Acid precipitation affects the solubility of several metals in aquatic systems and in soil. Cadmium levels in tap water samples from geological areas having low resistance to acidic pollution were significantly higher than those in samples from a neighbouring reference area where there was a different geological structure. The median cadmium levels and pH values were 0.14 microgram l-1 and 5.6 respectively, for the acidic areas compared with 0.07 microgram l-1 and 6.4 respectively for the reference area. Further, there was a significant inverse relationship between both cadmium and lead contents and the pH values of the samples. The mobility of the metals was thus dependent on the acidity. The blood lead levels in 195 subjects from the acidic areas were lower than those in 91 subjects from the reference area (medians 60 vs. 70 micrograms l-1); no significant differences were found in blood cadmium or blood mercury levels. Subjects in the acidic areas had lower plasma selenium levels than those from the reference area (medians 85 vs. 90 micrograms l-1); the difference was mainly attributed to subjects with private wells. The data may indicate a negative effect of the acidic pollution on selenium intake via water and/or foods. There was also a positive relationship between intake of fish on the one hand and blood mercury and plasma selenium on the other, which is in accordance with the role of fish as a source of these metals.
This report describes the design and conduct of two sequential historical prospective morbidity surveys of workers and residents from the Upper Ottawa Street Landfill Site in Hamilton, Ontario. The workers study was carried out first and was a hypothesis-generating study. Workers and controls were administered a health questionnaire, which was followed by an assessment of recall bias through medical chart abstraction. Multiple criteria were used to identify health problems associated with landfill site exposure. Those problems with highest credibility included clusters of respiratory, skin, narcotic, and mood disorders. These formed the hypothesis base in the subsequent health study of residents living adjacent to the landfill site. In that study, the association between mood, narcotic, skin, and respiratory conditions with landfill site exposure was confirmed using the following criteria: strength of association; consistency with the workers study; risk gradient by duration of residence and proximity to the landfill; absence of evidence that less healthy people moved to the area; specificity; and the absence of recall bias. The validity of these associations were reduced by three principal problems: the high refusal rate among the control population; socioeconomic status differences between the study groups; and the fact that the conditions found in excess were imprecisely defined and potentially interchangeable with other conditions. Offsetting these problems were the multiple criteria used to assess each hypothesis, which were applied according to present rules. Evidence is presented that supports the hypothesis that vapors, fumes, or particulate matter emanating from the landfill site, as well as direct skin exposure, may have lead to the health problems found in excess. Evidence is also presented supporting the hypothesis that perception of exposure and, therefore, of risk, may explain the results of the study. However, based on the analyses performed, it is the conclusion of the authors that the adverse effects seen were more likely the result of chemical exposure than of perception of risk.
Cites: J Health Soc Behav. 1978 Sep;19(3):254-62701774
Samples of vertebral bone were obtained by skeletal biopsy and lead concentrations were determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The median level of lead in bone in 27 active lead workers was 29 micrograms/g wet weight (range 2-155), corresponding to 370 micrograms/g calcium (range 30-1,120). In 9 retired workers, the corresponding levels were 19 micrograms/g (5-76) and 250 micrograms/g calcium (60-700); in 14 reference subjects without occupational exposure, 1.3 micrograms/g (1-4) and 13 micrograms/g calcium (8-40). The bone lead content rose with time of exposure. Comparison of levels in vertebra with those in fingerbone, as measured by in vivo x-ray fluorescence in the same subjects, strongly suggested the presence of lead pools with different kinetics. The accumulation pattern, as well as the relation between levels in vertebra and fingerbone, suggests a much shorter half-time of lead in the mainly trabecular vertebral bone as compared to the mainly cortical fingerbone. Further, there was an association between vertebral and blood lead levels in the retired workers, which shows a considerable endogenous lead exposure from the skeletal pool.
Recently published evidence indicates that involuntary smoking causes an increased risk of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Information was compiled on the proportion of people who had never smoked among victims of lung cancer, the risk of lung cancer for nonsmokers married to smokers and the prevalence of such exposure. On the basis of these data we estimate that 50 to 60 of the deaths from lung cancer in Canada in 1985 among people who had never smoked were caused by spousal smoking; about 90% occurred in women. The total number of deaths from lung cancer attributable to exposure to tobacco smoke from spouses and other sources (mainly the workplace) was derived by applying estimated age- and sex-specific rates of death from lung cancer attributable to such exposure to the population of Canadians who have never smoked; about 330 deaths from lung cancer annually are attributable to such exposure.
