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author:("wetzel, R A")
1.  Environmental tobacco smoke exposure in the home and worksite and health effects in adults: results from the 1991 National Health Interview Survey 
Tobacco Control  1997;6(4):296-305.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in the home and worksite on the health of adults in the United States. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Nationally representative population. PARTICIPANTS: 43,732 adults who completed the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention supplement in the 1991 National Health Interview Survey. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rate of restricted activity, bed confinement, and work absence in the two weeks preceding the survey and self-reported health status among adults with and without exposure to ETS. RESULTS: We found that only 20.2% of never- smokers and 23.1% of former smokers reported exposure to ETS at home or work, whereas 87.2% of current smokers reported exposure to ETS. Among never-smokers, after adjusting for covariates, people who were exposed to ETS were more likely to report one or more days of restricted activity (relative risk (RR) = 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.10 to 1.46), one or more days of bed confinement (RR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.19 to 1.73), and one or more days of work absence (RR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.73) in the two weeks before the survey than were people without such exposure. We detected smaller trends for one or more days of restricted activity among current and former smokers (RR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.97 to 1.40; and RR = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.82 to 1.51), one or more days of bed confinement among current smokers (RR = 1.34, 95% CI = 0.95 to 1.88), and one or more days of work absence among former smokers (RR = 1.13, 95% CI = 0.84 to 1.50) in the two weeks before the survey than among people without such exposure, although the CIs were wide and chance cannot be excluded as an explanation for these findings. Never- smokers (RR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.34 to 1.62), former smokers (RR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.07 to 1.39) and current smokers (RR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.10 to 1.56) exposed to ETS were all more likely to report a less than very good health status than were people without such exposure. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that never-smoking adults exposed to ETS report more acute health effects than unexposed, never-smoking adults, and suggests similar findings in current and former smoking adults. 



PMCID: PMC1759596  PMID: 9583627
2.  Workshop to identify critical windows of exposure for children's health: immune and respiratory systems work group summary. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2000;108(Suppl 3):483-490.
Fetuses, infants, and juveniles (preadults) should not be considered simply "small adults" when it comes to toxicological risk. We present specific examples of developmental toxicants that are more toxic to children than to adults, focusing on effects on the immune and respiratory systems. We describe differences in both the pharmacokinetics of the developing immune and respiratory systems as well as changes in target organ sensitivities to toxicants. Differential windows of vulnerability during development are identified in the context of available animal models. We provide specific approaches to directly investigate differential windows of vulnerability. These approaches are based on fundamental developmental biology and the existence of discrete developmental processes within the immune and respiratory systems. The processes are likely to influence differential developmental susceptibility to toxicants, resulting in lifelong toxicological changes. We also provide a template for comparative research. Finally, we discuss the application of these data to risk assessment.
PMCID: PMC1637823  PMID: 10852848
3.  Air pollution and bronchitic symptoms in Southern California children with asthma. 
People who live in cities with dirty air have blacker lungs than people who live in rural areas with less air pollution. This is because, although particulates larger than 10 microm are filtered out when inhaled air passes through the nose, smaller particulates reach the lower airways. The particulates that reach the alveoli (the terminal air pockets of the lungs) stay there permanently. This accounts for the fact that a person who has lived in a polluted city for many years has blacker lungs than one who has lived in a polluted city for a shorter time.
PMCID: PMC1566463  PMID: 10464066
4.  Introduction and summary: workshop on children's health and indoor mold exposure. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(Suppl 3):465-468.
To evaluate the health consequences for children of indoor exposure to molds, an international workshop was organized with 15 scientists from eight countries. The participants agreed that exposure to molds may constitute a health threat to children resulting in respiratory symptoms in both the upper and lower airways, an increased incidence of infections, and skin symptoms. Allergy, either to molds or to other indoor agents, also presents a health risk. At very high exposure levels to specific molds, nose bleeding, hemoptysis, and pulmonary hemorrhage have been documented. Pediatricians and allergists need to obtain information about mold and dampness in the home environment when examining children with chronic respiratory symptoms, recurrent infections, or persistent fatigue and headache. Measurement techniques are available to determine exposure. Most important, the source of dampness must be eliminated and the indoor environment must be thoroughly cleaned of molds.
