California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Oakland, CA, United States

California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Oakland, CA, United States
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Ostro B.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Hu J.,University of California at Davis | Goldberg D.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | Reynolds P.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2015

Background: Although several cohort studies report associations between chronic exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) and mortality, few have studied the effects of chronic exposure to ultrafine (UF) particles. In addition, few studies have estimated the effects of the constituents of either PM2.5 or UF particles. Methods: We used a statewide cohort of > 100,000 women from the California Teachers Study who were followed from 2001 through 2007. Exposure data at the residential level were provided by a chemical transport model that computed pollutant concentrations from > 900 sources in California. Besides particle mass, monthly concentrations of 11 species and 8 sources or primary particles were generated at 4-km grids. We used a Cox proportional hazards model to estimate the association between the pollutants and all-cause, cardiovascular, ischemic heart disease (IHD), and respiratory mortality. results: We observed statistically significant (p < 0.05) associations of IHD with PM2.5 mass, nitrate, elemental carbon (EC), copper (Cu), and secondary organics and the sources gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, meat cooking, and high-sulfur fuel combustion. The hazard ratio estimate of 1.19 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.31) for IHD in association with a 10-μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 is consistent with findings from the American Cancer Society cohort. We also observed significant positive associations between IHD and several UF components including EC, Cu, metals, and mobile sources. conclusions: Using an emissions-based model with a 4-km spatial scale, we observed significant positive associations between IHD mortality and both fine and ultrafine particle species and sources. Our results suggest that the exposure model effectively measured local exposures and facilitated the examination of the relative toxicity of particle species. © 2015, Public Health Services, US Dept of Health and Human Services. All rights reserved.

Ostro B.D.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Reynolds P.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | Goldberg D.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | Hertz A.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | And 4 more authors.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine | Year: 2011

Rationale: Several studies have linked long-term exposure to particulate air pollution with increased cardiopulmonary mortality; only two have also examined incident circulatory disease. Objectives: To examine associations of individualized long-term exposures to particulate and gaseous air pollution with incident myocardial infarction and stroke, as well as all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Methods:We estimated long-term residential air pollution exposure for more than 100,000 participants in the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort of female public school professionals.We linked geocoded residential addresses with inverse distance-weighted monthly pollutant surfaces for two measures of particulate matter and for several gaseous pollutants. We examined associations between exposure to these pollutants and risks of incident myocardial infarction and stroke, and of all-cause and cause-specific mortality, using Cox proportional hazards models. Measurements and Main Results:We found elevated hazard ratios linking long-term exposure to particulate matter less than 2.5 mm in aerodynamic diameter (PM 2.5), scaled to an increment of 10 μg/m 3 with mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) (1.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.41) and, particularly among postmenopausal women, incident stroke (1.19; 95% CI, 1.02-1.38). Long-term exposure to particulatematter less than 10 mm in aerodynamicdiameter (PM 10)was associatedwith elevated risks for IHDmortality (1.06; 95% CI, 0.99-1.14) and incident stroke (1.06; 95% CI, 1.00-1.13), while exposure to nitrogen oxides was associated with elevated risks for IHD and all cardiovascular mortality. Conclusions: This study provides evidence linking long-term exposure to PM 2.5 and PM 10 with increased risks of incident stroke as well asIHD mortality; exposure to nitrogen oxideswasalso related to death from cardiovascular diseases.

Woodruff T.J.,University of California at San Francisco | Zeise L.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Health Affairs | Year: 2011

Protecting the health of the public-particularly the most vulnerable groups, such as children-requires rethinking current approaches to reducing environmental risks. We review the evolving understanding of the relationship between exposure to chemicals in the environment and disease, as well as the current state of managing those chemicals. We present recommendations to improve current approaches, including changing the burden of proof so that chemicals are not presumed safe in the absence of scientific data. We also propose modernizing approaches to assessing health risks. © 2011 Project HOPE-The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.