Endocrine disrupting industrial chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are suspected to adversely affect male reproductive functions.
The Faroe Islands community exhibits an unusually wide range of exposures to dietary contaminants, and in this setting we examined the possible association between PCB exposure and semen quality and reproductive hormones in fertile Faroese men.
Participants in this cross-sectional study include 266 proven fertile men residing in the Faroe Islands. PCB levels and hormone profiles were measured in serum samples taken at the clinical examination that included semen quality parameters.
A significant positive association was seen between serum-PCB and the testosterone/estradiol ratio (p=0.04). In the unadjusted analyses, elevated PCB exposure was associated with increased serum concentrations of SHBG (p=0.01) and FSH (p=0.05). We found no association between the serum PCB concentration and the semen quality variables.
In this population of highly exposed fertile men, the current serum-PCB concentration was associated with higher androgen/estrogen ratio. Further studies are needed to establish the findings and further document PCB-associated hormonal effects, any time windows of increased susceptibility, and the role of PCB in sub-fecundity.
Risk assessments of contaminated land often involve the use of generic bioconcentration factors (BCFs), which express contaminant concentrations in edible plant parts as a function of the concentration in soil, in order to assess the risks associated with consumption of homegrown vegetables. This study aimed to quantify variability in BCFs and evaluate the implications of this variability for human exposure assessments, focusing on cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) in lettuce and potatoes sampled around 22 contaminated glassworks sites. In addition, risks associated with measured Cd and Pb concentrations in soil and vegetable samples were characterized and a probabilistic exposure assessment was conducted to estimate the likelihood of local residents exceeding tolerable daily intakes. The results show that concentrations in vegetables were only moderately elevated despite high concentrations in soil, and most samples complied with applicable foodstuff legislation. Still, the daily intake of Cd (but not Pb) was assessed to exceed toxicological thresholds for about a fifth of the study population. Bioconcentration factors were found to vary more than indicated by previous studies, but decreasing BCFs with increasing metal concentrations in the soil can explain why the calculated exposure is only moderately affected by the choice of BCF value when generic soil guideline values are exceeded and the risk may be unacceptable.
Early-life exposure to environmental microbial agents may be associated with the development of allergies. The aim of the study was to identify better ways to characterize microbial exposure as a predictor of respiratory symptoms and allergies.
A birth cohort of 410 children was followed up until 6 years of age. Bacterial endotoxin, 3-hydroxy fatty acids, N-acetyl-muramic acid, fungal extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) from Penicillium and Aspergillus spp., ß-D-glucan, ergosterol, and bacterial or fungal quantitative polymerase chain reactions (qPCRs) were analyzed from dust samples collected at 2 months of age. Asthma, wheezing, cough, and atopic dermatitis were assessed using repeated questionnaires. Specific IgEs were determined at the age of 1 and 6 years.
Only few associations were found between single microbial markers and the studied outcomes. In contrast, a score for the total quantity of microbial exposure, that is, sum of indicators for fungi (ergosterol), Gram-positive (muramic acid) bacteria, and Gram-negative (endotoxin) bacteria, was significantly (inverted-U shape) associated with asthma incidence (P
A critical survey of all published measurements made so far aimed at retrospective biological dosimetry using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) techniques on some workers at the Mayak reprocessing plant and on members of the Techa River cohort is given. Each individual has a recorded dose derived from personal monitoring measurements, usually external gamma-rays for Mayak workers or from reconstruction techniques, usually internally derived for the Techa River cohort. From the person's age, which affects the control level, and the stated dose, an expected number of translocations is calculated for each individual and comparisons made to the observed numbers of translocations. From this, an assessment of how well FISH studies can help to validate existing estimates of dose is made. This varies from study to study. Good agreement is generally obtained for the Techa River cohort and lower doses of the Mayak cohort. Rather poorer agreement applies to the more highly exposed Mayak workers. Some of the discrepancy could be because the FISH painting technique was new and was applied to populations before a proper investigation on how to use it for retrospective biological dosimetry had taken place. In addition, too few cells were generally scored per individual so that statistical uncertainties were large.
