In keeping with the fundamental practice of transparency in the discussion and resolution of ethics conflicts raised by research, a summary of ethics issues raised during Portuguese biomonitoring in health surveillance and research is presented and, where applicable, their resolution is described.
Projects underway aim to promote the surveillance of public health related to the presence of solid waste incinerators or to study associations between human exposure to environmental factors and adverse health effects. The methodological approach involves biomonitoring of heavy metals, dioxins and/or other persistent organic pollutants in tissues including blood, human milk and both scalp and pubic hair in groups such as the general population, children, pregnant women or women attempting pregnancy. As such, the projects entail the recruitment of individuals representing different demographic and health conditions, the collection of body tissues and personal data, and the processing of the data and results.
The issue of autonomy is raised during the recruitment of participants and during the collection of samples and data. This right is protected by the requirement for prior written, informed consent from the participant or, in the case of children, from their guardian. Recruitment has been successful, among eligible participants, in spite of incentives rarely being offered. The exception has been in obtaining guardians' consent for children's participation, particularly for blood sampling. In an attempt to mitigate the harm-benefit ratio, current research efforts include alternative less invasive biomarkers.
Surveys are currently being conducted under contract as independent biomonitoring actions and as such, must be explicitly disclosed as a potential conflict of interests. Communication of results to participants is in general only practised when a health issue is present and corrective action possible. Concerning human milk a careful approach is taken, considering breast-feeding's proven benefits.
No national legislation currently accounts for the surveillance component of biomonitoring as distinct from research. Ethics issues arising within the domain of research are resolved according to available regulations. For issues encountered during surveillance, the same principles are used as guidance, completed by the authors' best judgement and relevant ethics committees' findings.
Originally isolated on the basis of its capacity to stimulate T-cell maturation and proliferation, avian thymic hormone (ATH) is nevertheless a parvalbumin, one of two β-lineage isoforms expressed in birds. We recently learned that addition of Ca2+-free ATH to a solution of 8-anilinonaphthalene-1-sulfonate (ANS) markedly increases ANS emission. This behavior, not observed in the presence of Ca2+, suggests that apolar surface area buried in the Ca2+-bound state becomes solvent-accessible upon Ca2+ removal. In order to elucidate the conformational alterations that accompany Ca2+ binding, we have obtained the solution structure of the Ca2+-free protein using NMR spectroscopy and compared it to the Ca2+-loaded protein, solved by x-ray crystallography. Although the metal ion-binding (CD-EF) domains are largely coincident in the superimposed structures, a major difference is observed in the AB domains. The tight association of helix B with the E and F helices in the Ca2+-bound state is lost upon removal of Ca2+, producing a deep hydrophobic cavity. The B helix also undergoes substantial rotation, exposing the side-chains of F24, Y26, F29, and F30 to solvent. Presumably, the increase in ANS emission observed in the presence of unliganded ATH reflects the interaction of these hydrophobic residues with the fluorescent probe. The increased solvent exposure of apolar surface area in the Ca2+-free protein is consistent with previously collected scanning calorimetry data, which indicated an unusually low change in heat capacity upon thermal denaturation. The Ca2+-free structure also provides added insight into the magnitude of ligation-linked conformational alteration compatible with a high-affinity metal ion-binding signature. The exposure of substantial apolar surface area suggests the intriguing possibility that ATH could function as a reverse Ca2+ sensor.
calcium-binding protein; EF-hand protein; parvalbumin; NMR structure; crystal structure
Background: Biomonitoring data reported in the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals [NER; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012)] provide information on the presence and concentrations of > 400 chemicals in human blood and urine. Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs) and other risk assessment–based values now allow interpretation of these biomonitoring data in a public health risk context.
Objectives: We compared the measured biomarker concentrations in the NER with BEs and similar risk assessment values to provide an across-chemical risk assessment perspective on the measured levels for approximately 130 analytes in the NER.
Methods: We identified available risk assessment–based biomarker screening values, including BEs and Human Biomonitoring-I (HBM-I) values from the German Human Biomonitoring Commission. Geometric mean and 95th percentile population biomarker concentrations from the NER were compared to the available screening values to generate chemical-specific hazard quotients (HQs) or cancer risk estimates.
