In southern China, the awareness of persistent organic pollutant contamination has been increasing as a considerable number of past studies in Hong Kong had reported their trail in the coastal sediments, green-lipped mussels, muscle and viscera of pond fish, and foodstuffs. Hence there is an urgent need to assess their existence, contamination profiles, and potential impact on the public. In the present study, a survey was conducted to examine p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE, beta-HCH, and PCB concentrations in human breast milk, one of the most reliable bioaccumulation indicators. Milk samples (115 from Hong Kong and 54 from Guangzhou), in the lactation period from 3-5 weeks were analyzed. The results demonstrated that the mean levels of p,p'-DDT (Hong Kong: 0.39; Guangzhou: 0.70 microg/g of fat), p,p'-DDE (2.48; 2.85), and beta-HCH (0.95; 1.11) were 2-15-fold higher when compared with studies conducted elsewhere ( i.e., United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and Canada), and in contrast the concentration of PCBs (0.035; 0.031) was about 10 times lower. When compared to a similar study conducted 10 years ago in Hong Kong ( p,p'-DDT 2.17 microg/g of fat, p,p'-DDE 11.67, beta-HCH 15.96, and PCB 0.64), a considerable reduction in the levels of their contaminations was observed. The drastic reduction in body burdens in 10 years' time is presumably the result of effective regulatory actions. It is worth noting that body burden correlated positively with maternal age (total DDT, r = 0.93; beta-HCH, r = 0.91; PCBs, r = 0.77) and with historical record of seafood consumption (total DDT, r = 0.89; beta-HCH, r = 0.98; PCBs, r = 0.91) (p
Aboriginal Cree infants living in northern Quebec who were 9 months of age were screened for anemia, iron deficiency and elevated blood lead concentrations. Of the 314 infants who were eligible to participate, 274 (87.3%) were screened for anemia, 186 had blood lead concentration measured and 141 of the latter group had iron status determined. The median blood lead concentration was 0.08 micromol/l (range 0.01-1.00 micromol/l). The 25, 50 and 75 percentiles for blood lead concentration were 0.05, 0.08 and 0.12 micromol/l, respectively. The prevalence of elevated blood lead concentrations (> 0.48 micromol/l) was 2.7% (95% Cl 0.36-5.0). Among infants who had blood lead measured, the prevalence of anemia (hemoglobin
As a consequence of the Chernobyl accident, about 50,000 people were evacuated from the settlements in the 30-km zone around the reactor in the period 3-11 d after the accident. As no countermeasures were implemented in the early phase, people continued to consume milk and some leafy vegetables. In this paper, average effective ingestion doses are modeled for evacuees. Input data for the assessment are the 137Cs activity per unit area, the ratios of the radionuclides relative to 137Cs, the mean day of evacuation, and intake rates for milk and green vegetables. The transfer of radionuclides from deposition to humans is estimated by modeling radionuclide interception by vegetation, weathering, and the time-dependent transfer of radionuclides to milk taking into account site-specific agricultural practices. Depending on the evacuation day and site, the estimated ingestion doses for the settlements are in the range of 20 to 1,300 mSv and 3 to 180 mSv for infants and adults, respectively. 131I is by far the most important isotope, the ingestion dose due to 133I is more than one order of magnitude lower. The most exposed organ is the thyroid, inducing more than 80% and 50% of the ingestion dose for infants and adults. The ingestion doses are compared to the doses due to inhalation and external exposure. The internal dose exceeds the external by a factor of about 2-10 for adults and 2-40 for 1-y-old infants depending on site and evacuation day. The thyroid doses assessed for the evacuees are consistent with results achieved in studies performed in areas outside the 30-km zone.
Early-life exposure to environmental microbial agents may be associated with development of wheezing and allergic diseases.
To assess the association of microbial exposure in rural homes with the risk of asthma, wheezing, atopic dermatitis and sensitization.
Birth cohorts of rural children (n = 1133), half from farmer families, were followed up from birth to 2 years of age by questionnaires in five European centres. Endotoxin and extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) of Penicillium and Aspergillus spp. were determined from living room floor and mother's mattress dust samples collected at 2 months of age. Specific IgE against 19 allergens was measured at 1 year of age. Discrete-time hazard models, generalized estimations equations (GEE) and logistic regression were used for statistical analyses.
