General Environmental Health News

New Asbestos Evaluation Reintroduces Old Issues

Asbestos shown in building materialsThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is re-assessing the risks of asbestos use to public health. The EPA needs to do so because a previous phase out ban issued nearly 30 years ago, in 1989, was remanded and overturned by the courts only two years later - citing a lack of alternative options.

For years, asbestos had a long and storied affair with the building and manufacturing industries. The inexpensive but durable and resistant mineral was used in thousands of products in a variety of applications, including shipbuilding, new building construction and even automobiles. Wherever there was a product that would come into contact with heat and friction, you could almost always count on asbestos-containing materials to be there too.

But then we realized that all those years of use and exposure to asbestos fibers came at a steep price. The symptoms were all there; shortness of breath, weight loss, coughing, fatigue and general aches and pains, all of which can be tied to a plethora of other illnesses. Mesothelioma does a great job of throwing medical professionals off its trail because the symptoms often look like the flu or another respiratory problem. However, by the time the disease is actually diagnosed, most patients are given an incredibly bleak prognosis of 12-21 months. Even worse is the fact that, in many cases, mesothelioma patients were accidentally exposed to the mineral 20, 30 or even 50 years ago.

Subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy: should it be treated?

Subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy: should it be treated?

When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body. One of those changes is in the levels of various hormones produced by the body, including those produced by the thyroid.

In the case of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), pregnant women typically produce a lower level than normal (0.4-4.0 milli-international units per liter). Some international guidelines recommend levels be no higher than 2.5-3. milli-international units per liter during pregnancy. When their TSH levels rise above this, they may experience subclinical hypothyroidism, or mildly underactive thyroid, which can cause a number of health problems if left untreated.

UK government report recommends vitamin D supplements for all during autumn and winter

Vitamin D Oil Capsules

A report commissioned by the government of the United Kingdom has provided timely advice regarding vitamin D intake as the nights slowly begin to drawn in and autumn and winter approach.

The report concludes that every citizen of the UK over the age of 12 months should be consuming 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D during the darker months as production due to the action of sunlight on the skin is unlikely to provide sufficient amounts of this vital nutrient.

Public health officials suggest people consume foods relatively rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals but warn even this may not be enough to avoid deficiency and health consequences that include brittle bones and rickets in children.

It has been estimatated that one in five adults and one in six children in England may have low levels.

Now, an extensive review of the evidence, carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), suggests everyone over the age of one needs to consume additional vitamin D from diet and/or nutritional supplements each day in order to protect bone and muscle health.

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E-Cigarettes may increase cancer risk according to recent study

Man smoking an e-cigaretteE-cigarettes may contain up to 10 times as many cancer-causing toxic chemicals as traditional tobacco cigarettes according to Japanese researchers. A shocking finding given the devices are marketed as harmless smoking cessation aids.

The study, commissioned by Japan's health ministry found potent carcinogens including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the vapour inhaled by users of some types of e-cigarettes.

The electronic devices work by heating flavoured liquid which users purchase as refills. The liquid often contains nicotine and when heated turns into a vapour that is inhaled, much like traditional cigarettes but without the smoke from the burning of tobacco.

Speaking to French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), a spokesman for the health ministry said formaldehyde was present at much higher levels than carcinogens found in the smoke from regular cigarettes. Scientist Naoki Kunugita added that "In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette,"

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Aerotoxic syndrome may become less common as Boeing 787 Dreamliner enters service

Boeing 787 Dreamliner​Aerotoxic syndrome has been a growing health problem as more and more people are flying. The new Boeing 787, or Dreamliner, now entering service may represent a major step in the right direction as the first commercial airliner not to vent air from the engines into the cabin.

Pilots, flight attendants and passengers have all been experiencing neurological symptoms attributed to toxic cabin air. Most worrying, in some instances flight crew have blacked-out or otherwise become incapacitated.  Many have developed chronic illnesses which are now widely referred to as aerotoxic syndrome.

The source of the problem lies with the way air is introduced into the cabins of all jet airliners currently transporting millions of people around the world daily. Airliners currently in service use a system which involves bleed air -   air which passes through the aircrafts' jet engines before being "bled off" and recirculated around the cabin via the air conditioning system.

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