Conclusions: Most analytes in the NER show HQ values of < 1; however, some (including acrylamide, dioxin-like chemicals, benzene, xylene, several metals, di-2(ethylhexyl)phthalate, and some legacy organochlorine pesticides) approach or exceed HQ values of 1 or cancer risks of > 1 × 10–4 at the geometric mean or 95th percentile, suggesting exposure levels may exceed published human health benchmarks. This analysis provides for the first time a means for examining population biomonitoring data for multiple environmental chemicals in the context of the risk assessments for those chemicals. The results of these comparisons can be used to focus more detailed chemical-specific examination of the data and inform priorities for chemical risk management and research.
biomonitoring; Biomonitoring Equivalents; blood; cancer risk; CDC National Exposure Report; hazard quotient; NHANES; risk assessment; urine
Adult-type hypolactasia (AtH or lactase non-persistence) is the physiological decline in lactase activity that manifests in majority of the world’s population after weaning. Recently, various single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) upstream of lactase gene (LCT) have been suggested to be associated with AtH or the lactase persistent trait in different human populations. C/T -13910 SNP was found be completely associated with AtH in Finnish population, and G/A -22018 SNP was found to be strongly, but not completely, associated with AtH. The aim of this study was to correlate G/A -22018 SNP with intestinal lactase activity in North Indian children. These children were also genotyped for C/T -13910 SNP. We also examined the differences in milk consumption and milk-related clinical symptoms in children with different genotypes of G/A -22018 and C/T -13910 SNPs. Intestinal biopsies were obtained from 231 children aged 2–16 years undergoing routine endoscopy for various abdominal complaints. The biopsies were assayed for lactase, sucrase, and maltase activities and genotyped for G/A -22018 and C/T -13910 SNPs using restriction fragment length polymorphism and DNA sequencing analysis. There was a significant correlation between lactase activity and different genotypes of G/A -22018 SNP. Children with G/G -22018 genotype had low lactase activity. With a reference value of <10 U/g protein (lactase activity) to be indicative of AtH, the sensitivity and specificity of genetic test based on G/A -22018 SNP was 94.4 and 94.1 %, respectively. Furthermore, the consumption of milk was lower in children with G/G -22018 genotype. Flatulence was the only symptom significantly more frequent among the children with G/G -22018 genotype compared to those with G/A and A/A -22018 genotypes. However, most of the children with G/G -22018 genotype seem to tolerate small amounts of milk without any significant difference in gastrointestinal symptoms from those with G/A and A/A -22018 genotypes.
Adult-type hypolactasia; G/A -22018 SNP; Milk intake; Indian children
The present paper deals with the assessment of heavy metals in soil and roadside dust around Misurata City Centre and industrial areas/roads in the period of October 2011–May 2012. The levels of Pb, Fe, Zn, Ni, Cd, Cr, and Cu in settled dust samples collected near small streets, playgrounds, gas stations and main streets in the Misurata Area have been determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). Also, the levels of same heavy metals in industrial areas have been determined. Metal concentration trend variation was also discussed in relation with traffic density and other sources of fugitive emission around different sites on each road/area. The overall mean concentration for main streets was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than for other small streets, where Misurata has been the centre of fierce fighting and is located in a frontline battle zone in the Libyan war; therefore most of metal concentrations in surface soil in the fighting area Tripoli Street and Benghazi Street were higher than those from the other sites (outside fighting area).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides biomonitoring data in the United States as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Recently, Statistics Canada initiated a similar survey — the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Comparison of US and Canadian biomonitoring data can generate hypotheses regarding human exposures from environmental media and consumer products. To ensure that such comparisons are scientifically meaningful, it is essential to first evaluate aspects of the surveys' methods that can impact comparability of data. We examined CHMS and NHANES methodologies, using bisphenol A (BPA) as a case study, to evaluate whether survey differences exist that would hinder our ability to compare chemical concentrations between countries. We explored methods associated with participant selection, urine sampling, and analytical methods. BPA intakes were also estimated to address body weight differences between countries. Differences in survey methods were identified but are unlikely to have substantial impacts on inter-survey comparisons of BPA intakes. BPA intakes for both countries are below health-based guidance values set by the US, Canada and the European Food Safety Authority. We recommend that before comparing biomonitoring data between surveys, a thorough review of methodologic aspects that might impact biomonitoring results be conducted.
NHANES; CHMS; bisphenol A; intake; biomonitoring; methodological comparison
Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) have been linked to proximity to industrial areas, but evidence regarding the health risk posed by residence near pollutant industries is very limited. The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) is a public register that furnishes valuable information on industries that release pollutants to air and water, along with their geographical location.
