SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

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We are hearing a lot in recent times about farmer suicides in this part of the world. People are placing the blame on the high costs of seeds, natural calamities, loans repayment problems, GM seeds and several other things. Opposition parties say government is not doing enough to solve these problems.

Wait a minute, but these problems are around for several decades. But why suddenly the farmers are 'considering' suicides and going for them now only? Have they suddenly became 'weak' mentally? I came across several interesting observations in this regard.

There is growing evidence that long-term pesticide use is linked to alterations in farmers' mental health. In the US high rates of depression and suicides are linked to farmers' use of pesticides (2)!

During plantation period of crops, it seems, the farmers who were very calm, loving and caring earlier suddenly are becoming depressed and agitated and are taking their own lives. This sudden shift in behaviour, according to scientists, is because of the pesticide treated seeds! There is a growing evidence that pesticides may alter farmers’ mental health.

These chemicals do kill insects by ruining their nervous system. They can do the same thing to the farmer! Farming is a stressful job – uncontrollable weather, physical demands and economic woes intertwine with a personal responsibility for land that often is passed down through generations. But experts say that some of the chemicals used to control pests may make matters worse by changing farmers’ brain chemistry. Recent research has linked long-term use of pesticides to higher rates of depression and suicide. Evidence also suggests that pesticide poisoning – a heavy dose in a short amount of time – doubles the risk of depression (3). There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life according to a Harvard Medical School report (6). Some research suggests that the chemicals - especially organochlorines and organophosphates - that farmers and their workers spread on fields may alter some of these brain chemicals (4, 5). 20 years of occupational use of the pesticide even at low levels can also cause depression.

And we see several people getting agitated and angry these days because of trivial things even in cities that are far away from farmlands. Road rages have become daily shows. I used to wonder very often why the world is changing so much and so badly. When I was very young people never used to be so angry, depressed and agitated like they are now. They rarely considered killing others and themselves. Divorce rate is low then and is increasing now. People are becoming selfish. Everybody is quarreling with everybody! I find sudden shift in peoples' behaviour now. "Why? What are the reasons?" I asked myself several times. Psychologists' reasons run like this: materialism, breaking up of families, degrading of the support system, egos, stress, economic independence of women etc. etc.

But has anyone considered pesticide residues in the food people consume and pollution in the air as some of the reasons too?

Update on the above observation of mine: Breathing dirty air can make you sick. But according to new research, it can also make you more aggressive. That's the conclusion from a set of studies recently authored by Colorado State University researchers. The team found strong links between short-term exposure to air pollution and aggressive behaviour, in the form of aggravated assaults and other violent crimes across the continental United States (17).

The research results show a 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in same-day exposure to PM2.5 is associated with a 1.4% increase in violent crimes, nearly all of which is driven by crimes categorized as assaults. Researchers also found that a 0.01 parts-per-million increase in same-day exposure to ozone is associated with a 0.97% increase in violent crime, or a 1.15% increase in assaults. Changes in these air pollution measures had no statistically significant effect on any other category of crime.

The researchers are talking about crimes that might not even be physical --  assaulting someone verbally is on the increase too in these polluted places. The story is, when you're exposed to more pollution, you become marginally more aggressive, so those altercations -- some things that may not have escalated -- do escalate. Their results only show a strong correlative relationship between such crimes and levels of air pollution.

The team published a companion paper in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy with similar results that used monthly crime statistics. A third paper in Epidemiology, with lead author Jesse Berman at University of Minnesota and co-authors from CSU, used EPA pollution monitor databases and different statistical techniques and came to similar conclusions.

The researchers were careful to correct for other possible explanations, including weather, heat waves, precipitation, or more general, county-specific confounding factors.

And there can be another reason for the aggressiveness of people: The recreational drugs known as bath salts (a kind of synthetic drug with mood-altering and stimulant properties, typically in the form of crystals and containing MDPV or mephedrone) reduce communication between different areas of the brain in rats, new research finds. This decline may be tied to the depression and aggressive behavior that some users feel after taking the drugs.

Compared with control animals, rats dosed with one bath salt variant had less synchronized activity, or “functional connectivity,” among the 86 brain areas that the researchers examined.

“The higher the dose, the less connectivity you get in the brain,” says neuroscientist Marcelo Febo, who presented the research November 15 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (10).

And do you know concussions can increase suicide rate several times?

A recent research work has shown that a single concussion to the brain can triple the long term risk of suicides. concussions are now known to be much more serious injuries than once thought. And the danger may not be limited to the immediate repercussions. Researchers have already linked more severe traumatic brain injury to later suicide—particularly in military veterans and professional athletes—and have more recently explored the connection between concussion and depression.

