Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 13.04.2021 Interview with: Elisabeth Schirmer Doctoral student University of Bayreuth, Germany plastics-bpa-bisphenols What is the background for this study? Response: Bisphenol A (BPA) is worldwide one of the most frequently used plasticizers. Over time it has been shown that BPA interferes with developmental processes in vertebrates, i.e. brain development. It is therefore increasingly being substituted by supposedly safe plasticizers like bisphenol S (BPS).  (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, Toxin Research, Weight Research / 08.03.2021 Interview with: Alison P. Sanders, PhD Pronouns:  She/Her Assistant Professor Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Department of Pediatrics Director, Interdisciplinary Environmental Health Postdoctoral Fellowship What is the background for this study? Response: My research group is dedicated to understanding environmental and early life risk factors that contribute to kidney function declineWhile some of the pathobiology leading to chronic kidney disease remains unclear, we understand that the process is complex and, like many chronic diseases, begins long before clinical diagnosis. My research investigates how the environment and mixtures of environmental chemicals/toxicants interact with traditional risk factors such as obesity, preterm birth, and nutritional status to hasten or prevent chronic kidney disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 09.11.2018 Interview with: "Protect Coral Reefs" by NOAA's National Ocean Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ariel Kushmaro and Esti Kramarsky-Winter Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben Gurion University Beer Sheva, Israel The Republic of Palau, a South Pacific island nation, became the world's first country to ban sunscreen products containing environmentally harmful ingredients What is the background for this announcement? What are the main findings?  Response: Coral reefs are important ecosystems that are under threat due to global human driven climate change. In addition to global changes, local hazards such as point pollution by eutrophication, dredging and chemical pollution are exacerbating and promoting reef destruction at local levels. This destruction affects not only island nations that depend on these reefs for protection and livelihood, they affect humanity as a whole as they are an important source for food and novel drugs and new materials. Our recent studies have shown that chemicals found in most commercial sunscreens and creams used to protect humans from deleterious effects of UV A and UVB wash off into the environment are persistent, have endocrine disruptive effects, and thus deleteriously affect marine organisms including corals.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Pediatrics, Thyroid Disease / 17.09.2018 Interview with: Carrie Breton ScD Associate Professor and Director of the MADRES Center Division of Environmental Health Los Angeles, CA 90032 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I am interested in how the environment can influence our very early development, starting in the womb. I have studied the health effects of air pollutants on children for several years and wanted to focus now on the earliest windows of susceptibility.  Thyroid hormones play a critical role in fetal growth and development. We knew we could get information on newborn thyroid levels from the California Department of Public Health’s newborn screening program therefore look at this question in our study population. We found that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 throughout most of pregnancy affected TT4 levels in newborns. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Toxin Research / 14.09.2018 Interview with: “Vision” by Victoria Ford is licensed under CC BY 2.0Adam J. Paulsen MS Associate Researcher EpiSense Research Program Department of Ophthalmology&  Visual Sciences University of Wisconsin - Madison What is the background for this study? Response: Contrast Sensitivity is a measure of visual function that indicates how well a person is able to distinguish an object against its background.  Tests of CS determine how faint a visual signal can be identified.  CS can be diminished even in those with appropriately corrected visual acuity, has been shown to have effects on daily activities (including near vision tasks), risk of falls, and driving ability.  The causes of and risks for CS impairment are understudied.  Cadmium (Cd) and Lead (Pb) are known neurotoxins that have been shown to accumulate in the retina.  Both Cd and Pb have common sources of exposure in the general population.  Our studied aimed to investigate risk factors for incident CS impairment, including Cd and Pb exposure. (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, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 26.01.2018 Interview with: “Toys” by Holger Zscheyge is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Andrew Turner Reader in Environmental Science (Biogeochemistry and Toxicology) School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences University of Plymouth, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The study arose through a larger investigation into hazardous substances in consumer plastics, both old and new. The main finding of the present research was the widespread occurrence of restricted elements in old plastic toys, and in particular cadmium, lead and bromine (the latter an indicator of the presence of flame retardants); in many cases, these elements could migrate from the plastic under conditions simulating the human digestive system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Toxin Research / 07.11.2017 Interview with: Themed Merchandised products affectedDr Andrew Turner Reader in Environmental Science (Biogeochemistry and Toxicology) School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences University of Plymouth, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We had a project looking at toxic metals in consumer plastics and paints and as part of the study analysed decorated glassware product. With respect to the latter, and from a health perspective, it is concerning that metals that have been banned or restricted by so many industries over the past few decades are still used to decorate contemporary drinking glassware. Drinking glasses that are most hazardous are those where the décor extends into the lip area within 2 cm of the rim, and those that target children. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, OBGYNE, Toxin Research, UC Davis / 12.09.2017 Interview with: Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California What is the background for this study? Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies. Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism. Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides. This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child. (more…)