This study sought to explore the relationship between NHL mortality in small areas in Spain and environmental exposure to pollutant emissions from EPER-registered industries, using three Poisson-regression-based mathematical models.
Observed cases were drawn from mortality registries in Spain for the period 1994–2003. Industries were grouped into the following sectors: energy; metal; mineral; organic chemicals; waste; paper; food; and use of solvents. Populations having an industry within a radius of 1, 1.5, or 2 kilometres from the municipal centroid were deemed to be exposed. Municipalities outside those radii were considered as reference populations.
The relative risks (RRs) associated with proximity to pollutant industries were estimated using the following methods: Poisson Regression; mixed Poisson model with random provincial effect; and spatial autoregressive modelling (BYM model).
Only proximity of paper industries to population centres (>2 km) could be associated with a greater risk of NHL mortality (mixed model: RR:1.24, 95% CI:1.09–1.42; BYM model: RR:1.21, 95% CI:1.01–1.45; Poisson model: RR:1.16, 95% CI:1.06–1.27). Spatial models yielded higher estimates.
The reported association between exposure to air pollution from the paper, pulp and board industry and NHL mortality is independent of the model used. Inclusion of spatial random effects terms in the risk estimate improves the study of associations between environmental exposures and mortality.
The EPER could be of great utility when studying the effects of industrial pollution on the health of the population.
Bioethical principles are widely used as a normative framework in areas of human research and medical care. In recent years there has been increasing formalization of their use in public health decisions. The "traditional bioethical principles" are applied in this discussion to the important issue human biomonitoring for environmental exposures. They are: (1) Autonomy – Also known as the "respect for humans" principle, people understand their own best interests; (2) Beneficence – "do good" for people; (3) Nonmaleficence – "do no harm"; (4) Justice – fair distribution of benefits and costs (including risks to health) across stakeholders.
Some of the points made are: (1) There is not a single generic bioethical analysis applicable to the use of human biomonitoring data, each specific use requires a separate deliberation; (2) Using unidentified, population-based biomonitoring information for risk assessment or population surveillance raises fewer bioethical concerns than personally identified biomonitoring information such as employed in health screening; (3) Companies should proactively apply normative bioethical principles when considering the disposition of products and by-products in the environment and humans; (4) There is a need for more engagement by scholars on the bioethical issues raised by the use of biomarkers of exposure; (5) Though our scientific knowledge of biology will continue to increase, there will always be a role for methods or frameworks to resolve substantive disagreements in the meaning of this data that are matters of belief rather than knowledge.
With its inclusion under Action 3 in the Environment and Health Action Plan 2004–2010 of the European Commission, human biomonitoring is currently receiving an increasing amount of attention from the scientific community as a tool to better quantify human exposure to, and health effects of, environmental stressors. Despite the policy support, however, there are still several issues that restrict the routine application of human biomonitoring data in environmental health impact assessment. One of the main issues is the obvious need to routinely collect human samples for large-scale surveys. Particularly the collection of invasive samples from susceptible populations may suffer from ethical and practical limitations. Children, pregnant women, elderly, or chronically-ill people are among those that would benefit the most from non-invasive, repeated or routine sampling. Therefore, the use of non-invasively collected matrices for human biomonitoring should be promoted as an ethically appropriate, cost-efficient and toxicologically relevant alternative for many biomarkers that are currently determined in invasively collected matrices. This review illustrates that several non-invasively collected matrices are widely used that can be an valuable addition to, or alternative for, invasively collected matrices such as peripheral blood sampling. Moreover, a well-informed choice of matrix can provide an added value for human biomonitoring, as different non-invasively collected matrices can offer opportunities to study additional aspects of exposure to and effects from environmental contaminants, such as repeated sampling, historical overview of exposure, mother-child transfer of substances, or monitoring of substances with short biological half-lives.
