Low-dose exposures to common environmental chemicals that are deemed safe individually may be combining to instigate carcinogenesis, thereby contributing to the incidence of cancer. This risk may be overlooked by current regulatory practices and needs to be vigorously investigated.
Lifestyle factors are responsible for a considerable portion of cancer incidence worldwide, but credible estimates from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggest that the fraction of cancers attributable to toxic environmental exposures is between 7% and 19%. To explore the hypothesis that low-dose exposures to mixtures of chemicals in the environment may be combining to contribute to environmental carcinogenesis, we reviewed 11 hallmark phenotypes of cancer, multiple priority target sites for disruption in each area and prototypical chemical disruptors for all targets, this included dose-response characterizations, evidence of low-dose effects and cross-hallmark effects for all targets and chemicals. In total, 85 examples of chemicals were reviewed for actions on key pathways/mechanisms related to carcinogenesis. Only 15% (13/85) were found to have evidence of a dose-response threshold, whereas 59% (50/85) exerted low-dose effects. No dose-response information was found for the remaining 26% (22/85). Our analysis suggests that the cumulative effects of individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways, and a variety of related systems, organs, tissues and cells could plausibly conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies. Additional basic research on carcinogenesis and research focused on low-dose effects of chemical mixtures needs to be rigorously pursued before the merits of this hypothesis can be further advanced. However, the structure of the World Health Organization International Programme on Chemical Safety ‘Mode of Action’ framework should be revisited as it has inherent weaknesses that are not fully aligned with our current understanding of cancer biology.
Rare earth elements (REEs) have become increasingly important metals used in modern technology. Processes including mining, oil refining, discarding of obsolete equipment containing REEs, and the use of REE-containing phosphate fertilizers may increase the likelihood of environmental contamination. However, there is a scarcity of information on the toxicity and accumulation of these metals to terrestrial primary producers in contaminated soils. The objective of this work was to assess the phytotoxicity and uptake from contaminated soil of six REEs (chloride forms of praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, terbium, dysprosium, and erbium) on three native plants (Asclepias syriaca L., Desmodium canadense (L.) DC., Panicum virgatum L.) and two crop species (Raphanus sativus L., Solanum lycopersicum L.) in separate dose-response experiments under growth chamber conditions. Limited effects of REEs were found on seed germination and speed of germination. Effects on aboveground and belowground biomass were more pronounced, especially for the three native species, which were always more sensitive than the crop species tested. Inhibition concentrations (IC25 and IC50) causing 25 or 50% reductions in plant biomass respectively, were measured. For the native species, the majority of aboveground biomass IC25s (11 out of 18) fell within 100 to 300 mg REE/kg dry soil. In comparison to the native species, IC25s for the crops were always greater than 400 mg REE/kg, with the majority of results (seven out of 12) falling above 700 mg REE/kg. IC50s were often not detected for the crops. Root biomass of native species was also affected at lower doses than in crops. REE uptake by plants was higher in the belowground parts than in the above-ground plant tissues. Results also revealed that chloride may have contributed to the sensitivity of the native species, Desmodium canadense, one of the most sensitive species studied. Nevertheless, these results demonstrated that phytotoxicity may be a concern in contaminated areas.
Siever and Davis’ (1991) psychobiological framework of borderline personality disorder (BPD) identifies affective instability (AI) as a core dimension characterized by prolonged and intense emotional reactivity. Recently, deficient amygdala habituation, defined as a change in response to repeated relative to novel unpleasant pictures within a session, has emerged as a biological correlate of AI in BPD. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an evidence-based treatment, targets AI by teaching emotion-regulation skills. This study tested the hypothesis that BPD patients would exhibit decreased amygdala activation and improved habituation, as well as improved emotion regulation with standard 12-month DBT.