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, Cancer Research, OBGYNE, PLoS / 11.08.2017 Interview with: Jane McElroy, Ph.D. Associate professor Department of Family and Community Medicine MU School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: More than 31,000 new cases of endometrial cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017. Through a five-year observational study, we found that women with increased levels of cadmium had an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Cadmium is a metal commonly found in foods such as kidneys, liver and shellfish as well as tobacco It’s a finding we hope could lead to new treatments or interventions to prevent the fourth most common cancer in women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Mineral Metabolism, Nature, Pediatrics / 05.06.2017 Interview with: Manish Arora, PhD Associate Professor Environmental Medicine & Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism has both genetic and environmental risk factors. Our aim was to study if exposure to toxic metals, such as lead, or disruptions in the uptake of essential nutrient elements such as manganese or zinc would be related to autism risk. Furthermore, we were interested in not only understanding how much exposure had taken place but also which developmental periods were associated with increased susceptibility to autism risk. Researchers suspect that the risk factors for autism start early in life, even prenatally, but measuring in utero exposures is technically very challenging. We used a newly developed technique that uses lasers to map growth rings in baby teeth (like growth rings in trees) to reconstruct the history of toxic metal and essential nutrient uptake. We applied this technology in samples collected from twins, including twins who were discordant for autism. This allowed us to have some control over genetic factors. We found that twins with autism had higher levels of lead in their teeth compared to their unaffected twin siblings. They also had lower levels of zinc and manganese. The lower uptake of zinc was restricted to approximately 10 weeks before birth to a few weeks after birth, indicating that as a critical developmental period. (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, 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, 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, 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…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pediatrics / 28.07.2016 Interview with: Graeme Gordon CEO and Founder at SneakGuard - Home of Safe Responsible StorageGraeme Gordon CEO and Founder at SneakGuard - Home of Safe Responsible Storage What is the background for SneakGuard™? Response: SneakGuard™ creator and founder, Graeme Gordon recognized the urgent need to keep adventurous young snoopers from unintentionally ingesting cannabis. Founded in 2014, SneakGuard™ is a locking, vacuum and thermally insulated container that provides responsible storage of medications and cannabis, with the passion to protect, save and enhance everyday quality of life. Gordon explains “As a father of a 8 year old I understand how pressing it is for adults to protect children, teens, and even pets from unintended ingestion, so I created a unique storage unit to provide a solution.” (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, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Toxin Research, Weight Research / 13.11.2015 Interview with: Joseph M. Braun PhD Assistant Professor Department of Epidemiology in the Program in Public Health Brown University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Braun:  Perfluoroalkyl substances are a class of chemicals used to produce stain/water repellent textiles, fire fighting foams, and non-stick coatings. Virtually all people in the US have measurable levels of several different perfluoroalkyl substances in their blood. There is concern that early life exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of obesity by reducing fetal growth or promoting adipogenesis. What are the main findings? Dr. Braun:  Pregnant women in our study had perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) concentrations in their blood that were over 2-fold higher than pregnant women in the United States (median: 5.3 vs. 2.3 ng/mL) during the same time period (2003-2006). Children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy had a higher body mass index, greater waist circumference, and more body fat at 8 years of age compared to children born to women with lower serum PFOA concentrations. In addition, children born to women with higher serum PFOA concentrations during pregnancy gained more fat mass between 2 and 8 years of age than children born to women with lower PFOA concentrations. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Occupational Health, Toxin Research / 24.10.2015 Interview with: Geoffrey M. Calvert MD Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health CDC Cincinnati, Ohio Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Calvert: Since 1987, acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury has been one of the conditions under surveillance by NIOSH. NIOSH supports these surveillance activities by providing cooperative agreement funding and technical support to state health departments. The SENSOR-Pesticides program is also partially funded by EPA. A total of 12 states currently participate in the SENSOR-Pesticides program. With the 2015 publication of the Summary of Notifiable Non-Infectious Conditions and Disease Outbreaks – United States, official statistics for the occurrence of acute occupational pesticide-related illness and injury were published for the first time in the same volume of the MMWR with information on nationally notifiable infectious diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pediatrics / 15.06.2015

Dr. Gary Smith MD, DrPH Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, Interview with: Dr. Gary Smith MD, DrPH Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, Ohio Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smith: As of January 2015, 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use. Four of those same states and Washington D.C. have also voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The debate about legalization often focuses on health effects among adults, economic benefits, and crime rates. Lost in the discussion is the potential harm to young children from unintentional exposure to marijuana. The study found that the rate of marijuana exposure among children 5 years of age and younger rose 147.5 percent from 2006 through 2013 across the United States. The rate increased almost 610 percent during the same period in states that legalized marijuana for medical use before 2000. In states that legalized marijuana from 2000 through 2013, the rate increased almost 16 percent per year after legalization, with a particular jump in the year that marijuana was legalized. Even states that had not legalized marijuana by 2013 saw a rise of 63 percent in the rate of marijuana exposures among young children from 2000 through 2013. Most children were exposed when they swallowed marijuana – that may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Toxin Research, UCSD / 30.03.2014

Beatrice A. Golomb MD, PhD Professor of Medicine Family and Preventive Medicine University of California, San Interview with: Beatrice A. Golomb MD, PhD Professor of Medicine Family and Preventive Medicine University of California, San Diego What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Golomb: The main finding is that veterans with Gulf War illness have bioenergetic defects -- dysfunction of mitochondria, the energy producing elements of cells -- that is evident in comparing affected veterans to matched healthy controls. An estimated 1/4 to 1/3 of the ~700,000 US veterans from the 1990-1 Gulf War developed chronic multisymptom health problems that entail fatigue, cognitive and other CNS problems, muscle pain, weakness and exercise intolerance, with high rates of gastrointestinal (especially diarrhea) and neurological problems, and other symptoms - as well as autonomic dysfunction. Evidence suggests these problems have not abated with time. Veterans from other nations that have conducted epidemiological studies, including the UK, Canada, and Australia, also show elevated rates of problems. (more…)