The use of biomonitoring data holds promise for characterizing exposure and informing risk assessment. Biomonitoring data have been used successfully to track population trends, identify susceptible populations, and provide indications of emerging environmental health issues. However, there remain challenges associated with interpreting biomonitoring data for risk assessment. An international biomonitoring workshop was convened in September 2004 to explore the use of biomonitoring data in the context of risk assessment. Six compounds were examined as case studies for this workshop, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The PBDE case study was developed to provide an example of a persistent compound for which relatively few data are available for human exposure, biomonitoring, and health outcomes. PBDEs are used in hard plastics, electronics, textiles, and polyurethane foam products. The congener pattern downstream of production facilities often resembles the commercial mixture. However, because these compounds persist in the environment and in biota, the patterns of congeners evolve. PBDEs partition into body lipids, and direct measurement of bromodiphenyl ether congeners in biologic specimens provides a good marker of exposure. Data indicate significant variability (> 100-fold range) in lipid-adjusted levels for PBDEs in the general population. It is hypothesized that both exposure and pharmacokinetics may play a role in observed congener profiles. Significant gaps in our ability to interpret PBDE biomonitoring data to address public health and risk assessment questions include limited knowledge of environmental fate and transport of PBDE congeners, limited population-based data for adults, and lack of data for potentially vulnerable populations such as children.
biomonitoring; exposure assessment; PBDE
Biologic monitoring (i.e., biomonitoring) is used to assess human exposures to environmental and workplace chemicals. Urinary biomonitoring data typically are adjusted to a constant creatinine concentration to correct for variable dilutions among spot samples. Traditionally, this approach has been used in population groups without much diversity. The inclusion of multiple demographic groups in studies using biomonitoring for exposure assessment has increased the variability in the urinary creatinine levels in these study populations. Our objectives were to document the normal range of urinary creatinine concentrations among various demographic groups, evaluate the impact that variations in creatinine concentrations can have on classifying exposure status of individuals in epidemiologic studies, and recommend an approach using multiple regression to adjust for variations in creatinine in multivariate analyses. We performed a weighted multivariate analysis of urinary creatinine concentrations in 22,245 participants of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988–1994) and established reference ranges (10th–90th percentiles) for each demographic and age category. Significant predictors of urinary creatinine concentration included age group, sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index, and fat-free mass. Time of day that urine samples were collected made a small but statistically significant difference in creatinine concentrations. For an individual, the creatinine-adjusted concentration of an analyte should be compared with a “reference” range derived from persons in a similar demographic group (e.g., children with children, adults with adults). For multiple regression analysis of population groups, we recommend that the analyte concentration (unadjusted for creatinine) should be included in the analysis with urinary creatinine added as a separate independent variable. This approach allows the urinary analyte concentration to be appropriately adjusted for urinary creatinine and the statistical significance of other variables in the model to be independent of effects of creatinine concentration.
biomonitoring; creatinine; creatinine adjustment; urine
Human biomonitoring investigations have provided data on a wide array of chemicals in blood and urine and in other tissues and fluids such as hair and human milk. These data have prompted questions such as a) What is the relationship between levels of environmental chemicals in humans and external exposures? b) What is the baseline or “background” level against which individual levels should be compared? and c) How can internal levels be used to draw conclusions about individual and/or population health? An interdisciplinary panel was convened for a 1-day workshop in November 2004 with the charge of focusing on three specific aspects of biomonitoring: characteristics of scientifically robust biomonitoring studies, interpretation of human biomonitoring data for potential risks to human health, and communication of results, uncertainties, and limitations of biomonitoring studies. In this report we describe the recommendations of the panel.
biomonitoring; communication; design; human health; interpretation; specimen archiving
Using modern analytical technology, it is now possible to measure almost
any chemical present in our bodies. The future role of classical exposure
assessment will perhaps be marginalized because biomonitoring programs
can directly measure the concentration of chemicals that are present
in biologic matrices. Although the concentration of chemicals in
the environment will continue to be measured and related to exposure
parameters, the prioritization of the national environmental agenda will
be dictated by biomonitoring. Recent biomonitoring studies have examined
the levels of > 200 chemicals. Biomonitoring data, by themselves, are
not informative in helping consumers understand their individual
health risk. A major challenge facing those who conduct biomonitoring
programs is how to best communicate the information to the public. In
this article, we review benefits and challenges, along with select
results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. We recommend that these data be carefully interpreted, with the goal
of establishing baseline exposure information, rather than creating surrogates
for conclusions about human health risk.
biomarker; biomonitoring; exposure assessment; risk assessment
The routine use of biomonitoring (i.e., measurement of environmental chemicals, their metabolites, or specific reaction products in human biological specimens) to assess internal exposure (i.e., body burden) has gained importance in exposure assessment.
