Center for Environmental Health
Center for Environmental Health
News Article | May 10, 2017
"U.S. EPA violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012, a federal court has found. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed with beekeepers, wildlife groups and food safety advocates that EPA unlawfully failed to consult with wildlife agencies on the impacts of the pesticides. Senior Judge Maxine Chesney, a Clinton appointee, yesterday issued the opinion for the court. At issue are neonicotinoid-containing pesticides used for agricultural, landscaping and ornamental purposes. Studies have linked neonicotinoids to bee harm, though EPA earlier this year issued a preliminary risk assessment finding compounds do not pose significant risks to bee colonies. The Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Health — which have all raised concerns about the impacts on neonicotinoids on bees — in 2013 joined individual beekeepers in bringing the lawsuit against EPA."
News Article | May 1, 2017
Bottom Line: Alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in a large study of African-American women, indicating that they, like white women, may benefit from limiting alcohol. Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Author: Melissa A. Troester, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. Background: Alcohol is an established risk factor for breast cancer; however, most studies have been conducted in predominantly white populations. The researchers wanted to discern whether alcohol raises risk for African-American women by assessing participants in a large study that solely enrolled African-American women. How the Study Was Conducted and Results: Troester and colleagues enrolled 22,338 women from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, which encompasses four large epidemiologic studies of breast cancer. Study participants reported their alcohol intake via a questionnaire, and researchers used logistic regression to estimate the association between alcohol consumption and cases of breast cancer. The study showed that women who drank seven or more drinks per week showed an increased risk of almost all subtypes. Women who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week were 33 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who consumed four or fewer drinks per week. Overall, Troester said, black women drink less alcohol than white women, with previous research suggesting a range of reasons from religious restrictions to health restrictions. In this study, 45 percent of the women were "never drinkers," and researchers found that the "never drinkers" were more likely to develop breast cancer than the light drinkers. Troester said that they did not identify the causes for increased risk in never drinkers, but previous studies finding similar elevated risk in never drinkers implicate the comorbidities, such as diabetes, that influenced them to avoid alcohol. Author Comment: Troester said the results of this study indicate that the same risk factors that have been documented in previous research apply to black women as well. "Alcohol is an important modifiable exposure, whereas many other risk factors are not," she said. "Women who are concerned about their risk of breast cancer could consider reducing levels of exposure." Troester said that further research would be necessary to determine which breast cancer risk factors--weight, reproductive history, oral contraceptive use, family history, etc.--apply most significantly to each race. "Understanding the impact of these various risk factors could help narrow the disparity in breast cancer incidence and mortality," she said. Limitations: Troester said a limitation of the study is that it included relatively few women who drank heavily, making those findings less statistically significant. However, she said this study's results are consistent with previous research indicating increased risk for the highest levels of alcohol consumption. Funding & Disclosures: This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Komen for the Cure Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the University Cancer Research Fund of North Carolina. Troester declares no conflicts of interest. Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 37,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 108 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with nearly 21,900 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit http://www. .
