5&5: News and science highlights from August 2011

September 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment
Pesticide spraying in the DDR

3 new studies have found a link between in utero exposure to organosphosphate pesticides and impaired cognitive development.


Strength in Numbers: 
Three Separate Studies Link in Utero Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Cognitive Development. A summary of three studies (Bouchard et al. 2011; Engel et al. 2011; Rauh et al. 2011) which deliver compelling new data linking in utero exposure to organophosphates and early cognitive development. Organophosphates are finding increasing use as alternatives to halogenated flame retardants.

Twenty Years Of Green Chemistry. In this article, Paul Anastas, often described as “the father of green chemistry” outlines successes in the 20 years since the term was first coined for the “design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances”.

Banned chemical levels high in pregnant women. Evaluating levels of PBDEs in blood samples of 286 pregnant women, researchers found that every 10-fold increase was tied to a 4.1-ounce drop in birth weight. “The good news is, these chemicals aren’t being used anymore. But the bad news is, they’re in things we don’t replace very often,” said study author Kim Harley.

Triclosan, an Antibacterial Chemical, Raises Safety Issues. The maker of Dial Complete hand soap says that it kills more germs than any other brand. But its active ingredient triclosan is so prevalent that a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5. Is it safe?

Scented laundry products emit hazardous chemicals through dryer vents. Findings, published online this week in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, show that air vented from machines using the top-selling scented liquid laundry detergent and scented dryer sheet contains hazardous chemicals, including two that are classified as carcinogens.


Environmental Exposures and Mammary Gland Development: State of the Science, Public Health Implications, and Research Recommendations. Assessment of mammary gland development should be incorporated in chemical test guidelines and risk assessment. Inconsistent reporting methods hinder comparison across studies, and relationships between altered development and effects on lactation or carcinogenesis are still being defined. This editorial explains the context of the recommendations, while this study proposes 4 specific ways in which mammary gland animal assays can be improved.

Epigenetic perspective on the developmental effects of bisphenol A. This review highlights research indicating potential consequences of prenatal BPA exposure for brain, behaviour, and immune outcomes and discusses evidence for the role of epigenetic pathways in shaping these developmental effects.

Temporal Changes in the Levels of Perfluorinated Compounds in California Women’s Serum over the Past 50 Years. This is the first study to investigate temporal changes of PFCs over the past 50 years. For longer chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), there was a continuous build-up in serum of Californian women from the 1960s to 2009. PFOS and PFOA are the PFCs present at the highest concetrations.

Associations of persistent organic pollutants with abdominal obesity in the elderly. In animal experiments, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have induced visceral obesity. This cross sectional and prospective human study found that low exposure to less-chlorinated POPs was associated with increased abdominal fat, and highly-chlorinated POPs the opposite. Another study (Rönn et al. 2011) found a complex relationship between pesticides and PCBs and obesity, while further evidence emerged that obese people exposed to POPs are at the highest risk of becoming diabetic (Airaksinen et al. 2011).

Prenatal exposure to bisphenol A and phthalates and infant neurobehaviour. In this study, prenatal exposure to DBP was associated with improved behavioral organization in 5-week-old infants while prenatal exposure to DEHP was associated with nonoptimal reflexes in male infants. There was no evidence of an association between prenatal BPA exposure and changes infant neurobehavior.

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