Selection and validation of biomarkers of exposure are critical factors in interpreting biomonitoring data. Moreover, the strong relation between quality of the analytical methods used for biomonitoring and quality of the resulting data is well understood. However, the relevance of collecting, storing, processing, and transporting the samples to the laboratory to the overall biomonitoring process has received limited attention, especially for organic chemicals.
We present examples to illustrate potential sources of unintended contamination of the biological specimen during collection or processing procedures. The examples also highlight the importance of ensuring that the biological specimen analyzed both represents the sample collected for biomonitoring purposes and reflects the exposure of interest.
Besides using high-quality analytical methods and good laboratory practices for biomonitoring, evaluation of the collection and handling of biological samples should be emphasized, because these procedures can affect the samples integrity and representativeness. Biomonitoring programs would be strengthened with the inclusion of field blanks.
BPA; contamination; DEHP; extraction efficiency; field blank; phthalates
The use of human samples to assess environmental exposure and uptake of chemicals is more than an analytical exercise and requires consideration of the utility and interpretation of data as well as due consideration of ethical issues. These aspects are inextricably linked.
In 2004 the EC expressed its commitment to the development of a harmonised approach to human biomonitoring (HBM) by including an action in the EU Environment and Health Strategy to develop a Human Biomonitoring Pilot Study. This further underlined the need for interpretation strategies as well as guidance on ethical issues. A workshop held in December 2006 brought together stakeholders from academia, policy makers as well as non-governmental organisations and chemical industry associations to a two day workshop built a mutual understanding of the issues in an open and frank discussion forum. This paper describes the discussion and recommendations from the workshop.
The workshop developed key recommendations for a Pan-European HBM Study:
1. A strategy for the interpretation of human biomonitoring data should be developed.
2. The pilot study should include the development of a strategy to integrate health data and environmental monitoring with human biomonitoring data at national and international levels.
3. Communication strategies should be developed when designing the study and evolve as the study continues.
4. Early communication with stakeholders is essential to achieve maximum efficacy of policy developments and facilitate subsequent monitoring.
5. Member states will have to apply individually for project approval from their National Research Ethics Committees.
6. The study population needs to have sufficient information on the way data will be gathered, interpreted and disseminated and how samples will be stored and used in the future (if biobanking) before they can give informed consent.
7. The participants must be given the option of anonymity. This has an impact on follow-up.
8. The pilot study should develop guidelines and best practice for Ethics for pan European studies.
In conclusion all participants felt there that there has to be stakeholder involvement in any planned pan-European Human Biomonitoring Study and the format of the workshop was appropriate for such dialogue.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is an essential molecule for all life forms because thiamine diphosphate (ThDP) is an indispensable cofactor for oxidative energy metabolism. The less abundant thiamine monophosphate (ThMP), thiamine triphosphate (ThTP) and adenosine thiamine triphosphate (AThTP), present in many organisms, may have still unidentified physiological functions. Diseases linked to thiamine deficiency (polyneuritis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) remain frequent among alcohol abusers and other risk populations. This is the first comprehensive study on the distribution of thiamine derivatives in human biopsies, body fluids and cell lines.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Thiamine derivatives were determined by HPLC. In human tissues, the total thiamine content is lower than in other animal species. ThDP is the major thiamine compound and tissue levels decrease at high age. In semen, ThDP content correlates with the concentration of spermatozoa but not with their motility. The proportion of ThTP is higher in humans than in rodents, probably because of a lower 25-kDa ThTPase activity. The expression and activity of this enzyme seems to correlate with the degree of cell differentiation. ThTP was present in nearly all brain and muscle samples and in ∼60% of other tissue samples, in particular fetal tissue and cultured cells. A low ([ThTP]+[ThMP])/([Thiamine]+[ThMP]) ratio was found in cardiovascular tissues of patients with cardiac insufficiency. AThTP was detected only sporadically in adult tissues but was found more consistently in fetal tissues and cell lines.
Conclusions and Significance
The high sensitivity of humans to thiamine deficiency is probably linked to low circulating thiamine concentrations and low ThDP tissue contents. ThTP levels are relatively high in many human tissues, as a result of low expression of the 25-kDa ThTPase. Another novel finding is the presence of ThTP and AThTP in poorly differentiated fast-growing cells, suggesting a hitherto unsuspected link between these compounds and cell division or differentiation.