The incidence of asthma was inversely associated with the amount of dust (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.73, 95% CI 0.58-0.93) and the loads (units/m(2)) of EPS (aOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.55-1.04) and endotoxin (aOR 0.79, 95% CI 0.60-1.05) in the mother's mattress. Similar associations were seen with wheezing and with living room floor dust. The microbial markers were highly correlated and their effects could not be clearly separated. The inverse associations were seen especially among non-farmers. The risk of sensitization to inhalant allergens increased with increasing endotoxin exposure from mattress dust. No associations were observed with concentrations (units/g) or with atopic dermatitis.
The amount and microbial content of house dust were inversely associated with asthma and wheezing, but due to high correlations between microbial agents and amount of dust, it was not possible to disentangle their individual effects. New ways to better measure and represent exposure to environmental microbes, including indexes of biodiversity, are needed especially among farmers.
The content of essential and toxic elements, except beryllium and mercury, in the hair of examined children (girls aged 7-9 years) is within the biologically acceptable levels set by WHO. The data on the content of essential trace elements suggest that urgent measures aimed at normalization of the elemental status of children are required.
No previous reports exist on polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners in human milk from individual U.S. mothers. This article on PBDEs is an extension of our previous studies on concentrations of dioxins, dibenzofurans, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other chlorinated organic compounds in human milk in a number of countries. PBDE commercial products are used as flame retardants in flexible polyurethane foam (penta-BDE), in acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins (octa-BDE), and in high-impact polystyrene resins (deca-BDE). Their use is permitted in the United States but is banned in some European countries because of presumed toxicity, demonstrated persistence, and bioaccumulation. Different commercial products can be found in various consumer products such as television sets, computers, computer monitors and printers, carpets, and upholstery. Analyses of human levels of these compounds suggest low but rising levels in European human milk, which may have peaked, at least in Sweden, in the late 1990s. Very few data exist on levels of PBDEs in humans in the United States, and none from milk from individual nursing mothers. To address this issue, we analyzed 47 individual milk samples from nursing mothers, 20-41 years of age, from a milk bank in Austin, Texas, and a community women's health clinic in Dallas, Texas. Up to 13 PBDE congeners were measured. The concentrations of the sum of PBDE congeners varied from 6.2 to 419 ng/g (or parts per billion) lipid, with a median of 34 ng/g and a mean of 73.9 ng/g lipid. The PBDE levels in breast milk from Texas were similar to levels found in U.S. blood and adipose tissue lipid from California and Indiana and are 10-100 times greater than human tissue levels in Europe. Their detection in breast milk raises concern for potential toxicity to nursing infants, given the persistence and bioaccumulative nature of some of the PBDE congeners. These results indicate a need for more detailed investigation of the levels of PBDE in people and food, as well as determining if animal fat in food is the major route of exposure of the general U.S. population. Other routes of intake may also be significant.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used as flame retardants in consumer goods, such as plastics, electronics, textiles, and construction material. PBDEs have been found in human milk, fat, and blood samples. Rodent studies indicate that PBDEs may be detrimental to neurodevelopment, possibly by lowering thyroid hormone concentrations in blood. In the present study, we determined concentrations of PBDEs and thyroid hormones in human fetal and maternal serum. Patients presenting in labor to Indiana University and Wishard Memorial County hospitals in Indianapolis, who were older than 18 years, were recruited to participate. Twelve paired samples of maternal and cord blood were obtained and analyzed using gas chromatographic mass spectrometry; thyroid hormone concentrations were determined by radioimmunoassay. Six congeners of PBDE were measured in maternal and fetal serum samples. The concentrations of total PBDEs found in maternal sera ranged from 15 to 580 ng/g lipid, and the concentrations found in fetal samples ranged from 14 to 460 ng/g lipid. Individual fetal blood concentrations did not differ from the corresponding maternal concentrations, indicating that measurement of maternal PBDE blood levels is useful in predicting fetal exposure; similarly, other reports have shown a high correlation between PBDE in mother's milk and fetal exposure. In accord with reports on other biologic samples, the tetrabrominated PBDE congener BDE-47 accounted for 53-64% of total PBDEs in the serum. The concentrations of PBDEs found in maternal and fetal serum samples were 20-106-fold higher than the levels reported previously in a similar population of Swedish mothers and infants. In this small sample, there was no apparent correlation between serum PBDEs and thyroid hormone concentrations. Our study shows that human fetuses in the United States may be exposed to relatively high levels of PBDEs. Further investigation is required to determine if these levels are specific to central Indiana and to assess the toxic potential of these exposure levels.
