5&5: News and science highlights from February 2013

March 11, 2013 at 11:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Study Suggests Long-Term Decline in French Sperm Quality. A new study findings suggest widespread declines in sperm quality in French men between 1989 and 2005, with average sperm counts falling while percentages of abnormally formed sperm rose. These findings are a “serious public health warning,” the authors wrote. Although the average estimated sperm count is still well above the level deemed normal by the World Health Organization, this may increase the proportion of men with fertility problems in the overall population.

Triclosan: Anti-bacterial soaps called useless, potentially dangerous. “Triclosan is what we call a stupid use of a chemical,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a physician and senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. “It doesn’t work, it’s not safe and it is not being regulated.”

Everyday chemicals ‘pose threat to health’. Excellent NHS Direct coverage of media responses to the WHO EDC report, covering in detail the concerns correctly highlighted (though in a somewhat sensationalist manner) by the Daily Mail, who reported: “Chemicals found in every home may cause breast cancer, asthma, infertility and birth defects, global health chiefs have said.”

Architect describes how US Green Building Council is being attacked to protect interests of a small group of manufacturers of “toxic and obsolete” chemicals. “The war over toxic chemicals and human health is spilling over into places we live and work: our buildings,” says Robin Guenther. “The American Chemical Council (ACC) has launched an expensive and focused attack on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to protect the status quo of a small set of bad-actor manufacturers of toxic and obsolete chemicals. But innovative companies across the building industries and human health advocates are fighting back.”

Breast cancer among young women increasing. In 1976, 1.53 out of every 100,000 American women 25 to 39 years old was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, the study found. By 2009, the rate had almost doubled to 2.9 per 100,000 women in that age group — a difference too large to be a chance result. This news comes at the same time as a report faults priorities in breast cancer research, stating that too little of the money the federal government spends on breast cancer research goes toward finding environmental causes of the disease and ways to prevent it.


Persistent Environmental Pollutants and Couple Fecundity: The LIFE Study. This couple-based prospective cohort study with preconception enrollment and quantification of exposures in both female and male partners observed that a subset of persistent environmental chemicals were associated with reduced fecundity.

In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) Exposures and Neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS Study. Both prenatal and childhood PBDE exposures were associated with poorer attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition in the CHAMACOS cohort of school-age children. This study, the largest to date, contributes to growing evidence suggesting that PBDEs have adverse impacts on child neurobehavioral development. EHP provides a plain-English summary of findings.

Epigenetics and pesticides. In spite of the current limitations, available evidence supports the concept that epigenetics holds substantial potential for furthering our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of pesticides health effects, as well as for predicting health-related risks due to conditions of environmental exposure and individual susceptibility.

Effect of low dose bisphenol A on the early differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into mammary epithelial cells. This in vitro study provides insight into the effects of low doses of BPA on mammary epithelial cells during early stages of differentiation, suggesting that exposure to BPA may make breast cells more likely to become cancerous later in life.

Potential Sources of Bisphenol A in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The authors describe nasal oxygen administration and continuous positive airway pressure as individual sources of higher exposure to BPA. In these circumstances, BPA would pass into circulation in the blood without undergoing first-pass metabolism in the liver, resulting in higher exposure to free, active BPA than if the same amount were to be ingested.

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