News Article | August 26, 2016
They may seem innocuous enough, those small planes used for weekend getaways, flight training, small freight deliveries, and other civilian purposes. But collectively, the more than 167,000 piston-engine aircraft that comprise the majority of the U.S. general aviation (GA) fleet may pose a significant health threat. That’s because these vehicles, which rely on leaded fuel to operate safely, constitute the nation’s largest remaining source of lead emissions. Those exposed to low levels of lead, especially children, have been shown to suffer neurological and cognitive impairment, including IQ loss. Unlike commercial airliners, which do not use leaded fuel, and automobiles, which went all-unleaded by 1995, piston-driven GA aircraft account for about half of anthropogenic lead emissions in U.S. skies. But just how much of an impact is this airborne lead having on the nation’s public health and economy? To answer that question, a team of MIT researchers has conducted the first assessment of the nationwide annual costs of IQ losses that can be attributed to aviation lead emissions. The team found that each year, these IQ losses result in about $1 billion in damages from lifetime earnings reductions, with an additional $0.5 billion in economy-wide losses due to decreases in labor productivity. Its findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. “Regulations have brought about a dramatic reduction in lead exposure for the U.S. population over time, but childhood lead exposure is associated with decreased academic achievement and IQ loss even at low blood lead levels,” says Philip Wolfe, a postdoc in the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, and lead author of the paper. “This study not only provides an estimate of the costs of these effects, but also is the first to look at how these damages have feedback loops in the economy. It shows that emissions today will continue to have an impact for decades.” Conducted by researchers affiliated with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences and the Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, the study is unique in its inclusion of lead emissions incurred not only on takeoff and landing, but also during the cruise phase of GA flights. Previous investigations of GA-based lead emissions focused primarily on health impacts at local airports and regions, and did not explore economic damages. “This study shows that even minor sources of toxic pollutants can have a major health and economic impact,” says Noelle Selin, an associate professor in the MIT Institute for Data, Systems and Society and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and one of two faculty co-authors (along with associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics Steven Barrett) of the study. “Our results underscore the need to assess carefully the implications of exempting certain sectors or specific uses from regulations on harmful substances.” To obtain their results, the researchers developed an inventory of general aviation emissions across the continental U.S., and modeled its impact on atmospheric lead concentrations using the Community Multi-Scale Air Quality Model (CMAQ). Based on these GA-specific contributions to overall atmospheric lead levels, they quantified associated IQ deficits nationwide and their annual economic impacts. They estimated annual losses in lifetime earnings potential using earnings data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and annual losses in labor productivity using a Joint Program computational general equilibrium model called USREP, which models the U.S. economy. Efforts to curb leaded emissions from GA aircraft have been underway for at least a decade. Petitioned by the environmental nonprofit group Friends of the Earth (FoE) in 2006 to address the problem of leaded emissions from GA aircraft, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed limiting such emissions in 2010, but has yet to issue a ruling. The FoE claims that 70 percent of GA planes could switch to unleaded fuel without retrofitting. Toward that end, the Federal Aviation Administration aims to certify and distribute an unleaded replacement fuel by 2018. This research was supported by the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences with funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Macey G.P.,Brooklyn Law School |
Breech R.,Richmond Global |
Chernaik M.,Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide |
Cox C.,Center for Environmental Health |
And 3 more authors.
Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source | Year: 2014
Background: Horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other drilling and well stimulation technologies are now used widely in the United States and increasingly in other countries. They enable increases in oil and gas production, but there has been inadequate attention to human health impacts. Air quality near oil and gas operations is an underexplored human health concern for five reasons: (1) prior focus on threats to water quality; (2) an evolving understanding of contributions of certain oil and gas production processes to air quality; (3) limited state air quality monitoring networks; (4) significant variability in air emissions and concentrations; and (5) air quality research that misses impacts important to residents. Preliminary research suggests that volatile compounds, including hazardous air pollutants, are of potential concern. This study differs from prior research in its use of a community-based process to identify sampling locations. Through this approach, we determine concentrations of volatile compounds in air near operations that reflect community concerns and point to the need for more fine-grained and frequent monitoring at points along the production life cycle. Methods: Grab and passive air samples were collected by trained volunteers at locations identified through systematic observation of industrial operations and air impacts over the course of resident daily routines. A total of 75 volatile organics were measured using EPA Method TO-15 or TO-3 by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Formaldehyde levels were determined using UMEx 100 Passive Samplers. Results: Levels of eight volatile chemicals exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances. Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels. Conclusions: Air concentrations of potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures are frequently present near oil and gas production sites. Community-based research can provide an important supplement to state air quality monitoring programs.