Event-related fMRI was obtained pre- and post-12-months of standard-DBT in unmedicated BPD patients. Healthy controls (HCs) were studied as a benchmark for normal amygdala activity and change over time (n = 11 per diagnostic-group). During each scan, participants viewed an intermixed series of unpleasant, neutral and pleasant pictures presented twice (novel, repeat). Change in emotion regulation was measured with the Difficulty in Emotion Regulation (DERS) scale.
fMRI results showed the predicted Group × Time interaction: compared with HCs, BPD patients exhibited decreased amygdala activation with treatment. This post-treatment amygdala reduction in BPD was observed for all three pictures types, but particularly marked in the left hemisphere and during repeated-emotional pictures. Emotion regulation measured with the DERS significantly improved with DBT in BPD patients. Improved amygdala habituation to repeated-unpleasant pictures in patients was associated with improved overall emotional regulation measured by the DERS (total score and emotion regulation strategy use subscale).
These findings have promising treatment implications and support the notion that DBT targets amygdala hyperactivity—part of the disturbed neural circuitry underlying emotional dysregulation in BPD. Future work includes examining how DBT-induced amygdala changes interact with frontal-lobe regions implicated in emotion regulation.
Borderline personality disorder; Emotion regulation; Amygdala; Habituation; fMRI
Horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other drilling and well stimulation technologies are now used widely in the United States and increasingly in other countries. They enable increases in oil and gas production, but there has been inadequate attention to human health impacts. Air quality near oil and gas operations is an underexplored human health concern for five reasons: (1) prior focus on threats to water quality; (2) an evolving understanding of contributions of certain oil and gas production processes to air quality; (3) limited state air quality monitoring networks; (4) significant variability in air emissions and concentrations; and (5) air quality research that misses impacts important to residents. Preliminary research suggests that volatile compounds, including hazardous air pollutants, are of potential concern. This study differs from prior research in its use of a community-based process to identify sampling locations. Through this approach, we determine concentrations of volatile compounds in air near operations that reflect community concerns and point to the need for more fine-grained and frequent monitoring at points along the production life cycle.
Grab and passive air samples were collected by trained volunteers at locations identified through systematic observation of industrial operations and air impacts over the course of resident daily routines. A total of 75 volatile organics were measured using EPA Method TO-15 or TO-3 by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Formaldehyde levels were determined using UMEx 100 Passive Samplers.
Levels of eight volatile chemicals exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances. Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.
Air concentrations of potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures are frequently present near oil and gas production sites. Community-based research can provide an important supplement to state air quality monitoring programs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-069X-13-82) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Benzene; Community monitoring; Formaldehyde; Grab and passive samples; Hydraulic fracturing; Hydrogen sulfide; Oil and gas
Remarkable financial and political efforts have been focused on the reduction of child mortality during the past few decades. Timely measurements of levels and trends in under-5 mortality are important to assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) target of reduction of child mortality by two thirds from 1990 to 2015, and to identify models of success.
We generated updated estimates of child mortality in early neonatal (age 0–6 days), late neonatal (7–28 days), postneonatal (29–364 days), childhood (1–4 years), and under-5 (0–4 years) age groups for 188 countries from 1970 to 2013, with more than 29 000 survey, census, vital registration, and sample registration datapoints. We used Gaussian process regression with adjustments for bias and non-sampling error to synthesise the data for under-5 mortality for each country, and a separate model to estimate mortality for more detailed age groups. We used explanatory mixed effects regression models to assess the association between under-5 mortality and income per person, maternal education, HIV child death rates, secular shifts, and other factors. To quantify the contribution of these different factors and birth numbers to the change in numbers of deaths in under-5 age groups from 1990 to 2013, we used Shapley decomposition. We used estimated rates of change between 2000 and 2013 to construct under-5 mortality rate scenarios out to 2030.
