5&5: News and science highlights from April 2012

May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


New flame retardants “piling up in environment”. New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic.

BPA Update. The FDA denied a long-standing petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban the plasticizing agent bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging. This elicited comment in TIME (“When the evidence is scary but uncertain, what will the federal government do? Not much.”) and criticism from the Endocrine Society. Meanwhile, Sweden, France and Argentina appear set to introduce bans on BPA, and the European Food Safety Authority has started work on its new risk assessment of BPA, having been specifically instructed to address the issue of low-dose toxicology.

Leipzig’s St. Thomas Boys Choir deals with change. That choristers’ voices may be breaking earlier introduces an artistic conundrum to the hotly disputed studies of puberty, which some data indicate is starting earlier in girls, at least in the United States.

Britain to fight landmark ban on chemical linked to cancer. Britain and other EU member states are opposing a new law which would ban a common chemical which has been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and other conditions.

In a lather over antibacterial soap. “But antibacterial soap is just not necessary,” says Professor Jeffrey Starke. “It’s expensive, and it’s exposing people to chemicals for no benefit. It’s not what we are supposed to do.”


How much do environmental chemicals affect child neurodevelopment in comparison to other risk factors? This review compares the relative impact of different environmental risk factors with effects of other risk factors (such as brain injury and pre-term birth) to find that pollutants make startlingly substantial contributions to neurodevelopmental morbidity. EHP ran a synopsis of the research, while the Environmental Defense Fund explain how it shows that population burden needs to be considered just as much individual burden when evaluating the impact of a risk factor to a health outcome.

Effects of deca-BDE flame retardant in regulation of growth and apoptosis of breast, ovarian, and cervical cancer cells. PBDE-209 promotes proliferation of various cancer cells from the female reproductive system and normal ovarian CHO cells, reduces tamoxifen, PKCα, and ERK inhibition-induced apoptosis, and up-regulates phosphorylation of PKCα and ERK1/2 proteins in tumor cells and in CHO cells.

Phthalate exposure, abdominal fat distribution, and prevalence of diabetes. Two new studies based on data from the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS), yielding correlations between levels of the phthalate metabolite MiBP and increased fat in women’s abdomens, and between several phthalate metabolites and diabetes prevalence, markers of insulin secretion and insulin resistance.

Public health concern behind the exposure to persistent organic pollutants and the risk of metabolic diseases. Based on novel data about influence of POPs on metabolic disorders, this article evaluates the effectiveness of current POP legislation to protect humans against the risk of metabolic diseases, including regulation of POPs in animal food products in the European Union.

Number of persistent organic pollutants detected at high concentrations in a general population. Study of exposure scenarios, integrating the number of compounds detected per person and the concentration of each compound. More than half of the study population had concentrations in the top quartile of ≥1 POPs

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