Author Interviews, ENT, Environmental Risks, Occupational Health / 06.09.2018 Interview with: Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD Director of the Golomb Research Group Professor of Medicine University of California, San DiegoResponse: What is the background for this study? How was the radiation emitted? Response: Possibilities include surveillance devices (or things to jam them), electronic weapons, or, less likely, “innocent” communications devices. What are the main findings? Response: That all key features of diplomats’ experiences comport with pulsed radiofrequency/ microwave (RF/MW) radiation.
  1. The nature of the “sounds” heard – chirping, clicking, ringing, grinding/buzzing – are known “sounds” produced via the “microwave auditory effect” aka Frey effect.  Different sounds are heard by different people, because the character of the sound heard depends on head dimensions (as well as pulse characteristics). Sounds were primarily heard at night: consistent with the microwave auditory effect, which requires low ambient noise. Some diplomats reported that sounds were spatially localized with “laserlike” specificity – said to defy known physics. This defies the physics of sound, but not radiation. The “sound” was reported to follow a diplomat as he walked, within the territory in which it was heard. Sound from a fixed source does not seem to follow people – but the microwave auditory affect does, often perceived as being located just behind (or in some cases just above, or inside) the head of the person, irrespective of the person’s orientation relative to the radiation source.
  2. The symptoms reported following these experiences also fit. Rates of reported symptoms in diplomats – headache, cognitive and sleep problems dominating, then dizziness, tinnitus, anxiety, nausea at lesser but still high rates – match closely with rates of the same symptoms reported in a 2012 Japanese study of people who report health effects from radiation, typically including pulsed RF/MW. Hearing loss is a relatively distinctive and prominent symptom in both diplomats, and RF/MW affected civilians. In both groups, some reportedly experience speech problems, balance problems, nosebleed, and strange sensations of vibration and pressure.
Reports of symptoms with RF/MW exposures date at least to the 1920s, affecting radio amateurs and shipboard radio operators as well as others working with radar or microwaves in occupational settings. By 1971/72, a Naval report with over 2300 citations (many from Russia and Eastern Europe), assessing effects of low intensity RF radiation, had whole sections devoted to each of a number of the symptoms diplomats report.
  1. Hundreds (if not thousands) of studies have illuminated mechanisms by which these effects may arise, centered on oxidative stress (the kind of injury that antioxidants help to defend against) – and many downstream effects of oxidative stress (membrane damage, blood brain barrier impairment with potential for brain swelling, inflammation, voltage gated calcium (and other) channel effects (which can also lead to oxidative stress), mitochondrial impairment, autoimmune activation, etc.)
Affected persons are a minority (in both settings), and in the nondiplomat setting, vulnerability has been tied to genetic variants less adept at defending against oxidative stress; and low concentrations of a critical antioxidant. In both groups, brain imaging studies resemble traumatic brain injury; and in both, at least some of those affected had prior head injury. Head injury may be a predisposing factor, as well as possible consequence. Reprising findings also shown for research on other lucrative products with potential to cause harm in some, there is a powerful tie between study results and financial conflict of interest (e.g. source of study funding or conflicts by authors).
  1. There is precedent for use of microwaves in the diplomat setting. It is known that the US embassy in Moscow was microwaved for several decades beginning in the early 1950s (with some embassy staff citing – disputed - health problems). A 1976 NY Times story (“Moscow rays linked to U.S. bugging”) referenced speculation these were for surveillance; the Soviets claimed their purpose was to thwart U.S. listening devices on the roof of the embassy.