News Article | September 23, 2016

Nearly 200 million Americans across all 50 states have been exposed through their tap water to higher-than-recommended levels of chromium-6, a cancer-causing chemical, according to a new report. Chromium-6 was made famous in the 2000 biographical film "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts as the titular activist. But what is it, and why is it a concern? An odorless and tasteless metallic element, chromium occurs naturally in the environment and can be found in things like rocks, plants and soil. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the two most common forms of chromium found in water are trivalent chromium (chromium-3) and hexavalent chromium (chromium-6). A national report released Tuesday (Sept. 20) found unsafe levels of chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium — known to cause cancer in animals and humans — in tap water across the country. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an independent advocacy group, analyzed data collected by the EPA for a nationwide test of chromium-6 contamination in drinking water. EWG's report found that if left untreated, chromium-6 in tap water will cause more than 12,000 new cases of cancer. [In Photos: World's Most Polluted Places] Chromium-3 is an essential human dietary nutrient and can be found in many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains and yeast. It is known to enhance insulin, as well as help metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins, according to the National Institutes of Health. Chromium-6, however, is a toxic form of the mineral. While this form does occur naturally in the environment, from the erosion of chromium deposits, chromium-6 can also be produced by industrial processes. The EPA has reported instances of chromium-6 being released into the environment from industrial pollution — leakage, poor storage or inadequate industrial waste disposal practices. Studies of chromium-6 have established that breathing the particles can cause lung cancer. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets strict limits for levels of airborne chromium-6 in the workplace. The chemical has also been connected to liver damage, reproductive problems and developmental harm, according to the EWG, and presents greater risks to infants and children, people who take antacids, and people with poorly functioning livers. A 2008 study by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that chromium-6 in drinking water caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. [Top 10 Cancer-Fighting Foods] That study and other research led scientists at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to conclude that chromium-6 can cause cancer in people. The office recommended a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion in tap water to reduce risk (one part per billion is about equivalent to a single drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool). In 2014, California did adopt a legal limit to chromium-6— though, at 10 parts per billion, it was much higher than the public health goal. It is the only enforceable drinking water standard for chromium-6 at the state or federal level. Currently, the EPA limits the total chromium— not exclusively chromium-6 — that can be present in drinking water. Chromium-6 and chromium-3 are covered under the same standard because "these forms of chromium can convert back and forth in water and in the human body, depending on environmental conditions," the agency said. The EPA's drinking water limit for total chromium is 100 parts per billion, or 5,000 times California's public health goal and 10 times the state's legal limit. According to the new EWG report, in almost 90 percent of water systems sampled,chromium-6 was found at an average level exceeding California's nonbinding recommended public health goal. "Cleaning up water supplies contaminated with chromium-6 will not be cheap," the EWG report concluded. "But the answer to high costs is not allowing exposures at unsafe levels while pretending water is safe. And the fact that some unknown level of chromium-6 contamination comes from natural sources does not negate Americans' need to be protected from a known carcinogen." Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Basu R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Pearson D.,University of California at Berkeley | Malig B.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Broadwin R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Green R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Epidemiology | Year: 2012

BACKGROUND:: The association between temperature and mortality has been widely researched, although the association between temperature and morbidity has been less studied. We examined the association between mean daily apparent temperature and emergency room (ER) visits in California. METHODS:: We used a time-stratified case-crossover design, restricting our data to the warm seasons of 2005-2008 in 16 climate zones. The study population included cases residing within 10 km of meteorologic monitors. Conditional logistic regression models with apparent temperature were applied by climate zone; these models were then combined in meta-analyses to estimate overall effects. Our analyses considered the effects by disease subgroup, race/ethnic group, age group, and potential confounding by air pollutants. RESULTS:: More than 1.2 million ER visits were included. Positive associations were found for same-day apparent temperature and ischemic heart disease (% excess risk per 10°F = 1.7 [95% confidence interval = 0.2 to 3.3]), ischemic stroke (2.8 [0.9 to 4.7]), cardiac dysrhythmia (2.8 [0.9 to 4.9]), hypotension (12.7 [8.3 to 17.4]), diabetes (4.3 [2.8 to 5.9]), intestinal infection (6.1 [3.3 to 9.0]), dehydration (25.6 [21.9 to 29.4]), acute renal failure (15.9 [12.7 to 19.3]), and heat illness (393.3 [331.2 to 464.5]). Negative associations were found for aneurysm, hemorrhagic stroke, and hypertension. Most of these estimates remained relatively unchanged after adjusting for air pollutants. Risks often varied by age or racial/ethnic group. CONCLUSIONS:: Increased temperatures were found to have same-day effects on ER admission for several outcomes. Age and race/ethnicity seemed to modify some of these impacts. Copyright © 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Basu R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Malig B.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Environmental Research | Year: 2011