New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that even mild concussions sustained in ordinary community settings might be more detrimental than anyone anticipated; the long-term risk of suicide increases threefold in adults if they have experienced even one concussion. That risk increases by a third if the concussion is sustained on a weekend instead of a weekday—suggesting recreational concussions are riskier long-term than those sustained on the job. 

The usual circumstances for acquiring a concussion are not while playing; it is when driving in traffic and getting into a crash, when missing a step and falling down a staircase, when getting overly ambitious about home repairs—the everyday activities of life.

Neuro-scientists  identified nearly a quarter of a million adults in Ontario who were diagnosed with a mild concussion over a timespan of 20 years—severe cases that resulted in hospital admission were excluded from the study—and tracked them for subsequent mortality due to suicide. It turned out that more than 660 suicides occurred among these patients, equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 patients annually—three times the population norm. On average, suicide occurred almost six years after the concussion. This risk was found to be independent of demographics or previous psychiatric conditions, and it increased with additional concussions.

Another  study conducted in 2014 found that sustaining a head injury leads to a greater risk of mental illness later in life. 

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People have attributed body deformities to defective genes several times. But here is another view: Plastic Chemical Linked to Changes in Baby Boy's Genitals

Boys exposed in the womb to high levels are born with slightly altered genital development. Boys exposed in the womb to high levels of a chemical found in vinyl products are born with slightly altered genital development, according to research published today.

The study of nearly 200 Swedish babies is the first to link the chemical di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) to changes in the development of the human male reproductive tract (7).

Previous studies of baby boys in three countries found that a similar plastics chemical, DEHP, was associated with the same type of changes in their genitalia. Less is known about the reproductive risks of DiNP, a chemical which scientists say may be replacing DEHP in many products such as vinyl toys, flooring and packaging. In mice, high levels block testosterone and alter testicular development. This study raises concern about DiNP, which is being used in increased amounts in products that contain vinyl plastics, and the impact on the developing fetus.  Considered a sign of incomplete masculinization, shortened anogenital distance in men has been associated with abnormal testicular development and reduced semen quality and fertility. In men, this measurement is typically 50 to 100 percent longer than in women.

Plastics we use daily in our lives can cause havoc in our lives too!

And a new study suggests that chemicals in sunscreen may impair men’s ability to father children (12) although it is not clear yet whether the chemicals ( benzophenone-2, known as BP-2, and 4-hydroxybenzophenone, known as 4-OH-BP )– for use in sunscreens wound up in men’s urine from sunscreen or through another route.   BP-2 does show up as an ingredient in aftershaves, colognes, antiperspirant and other personal-care products.               

  

Researchers from the US National Institutes of Health and the New York State health department studied 501 couples from Michigan and Texas who stopped using contraceptives between 2005 and 2009 and wanted to get pregnant.

Each participant provided a single urine sample and kept daily journals on sex, menstruation and pregnancy testing, according to a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Women had higher urine concentrations of each of five chemical compounds tested, the study found, but their exposures did not significantly delay pregnancy.

Among the men, however, those with the highest urine levels of BP-2 had a 30 percent lower chance of impregnating their partners within a year, the research found. Couples in which the man had high urine concentrations of 4-OH-BP also had significantly reduced odds of pregnancy within a year.

Advice of scientists: Studies are still going on this. So keep using sunscreen but read labels to know what chemicals are used in the sunscreens you are using on your skin if you are trying to have children and cover as much of your bodies as possible to protect yourself from harmful UV radiation.

 

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We blame children for not paying attention to teachers and not learning properly in schools. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric disorder  of the neuro-developmental type  in which there are significant problems of attention, hyperactivity, or acting impulsively that are not appropriate for a person's age. In school-aged individuals inattention symptoms often result in poor school performance. ADHD is diagnosed approximately three times more in boys than in girls. 

But there is a link between this disorder and air pollution. A recent research shows children exposed in the womb to high levels of pollutants in vehicle exhaust had a five times higher risk of attention problems at age 9, according to research by Columbia University scientists. The results suggest that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems.

The study adds to earlier evidence that mothers' exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are emitted by the burning of fossil fuels and other organic materials, are linked to children's behavioral problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “Air pollution has been linked to adverse effects on attention span, behavior and cognitive functioning in research from around the globe. There is little question that air pollutants may pose a variety of potential health risks to children of all ages, possibly beginning in the womb,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. These chemicals damage DNA. They also mimic natural hormones and may interfere with placental growth which could deplete oxygen and nutrients for the developing fetus (8).