We estimated that 6·3 million (95% UI 6·0–6·6) children under-5 died in 2013, a 64% reduction from 17·6 million (17·1–18·1) in 1970. In 2013, child mortality rates ranged from 152·5 per 1000 livebirths (130·6–177·4) in Guinea-Bissau to 2·3 (1·8–2·9) per 1000 in Singapore. The annualised rates of change from 1990 to 2013 ranged from −6·8% to 0·1%. 99 of 188 countries, including 43 of 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, had faster decreases in child mortality during 2000–13 than during 1990–2000. In 2013, neonatal deaths accounted for 41·6% of under-5 deaths compared with 37·4% in 1990. Compared with 1990, in 2013, rising numbers of births, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, led to 1·4 million more child deaths, and rising income per person and maternal education led to 0·9 million and 2·2 million fewer deaths, respectively. Changes in secular trends led to 4·2 million fewer deaths. Unexplained factors accounted for only −1% of the change in child deaths. In 30 developing countries, decreases since 2000 have been faster than predicted attributable to income, education, and secular shift alone.
Only 27 developing countries are expected to achieve MDG 4. Decreases since 2000 in under-5 mortality rates are accelerating in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The Millennium Declaration and increased development assistance for health might have been a factor in faster decreases in some developing countries. Without further accelerated progress, many countries in west and central Africa will still have high levels of under-5 mortality in 2030.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US Agency for International Development.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) often presents during adolescence. Early detection and intervention decreases its subsequent severity. However, little is known about early predictors and biological underpinnings of BPD. The observed abnormal functional connectivity among brain regions in BPD led to studies of white matter, as the neural substrate of connectivity. However, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies in adult BPD have been inconclusive, and, as yet, there are no published DTI studies in borderline adolescents.
We conducted DTI tractography in 38 BPD patients (14-adolescents,24-adults) and 32 healthy controls (13-adolescents,19-adults).
We found bilateral tract-specific decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) in BPD adolescents compared to adolescent controls. ILF FA was significantly higher in adolescent controls compared to BPD adolescents, BPD adults and adult controls (WilksF(3,57)=3.55, p<0.02). Follow-up voxelwise TBSS analysis demonstrated lower FA in BPD adolescents compared to adolescent controls also in uncinate and occipitofrontal fasciculi.
FA generally develops along an inverted U-shape curve, increasing through adolescence, and slowly decreasing in adulthood. Our findings suggest that, in adolescent BPD, this normal developmental “peak” in FA, which is seen in healthy controls, is not achieved. This suggests a possible neural substrate for the previously reported OFC-amygdala disconnect in adults with BPD. It raises the possibility that a white matter tract abnormality in BPD present in adolescence may not be appreciable in adulthood, but a functional abnormality in the coordination among brain regions persists. Our finding represents a possible biological marker to identify those at risk for developing BPD.
community-based programs; managed care programs; health care delivery; health care reform; decentralized control
It is known that ouabain, a selective inhibitor of Na/K-ATPase, can cause not only activation of signal cascades, which regulate the cell viability, but also can cause free radical accumulation, which can evoke the oxidative stress. We have shown that nanomolar concentrations of ouabain result in the temporary increase in the level of intracellular free radicals but the millimolar concentration of ouabain induces a stable intracellular accumulation of free radicals in rat thymocytes. The increasing level of free radicals resulting from both low and high concentrations of ouabain can be attenuated by the antioxidant, carnosine. Moreover the long-term incubation with ouabain leads to the cell death by necrosis and apoptosis. Ouabain-mediated apoptosis and necrosis were also abolished by carnosine.
Na/K-ATPase; free radicals; ouabain; carnosine; thymocytes
Background: Children exposed to early life stress (ELS) exhibit enlarged amygdala volume in comparison to controls. The primary goal of this study was to examine amygdala volumes in bonnet macaques subjected to maternal variable foraging demand (VFD) rearing, a well-established model of ELS. Preliminary analyses examined the interaction of ELS and the serotonin transporter gene on amygdala volume. Secondary analyses were conducted to examine the association between amygdala volume and other stress-related variables previously found to distinguish VFD and non-VFD reared animals.
Methods: Twelve VFD-reared and nine normally reared monkeys completed MRI scans on a 3T system (mean age = 5.2 years).