Genetics plays a large role in atherosclerosis susceptibility in humans and mice. We attempted to confirm previously determined mouse atherosclerosis‐associated loci and use bioinformatics and transcriptomics to create a catalog of candidate atherosclerosis modifier genes at these loci.
Methods and Results
A strain intercross was performed between AKR and DBA/2 mice on the apoE−/− background generating 166 F2 progeny. Using the phenotype log10 of the aortic root lesion area, we identified 3 suggestive atherosclerosis quantitative trait loci (Ath QTLs). When combined with our prior strain intercross, we confirmed 3 significant Ath QTLs on chromosomes 2, 15, and 17, with combined logarithm of odds scores of 5.9, 5.3, and 5.6, respectively, which each met the genome‐wide 5% false discovery rate threshold. We identified all of the protein coding differences between these 2 mouse strains within the Ath QTL intervals. Microarray gene expression profiling was performed on macrophages and endothelial cells from this intercross to identify expression QTLs (eQTLs), the loci that are associated with variation in the expression levels of specific transcripts. Cross tissue eQTLs and macrophage eQTLs that replicated from a prior strain intercross were identified. These bioinformatic and eQTL analyses produced a comprehensive list of candidate genes that may be responsible for the Ath QTLs.
Replication studies for clinical traits as well as gene expression traits are worthwhile in identifying true versus false genetic associations. We have replicated 3 loci on mouse chromosomes 2, 15, and 17 that are associated with atherosclerosis. We have also identified protein coding differences and multiple replicated eQTLs, which may be useful in the identification of atherosclerosis modifier genes.
atherosclerosis; genetics; transcriptomics
This study sought to ascertain whether there might be excess lung cancer mortality among the population residing in the vicinity of Spanish paper and board industries which report their emissions to the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER).
This was an ecological study that modelled the Standardised Mortality Ratio (SMR) for lung cancer in 8073 Spanish towns over the period 1994–2003. Population exposure to industrial pollution was estimated on the basis of distance from town of residence to pollution source. An exploratory, near-versus-far analysis was conducted, using mixed Poisson regression models and an analysis of the effect of municipal proximity within a 50-kilometre radius of each of the 18 installations.
Results varied for the different facilities. In two instances there was an increasing mortality gradient with proximity to the installation, though this was exclusively observed among men.
The study of cancer mortality in areas surrounding pollutant foci is a useful tool for environmental surveillance, and serves to highlight areas of interest susceptible to being investigated by ad hoc studies. Despite present limitations, recognition is therefore due to the advance represented by publication of the EPER and the study of pollutant foci.
To fine map previously identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting atherosclerosis in mice using association analysis.
Methods and Results
We recently showed that high-resolution association analysis using common inbred strains of mice is feasible if corrected for population structure. To utilize this approach for atherosclerosis, which requires a sensitizing mutation, we bred human apoB100 transgenic mice with 22 different inbred strains to produce F1 heterozygotes. Mice carrying the dominant transgene were tested for association with high-density SNP maps. Here we focus on high-resolution mapping of the previously described Ath30 locus on Chr 1. As compared to the previous linkage analysis, association improved the resolution of the Ath30 locus by more than an order of magnitude. Using expression quantitative trait locus analysis, we identified one of the genes in the region, Des, as a strong candidate.
Our high-resolution mapping approach accurately identifies and fine maps known atherosclerosis QTL. These results suggest that high-resolution genome-wide association analysis for atherosclerosis is feasible in mice.
Heavy-metals exert considerable stress on the environment worldwide. This study assessed the resistance to and bioremediation of heavy-metals by selected protozoan and bacterial species in highly polluted industrial-wastewater. Specific variables (i.e. chemical oxygen demand, pH, dissolved oxygen) and the growth/die-off-rates of test organisms were measured using standard methods. Heavy-metal removals were determined in biomass and supernatant by the Inductively Couple Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer. A parallel experiment was performed with dead microbial cells to assess the biosorption ability of test isolates.
