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News Article | November 16, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research suggests that some workers at industrial hog production facilities are not only carrying livestock-associated, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their noses, but may also be developing skin infections from these bacteria. The findings are published Nov. 16 in PLOS ONE. "Before this study, we knew that many hog workers were carrying livestock-associated and multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in their noses, but we didn't know what that meant in terms of worker health," says study leader Christopher D. Heaney, PhD, an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School's departments of Environmental Health and Engineering, and Epidemiology. "It wasn't clear whether hog workers carrying these bacteria might be at increased risk of infection. This study suggests that carrying these bacteria may not always be harmless to humans." Because the study was small, the researchers say there is a need to confirm the findings, but the results highlight the need to identify ways to protect workers from being exposed to these bacteria on the job, and to take a fresh look at antibiotic use and resistance in food animal production. Hogs are given antibiotics in order to grow them more quickly for sale, and the overuse of antibiotics has been linked to the development of bacteria that are resistant to many of the drugs used to treat staph infections. The researchers, involving collaborators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Warsaw, NC, and the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, enrolled 103 hog workers in North Carolina and 80 members of their households (either children or other adults) to have their noses swabbed to determine whether they were carrying strains of S. aureus in their nasal passages. Each person was also shown pictures of skin and soft tissue infections caused by S. aureus and asked if they had developed those symptoms in the previous three months. The researchers found that 45 of 103 hog workers (44 percent) and 31 of 80 household members (39 percent) carried S. aureus in their noses. Nearly half of the S. aureus strains being carried by hog workers were mutidrug-resistant and nearly a third of S. aureus strains being carried by household members were. Six percent of the hog workers and 11 percent of the children who lived with them reported a recent skin and soft tissue infection (no adult household members reported such infections). Those hog workers who carried livestock-associated S. aureus in their noses were five times as likely to have reported a recent skin or soft tissue infection as those who didn't carry those bacteria in their noses. The association was stronger among hog workers who carried multidrug-resistant S. aureus in their noses, who were nearly nine times as likely to have reported a recent skin or soft tissue infection. Multidrug-resistant S. aureus infections can be difficult to treat because the antibiotic drugs that doctors typically prescribe don't work. Researchers are concerned about what might happen if these bacteria develop the capacity to spread more broadly between animals and humans. While the study is small, Heaney says the findings suggest that more work is needed to figure out how to mitigate S. aureus exposure and the risk of infection among workers and to track the extent to which these livestock-associated bacteria may spread into the community at large. Since the study found that those hog workers who never wore protective masks over their nose and mouth were more likely to be carriers of the bacteria than those who did, Heaney says recommendations about wearing personal protective equipment might be prudent. Heaney says 89 percent of the hog workers in the study were Hispanic and that many are likely without health insurance. Studies like this, he says, can help focus on risks to a population that is vulnerable and may otherwise fall through the cracks. According to a Duke University analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, roughly 327,350 people were employed in hog farming in the United States in 2012. Most evidence about the burden of human infections associated with drug-resistant S. aureus nasal colonization comes from studying strains that circulate in hospital settings, where patients are often tested upon admission so that medical staff can take precautions. Less is known about whether generally healthy people in the community, such as hog workers, are at increased risk of developing S. aureus infections. The rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria - often called superbugs - is a global crisis according to the World Health Organization and the use of antibiotics in food animal production has been highlighted as an important contributor. Roughly 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals, with heavy nontherapeutic uses in food animal production. "This issue isn't going away and there are many more research questions that need to be answered," he says. "Livestock-associated, antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage and recent skin and soft tissue infection among industrial hog operation workers" was written by Maya Nadimpalli, Jill R. Stewart, Elizabeth Pierce, Nora Pisanic, David C. Love, Devon Hall, Jesper Larsen, Karen C. Carroll, Tsigereda Tekle, Trish M. Perl and Christopher D. Heaney. Funding for this study was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1K01OH010193-01A1), the Johns Hopkins NIOSH Education and Research Center, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the Sherrilyn and Ken Fisher Center for Environmental Infectious Diseases Discovery Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (018HEA2013), the National Science Foundation (1316318), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (5T32ES007141-30), the Royster Society fellowship, an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results fellowship the GRACE Communications Foundation and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1R01AI101371-01A1).


New Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research suggests that some workers at industrial hog production facilities are not only carrying livestock-associated, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their noses, but may also be developing skin infections from these bacteria. The findings are published Nov. 16 in PLOS ONE. "Before this study, we knew that many hog workers were carrying livestock-associated and multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in their noses, but we didn't know what that meant in terms of worker health," says study leader Christopher D. Heaney, PhD, an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School's departments of Environmental Health and Engineering, and Epidemiology. "It wasn't clear whether hog workers carrying these bacteria might be at increased risk of infection. This study suggests that carrying these bacteria may not always be harmless to humans." Because the study was small, the researchers say there is a need to confirm the findings, but the results highlight the need to identify ways to protect workers from being exposed to these bacteria on the job, and to take a fresh look at antibiotic use and resistance in food animal production. Hogs are given antibiotics in order to grow them more quickly for sale, and the overuse of antibiotics has been linked to the development of bacteria that are resistant to many of the drugs used to treat staph infections. The researchers, involving collaborators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Warsaw, NC, and the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, enrolled 103 hog workers in North Carolina and 80 members of their households (either children or other adults) to have their noses swabbed to determine whether they were carrying strains of S. aureus in their nasal passages. Each person was also shown pictures of skin and soft tissue infections caused by S. aureus and asked if they had developed those symptoms in the previous three months. The researchers found that 45 of 103 hog workers (44 percent) and 31 of 80 household members (39 percent) carried S. aureus in their noses. Nearly half of the S. aureus strains being carried by hog workers were mutidrug-resistant and nearly a third of S. aureus strains being carried by household members were. Six percent of the hog workers and 11 percent of the children who lived with them reported a recent skin and soft tissue infection (no adult household members reported such infections). Those hog workers who carried livestock-associated S. aureus in their noses were five times as likely to have reported a recent skin or soft tissue infection as those who didn't carry those bacteria in their noses. The association was stronger among hog workers who carried multidrug-resistant S. aureus in their noses, who were nearly nine times as likely to have reported a recent skin or soft tissue infection. Multidrug-resistant S. aureus infections can be difficult to treat because the antibiotic drugs that doctors typically prescribe don't work. Researchers are concerned about what might happen if these bacteria develop the capacity to spread more broadly between animals and humans. While the study is small, Heaney says the findings suggest that more work is needed to figure out how to mitigate S. aureus exposure and the risk of infection among workers and to track the extent to which these livestock-associated bacteria may spread into the community at large. Since the study found that those hog workers who never wore protective masks over their nose and mouth were more likely to be carriers of the bacteria than those who did, Heaney says recommendations about wearing personal protective equipment might be prudent. Heaney says 89 percent of the hog workers in the study were Hispanic and that many are likely without health insurance. Studies like this, he says, can help focus on risks to a population that is vulnerable and may otherwise fall through the cracks. According to a Duke University analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, roughly 327,350 people were employed in hog farming in the United States in 2012. Most evidence about the burden of human infections associated with drug-resistant S. aureus nasal colonization comes from studying strains that circulate in hospital settings, where patients are often tested upon admission so that medical staff can take precautions. Less is known about whether generally healthy people in the community, such as hog workers, are at increased risk of developing S. aureus infections. The rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria -- often called superbugs -- is a global crisis according to the World Health Organization and the use of antibiotics in food animal production has been highlighted as an important contributor. Roughly 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals, with heavy nontherapeutic uses in food animal production. "This issue isn't going away and there are many more research questions that need to be answered," he says.