Another study says prenatal exposure to chemicals  is responsible for lower IQ at age 7.

Children whose mothers were exposed to higher levels of phthalates, common chemicals in consumer products, in late pregnancy tend to score lower than other kids on intelligence tests at age 7 (13).Some soaps, nail polish, hairspray, shower curtains, raincoats, car interiors and dryer sheets contain phthalates, which are used as so-called plasticizers, or softening agents. When the researchers divided the mothers into four groups based on the amount of phthalates in their urine, kids whose mothers had the highest levels had an intelligence quotient (IQ) score about seven points lower than kids whose mothers had the lowest levels of the chemicals in their urine, according to the results in PLOS ONE. The difference persisted when the authors accounted for other factors that can influence IQ, including the mother’s IQ, her alcohol use during pregnancy, education, marital status and the child’s birth weight. Phthalates and similar chemicals, including bisphenol A (BPA), have also been associated with childhood obesity and asthma. It would be prudent for expectant mothers to avoid microwaving food in plastic, avoid scented products, avoid plastics labeled 3, 6 or 7, and as much as possible and store foods in glass instead of plastic.

Now, parents and teachers,  before punishing your child for not doing well in school think about what you had done that might have caused this problem.

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Some couples who are unable to have children visit doctors and hospitals  and when told there is nothing wrong with their reproductive systems, visit  temples and street corner pundits and do everything possible to conceive. But still their wishes won't be fulfilled. Why?

Here is some interesting research I came across recently:

Worrying molecule found in bottled water!

German researchers have used a combination of bioassay work and high-resolution mass spectrometry to pin down the source of endrocrine-disrupting behaviour in 18 bottle.... Of 24,520 suspect chemicals, the one that showed consistent results across all tests and displayed anti-androgenic and anti-estrogenic activity is di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate (DEHF) (14). Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which interfere with an organism's hormonal systems, have been implicated in developmental and reproductive effects seen in nature and human medicine. More recently, suspicions have been raised that they might also increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Of particular concern and public controversy have been bisphenol A (BPA) and the phthalates, organic compounds that mimic sex hormones.
Need I say stop using bottled water -for that matter anything that comes in plastic bottles or vessels- if you are trying to have children? Or is it too early to do that? Decide for yourself.
And if you are using plastic cups or paper cups coated with plastic for drinking hot coffee or tea, think again. The hot liquids make the toxic materials of the plastic leach into the things you are consuming. If you are getting hot packed foods from hotels/restaurants, make sure the materials used for packing these foods are not made of plastic! 
How about following old methods like using steel carriers to take food home?
 If you are making use of Teflon-coated non-sticking pans, pots and other cooking vessels in your kitchen, here is a word of caution: 
                                                                                 

Non-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon.

Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called "Teflon Flu" or, as scientists describe it, "Polymer fume fever").

If you can't avoid using non-stick pans and pots at least follow these precautions:

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at high heat -- empty pans can rapidly reach high temperatures. Heat at the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely.
  • Don't put nonstick cookware in an oven hotter than 500 degrees.
  • Use an exhaust fan over the stove.
  • Keep pet birds out of the kitchen -- the fumes from an overheated pan can kill a bird in seconds. Learn more here.
  • Skip the self-cleaning function on your oven. It cleans by heating to high temperatures, which can release toxic fumes from non-stick interior oven parts.
  • Choose a safer alternative when buying new cookware.

                                                                                  ----V----

We often complain about the polluted air caused by Diwali fireworks ( crakers ). Because they cause respiratory ailments. Some people are calling for a ban on Diwali crackers.

But recently I came to know about another polluting agent that is equally responsible for pollution at the same time. It causes smog too. It seems the rice crop in the fields of Punjab and Haryana are (is) harvested about this time of Diwali. While the paddy is consumed or stored, the straw and ground stubble obtained as by products are a big problem. As labour is too expensive in these states for ploughing the straw into the fields to enrich the soil is not an option. Also the cattle (buffaloes) will not eat the straw of the particular rice varieties grown in the region. Rice straw has too high a silica content for it to be safely burnt in biomass power generators. Therefore, the rational option for the farmer in this situation is to burn the straw on site causing pollution and smog ( 1).

Biomass burning is a major source of pollution in India (9)
And it seems even agriculture production enhances climate change chances! A latest study claims that as scientific developments help us make agriculture give higher productivity per acre, it also means higher amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This ultimately means that higher farm yields contribute to climate change.