Results: Left amygdala volume was larger in VFD vs. control macaques. Larger amygdala volume was associated with: “high” cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin releasing-factor (CRF) determined when the animals were in adolescence (mean age = 2.7 years); reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) during young adulthood (mean age = 5.2 years) and timid anxiety-like responses to an intruder during full adulthood (mean age = 8.4 years). Right amygdala volume varied inversely with left hippocampal neurogenesis assessed in late adulthood (mean age = 8.7 years). Exploratory analyses also showed a gene-by-environment effect, with VFD-reared macaques with a single short allele of the serotonin transporter gene exhibiting larger amygdala volume compared to VFD-reared subjects with only the long allele and normally reared controls.
Conclusion: These data suggest that the left amygdala exhibits hypertrophy after ELS, particularly in association with the serotonin transporter gene, and that amygdala volume variation occurs in concert with other key stress-related behavioral and neurobiological parameters observed across the lifecycle. Future research is required to understand the mechanisms underlying these diverse and persistent changes associated with ELS and amygdala volume.
amygdala; early life stress; non-human primates; MRI; stress; serotonin transporter gene
Anniston, Alabama, is the site of a former Monsanto plant where polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were manufactured from 1929 until 1971. Residents of Anniston are known to have elevated levels of PCBs. The objective of the study was to test the hypothesis that levels of the various lipid components (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides) are differentially associated with concentrations of total PCBs and total pesticides, and further that different congeners, congener groups and different pesticides do not have identical associations in serum samples obtained from Anniston residents in a cross-sectional study.
Fasting serum samples were obtained from 575 residents of Anniston who were not on any lipid-lowering medication and were analyzed for 35 PCB congeners, nine chlorinated pesticides, total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. Associations between toxicant concentrations and lipid levels were determined using multiple linear regression analysis.
We observed that elevated serum concentrations of lipids were associated with elevated serum concentrations of ΣPCBs and summed pesticides in analyses adjusted for age, race, gender, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking and exercising status. The strongest associations were seen for PCB congeners with three, four, or at least eight substituted chlorines. Mono-ortho substituted congeners 74 and 156, di-ortho congeners 172 and 194, and tri- and tetra-ortho congeners 199, 196–203, 206 and 209 each were significantly associated with total lipids, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Serum concentrations of HCB and chlordane also had strong associations with lipid components.
Increased concentrations of PCBs and organochlorine pesticides are associated with elevations in total serum lipids, total cholesterol and triglycerides, but the patterns are different for different groups of PCBs and different pesticides. These observations show selective effects of different organochlorines on serum concentrations of different groups of lipids. This elevation in concentrations of serum lipids may be the basis for the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease found in persons with elevated exposures to PCBs and chlorinated pesticides.
Cholesterol; Triglycerides; Persistent organic pollutants; LDL cholesterol; HDL cholesterol; Hexachlorobenzene; DDT; PCBs
Studies suggest that ambient sunlight plays an important role in the pathogenesis of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). However, there is ongoing controversy regarding the relevance of occupational exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation (UV) radiation.
We investigated potential associations between natural and artificial UV radiation exposure at work with NMSC in a case-control study conducted in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
Occupational exposures were classified by expert assessment for 527 controls and 618 NMSC cases (515 basal cell carcinoma, BCC). Covariate information was collected via interview and multiple logistic regression models were used to assess associations between UV exposure and NMSC.
Lifetime prevalence of occupational exposure in the participants was 13% for natural UV radiation and 7% for artificial UV radiation. Significant negative associations between occupational exposure to natural UV radiation and NMSC were detected for all who had ever been exposed (odds ratio (OR) 0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.27–0.80); similar results were detected using a semi-quantitative metric of cumulative exposure. The effects were modified by skin complexion, with significantly decreased risks of BCC among participants with light skin complexion. No associations were observed in relation to occupational artificial UV radiation exposure.
The protective effect of occupational exposure to natural UV radiation was unexpected, but limited to light-skinned people, suggesting adequate sun-protection behaviors. Further investigations focusing on variations in the individual genetic susceptibility and potential interactions with environmental and other relevant factors are planned.
