage-gated calcium channels pathway in pituitary gonadotropes and testicular Leydig cells as a newly discovered mechanism of pyrethroid-induced early pubertal development in the male. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Environmental Risks, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 02.03.2017 Interview with: Professor Jean-Francois Viel Department of Epidemiology and Public Health University Hospital Rennes, France What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The use of pyrethroid insecticides has increased substantially throughout the world over the past several decades, replacing organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, because of their chemical potency against many pests, their relatively low mammalian toxicity and their favorable environmental profiles. However, despite the neurotoxicity of these insecticides at high doses, the potential impact of environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides on child neurodevelopment has only just started to receive attention. Using a longitudinal design (PELAGIE mother-child cohort), we were able to assess pyrethroid exposure (trough urine concentrations) both prenatally and during childhood (at 6 years of age). We showed that increased prenatal concentrations of one pyrethroid metabolite (cis-DCCA, a metabolite of permethrin, cypermethrin and cyfluthrin) were associated with internalising difficulties (children showing behaviours that are inhibited and over-controlled). Moreover, for childhood 3-PBA (a common metabolite of up to 20 synthetic pyrethroid insecticides) concentrations, a positive association was observed with externalising difficulties (children showing behaviours that are under-controlled and having generally a more challenging temperament). (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, Thyroid Disease, Toxin Research / 27.02.2017 Interview with: Jana Weiss PhD Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry Stockholm University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In an earlier publication, we could see an association between elevated concentrations of brominated flame retardants (BFR) in the blood of cats with developed Feline hyperthyroidism, compared to healthy cats (Norrgran et al 2015, ES&T 49:5107-5014). To establish the exposure pathway we now took paired samples from healthy cats and dust from their households. We also analysed the cats food to include another major exposure pathway. In total 17 families participated. They lived in houses in the countryside or in apartments in the city. All families had kids under 12 years of age living at home, thus representing a household with typical child products. The dust was sampled from the living room, the child’s room and from the adult’s bedrooms. We could not see any difference in the composition of compounds between the rooms, but we saw that levels were in general higher in the living room compared to the other two rooms. This was expected as many products being treated with BFRs can be found in the living room. We could see that higher levels of some  brominated flame retardants in the dust were correlated to elevated levels in the cat’s blood. Therefore, this hypothesized exposure pathways is now statistically established. We could also confirm cat food to be the major exposure pathway for naturally brominated compounds coming from the marine food web, such as6-OH-BDE47, a known thyroid hormone disruptor. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Toxin Research / 20.01.2017 Interview with: Rajendram Rajnarayanan PhD Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology Assistant Professor Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences University of Buffalo What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Human exposure to environmental chemicals i.e., insecticides and pesticides increases the risk of various diseases by directly interacting with proteins or signaling pathways in the endocrine or neuroendocrine system. In this study, our teamscience effort integrating big-data computation with receptor pharmacology, report for the first time that carbamate insecticides found in household and agricultural products interact with human melatonin receptors. At UB we have generated a database, we call it Chem2Risk, which contains about four million chemicals reported to have some level of toxicity. From those, after grouping the chemicals in clusters according to their similarity, we found several with potential to mimic melatonin. Wet-lab experiments confirmed that these chemicals indeed interact with melatonin receptors and have the potential to alter melatonin signaling. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Toby Litovitz, MD Executive & Medical Director, National Capital Poison Center Professor of Emergency Medicine, Georgetown University Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine The George Washington University Washington DC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past decade, a dramatic and persistent rise in the severity of swallowed batteries has been attributed to increased use of 20 mm diameter lithium coin cell batteries. With its larger diameter compared to traditional button cells, these cells get stuck in the esophagus of small children. There the greater voltage (3 V for lithium coin cells rather than 1.5 V for traditional button batteries), causes these cells to rapidly generate an external current that hydrolyzes tissue fluids, generating hydroxide and causing severe burns, injury and even death. Severe or fatal complications include perforations of the esophagus, tracheoesophageal fistulas, recurrent laryngeal nerve damage leading to vocal cord paralysis, spondylodiscitis, strictures and aortoesophageal fistulas – the latter nearly always fatal. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, CHEST, Toxin Research / 01.11.2016 Interview with: Guy Soo Hoo, MD West Los Angeles VA Medical Center Los Angeles, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Wound botulism occurs as a result of infection by material contaminated with C. botulinum. While typically associated with trauma and crush injury, it is also an infection associated with injection drug users especially with “skin popping”. Black tar heroin is an especially common vehicle for the development of wound botulism. Black tar heroin is the predominant form of heroin used in the western United States and there has been an epidemic of wound botulism cases associated with black tar heroin users especially in California. In fact, the vast majority of wound botulism cases in California occurs in injection drug users, specifically those who inject the drug subcutaneously or intramuscularly. The typical presentation in wound botulism in an acute neurologic illness with cranial nerve palsies, flaccid descending paralysis. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation may occur and may require an extended period of ventilator support for recovery. A high index of suspicion as well as general supportive care is needed for optimal treatment and recovery. Optimal treatment includes wound debridement, early administration of botulinum antitoxin and penicillin therapy. This case is unique in that the initial presentation was bilateral vocal cord paralysis and cranial nerve function was initially intact. The patient subsequently developed a flaccid paralysis that included cranial nerve palsies, functional quadriplegia and respiratory failure. He recovered to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility about six weeks after his initial presentation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Lancet, Toxin Research / 18.10.2016 Interview with: Teresa Attina, MD, PhD Research Scientist NYU Langone School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics New York, NY 10016 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been recently documented to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction in the European Union (EU), with an annual estimated cost of €163 billion, corresponding to 1.28% of EU Gross Domestic Product. Our current study documents even greater annual costs in the US, $340 billion, corresponding to 2.33% of US GDP. These findings speak to the large health and economic benefits to regulating EDCs, which should be weighed against the cost of safer alternatives. The different costs between the EU and the US are due to different exposure levels to EDCs, and policy predicts exposure. US costs are higher mainly because of the widespread use of brominated flame retardants in furniture, whereas Europe restricted its use in 2008. Americans have much higher levels, such that the average American has a serum level of these chemicals that would be in the top 5% of Europeans. As a result, children born to pregnant women have lower IQs, such that more children suffer from intellectual disability. On the other hand, in Americans, levels of certain pesticides in foods are much lower due to the Food Quality Protection Act, which requires additional safety thresholds to protect pregnant women and children from exposure. The costs of pesticide exposures in the US were much lower ($12.6 billion) compared to Europe ($121 billion) because fewer children suffer loss of IQ as a result. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Social Issues, Toxin Research / 17.09.2016 Interview with: Dr. Katherine Ahrens PhD Office of Population Affairs Rockville, MD 20852 What is the background for this study? Response: Lead exposure among children is linked to many adverse effects on health and cognitive development, which can be irreversible. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has linked 1999 to 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to administrative data for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) largest rental assistance programs (1999 through 2014), and these linked data allow calculation of the first-ever national blood lead level estimates among children living in HUD-assisted housing. Here we compare blood lead levels among children 1 to 5 years of age in 2005 to 2012 who received housing assistance during 1999 to 2014 with levels among children who did not receive housing assistance during that period. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 10.08.2016 Interview with: Courtney C. Carignan PhD Research Fellow Department of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We used mapping technology coupled with drinking water data from EPA to identify military bases, airports, industrial sites, and wastewater treatment plants as major sources of PFOS and PFOA contamination in drinking water. These measurements suggest that at least six million people have drinking water that exceeds the recent EPA health advisorylevels for PFOA and PFOS. These are chemicals that have been historically manufactured in the US and used widely in consumer products such as stain-proof carpeting, non-stick pans and aqueous firefighting foam. They have been replaced with new generation of shorter-chain fluorinated chemicals, which also do not break down in the environment and may be similarly toxic. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Toxin Research / 10.08.2016 Interview with: Ann M. Arens, MD California Poison Control Center San Francisco, CA 94110 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prescription opioid abuse is a significant public health threat that has garnered the attention of health care providers throughout medicine. With efforts to curb the number of prescriptions for opioid pain medications, users may begin to purchase prescription medications from illegal sources. Our study reports a series of patients in the San Francisco Bay Area who were exposed to counterfeit alprazolam (Xanax®) tablets found to contain large amounts of fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more potent than morphine, and in some cases etizolam, a benzodiazepine. The California Poison Control System – San Francisco division identified eight patients with unexpected serious health effects after exposure to the tablets including respiratory depression requiring mechanical ventilation, pulmonary edema, cardiac arrest, and one fatality. Patients reportedly purchased the tablets from drug dealers, and were unaware of their true contents. In one case, a 7 month-old infant accidentally ingested a counterfeit tablet dropped on the floor by a family member. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 29.07.2016 Interview with: Courtney Carignan PhD Research Fellow Department of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? Response: We collected urine samples from a team of 11 collegiate gymnasts before and after a gymnastics practice. There were higher levels of flame retardants in samples collected after practice compared to before, indicating that the gymnastics training environment is a source of exposure to these chemicals. We previously measured elevated levels of flame retardants in the air and dust of the gym. Foam equipment appears to be the primary source of flame retardants to the gym, especially foam in the loose foam pit, which is used by gymnasts to learn new skills safely. Over the past several decades, flame retardant chemical have been used in foam, such as in upholstered furniture, and electronics. They easily escape these products and enter the air, dust and our bodies. Most Americans have flame retardant chemicals in their bodies. There is growing concern about the harmful effects of many of these chemicals such that some have been phased out of use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Toxin Research / 15.07.2016 Interview with: Prof Bernard M Y Cheung and co-authors MBBChir, PhD(Cantab), FRCP, FRCPE Sun Chieh Yeh Heart Foundation Professor in Cardiovascular Therapeutics Department of Medicine University of Hong Kong Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong What is the background for this study? Response: Lead is toxic even at low levels and affects neurodevelopment in children. There has been a long-term effort in the US to reduce exposure to lead in the environment. We analyzed the trend in blood lead levels in the US, using data on 63890 Americans who took part in the National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2014. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 28.06.2016 Interview with: Thomas Swain, MPH Research Assistant, The Center for Injury Sciences, Division of Trauma, Burns and Surgical Critical Care, Department of Surgery University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL 35294 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Case reports show that the number of laundry pod detergent related cases is increasing rapidly and children are disproportionately affected by pod detergent. Pod detergent is highly concentrated and contained in a water-soluble membrane. Prior research of pod laundry detergent did not include regular, non-pod detergent; this exclusion rendered cases and severity of cases between the two incomparable. This study, comparing regular laundry detergent and pod detergent, from 2012-2014 in the United States, using national data from emergency department visits, found that children under 5 accounted for 93.8% of pod detergent related exposures and 71.8% of non-pod exposures. Importantly, 71.8% of pod exposures were diagnosed as poisoning while 72.2% of non-pod exposures were diagnosed as contact dermatitis. Those exposed to pods were 4.02 times as likely to be hospitalized, a marker for severe injury, when compared to non-pod detergent (OR: 4.02; 95% CI: 1.96-8.24). (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 16.06.2016 Interview with: Leland McClure, PhD Director in Medical Affairs for Quest Diagnostics Fellow of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology What is the background for this study? Dr. McClure: Quest Diagnostics is the leading provider of diagnostic information services, providing clinical lab testing to about one in three American adults each year. As a result, we've amassed the largest private clinical laboratory database in the United States, based on 20 billion data points from lab testing. Quest uses this data (in de-identified, HIPAA compliant form) to perform research -- called Quest Diagnostics Health Trends(TM) -- to reveal insights on important health issues to inform clinical patient management and health policy. Other Health Trends reports have focused on diabetes, pregnancy and influenza, among others. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 18.05.2016 Interview with: Professor Claire Roberts PhD Robinson Research Institute Adelaide University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Roberts: Our research aimed to identify novel risk factors for the four main complications of pregnancy;
  • preeclampsia where the mother gets high blood pressure and her kidneys don’t work properly,
  • preterm birth which is delivery before 37 weeks of gestation,
  • small for gestational age and
  • gestational diabetes. We have studied over 5500 pregnant women in 6 centres in 4 countries, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. We have identified a number of factors that contribute to these major pregnancy complications. However, in this paper we have focused on well known risk factors for pregnancy complications including maternal cigarette smoking, BMI and socioeconomic status. To these we added maternal use of marijuana before pregnancy, in first trimester, at 15 weeks and at 20 weeks gestation. After adjusting the data for the other factors, we found that continued maternal marijuana use at 20 weeks gestation is strongly associated with spontaneous pre-term birth independent of maternal cigarette smoking. Women who continued to use marijuana at 20 weeks’ gestation were over 5 times more likely to deliver preterm than women who did not use marijuana. Previous studies have shown conflicting evidence but none have accounted for maternal cigarette smoking.