A latest study has concluded that increased farm production has increased the CO2 level in the atmosphere. Though they haven’t directly said that it is going to add to the climate change, but this is what they ultimately mean (11). But this one is a controversial news because plants, even agricultural ones, take CO2 to produce carbohydrates. But if the overall CO2 increases in the atmosphere due to agricultural activity because of less consumption by plants than production, this is possible!


Now we know not only Diwali, large amount of vehicles and industries, but also some farm practices too cause pollution!
                                                             


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Have you heard about the link between Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder and ovarian cancer?

Jury in Missouri ordered the pharmaceutical company to pay damages up to $72 million to family of deceased woman who claimed talcum powder caused her cancer!


In the last few decades, some studies have suggested a possible link between talc and ovarian cancer. Levin recently wrote an article outlining the long-held concerns and the hundreds of lawsuits filed on behalf of women or their survivors against Johnson & Johnson.

These studies go back, he says, to a British study in 1971. Researchers reported that microscopic analysis of 13 ovarian tumors found talc particles in 10 of them. Several other studies followed in the early 1980s in the United States and Europe and suggested that women who use talc feminine hygiene products may have up to a 35% higher risk of ovarian cancer than women who don’t those products.

 Researchers who believe there is a definite causal link estimate that talcum powder use could cause about 2,100 cases, or 10 percent, of those ovarian cancers (15). But findings have been mixed and researchers don't have a clear mechanism that might lead talc to cause cancer. One theory, says Levin, is that talc causes inflammation. “The idea is that the talc can travel through the genital track to the ovaries and that the inflammation that then is caused by talc particles being deposited there leads to cancer.

However, The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, considered talc in 2005-2006 and came to a finding that talc is “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (classified as Group 2B ) when used in this manner. Research in this area continues. You can come to your own conclusions now.

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Washing your hands with antibacterial soap containing triclosan – the most common microbe-killing ingredient used in these soaps – may be no better than ordinary plain soap, according to South Korean researchers (16). This confirms previous studies which have reached similar conclusions and could help settle the controversy of triclosan use.
Triclosan is widely known for its antimicrobial properties, and was first introduced in hospital scrub soap in the 1970s. Currently, 0.3% triclosan is the maximum amount permitted in consumer soaps in most countries and several studies under lab conditions have shown that soaps containing this amount tend to be no more effective at killing bacteria on hands than plain soap.

Furthermore, triclosan remains controversial with reports of various adverse effects, including allergies and carcinogenic impurities.

Min-Suk Rhee and colleagues at Korea University, Seoul, say they have found compelling evidence that triclosan-containing soap is no better than plain soap. They believe their study is more accurate than previous work because they only used one variable – the presence or absence of 0.3% triclosan – and fixed all of the other factors which can affect the results.

The team exposed 20 bacterial strains to plain and triclosan-containing soaps for 20s at room temperature and then slightly warmer temperatures – conditions that were chosen to simulate home hand washing. They also contaminated the hands of volunteers with Serratia marcescens bacteria to test how well each soap removed bacteria.

The results revealed there was no significant difference in bactericidal activity between plain soap and antibacterial soap at either test temperature, although after 9 hours the soap containing triclosan showed significantly greater bactericidal effects.

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Do you know the traditional smoke  and ash-emitting tandoors using coal can also cause air pollution? And converting to electric or gas-based appliances can reduce the pollution?

Coal and fly ash together contribute the highest to PM10 and PM2.5 during summers-3,493kg/day out of the total 37,171 kg/day of PM 10, and 1,758kg/day out of 18,369 kg/day of PM 2.5, says the IIT study. Using alternates can reduce this air pollution. The IIT-K report said under commercial activities, diesel generators and tandoors in restaurants are the most prevailing sources for air pollution in the city. The average consumption of coal in tandoor based on survey was 30 kg/day. But it is possible only by improving access to clean fuel like liberalising grant of LPG licences and providing various other subsidies. Owners of most of the eateries like dhabas are poor and it is a question of their livelihood if tandoors are banned. So they should get assistance to convert their medium of cooking to gas or electricity. Ban on tandoors and conversion to electricity and gas stoves is a good idea. But the big question is whether it is practicable given that both cooking gas and electricity are short in supply here. The only solution is popularising the use of renewable energy like solar energy. Some of the state governments in India where pollution levels are high have already agreed to grant subsidy for those willing to install the solar apparatus.

References:

1. TOI, 27th Oct., 2014

2. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2014/oct/pesticides...