PMCID: PMC1566229  PMID: 10346995
5.  Indoor mold and Children's health 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(Suppl 3):463.
Reactive airways disease in children is increasing in many countries around the world. The clinical diagnosis of asthma or reactive airways disease includes a variable airflow and an increased sensitivity in the airways. This condition can develop after an augmented reaction to a specific agent (allergen) and may cause a life-threatening situation within a very short period of exposure. It can also develop after a long-term exposure to irritating agents that cause an inflammation in the airways in the absence of an allergen. (paragraph) Several environmental agents have been shown to be associated with the increased incidence of childhood asthma. They include allergens, cat dander, outdoor as well as indoor air pollution, cooking fumes, and infections. There is, however, increasing evidence that mold growth indoors in damp buildings is an important risk factor. About 30 investigations from various countries around the world have demonstrated a close relationship between living in damp homes or homes with mold growth, and the extent of adverse respiratory symptoms in children. Some studies show a relation between dampness/mold and objective measures of lung function. Apart from airways symptoms, some studies demonstrate the presence of general symptoms that include fatigue and headache and symptoms from the central nervous system. At excessive exposures, an increased risk for hemorraghic pneumonia and death among infants has been reported. (paragraph) The described effects may have important consequences for children in the early years of life. A child's immune system is developing from birth to adolescence and requires a natural, physiologic stimulation with antigens as well as inflammatory agents. Any disturbances of this normal maturing process will increase the risk for abnormal reactions to inhaled antigens and inflammagenic agents in the environment. (paragraph) The knowledge about health risks due to mold exposure is not widespread and health authorities in some countries may not be aware of the serious reactions mold exposure can provoke in some children. Individual physicians may have difficulty handling the patients because of the lack of recognition of the relationship between the often complex symptoms and the indoor environment (paragraph) The workshop was organized to develop a basis for risk assessment and formulation of recommendations, particularly for diagnostic purposes and prevention, and to formulate priorities for future research. The participants were all active researchers with current experience in child health, molds, and respiratory disease. They were engaged in free and intensive discussions on a scientific basis throughout the duration of the 3-day workshop (paragraph) This monograph contains peer-reviewed papers based on individual presentations at the workshop as well as the workshop conclusions. They are offered to the public health community, administrators, research agencies, physicians, particularly pediatricians, nurses and health workers as information and encouragement to engage themselves in this health problem of importance for the next generation in our population. (paragraph) Acknowledgments: The workshop received financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the U.S. EPA, the Vardal Foundation (Sweden), Astra Corp (Sweden), the Committee on Organic Dusts, International Commission on Occupational Health. The printing of this document was made possible by a grant from the Center for Indoor Air Research (U.S.). Yvonne Peterson, research secretary, provided excellent and invaluable assistance in the organization and publication efforts.
PMCID: PMC1566224  PMID: 10346994
6.  Overview of investigations into pulmonary hemorrhage among infants in Cleveland, Ohio. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(Suppl 3):495-499.
Idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage was diagnosed in 37 infants in the Cleveland, Ohio, area between 1993 and 1998. This rare disorder has been related to 12 deaths, including 7 originally thought to be sudden infant death syndrome. Thirty of the infants were African American, all of whom lived in a limited geographic area of eastern metropolitan Cleveland, an area of older housing stock. An investigation led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found an association with household exposure to a toxigenic mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, and other fungi. The rapidly growing lungs of young infants appear to be especially vulnerable to the toxins made by toxigenic molds. Environmental tobacco smoke was frequently present in the infants' homes and may be a trigger precipitating the acute bleeding. Stachybotrys, although not thought to be a common mold, is known to have a wide geographic distribution. An additional 101 cases of acute, idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage have been reported in infants in the United States over the past 5 years. In this overview, the investigations are summarized, the clinical profile is described, the toxicity of S. chartarum is discussed, and pathophysiologic concepts are presented.
PMCID: PMC1566217  PMID: 10346998
7.  Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and health effects in children: results from the 1991 National Health Interview Survey 
Tobacco Control  1996;5(1):13-18.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of environmental tobacco smoke exposure on the health of children in the United States. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study of children who participated in the 1991 National Health Interview Survey. PARTICIPANTS: 17448 children residing in the United States. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of respiratory illnesses and all illnesses, and the morbidity due to these illnesses, in children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in the home daily compared with those in children not exposed in the home. Our analyses controlled for age, socioeconomic status, race, family size, sex, season, and region of the country. RESULTS: Children who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke had a higher incidence of acute respiratory illnesses (relative risk (RR) = 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.95 to 1.26) and all chronic respiratory diseases (RR = 1.28, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.65) than children who were not exposed, although both CIs included unity, and chance cannot be ruled out as being responsible for these findings. Children who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke had, on average, 1.87 more days of restricted activity (95% CI 0.20 to 3.54), 1.06 more days of bed confinement (95% CI 0.20 to 1.92), and 1.45 more days of school absence (95% CI 0.40 to 2.50) per year than children who were not exposed. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental tobacco smoke exposure in the home, which is completely preventable, is an important predictor of increased morbidity in children. 



PMCID: PMC1759489  PMID: 8795853
8.  Children's health and the environment: a new agenda for prevention research. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1998;106(Suppl 3):787-794.