Comment In: Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jul;111(9):A48012877153
High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in polar bears from Svalbard have increased concern for that population's reproductive health. We examined whether there were associations between the plasma concentrations of PCBs and reproductive hormones [progesterone (P4)] and 17 beta-estradiol (E2)] in free-living female polar bears from Svalbard. Concentrations of P4 depended on reproductive status, and concentrations were lowest in females with offspring--females with cubs and females with yearlings. In these females, the P4 concentrations were positively correlated with plasma sigma PCBs (sum of all analyzed polychlorinated biphenyl congeners) concentrations. The sigma PCBs concentrations explained 27% of the variation in the P4 concentrations. There were no correlations between sigma PCBs and E2 and cortisol in any of the groups of polar bears, or between sigma PCBs and P4 in single polar bears. Although the sigma PCBs-P4 relationship in female polar bears with offspring is not evidence per se of a direct cause-effect association, the results indicate that PCBs may affect levels of P4 in polar bear females. There is a clear need to further assess the hormone balance and population health of polar bears at Svalbard.
Asthma is characterized by increased airway narrowing in response to nonspecific stimuli. The disorder is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Exosomes are nanosized vesicles of endosomal origin released from inflammatory and epithelial cells that have been implicated in asthma. In this study we characterized the microRNA (miRNA) content of exosomes in healthy control subjects and patients with mild intermittent asthma both at unprovoked baseline and in response to environmental challenge.
To investigate alterations in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) exosomal miRNA profiles due to asthma, and following subway air exposure.
Exosomes were isolated from BALF from healthy control subjects (n = 10) and patients with mild intermittent asthma (n = 10) after subway and control exposures. Exosomal RNA was analyzed by using microarrays containing probes for 894 human miRNAs, and selected findings were validated with quantitative RT-PCR. Results were analyzed by using multivariate modeling.
The presence of miRNAs was confirmed in exosomes from BALF of both asthmatic patients and healthy control subjects. Significant differences in BALF exosomal miRNA was detected for 24 miRNAs with a subset of 16 miRNAs, including members of the let-7 and miRNA-200 families, providing robust classification of patients with mild nonsymptomatic asthma from healthy subjects with 72% cross-validated predictive power (Q(2) = 0.72). In contrast, subway exposure did not cause any significant alterations in miRNA profiles.
These studies demonstrate substantial differences in exosomal miRNA profiles between healthy subjects and patients with unprovoked, mild, stable asthma. These changes might be important in the inflammatory response leading to bronchial hyperresponsiveness and asthma.
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Prenatal and early childhood exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are associated with deficits in cognitive, sensory, motor and other functions measured by neurobehavioral tests. The main objective of this pilot study was to determine whether functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is effective for visualization of brain function alterations related to neurobehavior in subjects with high prenatal exposure to the two neurotoxicants, MeHg and PCBs. Twelve adolescents (all boys) from a Faroese birth cohort assembled in 1986-1987 were recruited based on their prenatal exposures to MeHg and PCB. All underwent fMRI scanning during behavioral tasks at age 15 years. Subjects with high mixed exposure to MeHg and PCBs were compared to those with low mixed exposure on fMRI photic stimulation and a motor task. Boys with low mixed exposures showed patterns of fMRI activation during visual and motor tasks that are typical of normal control subjects. However, those with high exposures showed activation in more areas of the brain and different and wider patterns of activation than the low mixed exposure group. The brain activation patterns observed in association with increased exposures to MeHg and PCBs are meaningful in regard to the known neurotoxicity of these substances. This methodology therefore has potential utility in visualizing structural neural system determinants of exposure-induced neurobehavioral dysfunction.
Pesticide exposure has been associated with various childhood cancers. However, most studies rely on questionnaires, with few using biologic measures of dose. This study was designed to measure herbicide exposure directly in children of farm applicators, and to compare these results with exposure imputed from questionnaire information.
Two consecutive 24-hour urine samples were collected from 92 children of Ontario farm applicators who used the herbicides 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) or MCPA (4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid) for the first time during 1996. The farm applicator completed questionnaires describing his pesticide-handling practices as well as the child's location during the various stages of handling these pesticides.
Approximately 30% of the children on farms using these herbicides had detectable concentrations in their urine, with maximum values of 100 microg/L for 2,4-D and 45 microg/L for MCPA. Children with higher levels were more likely to be boys and to have parents who also had higher mean urinary concentrations. The sensitivity and specificity of a simple indicator of use were 47% and 72%, respectively, for 2,4-D, and 91% and 30%, respectively, for MCPA, using the biomonitoring data as the gold standard.