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079725

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16457470

5. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/11/aje.kwt089

6. http://www.health.harvard.edu/special_health_reports/Understanding_...

7. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2014/oct/plastics-c...

8. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2014/nov/attention-...

9. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/pollution/biom...

10. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/%E2%80%98bath-salts%E2%80%99-re...

11. http://nvonews.com/agriculture-production-ups-climate-change-chances/

12. http://bit.ly/1ELILG3 American Journal of Epidemiology, online November 13, 2014.

13. http://bit.ly/1Bz1Dcj PLOS ONE, online December 10, 2014

14. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/09/worrying-molecule-bottled...

15. http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-24/women-are-suing-johnson-johns...

16. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2015/09/antibacterial-soap-triclo...

17. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191003114007.htm

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Cause for a rare form of liver cancer

In the 1970s, epidemiologists found that workers in factories using vinyl chloride, the key ingredient for PVC plastics, had unusually high rates of a rare form of liver cancer called angiosarcoma. Biologists later identified a mutation that appears to be associated with this cancer, which originates in cells of the blood vessels that feed the liver. Now, using new sequencing technology that enables large-scale analysis of DNA damage-associated mutations, MIT researchers have pinpointed the specific type of DNA damage that may be responsible for this mutation.

With this knowledge, scientists could develop tests to monitor workers who might be exposed to vinyl chloride, because it has been previously shown that this type of DNA damage can be detected as a biomarker in urine samples. This could alert factories that they need to improve their safety practices if their workers are being exposed to too much vinyl chloride.

The research also lays the groundwork for applying this technology to identify other types of DNA damage, also called DNA lesions or adducts, that may be responsible for certain types of cancers. The initiation of many cancers may arise from the mutations generated by DNA lesions that are produced by natural processes such as inflammation, or by exposure to environmental agents such as vinyl chloride. These processes generate a variety of DNA lesions, making the identification of the most significant lesion a challenging task.

Vinyl chloride is believed to cause many different types of DNA damage, but until now scientists had been unsure which of those lesions were most likely to produce cancers such as hepatic angiosarcoma. These lesions are formed when metabolic byproducts of vinyl chloride react chemically with the bases that encode the genetic information in DNA.

http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/03/26/nar.gkv243.a...

http://www.sciguru.org/newsitem/18829/new-evidence-how-rare-form-li...

Scientists studying this type of cancer narrowed the suspects down to a group of lesions called etheno adducts, which contain an extraneous carbon-carbon double bond added to the regular DNA bases. There are four different versions of etheno adducts: One that forms on the DNA base adenine, one that involves cytosine, and two different versions that involve guanine.

Earlier menopause linked to everyday chemical exposures
Women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals, according to a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The findings are reported online Jan. 28 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The researchers looked at levels in blood and urine of 111 chemicals that are suspected of interfering with the natural production and distribution of hormones in the body. While several smaller studies have examined the link between so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals and menopause, the new research is the first to broadly explore the association between menopause and individual chemicals on a large scale, using a nationally representative sample of patients across the United States.

“Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned,” said senior author Amber Cooper, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

A decline in ovarian function not only can adversely affect fertility but also can lead to earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems. Other problems already linked to the chemicals include certain cancers, metabolic syndrome and, in younger females, early puberty.

“Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air,” Cooper said. “But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use.”
The survey included data from 31,575 people, including 1,442 menopausal women who had been tested for levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The average age of these women was 61, and none was using estrogen-replacement therapies or had had surgery to remove ovaries.

The survey was designed so that the women who had undergone chemical testing would represent a population of almost 9 million menopausal women.

The women’s blood and urine samples were analyzed for exposures to 111 mostly man-made chemicals, which included known reproductive toxins and/or those that take more than a year to break down. Chemicals from the following categories were analyzed in the survey: dioxins/furans (industrial combustion byproducts); phthalates (found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals and personal-care products including lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray); phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, coolants); phenolic derivatives (phenols, industrial pollutants); organophosphate pesticides; surfactants; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (combustion products).

The researchers identified 15 chemicals — nine PCBs, three pesticides, two phthalates and a furan (a toxic chemical) — that warrant closer evaluation because they were significantly associated with earlier ages of menopause and potentially have detrimental effects on ovarian function.

“Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, health and our society,” Cooper said. “Understanding how the environment affects health is complex. This study doesn’t prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research.”
Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.01...