Diffuse axonal injury is a common pathological consequence of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Diffusion Tensor Imaging is an ideal technique to study white matter integrity using the Fractional Anisotropy (FA) index which is a measure of axonal integrity and coherence. There have been several reports showing reduced FA in individuals with TBI, which suggest demyelination or reduced fiber density in white matter tracts secondary to injury. Individuals with TBI are usually diagnosed with cognitive deficits such as reduced attention span, memory and executive function. In this study we sought to investigate correlations between brain functional networks, white matter integrity, and TBI severity in individuals with TBI ranging from mild to severe. A resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging protocol was used to study the default mode network in subjects at rest. FA values were decreased throughout all white matter tracts in the mild to severe TBI subjects. FA values were also negatively correlated with TBI injury severity ratings. The default mode network showed several brain regions in which connectivity measures were higher among individuals with TBI relative to control subjects. These findings suggest that, subsequent to TBI, the brain may undergo adaptation responses at the cellular level to compensate for functional impairment due to axonal injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); DTI; Cognitive Function
This article synthesizes discussion of collaborative research results, interventions and policy engagement for St Lawrence Island (SLI), Alaska, during the years 2000–2012.
As part of on-going community-based participatory research (CBPR) studies on SLI, 5 discrete exposure-assessment projects were conducted: (a) a biomonitoring study of human blood serum; (b–d) 3 investigations of levels of contaminants in environmental media at an abandoned military site at Northeast Cape – using sediment cores and plants, semi-permeable membrane devices and blackfish, respectively; and (e) a study of traditional foods.
Blood serum in residents of SLI showed elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) with higher levels among those exposed to the military site at Northeast Cape, an important traditional subsistence-use area. Environmental studies at the military site demonstrated that the site is a continuing source of PCBs to a major watershed, and that clean-up operations at the military site generated PCB-contaminated dust on plants in the region. Important traditional foods eaten by the people of SLI showed elevated concentrations of PCBs, which are primarily derived from the long-range transport of persistent pollutants that are transported by atmospheric and marine currents from more southerly latitudes to the north.
An important task for all CBPR projects is to conduct intervention strategies as needed in response to research results. Because of the findings of the CBPR projects on SLI, the CBPR team and the people of the Island are actively engaging in interventions to ensure cleanup of the formerly used military sites; reform chemicals policy on a national level; and eliminate persistent pollutants internationally. The goal is to make the Island and other northern/Arctic communities safe for themselves and future generations.
As part of the CBPR projects conducted from 2000 to 2012, a series of exposure assessments demonstrate that the leaders of SLI have reason to be concerned about the health of people due to the presence of carcinogenic chemicals as measured in biomonitoring and environmental samples and important traditional foods.
community-based participatory research; Yupik; persistent organic pollutants; polychlorinated biphenyls; environmental health; military toxics
Background: Indigenous American communities face disproportionate health burdens and environmental health risks compared with the average North American population. These health impacts are issues of both environmental and reproductive justice.
Objectives: In this commentary, we review five indigenous communities in various stages of environmental health research and discuss the intersection of environmental health and reproductive justice issues in these communities as well as the limitations of legal recourse.
Discussion: The health disparities impacting life expectancy and reproductive capabilities in indigenous communities are due to a combination of social, economic, and environmental factors. The system of federal environmental and Indian law is insufficient to protect indigenous communities from environmental contamination. Many communities are interested in developing appropriate research partnerships in order to discern the full impact of environmental contamination and prevent further damage.
Conclusions: Continued research involving collaborative partnerships among scientific researchers, community members, and health care providers is needed to determine the impacts of this contamination and to develop approaches for remediation and policy interventions.
Alaska Natives; environmental justice; First Nations; Native Americans; reproductive justice
Background: Air pollution is known to cause respiratory disease. Unlike motor vehicle sources, fuel-fired power plants are stationary.
Objective: Using hospitalization data, we examined whether living near a fuel-fired power plant increases the likelihood of hospitalization for respiratory disease.
Methods: Rates of hospitalization for asthma, acute respiratory infection (ARI), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were estimated using hospitalization data for 1993–2008 from New York State in relation to data for residences near fuel-fired power plants. We also explored data for residential proximity to hazardous waste sites.