Information on living on a farm, or on living on a farm where a specific pesticide is used, is not enough to classify children's exposures. Given this potential for misclassification, we urge incorporation of biomonitoring studies in subsets of children at least to estimate the extent of misclassification.
This study focuses on the variability in chemical exposures for individuals working in office buildings. The study involved eight office buildings with 79 participants, and exposures were measured using personal samplers for volatile organic compounds, aldehydes, amines, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particles. Ventilation was assessed in each individual office. "Variability among buildings" and "variability among individuals" were evaluated for any component (of the 123) measured in samples from at least 20 persons, using variance component analysis and principal component analysis. Interpersonal differences explained the major part of the variance for 78% of the compounds versus between-buildings differences for 14% of the compounds. For 8% of compounds, the variation was explained in equal amounts by the differences among individuals and among buildings. This study illustrates the necessity for individualised measurements (versus stationary measurements in building) to estimate personal exposures. These results also support the conclusion that in case-referent studies of "sick building syndrome" (SBS), referents to SBS cases can be randomised for building location.
A Swedish cohort analysis in this issue (1) demonstrates a significant reduction in all cause mortality and in cardiovascular mortality associated with several measures of sun exposure. In addition, ultraviolet exposure from tanning beds is associated with a significant increase in all cause mortality and cancer mortality. A potential explanation for the protective association is that UV exposure results in high levels of serum vitamin D which may improve survival. However, that explanation does not hold for ultraviolet exposure from tanning beds, which in this study is associated with a significant increase in all cause mortality and cancer mortality. Such a finding is curious and inconsistent with a vitamin D hypothesis. These results should impel investigators to study further the biology of ultraviolet radiation, both natural and artificial, and its health effects.
RefSource: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Apr;20(4):683-90
Adverse health effects of exposure to high levels of air pollutants from biodegradable wastes have been well-studied. However, few investigations have examined the potential effects of chronic exposure to low-to-moderate levels on non-specific health symptoms among residents. Besides, most studies have relied on distances to waste sites to assign exposure status, and have not investigated whether the exposure-symptoms associations are direct or mediated by odor annoyance. In this study, individual-level exposures to a proxy indicator of biodegradable waste pollution (ammonia, NH3) in non-urban residences (n=454) during 2005-2010 were characterized by data from emission-dispersion validated models. Logistic regression and mediating analyses were used to examine associations between exposures and questionnaire-based data on annoyance and non-specific symptoms, after adjusting by person-specific covariates. Strong dose-response associations were found between exposures and annoyance, and between annoyance and symptoms. Associations between exposures and symptoms (nausea, headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating and unnatural fatigue) were indirect (annoyance-mediated). This study indicates that environmental exposures play an important role in the genesis of non-specific symptoms among residents exposed to low-to-moderate air pollution from biodegradable wastes, although the effects seem to be indirect, relayed through stress-related mechanisms.
Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) have been extensively used in consumer products and humans are widely exposed to these persistent compounds. A recent study found no association between exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and miscarriage, but no studies have examined adverse effect of the more recently introduced PFASs. We therefore conducted a case-control study within a population-based, prospective cohort during 2010-2012. Newly pregnant women residing in the Municipality of Odense, Denmark were invited to enroll in the Odense Child Cohort at their first antenatal visit before pregnancy week 12. Among a total of 2,874 participating women, 88 suffered a miscarriage and 59 had stored serum samples, of which 56 occurred before gestational week 12. They were compared to a random sample (N=336) of delivering women, who had also donated serum samples before week 12. Using a case-control design, 51 of the women suffering a miscarriage were matched on parity and gestational day of serum sampling with 204 delivering women. In a multiple logistic regression with adjustment for age, BMI, parity and gestational age at serum sampling, women with the highest tertile of exposure to perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) in pregnancy had odds ratios for miscarriage of 16.5 (95% CI 7.4-36.6-36.5) and 2.67 (1.31-5.44), respectively, as compared to the lowest tertile. In the matched data set, the OR were 37.9 (9.9-145.2) and 3.71 (1.60-8.60), respectively. The association with perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) was in the same direction, but not statistically significant, while no association was found with PFOA and PFOS. Our findings require confirmation due to the possible public health importance, given that all pregnant women are exposed to these widely used compounds.
Growing evidence suggests that air pollution may be a risk factor for breast cancer, but the biological mechanism remains unknown. High mammographic density (MD) is one of the strongest predictors and biomarkers of breast cancer risk, but it has yet to be linked to air pollution. We investigated the association between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and MD in a prospective cohort of women 50 years and older.