Fifteen chemicals that disrupt our endocrine hormonal systems have been linked to earlier menopause among women. Amber Cooper from Washington University in St Louis, US, and colleagues found women aged 45 to 55 exposed to the organic compounds were up to six times more likely to be menopausal than unexposed peers.
Endocrine disruptors linked to early menopause
http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2015/02/endocrine-disruptors-plas...
The substances include long-banned but persistent polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticide residues. However, two derive from a shorter-lived phthalate plasticiser, which makes polymer products more pliable and is still in use. Higher everyday exposure levels were associated with menopause coming, on average, two to four years earlier. ‘Smoking is thought to be associated with menopause coming one to one and a half years earlier, so it’s a pretty significant association – but this is not a study that can prove causation.

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BPA Linked to Low Birth Weights in Baby Girls

Pregnant women with high levels of BPA in their blood during their first trimester were more likely to have baby girls with low birth weights

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bpa-linked-to-low-birth-w...

BPA-free products are not as safe as we think: BPA and a common alternative both alter neural development and behavior in zebrafish
Thu, 02/05/2015 -- Holly Brothers PhD

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a much dreaded component of plastic products. Many parents are acutely aware of this, as they are instructed to purchase BPA-free items. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, that is to say, it changes the delicate balance of hormonal signaling. BPA has been connected to “modern plaques” such as obesity and cancer. The developing fetal nervous system is particularly susceptible to BPA because of an incomplete blood-brain barrier and underdeveloped ability to metabolize foreign chemicals. Maternal exposure to BPA during pregnancy is associated with childhood social, psychiatric and behavioral disturbances such as aggression, depression, hyperactivity and anxiety.

In a recent publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Kinch and colleagues at the University of Calgary set out to test how gestational BPA exposure may drive these changes in children. In doing so, they discovered an associated neuronal mechanism and an unsuspected hormonal pathway. Moreover, they also tested BPS, a replacement for BPA in many BPA-free products, and discovered a similarity with BPS that will truly shock those who have been lulled into the security offered by BPA-free products.

The researchers chose to model the effects of BPA and BPS during gestation in a zebrafish model. They exposed zebrafish to BPA at a very low concentration equal to that found in a local Canadian river that supplies two urban centers (a level 1,000 times lower than the excepted human daily dose), as well as a BPA dose approximately 100 times higher and similar to that found in the human placenta and fetal serum. They also exposed larva to BPS and control vehicle. Larva were exposed to BPA at different stages during development and evaluated at 5 days post-fertilization.

BPA caused a 180% increase in the new neurons in the hypothalamus, a brain region that is a key communicator between the nervous system and the endocrine system, but not in other brain regions analyzed. The hypothalamus releases signals that regulate hormone release from the pituitary gland. It is also involved in attachment behavior, hunger and circadian rhythms. What are the implications of nearly doubled neuronal death in this region? In general, it suggests that there is improper pruning of neuronal synapses that will lead to altered communication at these connections.

In addition to neurogenesis, researchers measured duration of hyperactive busts in the zebrafish larva. Hyperactivity bursts increased 200-300% when larva were exposed to BPA during the window of neurodevelopment, but not if they were exposed prior to this window. Both BPA doses caused hyperactive bursts.

The hypothalamus has many hormone receptors, including receptors for estrogens and androgens. In general, the endocrine effects of BPA are thought to be dependent upon interaction with the estrogen receptor, but researchers discovered that this was not the case for BPA’s effect on neurogenesis and hyperlocomotion. They incubated the larva with BPA and an antagonist that would block BPA’s engagement with the receptor; the effects were not changed. They incubated larva with estrogen, but did not observe increased neurogenesis. Aromatase B is a crucial enzyme for estradiol synthesis. They incubated the larva with BPA and 1) knocked down the expression of aromatase B or 2) inhibited aromatase and reversed effects of BPA on neurogenesis and hyperactivity. They also incubated larva with BPA with a series of compounds to block other hormone receptors and found that increased hypothalamic neurogenesis was dependent upon an increase of aromatase driven by action at the androgen receptor.

BPS is an “alternative” to BPA that is often used in BPA-free products, but recent studies suggest that BPS is not a safe alternative. In this study, treatment with BPS resulted in greater hypothalamic neurogenesis (240% increase) than BPA (180% increase) as well as increased hyperactivity (140%). These effects were blocked by knocking down aromatase B, but not by inhibiting aromatase, indicating that the pathway of BPS is similar, but different from BPA. The authors conclude that the striking effects of BPS support the removal of all biphenols from consumer products.