Investigators have consistently demonstrated associations between elevated temperatures and mortality worldwide. Few have recently focused on identifying vulnerable subgroups, and far fewer have determined whether at least some of the observed effect may be a manifestation of mortality displacement. We examined mean daily apparent temperature and mortality in 13 counties in California during the warm season from 1999 to 2006 to identify age and disease subgroups that are at increased risk, and to evaluate the potential effect of mortality displacement. The time-series method using the Poisson regression was applied for data analysis for single lag days of 0-20 days, and for cumulative average lag days of five and ten days. Significant associations were observed for the same-day (excess risk=4.3% per 5.6. °C increase in apparent temperature, 95% confidence interval: 3.4, 5.2) continuing up to a maximum of three days following apparent temperature exposure for non-accidental mortality. Similar risks were found for mortality from cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and among children zero to 18 years of age, and adults and the elderly 50 years and older. Since no significant negative effects were observed in the following single or cumulative days, evidence of mortality displacement was not found. Thus, the effect of temperature on mortality appears to be an event that occurs within three days following exposure, and requires immediate attention for prevention. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Basu R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Malig B.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Ostro B.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
American Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2010

With temperatures expected to increase because of climate change, it is essential to study the health outcomes of elevated temperature in vulnerable populations, such as expectant mothers. In this study, the authors estimated the association between heat and humidity, as measured by apparent temperature, and preterm delivery. They conducted a case-crossover analysis of almost 60,000 births spanning 16 counties in California that occurred from 1999 to 2006 between May and September. The authors identified cases of preterm birth from a state registry of births, which were combined with meteorologic and air pollution monitoring data based on residential zip code. High ambient temperature was significantly associated with preterm birth for all mothers, regardless of maternal racial/ethnic group, maternal age, maternal education, or sex of the infant. Results indicated that an 8.6% increase (95% confidence interval: 6.0, 11.3) in preterm delivery was associated with a 10°F (5.6°C) increase in weekly average (lag06) apparent temperature. Greater associations were observed for younger mothers, blacks, and Asians. These associations were independent of air pollutants. Given the significant associations for apparent temperature and preterm delivery found in this study, more large-scale studies of temperature and preterm delivery are warranted. © 2010 The Author.

Malig B.J.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Green S.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Basu R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment | Broadwin R.,California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
American Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2013

Although respiratory disease has been strongly connected to fine particulate air pollution (particulate matter <2.5 μm in diameter (PM 2.5)), evidence has been mixed regarding the effects of coarse particles (particulate matter from 2.5 to 10 μm in diameter), possibly because of the greater spatial heterogeneity of coarse particles. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between coarse particles and respiratory emergency department visits, including common subdiagnoses, from 2005 to 2008 in 35 California counties. A time-stratified case-crossover design was used to help control for time-invariant confounders and seasonal influences, and the study population was limited to those residing within 20 km of pollution monitors to mitigate the influence of spatial heterogeneity. Significant associations between respiratory emergency department visits and coarse particle levels were observed. Asthma visits showed associations (for 2-day lag, excess risk per 10 μg/m3 = 3.3%, 95% confidence interval: 2.0, 4.6) that were robust to adjustment by other common air pollutants (particles <2.5 μm in diameter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide). Pneumonia and acute respiratory infection visits were not associated, although some suggestion of a relationship with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease visits was present. Our results indicate that coarse particle exposure may trigger asthma exacerbations requiring emergency care, and reducing exposures among asthmatic persons may provide benefits. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved.

News Article | August 22, 2016

Two new chemicals of concern have been connected to electronic cigarettes: Glycidol, a probable carcinogen, is found in e-cigarette vapor; and propylene oxide, a respiratory irritant and possible carcinogen, is found in the flavored liquid heated by the device to produce the vapor. Hugo Destaillats of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues also confirmed the presence of the probable carcinogens formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, as well as the strong respiratory and eye irritant acrolein, in the vapor (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b01741). Notably, the researchers conclude that several of these compounds come from heating the liquid’s solvents, propylene glycol and glycerin. Glycidol, acrolein, and formaldehyde are thermal by-products of glycerin, and propylene glycol degrades into acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. The team tested two different brands of e-cigarettes with three different liquids, analyzing the liquid and vapor using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography. Propylene oxide was not detectable in the vapor in their HPLC analysis, but because it was found at relatively high levels in the liquid, the researchers speculate that it may be present in the vapor. Several factors increased the amount of thermal degradation products delivered per puff, including repeated puffs within a half hour and increasing the e-cigarette voltage, both of which result in heating the liquid at a higher temperature. “As you increase the temperature, the amount of acrolein formed increases almost exponentially,” Destaillats says—by an order of magnitude for a voltage increase from 3.3 to 4.8 V. Minimizing the voltage could help e-cigarette users limit their exposure to these compounds, he says. Most compounds of concern were detected at 0.3 to 70 μg per puff. The researchers estimate that e-cigarettes emit a quarter or less acrolein than a conventional cigarette for the equivalent number of puffs. However, the team’s calculations also indicate that at least two compounds in e-cigarette vapor exceed limits for chronic exposure—both secondhand and for vapers themselves—set by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment by up to an order of magnitude or more, Destaillats says. The team’s conclusions on health implications will appear in a forthcoming paper.