Results: After adjusting for age, sex, race, median household income, and rural/urban residence, there were significant 11%, 15%, and 17% increases in estimated rates of hospitalization for asthma, ARI, and COPD, respectively, among individuals > 10 years of age living in a ZIP code containing a fuel-fired power plant compared with one that had no power plant. Living in a ZIP code with a fuel-fired power plant was not significantly associated with hospitalization for asthma or ARI among children < 10 years of age. Living in a ZIP code with a hazardous waste site was associated with hospitalization for all outcomes in both age groups, and joint effect estimates were approximately additive for living in a ZIP code that contained a fuel-fired power plant and a hazardous waste site.
Conclusions: Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to air pollution from fuel-fired power plants and volatile compounds coming from hazardous waste sites increases the risk of hospitalization for respiratory diseases.
asthma; COPD; particulates; respiratory infection; SO2
Use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants ("affiliates") is increasing significantly in the intensive care unit (ICU). Despite this, few data exist on how affiliates allocate their time in the ICU. The purpose of this study was to understand the allocation of affiliate time into patient-care and non-patient-care activity, further dividing the time devoted to patient care into billable service and equally important but nonbillable care.
We conducted a quasi experimental study in seven ICUs in an academic hospital and a hybrid academic/community hospital. After a period of self-reporting, a one-time monetary incentive of $2,500 was offered to 39 affiliates in each ICU in which every affiliate documented greater than 75% of their time devoted to patient care over a 6-month period in an effort to understand how affiliates allocated their time throughout a shift. Documentation included billable time (critical care, evaluation and management, procedures) and a new category ("zero charge time"), which facilitated record keeping of other patient-care activities.
At baseline, no ICUs had documentation of 75% patient-care time by all of its affiliates. In the 6 months in which reporting was tied to a group incentive, six of seven ICUs had every affiliate document greater than 75% of their time. Individual time documentation increased from 53% to 84%. Zero-charge time accounted for an average of 21% of each shift. The most common reason was rounding, which accounted for nearly half of all zero-charge time. Sign out, chart review, and teaching were the next most common zero-charge activities. Documentation of time spent on billable activities also increased from 53% of an affiliate's shift to 63%. Time documentation was similar regardless of during which shift an affiliate worked.
Approximately two thirds of an affiliate's shift is spent providing billable services to patients. Greater than 20% of each shift is spent providing equally important but not reimbursable patient care. Understanding how affiliates spend their time and what proportion of time is spent in billable activities can be used to plan the financial impact of staffing ICUs with affiliates.
Background: Beneficial effects of fish consumption on early cognitive development and cardiovascular health have been attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oils, but toxic chemicals in fish may adversely affect these health outcomes. Risk–benefit assessments of fish consumption have frequently focused on methylmercury and omega-3 fatty acids, not persistent pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, and none have evaluated Great Lakes fish consumption.
Objectives: The risks and benefits of fish consumption have been established primarily for marine fish. Here, we examine whether sufficient data are available to evaluate the risks and benefits of eating freshwater fish from the Great Lakes.
Methods: We used a scoping review to integrate information from multiple state, provincial, and federal agency sources regarding the contaminants and omega-3 fatty acids in Great Lakes fish and fish consumers, consumption rates and fish consumption advisories, and health effects of contaminants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Data synthesis: Great Lakes fish contain persistent contaminants—many of which have documented adverse health effects —that accumulate in humans consuming them. In contrast, data are sparse on omega-3 fatty acids in the fish and their consumers. Moreover, few studies have documented the social and cultural benefits of Great Lakes fish consumption, particularly for subsistence fishers and native communities. At this time, federal and state/provincial governments provide fish consumption advisories based solely on risk.