The results from this study imply that the brain is particularly vulnerable to biphenol exposure during a critical developmental window in which neurons are born. In particular, exposure during this time results in changes in the neuronal composition of a brain region that directs hormonal activity and results in hyper locomotor activity. Finally, this study demonstrates that BPS, the common alternative to BPA used in plastic products and found in humans at similar levels is equally harmful during this developmental period and should also be avoided.

Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish. Kinch CD, Ibhazehiebo K, Jeong JH, Habibi HR, Kurrasch DM. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 12. pii: 201417731. PubMed PMID: 25583509.

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/5/1475

Coloring used in some sodas poses cancer risk to consumers, study suggests
Public health researchers looking at U.S. soda drinking habits warn that many people may be regularly exposing themselves to a potentially cancer-causing byproduct of the caramel coloring used in some types of soda. Caramel color is a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks, and a possible human carcinogen—4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)—is formed during the manufacture of some kinds of the coloring. Analysis of soda consumption data show that between 44 and 58 percent of people over the age of 6 typically have at least one can of soda per day.

Building on an analysis of 4-MEI concentrations in 12 different soft drinks first published by Consumer Reports in 2014, researchers led by a team at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future estimated exposure to 4-MEI from caramel-colored soft drinks and modeled the potential cancer burden related to routine soft drink consumption levels in the U.S.

The results of their research were published online Wednesday in PLOS One.
"This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda."

In 2013 and early 2014, Consumer Reports partnered with the Center for a Livable Future to analyze 4-MEI concentrations of 110 soft drink samples purchased from retail stores in California and the New York metropolitan area. The analysis found by far the highest concentration in Malta Goya, a non-alcoholic malt beverage that is popular in Caribbean nations. Samples of Pepsi One, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi also scored above the 29 microgram per can/bottle level in some instances. Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Dr. Pepper scored well below the 29 microgram threshold in two tests; Sprite was shown to contain no significant levels of 4-MEI.

The more recent study pairs those results with population beverage consumption data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in order to estimate the population risks and cancer burden associated with 4-MEI exposures through soda. While the 2014 study of the 110 samples of soda brands was not large enough to recommend one brand over another or draw conclusions about specific brands, results indicated that levels of 4-MEI could vary substantially across samples, even for the same type of beverage. "For example, for diet colas, certain samples had higher or more variable levels of the compound, while other samples had very low concentrations," says Tyler Smith, lead author of the study and a program officer with the Center for a Livable Future.

"This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime," says Urvashi Rangan, executive director for Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center. "We believe beverage makers and the government should take the steps needed to protect public health. California has already taken an important step by setting a threshold for prompting Prop 65 labeling based on daily 4-MEI exposure from a food or beverage, such as a soda. This study sought to answer a critical question: How much soda do American consumers drink on average?"
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.01...

Widely used herbicide linked to cancer

As the World Health Organization's research arm declares glyphosate a probable carcinogen
The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans.1 But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups.
The IARC regularly reviews the carcinogenicity of industrial chemicals, foodstuffs and even jobs. On 20 March, a panel of international experts convened by the agency reported the findings of a review of five agricultural chemicals in a class known as organophosphates. A summary of the study was published in The Lancet Oncology.
Two of the pesticides — tetrachlorvinphos and parathion — were rated as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, or category 2B. Three — malathion, diazinon and glyphosate — were rated as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, labelled category 2A.
Guyton, K. Z. et al. Lancet Oncol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8 (2015).
http://www.nature.com/news/widely-used-herbicide-linked-to-cancer-1...

Untested Stimulant Found to Persist in Some Supplements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration discovered an amphetamine-like substance in certain diet pills and sports products in 2013 but did not warn consumers
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-supplements-still-co...
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Wishful Thinking: 6 'Magic Bullet' Cures That Don't Exist
http://www.livescience.com/14968-6-magic-bullet-cures.html

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Early Puberty: Causes and Effects
Increases in obesity appear to be the major culprit, but family stress and exposure to chemicals may also play a role
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/early-puberty-causes-and-...

Childhood ADHD Linked to Secondhand Smoke
Children exposed to tobacco smoke at home are up to three times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) as unexposed kids, according to a new study from Spain
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/childhood-adhd-linked-to-...

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/these-4-chemicals-may-pos...
Toluene, Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, Methacrylate Compounds
These 4 Chemicals May Pose the Most Risk for Nail Salon Workers

Besides the questionable labor practices that surround the shops, glues, lacquers and dust in the workplace create their own risks for nail technicians

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DDT Linked to Abnormal Sperm

High DDT and PCB exposure during adolescence and adulthood is associated with abnormal chromosomes in sperm

Men exposed to certain banned but long-lived chemicals at high levels as teenagers are more likely to have defective sperm later in life, according a new study.