Surgan M.,NYS Attorney Generals Environmental Protection Bureau |
Condon M.,NYS Attorney Generals Environmental Protection Bureau |
Cox C.,Center for Environmental Health
Environmental Management | Year: 2010
Pesticide Risk Indicators (PRIs) are widely used to evaluate and compare the potential health and environmental risks of pesticide use and to guide pest control policies and practices. They are applied to agricultural, landscape and structural pest management by governmental agencies, private institutions and individuals. PRIs typically assess only the potential risks associated with the active ingredients because, with few exceptions, pesticide manufacturers disclose only the identity of the active ingredients which generally comprise only a minor portion of pesticide products. We show that when inert ingredients are identified and assessed by the same process as the active ingredient, the product specific risk can be much greater than that calculated for the active ingredient alone. To maintain transparency in risk assessment, all those who develop and apply PRIs or make decisions based on their output, should clearly disclose and discuss the limitations of the method. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
News Article | October 28, 2016
The Fall 2016 EGM Connect 3D Virtual Tradeshow opens at 10 AM Central Time today. Registration is complimentary for all show attendees so come on in and stay a while. Don't forget to tour the virtual village of Host Homes where new information about products, services and technologies can be found. (See earlier press release for details regarding Host Homes) There will be four informative presentations with one given live each evening during the event, starting a 8 PM Central Time, and recordings of the live presentations will remain available in the virtual auditorium for later viewing. Here is brief information about each speaker and presentation: Kevin Kennedy, managing director of the Center for Environmental Health at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, on creating healthy indoor environments to fight allergies, asthma and other air related illnesses. Kevin speaks at 8 PM Friday evening - October 28, 2016 Dan Chiras, president of Sustainable Systems Design and author of 35 books on green houses, sustainable living, zero energy and more, on how Americans can learn to grow food in small spaces from Chinese greenhouses. Dan speaks at 8 PM Saturday evening - October 29, 2016 Sharla Riead, owner and lead trainer at Accurate Rater Network, on return on investment for energy upgrades and energy mortgage options plus why private sector lenders and investors need EnergySmart teams. Sharla speaks at 8 PM Sunday evening - October 30, 2016 Ken Riead, Executive Host of the Fall 2016 EGM Connect 3D Virtual Tradeshow, on the meaning of the "Road to Zero-Energy & Self Sufficiency Wall" located inside the virtual platform. Ken speaks at 8 PM Monday evening - October 31, 2016 Here is an introduction as to how this unique 3D virtual tradeshow works: As attendees enter the show, they will see a number of house shaped booths that comprise a virtual village. There are eight host homes providing information on green/sustainable products and technologies, smart homes and smart grids, renewable energy systems, hybrid/electric vehicles, healthy homes, clean-renewable energy plus efficiency and zero-energy buildings, financing options and education/certification opportunities. Attendees can customize their own ‘human’ avatar that walks from booth to booth to gather information just like a conventional tradeshow. The avatars are identifiable and attendees can recognize and chat with each other, exchange business cards and even have live conversations including video via Skype. Avatars also interact with vendor representatives in each booth to collect brochures, product literature and contact information in their virtual trade show bag for later retrieval. Information stored in the show bag can then be downloaded directly to a computer or other storage option. To attend this event as a complimentary attendee, simply use the following link and register: http://EGMConnect3D.com
Bouwknegt M.,Center for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology |
Knol A.B.,Center for Environmental Health |
van der Sluijs J.P.,University Utrecht |
Evers E.G.,Center for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology
Risk Analysis | Year: 2014
Epidemiology and quantitative microbiological risk assessment are disciplines in which the same public health measures are estimated, but results differ frequently. If large, these differences can confuse public health policymakers. This article aims to identify uncertainty sources that explain apparent differences in estimates for Campylobacter spp. incidence and attribution in the Netherlands, based on four previous studies (two for each discipline). An uncertainty typology was used to identify uncertainty sources and the NUSAP method was applied to characterize the uncertainty and its influence on estimates. Model outcomes were subsequently calculated for alternative scenarios that simulated very different but realistic alternatives in parameter estimates, modeling, data handling, or analysis to obtain impressions of the total uncertainty. For the epidemiological assessment, 32 uncertainty sources were identified and for QMRA 67. Definitions (e.g., of a case) and study boundaries (e.g., of the studied pathogen) were identified as important drivers for the differences between the estimates of the original studies. The range in alternatively calculated estimates usually overlapped between disciplines, showing that proper appreciation of uncertainty can explain apparent differences between the initial estimates from both disciplines. Uncertainty was not estimated in the original QMRA studies and underestimated in the epidemiological studies. We advise to give appropriate attention to uncertainty in QMRA and epidemiological studies, even if only qualitatively, so that scientists and policymakers can interpret reported outcomes more correctly. Ideally, both disciplines are joined by merging their strong respective properties, leading to unified public health measures. © 2013 Society for Risk Analysis.