Conclusions: Our knowledge of Great Lakes fish has critical gaps, particularly regarding the benefits of consumption. A risk–benefit analysis requires more information than is currently available on the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in Great Lakes fish and their absorption by fish eaters in addition to more information on the social, cultural, and health consequences of changes in the amount of fish consumed.
dioxin; fish consumption; Great Lakes; methylmercury; omega-3 fatty acids; PCBs; risk assessment
Evidence is emerging that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POP) is a risk factor for atherosclerosis-related diseases and for diabetes mellitus (DM). We hypothesized that residential proximity to sources of POP will be associated with an increase in hospitalization rates for ischemic stroke (IS) with comorbid DM (IS-DM).
We examined IS-DM hospitalization rates in the New York State (exclusive of New York City) during a 12-year period. POP exposure status was assessed based on residency in a zip code containing or abutting environmental sources of POP. Adjusted relative risks (RR) of IS-DM hospitalization were estimated by multivariate Poisson regression.
A statistically significant 10% increase in IS-DM hospitalization rates was observed in populations environmentally exposed to POP (adjusted RR 1.10, 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.01–1.20; p = 0.031). IS-DM hospitalization rates were also higher in males (adjusted RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.30–1.39; p < 0.001), in blacks (adjusted RR 4.54, 95% CI 4.16–4.94; p < 0.001) and in older age groups (p for trend <0.001).
Residential proximity to sources of POP is associated with an increase in RR of IS-DM hospitalization. Our findings support the hypothesis of POP being a risk factor for IS. Further studies are warranted.
Ischemic stroke, epidemiology; Risk factors; Diabetes mellitus; Environmental factors
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) may be effective in treating depression. Parental verbal abuse has been linked to decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) of white matter and reduced FA correlated with depression and anxiety scores. Utilizing a nonhuman primate model of mood and anxiety disorders following disrupted mother-infant attachment, we examined whether adverse rearing conditions lead to white matter impairment of the ALIC.
We examined white matter integrity using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) on a 3T-MRI. Twenty-one adult male Bonnet macaques participated in this study: 12 were reared under adverse [variable foraging demand (VFD)] conditions whereas 9 were reared under normative conditions. We examined ALIC, posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and occipital white matter.
VFD rearing was associated with significant reductions in FA in the ALIC with no changes evident in the PLIC or occipital cortex white matter.
Adverse rearing in monkeys persistently impaired frontal white matter tract integrity, a novel substrate for understanding affective susceptibility.
Diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; white matter integrity; variable foraging demand
Fish is a valuable source of nutrition, and many people would benefit from eating fish regularly. But some people eat a lot of fish, every day or several meals per week, and thus can run a significant risk of overexposure to methylmercury. Current advice regarding methylmercury from fish consumption is targeted to protect the developing brain and nervous system but adverse health effects are increasingly associated with adult chronic low-level methylmercury exposure. Manifestations of methylmercury poisoning are variable and may be difficult to detect unless one considers this specific diagnosis and does an appropriate test (blood or hair analysis). We provide information to physicians to recognize and prevent overexposure to methylmercury from fish and seafood consumption. Physicians are urged to ask patients if they eat fish: how often, how much, and what kinds. People who eat fish frequently (once a week or more often) and pregnant women are advised to choose low mercury fish.
Background: Deficits in cognitive function have been demonstrated among workers chronically exposed to solvents, but the neural basis for these deficits has not been shown.
Objectives: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare pathophysiological changes in brain function between solvent-exposed and control workers.
Methods: Painters, drywall tapers, and carpenters were recruited from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 9 in New York City and District Council 21 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and from the Carpenters Union in New Jersey. Twenty-seven solvent-exposed and 27 control subjects of similar age, education, and occupational status completed the N-Back working memory test during fMRI. After controlling for confounders (age; lifetime marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol use; blood lead; symptoms of depression; verbal intelligence), voxelwise group analysis and regional activation levels were compared and then correlated with an index of lifetime solvent exposure.
Results: Solvent-exposed workers’ performance on the N-Back was significantly worse than that of controls. Activation of the anterior cingulate, prefrontal, and parietal cortices—areas serving working memory function and attention—was also significantly lower for solvent-exposed workers relative to controls. After controlling for confounders, we observed a negative correlation between lifetime solvent exposure and activation in these same regions among the solvent-exposed workers.