Importantly, not only did continued use of marijuana increase risk for preterm birth but it also made these births 5 weeks earlier on average with a greater number of women delivering very preterm. That is much more dangerous for the baby who inevitably would require admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Earlier delivery would be expected to increase the baby’s risk for dying and having long term disabilities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, Pediatrics, Toxin Research, Weight Research / 18.05.2016 Interview with: Lori A. Hoepner, DrPH Department of Environmental Health Sciences Columbia University New York, NY 10032 What is the background for this study? Dr. Hoepner: The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health was funded starting in 1998.  Pregnant African American and Dominican mothers residing in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx were enrolled from 1998 to 2006, and mothers and their children have been followed since this time.  We collected urine samples from the pregnant mothers in their third trimester and from the children at ages 3 and 5.  At ages 5 and 7 we measured the height and weight of the children, and at age 7 we also measured body fat and waist circumference.  What are the main findings? Dr. Hoepner:  We found a significant association between increased prenatal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and increases in childhood body fat measures of waist circumference and percent body fat at age 7.  Our research builds on earlier findings of an association between prenatal exposure to BPA and body fat in children up to age 4, and this is the first study to report an association at age 7. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JNCI, Toxin Research / 14.05.2016 Interview with: Dr. Debra Silverman Sc.D Branch Chief and Senior Investigator in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics National Cancer Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Silverman: We know that bladder cancer mortality rates have been elevated in northern New England for at least five decades. Incidence patterns in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are similar—about 20% higher than those for the United States overall. Elevated rates have been observed in both men and women, suggesting the role of a shared environmental etiologic factor. A unique feature of northern New England is that a high proportion of the population uses private wells as their primary source of drinking water. The well water may contain low-to-moderate levels of arsenic. There are two possible sources of this arsenic contamination:
  • Naturally occurring arsenic from geological sources (released from rock deep in the earth)
  • Leaching of arsenic-based pesticides used on food crops many years ago. From the 1920s through the 1960s there was extensive agricultural use of arsenic-based pesticides. These compounds were used on food crops such as blueberries, apples and potatoes. Residue from the treatments may have leached into the ground water.
Intake of water containing high levels of arsenic is an established cause of bladder cancer, largely based on studies conducted in highly exposed populations. However, emerging evidence suggests that low-to-moderate levels of exposure may also increase bladder cancer risk. To explore possible reasons for the excess incidence of bladder cancer in northern New England, we conducted a large, comprehensive population-based case-control study in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. We examined the role of known and suspected bladder cancer risk factors, with a focus on private well water consumption and arsenic levels in drinking water. The major cause of bladder cancer is cigarette smoking. Some occupational exposures (e.g., exposure to metalworking fluids such as that experienced by metalworkers and some types of machine operators) are also associated with elevated risk. However, smoking and occupational exposures do not appear to explain the New England bladder cancer excess. This study was funded and carried out by researchers in the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics in collaboration with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, the Departments of Health for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and the US Geological Survey. We reported that heavy consumption of drinking water from private dug wells (which are shallow—less than 50 feet deep—and susceptible to contamination from manmade sources than drilled wells), established prior to 1960 (when arsenic-based pesticides were widely used), may have contributed to the longstanding bladder cancer excess in northern New England. We saw that cumulative arsenic exposure from all water sources showed an increasing risk with increasing exposure (exposure-response relationship). Among the highest exposed participants, risk was twice that of the lowest exposure group. (Cumulative arsenic exposure is a measure of the average daily arsenic intake by number of days of arsenic exposure.) (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 01.05.2016 Interview with: Steven Daniel Hicks, M.D., Ph.D. Penn State Hershey Medical Group Hope Drive, Pediatrics Hershey, PA 17033 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hicks:  This research was inspired by results of the CHARGE study (examining environmental influences on autism) which showed that specific pesticides (including pyrethroids) increased the risk of autism and developmental delay, particularly when mothers were exposed in the 3rdtrimester. We recognized that the department of health sprayed pyrethroids from airplanes in a specific area near our regional medical center every summer to combat mosquito borne illnesses. We asked whether children from those areas had increased rates of autism and developmental delay. We found that they were about 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disorder at our medical center than children from control regions without aerial spraying of pyrethroids. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 25.04.2016 Interview with: Dr. Gary Smith, MD PhD Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smith: Laundry detergent packets are relatively new to the U.S. market (introduced in 2012). As their popularity has increased, so have calls to poison centers for detergent packet exposures. The study analyzed calls to poison centers and compared exposures to young children from dishwasher and laundry detergent packets as well as traditional (liquid and powder) dishwasher and laundry detergents. Incidents related to laundry detergent packets saw the biggest rise - increasing 17% over the two-year study period. Poison control centers received more than 30 calls a day on average about a child who had been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, which is about one call about every 45 minutes. Claims made by others that the rate of exposures is decreasing are misleading – these claims are based on an inappropriate use of numbers. Children exposed to laundry detergent packets were significantly more likely to be admitted to a healthcare facility or have a serious medical outcome than those exposed to other types of detergent. They were also more likely to have serious clinical effects. Coma, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, and death were only observed among children exposed to laundry detergent packets. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, Toxin Research / 01.04.2016 Interview with: Anders Rehfeld MD, PhD Student University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine Copenhagen, Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? DrRehfeld: Human fertility is declining in many areas of the world and the reason is largely unknown. Our study shows that 44% tested chemical UV filters can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone and possibly interfering with the fertilizing ability of human sperm cells. Progesterone-induced calcium signaling, and the sperm functions it triggers, is absolutely essential for the human sperm cell to normally fertilize the human egg. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Toxin Research, UCLA / 31.03.2016 Interview with: Nancy L. Wayne, PhD Professor, Department of Physiology UCLA School of Medicine Los Angeles, CA 90095 editor’s note: Campbell Soup Co. will stop using the chemical Bisphenol A in its canned products by the middle of 2017 due to consumers concerns that BPA raises the risk of cancer, brain damage and hormonal problems. Professor Nancy Wayne, is a reproductive endocrinologist and professor of physiology at UCLA. She has conducted extensive research on the health effects of the endocrine disruptors bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical widely used by manufacturers to strengthen plastic, and its replacement, bisphenol S (BPS). Professor Wayne was kind of enough to discuss the implications of the Campbell Soup Co. announcement for the readers of What is the background for this announcement?  What are the real and potential harmful effects of BPAs? Prof. Wayne: There has been increasing research publications on the impact of BPA on body functions in animal models, human cells in culture, and associations between high levels of BPA in human urine samples and dysfunctions and diseases. a pubmed (biomedical article search engine) keyword search of bisphenol + BPA showed 39 articles published in the 1990s, 1127 articles published in the 2000s, and over 2300 articles published since January 2010. The public is much more aware of this research now — even though the message from the U.S. FDA has been consistently that low levels of BPA are not harmful (this is not the case according to independent research). Public pressure is causing companies to re-think their use of BPA in their products that could lead to environmental exposure of humans to this chemical. BPA has been shown in animal models to alter genes in fetal heart that are known to play a role in heart diseases, leads to increased genetic abnormalities in fertilized eggs and miscarriages, increased premature birth, increases susceptibility to breast cancer, stimulates early development of the reproductive system, and increases the risk of obesity. We cannot do controlled studies in humans with toxins like we can with laboratory animals. However, there has been shown to be an association between high levels of BPA in human urine and many of the same problems seen in animals: increased body weight and fat in children, increased risk of miscarriages and premature birth, and increased incidence of prostate cancer. Although association doesn’t mean cause-and-effect, taken together with the animal studies — it is meaningful. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Surgical Research, Toxin Research / 27.02.2016 Interview with: Yu-Chih Hou, MD Department of Ophthalmology National Taiwan University Hospital Taipei, Taiwan MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Yu-Chih Hou: We have encountered 3 patients with right eye pain and corneal edema after left orofacial surgery under general anesthesia since December 6. 2010. The first patient underwent a left tongue tumor excision by an ENT doctor. Postoperative day one, corneal epithelial defect and edema with mild anterior chamber reaction were noted in the right eye. Because his presentation was different from corneal abrasion which was the most common eye injury after general anesthesia, we suspected this ocular complication could be due to toxic reaction to antiseptic. Although corneal edema decreased, corneal endothelial cell density decreased and cataract developed later in the first patient. Two months later, the second patient had a similar toxic keratopathy but with severe corneal edema in his right eye after wide tumor excision of left lower gingival cancer by dentist surgeons. We found the antiseptic they used contained alcohol. We recommended not to use alcohol-containing antiseptics in oral surgery. Unfortunately, more severe toxic keratopathy occurred in the third patient after a left nasal tumor excision by other ENT doctor one year later. Because these severe ocular complications may occur again, it raised us to do detail study and we found all antiseptics they used contained alcohol. We hope to prevent occurrence of this toxic keratopathy in nonocular surgery by reporting our findings to other clinicians. (more…)
Author Interviews, Imperial College, Pulmonary Disease, Toxin Research / 23.02.2016 Interview with: Dr Rebecca Ghosh, Research Associate  Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health Imperial College London St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ghosh: Since the 1950s a lot of evidence has accumulated that high levels of air pollution cause harmful effects on health.  However there is limited evidence on the very long term (>25 years) effects of air pollution.  Our study is one of the longest running to date looking at air pollution and mortality, following 368,000 people in England and Wales for 38 years.  We estimated air pollution exposures throughout England & Wales for 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 using data from historic air pollution monitoring networks, the first time this has been done. We found that air pollution exposure in 1971 was still associated with a small increased risk of death in 2002-9, over 30 years later, suggesting that harmful effects of air pollution are extremely long-lasting.  However, risks from an individual’s past exposures waned over time and their more recent exposures gave the highest mortality risks. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Toxin Research / 01.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Nancy Wayne, PhD Member, Brain Research Institute Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area Neuroscience GPB Home Area David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wayne: I started this work because of my concern about our continuous exposure to BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals. Our first study published in 2008 showed that low doses of BPA accelerated embryonic development and birth within 24 hours of exposure. We extended this work more recently by investigating the impact of BPA and BPS (a common BPA-substitute) on the timing of birth and development of the reproductive system in embryos. Our research showed that low levels of BPS had a similar impact on the embryo as BPA. In the presence of either BPA or BPS, embryonic development was accelerated leading to abnormal stimulation of the reproductive system. Additionally, BPA caused premature birth. This is cause for concern with human health consequences to long-term exposure to low levels of potentially dozens of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are in our environment. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Tobacco, Toxin Research / 29.01.2016 Interview with: Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD Assistant Professor of Oncology, Department of Health Behavior Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Goniewicz: In addition to nicotine and its solvents (like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin), a majority of e-cigarettes contain flavorings. Users of e-cigarettes can choose their favorite flavor among hundreds of various options, including fruit, coffee, menthol, vanilla, chocolate, candy flavors, and tobacco.  Although many flavorings used in e-cigarettes are recognized as safe when used in food products, little is known about their potential toxicity when inhaled. In this study we measured one such flavoring, benzaldehyde. This flavoring is commonly used in food and cosmetics. We know that there is little to no toxicity if we eat this compound or if we apply it on our skin. However, workers who regularly inhale a high concentration of benzaldehyde often report irritation of their eyes and throat. In this study, we tested 145 e-cigarette products, and we found benzaldehyde in 108 products. Interestingly, the highest levels of benzaldehyde were detected in cherry-flavored products.  (more…)