Patterns of illness in American children have changed dramatically in this century. The ancient infectious diseases have largely been controlled. The major diseases confronting children now are chronic and disabling conditions termed the "new pediatric morbidity"--asthma mortality has doubled; leukemia and brain cancer have increased in incidence; neurodevelopmental dysfunction is widespread; hypospadias incidence has doubled. Chemical toxicants in the environment as well as poverty, racism, and inequitable access to medical care are factors known and suspected to contribute to causation of these pediatric diseases. Children are at risk of exposure to over 15,000 high-production-volume synthetic chemicals, nearly all of them developed in the past 50 years. These chemicals are used widely in consumer products and are dispersed in the environment. More than half are untested for toxicity. Children appear uniquely vulnerable to chemical toxicants because of their disproportionately heavy exposures and their inherent biological susceptibility. To prevent disease of environmental origin in America's children, the Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) calls for a comprehensive, national, child-centered agenda. This agenda must recognize children's vulnerabilities to environmental toxicants. It must encompass a) a new prevention-oriented research focus; b) a new child-centered paradigm for health risk assessment and policy formulation; and c) a campaign to educate the public, health professionals, and policy makers that environmental disease is caused by preventable exposures and is therefore avoidable. To anchor the agenda, CEHN calls for long-term, stable investment and for creation of a national network of pediatric environmental health research and prevention centers.
PMCID: PMC1533065  PMID: 9646038
9.  Asthma. The states' challenge. 
Public Health Reports  1997;112(3):198-205.
At the national level, asthma is increasingly being recognized as an important public health problem. Because of the significant role of environmental exposure in asthma morbidity, public health agencies have a critical role to play in the surveillance and prevention of the disease. In April 1996, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surveyed state and territorial public health departments to determine the status of their asthma surveillance and intervention programs. Of the 51 health departments that responded, only eight reported that they had implemented an asthma control program within the previous 10 years. Reasons cited for not having programs included lack of funds, shortage of personnel, and asthma not being a priority. Most states were unable to assess the burden of asthma because they lack data or face barriers to using existing data. Removing barriers to the use of data is a first step toward defining the scope of the asthma problem.
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PMCID: PMC1381991  PMID: 9160053
10.  Unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in New Mexico, 1980 to 1988. A comparison of medical examiner and national mortality data. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1995;163(5):431-434.
Carbon monoxide was the number 1 cause of poisoning deaths in the United States from 1980 through 1988, with the highest rates reported in the western states. We studied unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in New Mexico during this period using the multiple-cause mortality files from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and data from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI). We compared the nationally available NCHS data with the more detailed OMI data to determine the sensitivity of NCHS data for the surveillance of this preventable cause of death. The NCHS data were 88% sensitive in identifying deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and had a positive predictive value of 81% when compared with OMI data. Half of the unintentional carbon monoxide-related deaths were attributable to a home heating mechanism of some sort, 46% involved motor vehicle exhaust, and at least 42% were associated with alcohol use. We conclude that available NCHS data are a sensitive source of surveillance information about unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. Additional details about specific deaths can be obtained from medical examiner files when needed.
PMCID: PMC1303165  PMID: 8533404
11.  Indoor air pollution and childhood asthma: effective environmental interventions. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1995;103(Suppl 6):55-58.
Exposure to indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke and dust mites may exacerbate childhood asthma. Environmental interventions to reduce exposures to these pollutants can help prevent exacerbations of the disease. Among the most important interventions is the elimination of environmental tobacco smoke from the environments of children with asthma. However, the effectiveness of reducing asthmatic children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on the severity of their symptoms has not yet been systematically evaluated. Dust mite reduction is another helpful environmental intervention. This can be achieved by enclosing the child's mattresses, blankets, and pillows in zippered polyurethane-coated casings. Primary prevention of asthma is not as well understood. It is anticipated that efforts to reduce smoking during pregnancy could reduce the incidence of asthma in children. European studies have suggested that reducing exposure to food and house dust mite antigens during lactation and for the first 12 months of life diminishes the development of allergic disorders in infants with high total IgE in the cord blood and a family history of atopy. Many children with asthma and their families are not receiving adequate counseling about environmental interventions from health care providers or other sources.
PMCID: PMC1518930  PMID: 8549490
12.  Black spots on the scalps of schoolchildren. A recurrent condition in the windy west. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1993;158(2):139-141.
During the past 10 years, epidemics of black spots on the scalps of schoolchildren have caused considerable concern in at least 4 communities in the Rocky Mountain states. We describe the clinical presentation of "black spots" in a group of Wyoming elementary school students and the epidemiologic investigation that revealed the cause. Our study included a questionnaire survey of students' parents, examination of students at the affected school and at two other schools, observation of playground activity patterns, and laboratory analysis of specimens taken from affected children and from the school environment. The black material in the scalp spots was chemically identical to flakes of black material found on the playground and tar from the school roof. We concluded that the spots were caused by flakes of windblown tar from the school roof. Previous outbreaks of black spots may have had a similar cause.
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PMCID: PMC1021965  PMID: 8434463

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