Conclusions: This study is one of the few to document neural structures affected by exposure to solvents. Our findings provide a biological mechanism for the neurobehavioral deficits in working memory and attention that have previously been reported by other groups studying the effects of chronic exposure to solvents. These imaging markers, which are consistent with the neurobehavioral measures in our subject population, are consistent with altered brain pathology caused by prolonged exposure to solvent mixtures during construction work.
brain function; fMRI; solvent exposure
The effects of low concentrations of aluminum chloride on thymocytes and lymphocytes acutely dissociated from young mice were studied using flow cytometry with a DNA-binding dye. We demonstrate a rapid and dose-dependent injury in murine thymocytes and lymphocytes resulting from exposure to aluminum, as indicated by an increase in the entry into the cell of the DNA-binding dye, propidium iodine. A 60-minute exposure to 10 μM AlCl3 caused damage of about 5% of thymocytes, while 50% were injured after 10 minutes at 20 μM. Nearly all thymocytes showed evidence of damage at 30 μM AlCl3 after only 5 minutes of incubation. In lymphocytes, injury was observed at 15 μM AlCl3 and less than 50% of cells were injured after a 60-minute exposure to 20 μM. Injury only rarely proceeded to rapid cell death and was associated with cell swelling. These results suggest that aluminum has cytotoxic effects on cells of the immune system.
Studies suggest that environmental exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may be an emerging risk factor for ischemic heart disease, including acute myocardial infarction (AMI). However, some studies indicate that exposure to POPs may also be a risk factor for hypertension, a well-established risk factor for AMI. To investigate effect of POPs on the environmental burden of cardiovascular disease, a study of AMI with comorbid hypertension in populations environmentally exposed to persistent organic pollutants, based on the zip code of residence, was conducted. Data on hospital discharges for AMI with comorbid hypertension were obtained from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System for 1993–2004. Patients residing in zip codes containing or abutting POPs contaminated sites were considered environmentally exposed. Relative risks (RR) — with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) — of hospitalization for AMI with comorbid hypertension were estimated by Poisson regression, adjusting for known confounders. Adjusted hospitalization rates for AMI with comorbid hypertension were 12.4% higher in populations residing in proximity to a POPs site (adjusted RR = 1.124, 95% CI 1.025–1.233, p < 0.05), compared to not in proximity to a POPs site. Also, hospitalization rates for AMI with comorbid hypertension were higher in males than in females (adjusted RR = 2.157, 95% CI 2.100–2.215, p < 0.05), in African Americans than in Caucasians (adjusted RR = 1.631, 95% CI 1.483–1.794, p < 0.05), and in older age groups (p for trend <0.05). These findings are consistent with the established effects of non-modifiable risk factors and serve as indirect quality indicators for our model. In conclusion, our results support the hypothesis that environmental exposure to POPs increases the burden of cardiovascular disease in exposed populations.
myocardial infarction; hypertension; hazardous waste; persistent organic pollutants
Residents of Anniston, Alabama, live near a Monsanto plant that manufactured polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from 1929 to 1971 and are relatively heavily exposed.
The goal of this study was to determine the relationship, if any, between blood pressure and levels of total serum PCBs, several PCB groups with common actions or structure, 35 individual PCB congeners, and nine chlorinated pesticides.
Linear regression analysis was used to determine the relationships between blood pressure and serum levels of the various contaminants after adjustment for age, body mass index, sex, race, smoking, and exercise in 394 Anniston residents who were not taking antihypertensive medication.
Other than age, total serum PCB concentration was the strongest determinant of blood pressure of the covariates studied. We found the strongest associations for those PCB congeners that had multiple ortho chlorines. We found the associations over the full range of blood pressure as well as in those subjects whose blood pressure was in the normal range. The chlorinated pesticides showed no consistent relationship to blood pressure.
In this cross-sectional study, serum concentrations of PCBs, especially those congeners with multiple ortho chlorines, were strongly associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Ah receptor; Anniston; Alabama; body mass index; hypertension; linear regression