5&5: News and science highlights from May 2011

June 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

News

New research published in May found exposure to a combination of 3 pesticides increased risk of PD by 300%, whereas a combination of 2 only increased it by 80%.

Environmental Illness in U.S. Kids Cost $76.6 Billion in One Year: It cost a “staggering” $76.6 billion to cover the health expenses of American children who are ill because of exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollutants in 2008, according to new research by senior scientists at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

A burning issue: A thorough and helpful explanation in Nature News about the significance of recent research finding widespread use of flame retardants in infant furniture, addressing concerns arising from stories run by newspapers such as USA Today.

Endocrine disruptor challenges for chemical legislation: May was an important month for the issue of endocrine disruption, a fast-growing priority for EU chemicals regulation, summarised by the EU news website Euractiv. SIN-List developers ChemSec added 22 EDCs to their list of over 300 chemicals which they argue fit the EU’s criteria for a regulatory decision on safety, while US research group TEDx published a list of 800 chemicals for which there is some evidence of ED properties. A summary of some of the difficulties legislators face with EDCs can be found here.

Hitting the Bottle: Comment piece in the New York Times voicing the concerns about the lack of safety testing of the alternatives to BPA, which companies such as US retail food chain Kroger are introducing in their efforts to eliminate their use of the oestrogenic packaging additive.

Impaired intellectual development in the young, Parkinson’s in the old: New additions to the body of research associating health problems with pesticide exposure were picked up by some media outlets. Writer and journalist Elizabeth Grossman described three studies of children which have produced consistent evidence of pesticides’ effects on cognitive skills and short-term memory. Researchers also found that mixtures of pesticides increase likelihood of Parkinson’s Disease by a greater degree than the sum total of increased risk of each taken on their own (the study can be found here).

Science

An Evidence-Based Medicine Methodology To Bridge The Gap Between Clinical And Environmental Health Sciences. A new methodology using principles from systematic review in medicine to help evaluate the strength and quality of evidence that a chemical may harm health, and to support evidence-based decision making by clinicians and patients. The methodology itself is in the appendix to the paper.

Perinatal exposure to environmentally relevant levels of bisphenol A decreases fertility and fecundity in CD-1 mice: Extended fertility study showing that doses of high-purity BPA cause similar effects as DES. The authors found effects at 2,000x and 2x lower than EFSA/FDA’s standard for a safe dose but no effect at the middle dose, providing further evidence that dose-response curves for EDCs are unpredictable.

Endocrine disruptors in the etiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus Accessible and comprehensive review of the links between endocrine disruption and onset of T2 diabetes, concluding that: “Although more experimental work is necessary, evidence already exists to consider exposure to EDCs as a risk factor in the etiology of type 2 diabetes.”

Halogenated pollutants and obesity, diabetes: One study found that halogenated compounds based on BPA (such as the common flame retardant TBBPA) can interfere with the PPARγ receptor, of great interest to researchers because of its potential role in obesity. Epidemiologists reported that people living in areas with higher environmental levels of POPs were at higher risk of being admitted to hospital because of metabolic syndrome, while a different study found a persistent association between PCB 180, 163/164 levels and diabetes, even while controlling for lipid levels.

Perinatal Exposure to Bisphenol A at Reference Dose Predisposes Offspring to Metabolic Syndrome in Adult Rats on a High-Fat Diet: Animal study shedding light on the sometimes unpredictable ways in which chemicals can contribute to ill-health. In this case, a high-fat diet seemed to trigger the adverse metabolic effects of BPA, suggesting (as with diabetes) that it takes multiple factors, such as being obese, to be at greatest risk of harm from chemicals.

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