5&5: News and Science from June 2012

July 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment


Our Food: Packaging & Public Health. Food packaging does much more than simply hold a product. It keeps food clean and fresh, tells us how to safely store and prepare it, preserves it etc. However, it can also transfer chemicals into our food.

Doctors lack training in environmental health. Medical students in Israel, the United States and Europe are not receiving adequate environmental health education, a study sponsored by the Haifa-based Public Health Coalition has reported.

Legislators Urge ACC To Expel Firms. Twenty-one state legislators from 10 states are urging the American Chemistry Council to expel three member companies for unethical behaviour, charging the companies with using “dirty and deceptive” practices to increase use of flame retardants in consumer products.

Reducing Cancer Risks: Dr. Margaret Kripke on the Environment and Cancer. Kripke, formerly of the US President’s Cancer Panel, explains how, although at first it wasn’t clear to her that the President’s Cancer Panel should be focusing on an issue that only affected perhaps 6 percent of cancers, she became convinced that environmental causes of cancer are in fact important.

Key agency moves to scrap rules that made toxic flame retardant common in U.S. furniture. The chief of the California state agency responsible for the rule that made flame retardant chemicals common in American furniture told lawmakers that she is committed to scrapping that rule and replacing it with fire-safety tests that can be met without the use of toxic chemicals.


Role of environmental chemicals in diabetes and obesity. US NTP review identifying linkages between several environmental exposures and type 2 diabetes, finding support for the “developmental obesogen” hypothesis. In an accompanying editorial, Linda Birnbaum, Director of US NIEHS says: We have little appreciation for the extent to which environmental chemical exposures may be influencing obesity and diabetes rates, but it is becoming increasingly clear that overnutrition and a lack of exercise are not the entire story.

High urinary phthalate concentration associated with delayed pubarche in girls. Study finding that delayed pubarche, but not thelarche, was associated with high phthalate excretion in urine samples from 725 healthy school girls, which may suggest anti-androgenic actions of phthalates in our study group of girls.

Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters. Few human studies have investigated potential side effects of UV-filters, although human exposure is high as UV-filters in sunscreens are rapidly absorbed from the skin. One of the UV-filters, BP-3, has been found in 96% of urine samples in the US and several UV-filters in 85% of Swiss breast milk samples.

Smaller genitals at school age in boys whose mothers were exposed to non-persistent pesticides in early pregnancy. Boys aged 6-11 years found to have smaller testes, shorter penile length and lower inhibin B concentrations than prepubertal boys without genital malformations, after mother’s exposure to pesticides in early pregnancy.

Developmental origins of non-communicable disease: Implications for research and public health. This White Paper concludes that, as early development (in utero and during the first years of postnatal life) is particularly sensitive to developmental disruption by nutritional factors or environmental chemical exposures, both research and disease prevention strategies should focus more on these vulnerable life stages.

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