Atichartpongkul S.,Chulabhorn Research Institute |
Fuangthong M.,Chulabhorn Research Institute |
Fuangthong M.,Chulabhorn Graduate Institute |
Vattanaviboon P.,Chulabhorn Research Institute |
And 4 more authors.
Journal of Bacteriology | Year: 2010
ohrR encodes an organic hydroperoxide sensor and a transcriptional repressor that regulates organic hydroperoxide-inducible expression of a thiol peroxidase gene, ohr, and itself. OhrR binds directly to the operators and represses transcription of these genes. Exposure to an organic hydroperoxide leads to oxidation of OhrR and to subsequent structural changes that result in the loss of the repressor's ability to bind to the operators that allow expression of the target genes. Differential induction of ohrR and ohr by tert-butyl hydroperoxide suggests that factors such as the repressor's dissociation constants for different operators and the chemical nature of the inducer contribute to OhrR-dependent organic hydroperoxide-inducible gene expression. ohrR and ohr mutants show increased and decreased resistance to organic hydroproxides, respectively, compared to a parental strain. Moreover, the ohrR mutant had a reduced-virulence phenotype in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa-Caenorhabditis elegans pathogenicity model. Copyright © 2010, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Cox C.,Center for Environmental Health |
Green M.,Center for Environmental Health
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2010
Exposure to lead-containing jewelry has been identified as one cause of elevated blood lead levels. Because of the significant health effects of lead exposure, litigation and legislation in California set standards for lead content of children's and adult jewelry. We measured compliance with these standards for jewelry sold at 42 major retailers statewide. During a one-year period, we purchased over 1500 pieces of jewelry and used a two-step process (X-ray fluorescence analysis followed by laboratory verification) to identify noncompliant jewelry. About 4% of the jewelry we purchased did not comply with California lead standards, dramatically less jewelry with high lead content than has been measured in the past in California and in other states. We identified violations at 26 retailers. The violations were not restricted to particular types of jewelry or a particular price range. Most violations exceeded state standards by at least 2x. The most common violation was the "lobster- claw" clasp often used on necklaces. Litigation and legislation have been effective tools for reducing the prevalence of jewelry with high lead content in California. We are continuing our monitoring for at least another year with a goal of reducing the frequency of jewelry in violation of California lead standards to near zero. © 2010 American Chemical Society.
News Article | November 9, 2015
A new study from some of the nation’s top public health researchers finds a connection between increased hospitalizations and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting oil and natural gas that has spread rapidly in the United States over the past decade. Although the technology has been credited with decreasing the nation's dependance on imported fuel, the process raises some serious concerns about water and air pollution. Researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Environmental Health set out to see if the increase in fracking along Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale formation has had any effect on the health of nearby communities. Researchers analyzed the number of hospitalizations and the number of fracking wells for different zip codes in Bradford, Susquehanna and Wayne County. The study analyzed data from 2007 to 2011. During that time, there was a substantial increase in the number of fracking wells in Bradford and Susquehanna. However, Wayne has no fracking because the area is so close to the Delaware River watershed. The researchers found that hospitalizations for heart problems, neurological illnesses and other health conditions were higher in areas with a greater density of fracking wells. The authors note that finding a significant association over this short time is remarkable. "At this point, we suspect that residents are exposed to many toxicants, noise, and social stressors due to hydraulic fracturing near their homes and this may add to the increased number of hospitalizations,” said senior author Reynold Panettieri, Jr., MD in a statement. “This study represents one of the most comprehensive to date to link health effects with hydraulic fracturing." However, this type of study can’t tell us exactly what factor is causing more health problems—the correlation doesn’t prove causation. However, the researchers say it does suggest that more study of the health risks of fracking is merited, and that the economic benefits of fracking should be weighed against healthcare costs. These findings were published this week in the open access journal PLOS ONE.