Researchers report today that organochlorine chemicals—specifically DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—may affect how testicles mature and function. It is the first study to examine men’s exposure to the chemicals during the teenage years and abnormal sperm later in life, and suggests that the chemicals—banned in the United States but still lingering in soil, water and people—may contribute to male infertility.

“These chemicals continue to persist in our environment. Levels are going down over the past 30 years, but all of us still have levels in our bodies,” said lead author Melissa Perry, a professor and researcher at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2015/nov/ddt2019s-l...

Hormone Impacts from Common Solvents
Researchers warn that benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene may disrupt people’s hormone systems at levels deemed “safe” by feds
Four chemicals present both inside and outside homes might disrupt our endocrine systems at levels considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an analysis released today.

The chemicals—benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene—are ubiquitous: in the air outside and in many products inside homes and businesses. They have been linked to reproductive, respiratory and heart problems, as well as smaller babies. Now researchers from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and the University of Colorado, Boulder, say that such health impacts may be due to the chemicals’ ability to interfere with people’s hormones at low exposure levels.

“There’s evidence of connection between the low level, everyday exposures and things like asthma, reduced fetal growth,” said Ashley Bolden, a research associate at TEDX and lead author of the study. “And for a lot of the health effects found, we think it’s disrupted endocrine-signaling pathways involved in these outcomes.”
Many of the health problems—asthma, low birth weights, cardiovascular, disease, preterm births, abnormal sperm—can be rooted in early disruptions to the developing endocrine system. Hormones are how the body communicates with itself to get work done. Interrupt that, you can expect all sorts of negative health outcomes.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2015/apr/endocrine-...

"The Association of Socio-Demographic Status, Lifestyle Factors and Dietary Patterns with Total Urinary Phthalates in Australian Men"

Processed Foods, Soft Drinks Linked To Harmful Chemicals Pthalates have been found in the urine of 99.6 percent of Australian men in a pattern correlated to their intake of soft drinks.
Researchers have found another important reason to avoid some processed foods with the discovery of a link between an unhealthy diet and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals—phthalates–that are used in common plastic food wrappings. Academics from the University of Adelaide conducted a population study to investigate the association between socio-demographic status, lifestyle factors, dietary patterns and exposure of phthalates in Australian men. The research is published in the journal, PLOS ONE. PhD student Mr. Peter Bai said while people are exposed to phthalates ubiquitously, diet was considered as the major contributor in the amount of phthalate exposure according to a number of international studies conducted in US, Europe, Canada and Asia. “Phthalates are widely used in a variety of industrial and consumer products to increase the transparency, flexibility and durability of plastic. They are also used in personal care products, medical devices, medications and dietary supplements,” said Bai, lead author on the paper. The study found phtalates in almost all of the study participants and high incidences of unhealthy eating. “Phthalates were detected in 99.6 percent of the study participants, demonstrating that there is high exposure to the chemicals in urban South Australia, and this is probably representative of all urban Australian areas.” “We didn’t find a difference in the levels of phthalates detected according to socio-demographic status; however, participants who ate less fresh fruit and vegetables and more processed and packaged foods and drank carbonated soft drinks, had higher levels of phthalates in their urine,” he says. Senior Research Fellow Dr. Shi Zumin says while we don’t yet know exactly what effect phthalates have on the body, we do know the chemicals impact the endocrine system. “In recent times, there have been increased concerns from the public about phthalates and an association with detrimental health effects such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Shi. “And in this study we found that phthalates are associated with obesity.” “Clearly more research is needed into the health effects of phthalates,” he says. Bai says the best way to limit exposure to phthalates is to consume more fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish, and less high fat, packaged and processed foods. “The primary pathway for phthalates exposure is through consuming contaminated food, which is why diet is so important. Phthalates can also be absorbed by inhalation of air or dust containing the chemicals, and through the skin, but the expose is a lot less than if it is consumed,” says Bai. The article can be found at: Bai et al. (2015) The Association Of Socio-Demographic Status, Lifestyle Factors And Dietary Patterns With Total Urinary Phthalates In Australian Men
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.01...
 http://www.asianscientist.com/2015/04/in-the-lab/processed-foods-so...

Does Artificial Food Coloring Contribute to ADHD in Children?
The FDA maintains dyes are safe, but some studies have linked them to hyperactivity in children
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-artificial-food-colo...

A Flame Retardant That Came With Its Own Threat to Health

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/us/a-flame-retardant-that-came-wi...

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