The results revealed that the industrial-wastewater samples were highly polluted with heavy-metal concentrations exceeding by far the maximum limits (in mg/l) of 0.05-Co, 0.2-Ni, 0.1-Mn, 0.1-V, 0.01-Pb, 0.01-Cu, 0.1-Zn and 0.005-Cd, prescribed by the UN-FAO. Industrial-wastewater had no major effects on Pseudomonas putida, Bacillus licheniformis and Peranema sp. (growth rates up to 1.81, 1.45 and 1.43 d-1, respectively) compared to other test isolates. This was also revealed with significant COD increases (p < 0.05) in culture media inoculated with living bacterial isolates (over 100%) compared to protozoan isolates (up to 24% increase). Living Pseudomonas putida demonstrated the highest removal rates of heavy metals (Co-71%, Ni-51%, Mn-45%, V-83%, Pb-96%, Ti-100% and Cu-49%) followed by Bacillus licheniformis (Al-23% and Zn-53%) and Peranema sp. (Cd-42%). None of the dead cells were able to remove more than 25% of the heavy metals. Bacterial isolates contained the genes copC, chrB, cnrA3 and nccA encoding the resistance to Cu, Cr, Co-Ni and Cd-Ni-Co, respectively. Protozoan isolates contained only the genes encoding Cu and Cr resistance (copC and chrB genes). Peranema sp. was the only protozoan isolate which had an additional resistant gene cnrA3 encoding Co-Ni resistance.
Significant differences (p < 0.05) observed between dead and living microbial cells for metal-removal and the presence of certain metal-resistant genes indicated that the selected microbial isolates used both passive (biosorptive) and active (bioaccumulation) mechanisms to remove heavy metals from industrial wastewater. This study advocates the use of Peranema sp. as a potential candidate for the bioremediation of heavy-metals in wastewater treatment, in addition to Pseudomonas putida and Bacillus licheniformis.
Industrial wastewater; Heavy metal; Bioremediation; Bacteria; Protozoa; Metal toxicity; Pollution; Metal-resistance
Heavy metals, such as cadmium, copper, lead, chromium and mercury, are important environmental pollutants, particularly in areas with high anthropogenic pressure. Their presence in the atmosphere, soil and water, even in traces can cause serious problems to all organisms, and heavy metal bioaccumulation in the food chain especially can be highly dangerous to human health. Heavy metals enter the human body mainly through two routes namely: inhalation and ingestion, ingestion being the main route of exposure to these elements in human population. Heavy metals intake by human populations through food chain has been reported in many countries. Soil threshold for heavy metal toxicity is an important factor affecting soil environmental capacity of heavy metal and determines heavy metal cumulative loading limits. For soil-plant system, heavy metal toxicity threshold is the highest permissible content in the soil (total or bioavailable concentration) that does not pose any phytotoxic effects or heavy metals in the edible parts of the crops does not exceed food hygiene standards. Factors affecting the thresholds of dietary toxicity of heavy metal in soil-crop system include: soil type which includes soil pH, organic matter content, clay mineral and other soil chemical and biochemical properties; and crop species or cultivars regulated by genetic basis for heavy metal transport and accumulation in plants. In addition, the interactions of soil-plant root-microbes play important roles in regulating heavy metal movement from soil to the edible parts of crops. Agronomic practices such as fertilizer and water managements as well as crop rotation system can affect bioavailability and crop accumulation of heavy metals, thus influencing the thresholds for assessing dietary toxicity of heavy metals in the food chain. This paper reviews the phytotoxic effects and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in vegetables and food crops and assesses soil heavy metal thresholds for potential dietary toxicity.
Heavy metals; Dietary toxicity; Vegetables; Food crops
Several extensive studies of exposure to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) using urinary concentrations in samples from the general population, farm applicators, and farm family members are now available. Reference doses (RfDs) exist for 2,4-D, and Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs; concentrations in urine or plasma that are consistent with those RfDs) for 2,4-D have recently been derived and published.
We reviewed the available biomonitoring data for 2,4-D from the United States and Canada and compared them with BE values to draw conclusions regarding the margin of safety for 2,4-D exposures within each population group.
Data on urinary 2,4-D excretion in general and target populations from recent published studies are tabulated and the derivation of BE values for 2,4-D summarized.
The biomonitoring data indicate margins of safety (ratio of BE value to biomarker concentration) of approximately 200 at the central tendency and 50 at the extremes in the general population. Median exposures for applicators and their family members during periods of use appear to be well within acute exposure guidance values.
Biomonitoring data from these studies indicate that current exposures to 2,4-D are below applicable exposure guidance values. This review demonstrates the value of biomonitoring data in assessing population exposures in the context of existing risk assessments using the BE approach. Risk managers can use this approach to integrate the available biomonitoring data into an overall assessment of current risk management practices for 2,4-D.