There is currently no "gold standard" for measuring lifetime sun exposure. Exploration of alternatives to self-reports is important for examining illnesses related to ultraviolet light exposure. Using skin replicas obtained from 184 controls in a breast cancer case-control study (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2004-2005), the authors compared self-reported indicators of lifetime sun exposure with two measures of cutaneous microtopography, the Beagley-Gibson system and skin line counts. With the Beagley-Gibson system, significantly increased odds ratios were found for age (odds ratio (OR) = 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05, 1.16), spending 7 days outside per week during the summer (OR = 3.33, 95% CI: 1.48, 7.50), and lifetime number of sunlamp sessions. Significantly decreased odds ratios were found for having darker skin, ever giving birth, and ever using sunlamps. With the skin line count approach, significant positive associations were found for age (OR = 2.31, 95% CI: 1.23, 4.35), age squared, duration of working in outdoor jobs (OR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.79, 0.98), and average number of outdoor activities per week at ages 20-29 years (OR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.10). While the Beagley-Gibson method was associated with more variables than the skin line count method, both methods require further refinement before graded skin replicas can be recommended as a substitute for self-report measures.
The relationship between knowledge, attitude and sun-related behaviour among Swedish students was examined in the present study. A total of 296 of 305 questionnaires, distributed among university students (medical school and economy programme) were analysed (157 men, 139 women, mean age 24 years). The percentage of students sunbathing with the intention of getting a tan was 75%. Thirteen per cent reported having experienced at least one painful sunburn every year and 93% stated at least one burn during the last ten years. The majority of the students had used a sun bed, 12% more than ten times during the last year. Subjects with high frequency of sun bed use also scored high on sunbathing and sunburns. Significantly more women (70%) than men (51%) used sunscreen. The overall knowledge of melanoma was high. No difference in knowledge was found between the high- and low-exposure group. Medical students scored higher on knowledge than economy students, but did not differ in exposure score. Our findings reveal an excessive sun exposure among university students. A high level of knowledge of risk does not lead to a sun-protective behaviour. Future preventative campaigns targeting young people must focus on strategies to change attitudes towards tanning as being healthy and attractive.
This report provides a review of the cadmium exposure situation in Sweden and updates the information on health risk assessment according to recent studies on the health effects of cadmium. The report focuses on the health effects of low cadmium doses and the identification of high-risk groups. The diet is the main source of cadmium exposure in the Swedish nonsmoking general population. The average daily dietary intake is about 15 micrograms/day, but there are great individual variations due to differences in energy intake and dietary habits. It has been shown that a high fiber diet and a diet rich in shellfish increase the dietary cadmium intake substantially. Cadmium concentrations in agricultural soil and wheat have increased continuously during the last century. At present, soil cadmium concentrations increase by about 0.2% per year. Cadmium accumulates in the kidneys. Human kidney concentrations of cadmium have increased several fold during the last century. Cadmium in pig kidney has been shown to have increased by about 2% per year from 1984-1992. There is no tendency towards decreasing cadmium exposure among the general nonsmoking population. The absorption of cadmium in the lungs is 10-50%, while the absorption in the gastrointestinal tract is only a few percent. Smokers have about 4-5 times higher blood cadmium concentrations (about 1.5 micrograms/l), and twice as high kidney cortex cadmium concentrations (about 20-30 micrograms/g wet weight) as nonsmokers. Similarly, the blood cadmium concentrations are substantially elevated in persons with low body iron stores, indicating increased gastrointestinal absorption. About 10-40% of Swedish women of child-bearing age are reported to have empty iron stores (S-ferritin
Erratum In: Scand J Work Environ Health 1998 Jun;24(3):240
BACKGROUND: Our objective was to identify the allergens associated with asthma among schoolchildren in an area of the United States where dust mite growth is expected to be poor. Los Alamos, N.M., was chosen because it has low rainfall and is at high altitude (7200 feet) making it very dry. One hundred eleven children (12 to 14 years old) from the middle school who had been previously classified according to bronchial hyperreactivity to histamine (BHR) were studied. METHODS: Sera were assayed for IgE antibodies to mite, cat, dog, cockroach, Russian thistle, and grass pollen, with both CAP system fluoroimmunoassay (Kabi Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden) and conventional RAST. Allergens were measured in dust samples from 108 homes with two-site assays for mite (Der p 1 and Der f 1), cat (Fel d 1), dog (Can f 1), and cockroach (Bla g 2). RESULTS: Concentrations of dog and cat allergens were elevated in almost all houses with pets but were also high in a significant proportion of the houses without pets. Levels of mite allergen were less than 2 micrograms/gm in 95% of the houses, and cockroach was undetectable in all but two of the houses. Among the 21 with BHR who had symptoms, 67% had IgE antibody to dog and 62% had IgE antibody to cat. For these allergens IgE antibody was strongly associated with asthma (p
Although health statistics in Ukraine are difficult to obtain, there does appear to be an increase in the occurrence of asthma. Overall reporting of asthma is less frequent than in Western Europe, perhaps due to insufficient diagnostic capabilities at the present time. Asthma therapy in the Ukraine tends toward the use of theophylline and beta 2-agonists, rather than inhaled corticosteroids. Asthma morbidity differs in various regions of Ukraine, perhaps as a consequence of increased environmental exposure in some areas.