Orenstein S.T.C.,Harvard University | Thurston S.W.,University of Rochester | Bellinger D.C.,Harvard University | Schwartz J.D.,Harvard University | And 4 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2014

Background: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, and methylmercury (MeHg) are environmentally persistent with adverse effects on neurodevelopment. However, especially among populations with commonly experienced low levels of exposure, research on neurodevelopmental effects of these toxicants has produced conflicting results.Objectives: We assessed the association of low-level prenatal exposure to these contaminants with memory and learning.Methods: We studied 393 children, born between 1993 and 1998 to mothers residing near a PCB-contaminated harbor in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Cord serum PCB, DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene), and maternal peripartum hair mercury (Hg) levels were measured to estimate prenatal exposure. Memory and learning were assessed at 8 years of age (range, 7-11 years) using the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning (WRAML), age-standardized to a mean ± SD of 100 ± 15. Associations with each WRAML index—Visual.Memory, Verbal Memory, and Learning-were examined with multivariable linear regression, controlling for potential confounders.Results: Although cord serum PCB levels were low (sum of four PCBs: mean, 0.3 ng/g serum; range, 0.01-4.4), hair Hg levels were typical of the U.S. fish-eating population (mean, 0.6 μg/g; range, 0.3-5.1). In multivariable models, each microgram per gram increase in hair Hg was associated with, on average, decrements of -2.8 on Visual Memory (95% CI: -5.0, -0.6, p = 0.01), -2.2 on Learning (95% CI: -4.6, 0.2, p = 0.08), and -1.7 on Verbal Memory (95% CI: -3.9, 0.6, p = 0.14). There were no significant adverse associations of PCBs or DDE with WRAML indices.Conclusions: These results support an adverse relationship between low-level prenatal MeHg exposure and childhood memory and learning, particularly visual memory. © 2014, Public Health Services, US Dept of Health and Human Services. All right reserved.


Kingsley S.L.,Brown University | Eliot M.N.,Brown University | Carlson L.,Brown University | Finn J.,Environmental Health and Engineering | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology | Year: 2014

Long-term exposure to traffic pollution has been associated with adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents. A significant number of schools may be located near major roadways, potentially exposing millions of children to high levels of traffic pollution, but this hypothesis has not been evaluated nationally. We obtained data on the location and characteristics of 114,644 US public and private schools, grades prekindergarten through 12, and calculated their distance to the nearest major roadway. In 2005-2006, 3.2 million students (6.2%) attended 8,424 schools (7.3%) located within 100 m of a major roadway, and an additional 3.2 million (6.3%) students attended 8,555 (7.5%) schools located 100-250 m from a major roadway. Schools serving predominantly Black students were 18% (95% CI, 13-23%) more likely to be located within 250 m of a major roadway. Public schools eligible for Title I programs and those with a majority of students eligible for free/reduced price meals were also more likely to be near major roadways. In conclusion, 6.4 million US children attended schools within 250 m of a major roadway and were likely exposed to high levels of traffic pollution. Minority and underprivileged children were disproportionately affected, although some results varied regionally.© 2014 Nature America, Inc.


Weisskopf M.G.,Harvard University | Knekt P.,Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare | O'Reilly E.J.,Harvard University | Lyytinen J.,University of Helsinki | And 5 more authors.
Movement Disorders | Year: 2012

Evidence suggests possible Parkinson's disease (PD)-relevant neural effects of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls. Limited epidemiological evidence suggests that polychlorinated biphenyl exposure may increase PD risk, but no studies have involved biomarkers of polychlorinated biphenyl exposure before PD onset. We examined the prospective association between serum polychlorinated biphenyls and PD. We conducted a nested case-control study within the Finnish Mobile Clinic Health Examination Survey with serum samples collected during 1968-1972 and analyzed in 2005-2007 for polychlorinated biphenyls. Incident PD cases were identified through the Social Insurance Institution's registry and were confirmed by medical record review (n = 101). Controls (n = 349) were matched on age, sex, municipality, and vital status. We used logistic regression to estimate adjusted odds ratios. There was no evidence of increasing risk of PD with increasing polychlorinated biphenyl exposure in adjusted analyses. Instead, there was a trend toward lower odds of PD with increasing serum polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations, which was most pronounced for the sum of all measured polychlorinated biphenyl congeners and the sum of dioxin-like congeners. Compared with that of those in the lowest quintile, the odds ratio of PD among those in the highest quintile of total polychlorinated biphenyls was 0.29 (95% confidence interval, 0.12-0.70; P trend = 02) and for dioxin-like congeners was 0.34 (95% confidence interval, 0.13-0.90; P trend = 05). These results do not support an increased risk of PD from polychlorinated biphenyl exposure and instead suggest a possible protective effect of polychlorinated biphenyl exposure. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society.