2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; biomonitoring; exposure biomarkers; exposure monitoring; risk assessment
Data on human exposure to chemicals in Africa are scarce. A biomonitoring study was conducted in a representative sample of the population in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) to document exposure to polycyclic aromatics hydrocarbons.
1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) was measured by HPLC fluorescence in spot urine samples from 220 individuals (50.5% women), aged 6–70 years living in the urban area and from 50 additional subjects from the sub-rural area of Kinshasa. Data were compiled as geometric means and selected percentiles, expressed without (μg/L) or with creatinine adjustment (μg/g cr). Multiple regression analyses were applied to factors (creatinine, grilled meat habits and smoking habits) influencing 1-OHP (stepwise procedure, criteria: probability F to enter ≤ 0.05 and probability F to remove ≥ 0.10).
According to the regression models, creatinine, grilled meat habits and smoking habits contribute to explain 45% of the variation in population’s urinary 1-OHP by the environmental exposure. Overall, living in urban area of Kinshasa was associated with increased levels of 1-OHP in urine as compared to a population living in the sub-rural area [GM: 1.8 μg/L (n = 220) versus 1.4 μg/L (n = 50), p < 0.01] as well as compared to the reference values from databases involving American or German populations.
This study reveals the high pyrene (PAH) exposure of the Kinshasa population. However, more work, with a rigorous design in the exposed population (monitoring of air concentrations and identifying other sources of pyrene –PAH exposure), is needed to establish further documentation.
Biomonitoring; Environmental pollution; Organic compounds; Public health; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Biomonitoring uses analytic methods that permit the accurate measurement of low levels of environmental chemicals in human tissues. However, depending on the intended use, biomonitoring, like all exposure tools, may not be a stand-alone exposure assessment tool for some of its environmental public health uses. Although biomonitoring data demonstrate that many environmental chemicals are absorbed in human tissues, uncertainty exists regarding if and at what concentrations many of these chemicals cause adverse health outcomes. Moreover, without exposure pathway information, it is difficult to relate biomonitoring results to sources and routes of exposure and develop effective health risk management strategies. In September 2004, the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and International Council of Chemical Associations co-sponsored the International Biomonitoring Workshop, which explored the processes and information needed for placing biomonitoring data into perspective for risk assessment purposes, with special emphasis on integrating biomarker measurements of exposure, internal dose, and potential health outcome. Scientists from international governments, academia, and industry recommended criteria for applying biomonitoring data for various uses. Six case studies, which are part of this mini-monograph, were examined: inorganic arsenic, methyl eugenol, organophosphorus pesticides, perfluorooctanesulfonate, phthalates, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Based on the workshop and follow-up discussions, this overview article summarizes lessons learned, identifies data gaps, outlines research needs, and offers guidance for designing and conducting biomonitoring studies, as well as interpreting biomonitoring data in the context of risk assessment and risk management.
arsenic; biomarkers; biomonitoring; exposure; methyl eugenol; organophosphorus; PBDE; PFOS; phthalates; risk assessment
Translating research to make it more understandable and effective (research translation) has been declared a priority in environmental health but does not always include communication to the public or residents of communities affected by environmental hazards. Their unique perspectives are also commonly missing from discussions about science and technology policy. The consensus conference process, developed in Denmark, offers a way to address this gap.
The Boston Consensus Conference on Human Biomonitoring, held in Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall of 2006, was designed to educate and elicit input from 15 Boston-area residents on the scientifically complex topic of human biomonitoring for environmental chemicals. This lay panel considered the many ethical, legal, and scientific issues surrounding biomonitoring and prepared a report expressing their views.
The lay panel’s findings provide a distinct and important voice on the expanding use of biomonitoring. In some cases, such as a call for opt-in reporting of biomonitoring results to study participants, they mirror recommendations raised elsewhere. Other conclusions have not been heard previously, including the recommendation that an individual’s results should be statutorily exempted from the medical record unless permission is granted, and the opportunity to use biomonitoring data to stimulate green chemistry.
The consensus conference model addresses both aspects of a broader conception of research translation: engaging the public in scientific questions, and bringing their unique perspectives to bear on public health research, practice, and policy. In this specific application, a lay panel’s recommendations on biomonitoring surveillance, communication, and ethics have practical implications for the conduct of biomonitoring studies and surveillance programs.
biomonitoring; consensus conference; environmental health surveillance; participatory democracy; research translation