General Environmental Health News

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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Health effects of environmental pollutants last generations

Pesticide Warning Sign​New research in rodents has demonstrated the alarming potential of a wide range of commonly encountered chemicals, from pesticides to vehicle fuels, to cause disease not just in the individual exposed to them but in future generations - whether they are also exposed to such toxic chemicals or not - as a result of epigenetic effects.

The study was conducted by scientists at Washington State University and the results published online in the journal PLoS ONE this week. The team, led by molecular biologist Michael Skinner, were able to show in rats that a whole host of environmental pollutants caused negative health effects in threee generations of an exposed animal's offspring.

This is the first study to look at generational health effects of exposures to chemicals from a wide range of different classes. The study was funded by the US Army who wish to understand the effects of chemicals to which troops are likely to be exposed on the battlefield - in an effort one would hope - to avoid a repeat of an epidemic of Gulf War illness (GWI) type health problems following future conflicts. As such Skinner and his team looked at the effects of dioxins, the pesticides DEET and permethrin, the plastic ingredients bisphenol A and phthalates, as well as jet fuel (which is not so dissimilar to the gas/petrol you fill your car with).

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