Myatt T.A.,Environmental Health and Engineering | Allen J.G.,Environmental Health and Engineering | Minegishi T.,Environmental Health and Engineering | McCarthy W.B.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology | Year: 2010

Humans are continuously exposed to low levels of ionizing radiation. Known sources include radon, soil, cosmic rays, medical treatment, food, and building products such as gypsum board and concrete. Little information exists about radiation emissions and associated doses from natural stone finish materials such as granite countertops in homes. To address this knowledge gap, gross radioactivity, γ ray activity, and dose rate were determined for slabs of granite marketed for use as countertops. Annual effective radiation doses were estimated from measured dose rates and human activity patterns while accounting for the geometry of granite countertops in a model kitchen. Gross radioactivity, γ activity, and dose rate varied significantly among and within slabs of granite with ranges for median levels at the slab surface of ND to 3000 cpm, ND to 98,000 cpm, and ND to 1.5E4 mSv/h, respectively. The maximum activity concentrations of the 40K, 232Th, and 226Ra series were 2715, 231, and 450 Bq/kg, respectively. The estimated annual radiation dose from spending 4 h/day in a hypothetical kitchen ranged from 0.005 to 0.18 mSv/a depending on the type of granite. In summary, our results show that the types of granite characterized in this study contain varying levels of radioactive isotopes and that their observed emissions are consistent with those reported in the scientific literature. We also conclude from our analyses that these emissions are likely to be a minor source of external radiation dose when used as countertop material within the home and present a negligible risk to human health. © 2010 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.


Allen J.G.,Environmental Health and Engineering | Minegishi T.,Environmental Health and Engineering | Myatt T.A.,Environmental Health and Engineering | Stewart J.H.,Environmental Health and Engineering | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology | Year: 2010

Radon gas (222Rn) is a natural constituent of the environment and a risk factor for lung cancer that we are exposed to as a result of radioactive decay of radium (226Ra) in stone and soil. Granite countertops, in particular, have received recent media attention regarding their potential to emit radon. Radon flux was measured on 39 full slabs of granite from 27 different varieties to evaluate the potential for exposure and examine determinants of radon flux. Flux was measured at up to six pre-selected locations on each slab and also at areas identified as potentially enriched after a full-slab scan using a Geiger-Muller detector. Predicted indoor radon concentrations were estimated from the measured radon flux using the CONTAM indoor air quality model. Whole-slab average emissions ranged from less than limit of detection to 79.4 Bq/m2/h (median 3.9 Bq/m2/h), similar to the range reported in the literature for convenience samples of small granite pieces. Modeled indoor radon concentrations were less than the average outdoor radon concentration (14.8 Bq/m3; 0.4 pCi/l) and average indoor radon concentrations (48 Bq/m3; 1.3 pCi/l) found in the United States. Significant within-slab variability was observed for stones on the higher end of whole slab radon emissions, underscoring the limitations of drawing conclusions from discrete samples. © 2010 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.


PubMed | Environmental Health and Engineering, Brown University and Northeastern University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology | Year: 2014

Long-term exposure to traffic pollution has been associated with adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents. A significant number of schools may be located near major roadways, potentially exposing millions of children to high levels of traffic pollution, but this hypothesis has not been evaluated nationally. We obtained data on the location and characteristics of 114,644 US public and private schools, grades prekindergarten through 12, and calculated their distance to the nearest major roadway. In 2005-2006, 3.2 million students (6.2%) attended 8,424 schools (7.3%) located within 100m of a major roadway, and an additional 3.2 million (6.3%) students attended 8,555 (7.5%) schools located 100-250m from a major roadway. Schools serving predominantly Black students were 18% (95% CI, 13-23%) more likely to be located within 250m of a major roadway. Public schools eligible for Title I programs and those with a majority of students eligible for free/reduced price meals were also more likely to be near major roadways. In conclusion, 6.4 million US children attended schools within 250m of a major roadway and were likely exposed to high levels of traffic pollution. Minority and underprivileged children were disproportionately affected, although some results varied regionally.

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