For the 4,769 women (3,930 postmenopausal) participants in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort (1993-1997) who attended mammographic screening in Copenhagen (1993-2001), we used MD assessed at the first screening after cohort entry. MD was defined as mixed/dense or fatty. Traffic-related air pollution at residence was assessed by modeled levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The association between mean NOx and NO2 levels since 1971 until cohort baseline (1993-97) and MD was analyzed using logistic regression, adjusting for confounders, and separately by menopause, smoking status, and obesity.
We found inverse, statistically borderline significant associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and having mixed/dense MD in our fully adjusted model (OR; 95% CI: 0.96; 0.93-1.01 per 20 µg/m(3) of NOx and 0.89; 0.80- 0.98 per 10 µg/m(3) of NO2). There was no interaction with menopause, smoking, or obesity.
Traffic-related air pollution exposure does not increase MD, indicating that if air pollution increases breast cancer risk, it is not via MD.
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OBJECTIVES: The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) aims to provide new insights in a broad variety of diseases. The goal of the study is to understand pathways in disease development, and identify preventive measures. Several designs are suitable for studying genetics in complex diseases like asthma and allergy, in MoBa. METHODS: MoBa is a prospective population based cohort of 100 000 pregnancies, following offspring into adulthood. Enrollment started in 1999, and will be completed in 2008. A biobank with samples from the mother, father and child, together with detailed questionnaires from early pregnancy and childhood constitute the basis of the study. When studying complex diseases like asthma, a design with case-parent triads is useful. Parental effects and interactions between maternal and fetal genes can be detected. Stratifying triads by environmental exposure enables assessment of gene-environment interactions. RESULTS: By July 2006, more than 73,000 pregnancies have been included, with nearly 7,000 siblings and 1,300 pairs of twins enrolled. Biological samples are processed and stored at the biobank. The first children are reaching age seven in 2006. CONCLUSION: The MoBa cohort provides an excellent basis for studying genetic, epigenetic and environmental influences on complex diseases.
BACKGROUND: Blood lead concentrations (B-Pb) were measured in 3 879 Swedish school children during the period 1978-2007. The objective was to study the effect of the proximity to lead sources based on the children's home and school location. METHODS: The children's home address and school location were geocoded and their proximity to a lead smelter and major roads was calculated using geographical information system (GIS) software. All the statistical analyses were carried out using means of generalized log-linear modelling, with natural-logarithm-transformed B-Pb, adjusted for sex, school year, lead-exposing hobby, country of birth and, in the periods 1988-1994 and 1995-2007, parents' smoking habits. RESULTS: The GIS analysis revealed that although the emission from the smelter and children's B-Pb levels had decreased considerably since 1978, proximity to the lead smelter continued to affect levels of B-Pb, even in recent years (geometric mean: near smelter: 22.90 microg/l; far from smelter 19.75 microg/l; p = 0.001). The analysis also revealed that proximity to major roads noticeably affected the children's B-Pb levels during the period 1978-1987 (geometric mean near major roads: 44.26 microg/l; far from roads: 38.32 microg/l; p = 0.056), due to the considerable amount of lead in petrol. This effect was, however, not visible after 1987 due to prohibition of lead in petrol. CONCLUSION: The results show that proximity to the lead smelter still has an impact on the children's B-Pb levels. This is alarming since it could imply that living or working in the vicinity of a former lead source could pose a threat years after reduction of the emission. The analysis also revealed that urban children exposed to lead from traffic were only affected during the early period, when there were considerable amounts of lead in petrol, and that the prohibition of lead in petrol in later years led to reduced levels of lead in the blood of urban children.
Many environmental factors, both indoors and outdoors, can cause or worsen respiratory disease. Although in many cases individuals have little influence over environmental exposures (e.g., weather conditions), there are many (such as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and outdoor air pollution) where interventions can improve health. While for environmental exposures such as air pollution, remediation largely devolves to the government, for exposures such as ETS advice to individuals in these settings will confer benefit. Climate change has begun to feature more and more in the context of health but how this may affect pulmonary disease remains debatable. It is possible that heat associated changes in allergen exposures may be more than counterbalanced by potential reductions in cold related exacerbations of diseases such as COPD. An improved assessment of environmental exposures is key in how we approach the effects of the environment on lung disease which would allow better understanding of gene-environment interactions and how remediation might influence population health for the better.