Objectives were to assess and estimate an association between exposure to ground-level ozone and emergency department (ED) visits for cellulitis. All ED visits for cellulitis in Edmonton, Canada, in the period April 1992-March 2002 (N = 69,547) were examined. Case-crossover design was applied to estimate odds ratio (OR, and 95% confidence interval) per one interquartile range (IQR) increase in ozone concentration (IQR = 14.0 ppb). Delay of ED visit relating to exposure was probed using 0- to 5-day exposure lags. For all patients in the all months (January-December) and lags 0 to 2 days, OR = 1.05 (1.02, 1.07). For male patients during the cold months (October-March): OR = 1.05 (1.02, 1.09) for lags 0 and 2 and OR = 1.06 (1.02, 1.10) for lag 3. For female patients in the warm months (April-September): OR = 1.12 (1.06, 1.18) for lags 1 and 2. Cellulitis developing on uncovered (more exposed) skin was analyzed separately, observed effects being stronger. Cellulitis may be associated with exposure to ambient ground level ozone; the exposure may facilitate cellulitis infection and aggravate acute symptoms.
Cites: Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2008 Mar;22(1):89-116, vi18295685
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Cites: Occup Environ Med. 1999 Oct;56(10):679-8310658547
As part of an environmental health assessment in Canada, estimates of the intake of styrene by the general population were derived. Concentrations of styrene reported in air, water, soil and foods in Canada were reviewed in detail. Data on ambient air, collected by Environment Canada, showed mean concentrations of 0.09-2.35 micrograms/m3 at 18 sites across the country. In a national pilot study of indoor air in 757 homes across Canada, the mean styrene concentration was found to be 0.28 microgram/m3. The range of mean concentrations of styrene in treated water from 80 supplies in Ontario's Drinking Water Surveillance Program was 0.050-0.250 microgram/L. In limited testing of uncontaminated urban soils in southern Ontario, the styrene levels were less than 10 micrograms/kg. In a small Canadian survey, the compound was not detected (limits of detection, 1.0 microgram/L for liquids and 0.005 microgram/g for solids) in composite samples of 34 groups of food purchased in Windsor, Ontario. On the basis of these monitoring data, daily intakes of styrene were estimated for the general population. Intakes from ambient air ranged from 0.004 to 0.17 microgram/kg body weight per day and those from indoor air from 0.07 to 0.10 microgram/kg body weight per day for various age groups: infants, toddlers, school-age children, teenagers and adults. Intake from food was calculated to range from
The existence of population and disease registers is crucial for epidemiologic research. Continuous registration over many years provides a particular advantage. The example of asbestos and lung cancer is used to illustrate the importance of register-based studies for the assessment of an association between an exposure and a clinical disease. It is an important challenge for epidemiologists in the ongoing debate on data confidentiality constantly to convince the public about the benefits of our work.
To test the effect of maternal habits and home exposures during early pregnancy on the occurrence of congenital heart disease in the offspring, 406 cases and 756 controls were studied. The cases included all cardiovascular malformations detected in Finland during 1982-1983, while the healthy controls were randomly selected from all babies born during the same period. Case and control mothers were interviewed after delivery using a structured and pre-tested questionnaire. Maternal overall drug consumption during the first trimester was as prevalent among case mothers (13.3%) as controls (14.6%). Neither was the risk of congenital heart disease associated with maternal use of contraceptive pills, salicylates, diazepam, or sweetening agents separately. Maternal exposures to disinfectants, dyes, lacquers, paints, pesticides, or glues at home were equally prevalent in case and control groups. Several earlier miscarriages was a predictor of an infant born with congenital heart disease (OR = 2.7, CI95 = 1.4-5.3). Maternal ultrasound examination was performed during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy more often among the case group (28.3%) than among the control group (22.0%). However, the association between ultrasound examination and the risk of congenital heart disease in the offspring was not statistically significant (OR = 1.2, 95% confidence interval 0.9-1.7) when adjusted for confounding factors such as the threat of miscarriage in logistic regression analysis. It is concluded that maternal ultrasound examination, intake of some common drugs, and exposure to a number of environmental factors at home during early pregnancy are probably not harmful for the developing fetal heart.