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 29.08.2018 Interview with: Joseph M. Braun, MSPH, PhD Associate Professor of Epidemiology Epidemiology Master's Program Director Brown University School of Public Health What is the background for this study? Response: Childhood lead poisoning continues to be a problem in the United States and residential lead hazards are the major source of Pb exposure in young children. However, no studies have attempted to prevent exposure to lead hazards through primary prevention. Thus, we randomized 355 pregnant women to a comprehensive residential intervention and followed their children for up to 8 years to determine if childhood lead poisoning and associated cognitive deficits and behavior problems can be prevented. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Environmental Risks / 04.08.2018 Interview with: sunscreen creative commonsAdela J. Li, PhD Research Affiliate Wadsworth Center, Rm. D597 New York State Dept. of Health Empire State Plaza Albany, NY, 12201-0509 On the behalf of Dr. Kelvin Leung What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Most people love the beach. In order to block the sun’s damaging UV radiation, people generally slather on a thick layer of sunscreen against sunburn and skin cancer. Sunscreen is suggested to be re-applied every few hours regarding its effectiveness as well as being washed off into the water. These UV filters have been detected in the environment but most studies concluded that individual sunscreen chemicals pose no/low risk to animals or human. However, UV filters constitute a heterogeneous group of chemicals in sunscreens. We are wondering if combination of UV filters would induce higher toxicity than individual compounds, and whether these chemical interactions would develop over time, becoming increasingly dangerous to the living systems. Our study found seven of the nine UV filters in Shenzhen waters, China --- a rapidly urbanized city with over 20 popular recreational beaches, surprisingly, a reservoir and tap water. After exposing artemia to three dominant UV filters and then feeding these artemia to zebrafish adults, concentrations in both were up to 4 times higher when exposed to the mixtures than when exposed to only a single UV filter. A short-term of 25-day dietary exposure to the zebrafish adults did not appear to significantly influence early life stage development of the second generation; however, relatively long exposure over 47 days had significant adverse effects on embryo development. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks / 24.06.2018 Interview with: Dr Jianhua Guo PhD ARC Future Fellow, Senior Research Fellow Advanced Water Management Centre University of Queensland Brisbane Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It was found that wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations. Thus, we wonder whether non-antibiotic chemicals such as triclosan can directly induce antibiotic resistance, because triclosan could be ubiquitously detected in various water environments, like wastewater. We found triclosan found in personal care products that we use daily could directly induce multi-drug resistance through mutation. The discovery should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of non-antibiotic chemicals on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, PLoS, Toxin Research / 19.06.2018 Interview with: Cheryl Rosenfeld PhD DVS Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders University of Missouri What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: My laboratory has been examining the effects of developmental exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), bisphenol A (BPA) on later neurobehavioral responses in a variety of rodent models, including California mice. This species is unique in that both parents rear the pups and they have monogamous social structure, similar to most human societies. We had previously found that developmental exposure to BPA or another EDC, ethinyl estradiol (EE), disrupted later maternal and paternal care by F1 offspringto their F2 pups. Rodent pups use vocalizations both in the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz or below) and outside of the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz) to communicate with each other and their parents, and for the latter, such communications serve as a trigger to provide additional parental care in the form of nutrition or warmth to the pups. Thus, in the current studies we sought to determine if exposure of the grandparents to BPA or EE could lead to disruptions in their grandoffspring (F2 generation) pup communications that might then at least partially account for the parental neglect of their F1 parents. We found that early on female BPA pups took longer to call to their parents but later during the neonatal period they vocalized more than pups whose grandparents were not exposed to either chemical. Such vocalization changes could be due to multigenerational exposure to BPA and/or indicate that the pups are perceiving and responding to the reduced parental care and attempting but failing to signal to their F1 parents that they need more attention. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Infections, Pediatrics, Respiratory / 18.04.2018 Interview with: Benjamin D. Horne, PhD Director of Cardiovascular and Genetic Epidemiology Intermountain Heart Institute Intermountain Medical Center Salt Lake City, Utah What is the background for this study? Response: Evidence suggests that short-term elevations (even for just a few days) of fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5, which is particulate matter less than 2.5 um or about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair) is associated with various poor health outcomes among adults, including myocardial infarction, heart failure exacerbation, and worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms. Studies of long-term exposure to moderately elevated levels of PM2.5 indicate that chronic daily air pollution exposure may contribute to death due to pneumonia and influenza. Research regarding the association of short-term elevations in PM2.5 has provided some limited evidence of a possible association between short-term PM2.5 increases and infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or bronchiolitis in children, but scientifically these reports have been weak and unreliable, probably because they have only looked at a period of a few days to a week after short-term PM2.5 elevations. An evaluation of a very large population in a geographic location that provides a wide variation in PM2.5 levels from lowest to highest levels and that examines longer periods of time after the PM2.5 elevations is needed to determine whether a PM2.5 association with lower respiratory infection exists. (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, 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, 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…)