General Environmental Health News

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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Chemical and electrical sensitivity sufferers need better health care

A Doctor at Work​Op-Ed

A Swedish study looking at use of conventional health care services by those affected by multiple chemical sensitivity and electrical sensitivity finds these patients are more comparable to the general population rather than patients with a diagnosed and treatable condition such as hypertension. But is this because the environmentally ill are less sick or because traditional health care has nothing to offer them?

The research conducted by scientists at Lund University, Sweden, was intended to ascertain the degree to which those with sensitivities to chemicals and electricity place a burden on traditional health care services. A secondary aim was to seek their opinions of such services.

Researchers sent out postal questionnaires to local residents to assess the prevalence of symptoms related to electrical and chemical factors. They received 13,604 completed responses. The questionnaire asked “Did you during the past 14 days experience annoyance that you associate with (1) fluorescent tube lighting (2) visual display units (3) other electrical equipment (4) breathing air that smells of chemicals (5) other smells and if so, how much annoyance did that cause you?” Possible responses were “No,” “Yes, some” or “Yes, very much”. The investigators then chose to focus on 315 individuals who reported annoyance from both any electrical factor and chemicals or smells, with at least one of the factors rated as "yes, very much" annoying.

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Nutrient deficiency and toxicity states as important in modern illness as genetics

Fruits and VegetablesNutritional deficiencies and states of toxicity within the body are being ignored by modern genetics-focused medicine despite irrefutable evidence of the prominent role they play in contemporary illnesses according to a prominent environmental medicine scientist.

In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Stephen J. Genuis of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, Canada, provides a timely reminder to the medical profession and individual physicians that throughout the history of medicine it has been proven time and again that the main causes of disease are nutritional deficiency, toxic exposures, genetic predisposition, infectious agents, and psychological dysfunction.

Genuis points out that the current medical paradigm largely ignores the role lack of vital nutrients and toxic exposures (and body toxicity states) play in modern ill-health while focusing an inordinate amount of resources on genetic predisposition and often presumed psychological dysfunction. The point that Genuis makes will be welcome news to the ears of those suffering from environmental and invisible illnesses including myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), Gulf War illness (GWI), and gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and food intolerances and sensitivities. 

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One Health: Hope for Environmental, Animal and Human Health

Wooden CowThe 'One Health' concept that integrates the state of the environment, and both animal and human health, is gaining momentum as international organisations put their weight behind it and scientists publish supporting papers.

In the 21st Century disease prevention must be a global endeavour according to the One Health model. Issues such as the international spread of infectious diseases like the H5N1 virus, as well as worldwide toxic contamination of the environment, mean that protection of human health is no longer a local issue and requires international cooperation.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the purpose of One Health is to "Seek to attain optimal health for people and animals by promoting global collaboration between human and veterinary medicine while engaging the principles of public health and ecosystem health." On their website dedicated to One Health the CDC goes on to explain that "Greater progress in prevention and control of infectious diseases requires a more directed effort focusing on the complex interplay between human health, the health of animals, and the environment."

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EPA considers toxicity testing of BPA amid growing health concerns

 

Cans of foodOn July 26 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened up for public debate the question of whether it should require new toxicity testing and environmental sampling of bisphenol A (BPA), found in many plastics and packaging in contact with food.

An increasing number of studies are pointing to the fact that BPA is toxic and has the potential to be detrimental to human health, as well as to wildlife and the wider ecosystem. The EPA's own BPA Action Plan website highlights its reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicity in animal studies and its action as a hormone disruptor.

Up to now, standardised toxicity tests th EPA used for regulatory decision-making had indicated levels of BPA in people and the environment fall below levels of potential concern. After reviewing the most recent studies on BPA toxicity, many using novel low-dose approaches and examining different biological effects, the EPA now acknowledges that some low-dose findings that correlate with the average person's typical exposure “are potentially of concern.”

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