News Article | September 20, 2016

Tap water supplies for roughly 218 million Americans nationwide were found to have chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical, at levels above California's public health goals, a new study found. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, analyzed more than 60,000 samples of drinking water taken from taps across the United States. Thousands of local water utilities gathered the samples from 2013 to 2015 as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program. SEE ALSO: Coca-Cola says it 'replenished' all the water it used to make its soft drinks Over 75 percent of the water samples contained levels of chromium-6 above 0.02 parts per billion. That’s the threshold at or below which California state scientists say chromium-6 would pose a "negligible" cancer risk over a lifetime of consumption. "Chromium-6 is so widespread, in terms of its distribution across drinking water sources," David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG, told Mashable. "I should be shocked by the findings of EWG's report, but I am not," Erin Brockovich, the crusading environmental legal clerk and inspiration for the 2000 film starring Julia Roberts, said in a statement Tuesday. Brockovich brought chromium-6 into the national spotlight in the 1990s after fighting a California power company that allegedly leaked the chemical into tap water supplies in Hinkley, California, sickening residents. The case was settled for $333 million. She said that EWG's findings were "nothing short of an outrage." But does the report mean that over two-thirds of the U.S. population could develop cancer from their drinking water? Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, naturally appears in some minerals, but it can also sneak into drinking water supplies through industrial pollution. The chemical is used to manufacture stainless steel, textiles, for anticorrosion coatings and in leather tanning. California's public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion effectively means that if a million people drank water with that level of chromium-6 every day for 70 years, one additional case of cancer would occur, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which set the state's health target. Even so, "Water containing levels that exceed the public health goal can still be considered acceptable for consumption," Sam Delson, the office's deputy director for external and legislative affairs, said in an email. "The public health goal is not a boundary between a safe and dangerous level of chromium-6, and it is not considered the highest level that is safe to drink," he added. California established a public health goal in response to a handful of studies that showed chromium-6 can cause cancer in animals. A 2008 study by the National Toxicology Program, for instance, found that drinking water with chromium-6 caused cancer in lab rats and mice.  Scientists at OEHHA extrapolated from that research that ingesting even tiny amounts of chromium-6 could cause cancer in people.  In 2011, the office established the "very conservative" public health target of 0.02 parts per billion, which factored in the increased susceptibility of young children and other sensitive groups, Delson said. California's health target was designed to help inform California legislators as they crafted the nation's only state-specific legal limits for chromium-6 in drinking water.  The Golden State — the world's sixth largest economy — struck out on its own because a federal limit for chromium-6 does not exist. The EPA instead has a 25-year-old drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion for total chromium, which includes chromium-6 as well as chromium-3. "At a national level, we're still operating under an outdated standard that doesn't even address this particular chemical," Bill Walker, EWG's vice president, told Mashable.  "EPA's drinking water regulations lag behind science," he said. California's own state limit for chromium-6 is significantly higher than the public health target of 0.02 parts per billion. In 2014, legislators in that state adopted a "maximum contaminant level" of 10 parts per billion, a level that appeased the state's chemical companies but disappointed environmental groups, including EWG. "We don't believe that it's adequately protective of public health," Walker said of the 10-parts-per-billion state limit.  Still, the California standard for chromium-6 is ten times lower than what the federal standard is for both chromium-6 and chromium-3. Delson said that while the more conservative 0.02 parts per billion public health goal is based solely on health protection, the maximum contamination level must be set at a level that is technically and economically feasible for the state's utilities to meet. The EPA, for its part, is working to develop a risk assessment of chromium-6, which will include a comprehensive evaluation of the health effects associated with the chemical. The agency said it expects to release its draft risk assessment for public comment in 2017. The EPA ordered nearly 5,000 public water systems to collect water samples — the ones that EWG analyzed — to help paint a nationally representative picture of the occurrence of chromium-6 and total chromium in the nation's drinking water supplies. Regulators found that less than 2 percent of those roughly 5,000 systems had levels of chromium-6 exceeding California's standard of 10 parts per billion, the EPA told Mashable. Only one system exceeded the EPA's standard for total chromium. "Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans is a top priority for EPA," the agency said in an email.

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