Long-term exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been connected to chronic human health disorders. It is also well-known that i) PAH contamination alters soil bacterial communities, ii) human microbiome is associated with environmental microbiome, and iii) alteration in the abundance of members in several bacterial phyla is associated with adverse or beneficial human health effects. We hypothesized that soil pollution by PAHs altered soil bacterial communities that had known associations with human health. The rationale behind our study was to increase understanding and potentially facilitate reconsidering factors that lead to health disorders in areas characterized by PAH contamination. Large containers filled with either spruce forest soil, pine forest soil, peat, or glacial sand were left to incubate or contaminated with creosote. Biological degradation of PAHs was monitored using GC-MS, and the bacterial community composition was analyzed using 454 pyrosequencing. Proteobacteria had higher and Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes had lower relative abundance in creosote contaminated soils than in non-contaminated soils. Earlier studies have demonstrated that an increase in the abundance of Proteobacteria and decreased abundance of the phyla Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes are particularly associated with adverse health outcomes and immunological disorders. Therefore, we propose that pollution-induced shifts in natural soil bacterial community, like in PAH-polluted areas, can contribute to the prevalence of chronic diseases. We encourage studies that simultaneously address the classic "adverse toxin effect" paradigm and our novel "altered environmental microbiome" hypothesis.
The aim of our work was to study the accidents and close call situations connected to the use of mobile phones. We have analyzed how the accidents/close call situations are connected to background information, in particular age, gender and self-reported symptoms. The study was carried out as a cross-sectional study by posting the questionnaire to 15,000 working-age Finns. The responses (6121) were analyzed using the logistic regression models. Altogether 13.7% of respondents had close call situations and 2.4% had accidents at leisure, in which the mobile phone had a partial effect, and at work the amounts were 4.5% and 0.4% respectively, during the last 12 months. Essentially, we found that: (1) men tend to have more close calls and accidents while on a mobile phone, (2) younger people tend to have more accidents and close calls while on a mobile phone, but it does not appear to be large enough to warrant intervention, (3) employed people tend to have more problems with mobile phone usage and accidents/close calls, and (4) there was a slight increase in mobile-phone-related accidents/close calls if the respondent also reported sleep disturbances and minor aches and pains. In the future, it is important to take into account and study how symptoms can increase the risk of accidents or close call situations in which a mobile phone has a partial effect.
Both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the etiology of obesity and the associated lipid disturbances. We determined whether acquired obesity is associated with changes in global serum lipid profiles independent of genetic factors in young adult monozygotic (MZ) twins. 14 healthy MZ pairs discordant for obesity (10 to 25 kg weight difference) and ten weight concordant control pairs aged 24-27 years were identified from a large population-based study. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the euglycemic clamp technique, and body composition by DEXA (% body fat) and by MRI (subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat). Global characterization of lipid molecular species in serum was performed by a lipidomics strategy using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Obesity, independent of genetic influences, was primarily related to increases in lysophosphatidylcholines, lipids found in proinflammatory and proatherogenic conditions and to decreases in ether phospholipids, which are known to have antioxidant properties. These lipid changes were associated with insulin resistance, a pathogonomic characteristic of acquired obesity in these young adult twins. Our results show that obesity, already in its early stages and independent of genetic influences, is associated with deleterious alterations in the lipid metabolism known to facilitate atherogenesis, inflammation and insulin resistance.
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Cites: Biochem J. 1992 Oct 1;287 ( Pt 1):237-401417777
Population aging increases the need for knowledge on positive aspects of aging, and contributions of older people to their own wellbeing and that of others. We defined active aging as an individual's striving for elements of wellbeing with activities as per their goals, abilities and opportunities. This study examines associations of health, health behaviors, health literacy and functional abilities, environmental and social support with active aging and wellbeing. We will develop and validate assessment methods for physical activity and physical resilience suitable for research on older people, and examine their associations with active aging and wellbeing. We will examine cohort effects on functional phenotypes underlying active aging and disability.
For this population-based study, we plan to recruit 1000 participants aged 75, 80 or 85 years living in central Finland, by drawing personal details from the population register. Participants are interviewed on active aging, wellbeing, disability, environmental and social support, mobility, health behavior and health literacy. Physical activity and heart rate are monitored for 7 days with wearable sensors. Functional tests include hearing, vision, muscle strength, reaction time, exercise tolerance, mobility, and cognitive performance. Clinical examination by a nurse and physician includes an electrocardiogram, tests of blood pressure, orthostatic regulation, arterial stiffness, and lung function, as well as a review of chronic and acute conditions and prescribed medications. C-reactive protein, small blood count, cholesterol and vitamin D are analyzed from blood samples. Associations of factors potentially underlying active aging and wellbeing will be studied using multivariate methods. Cohort effects will be studied by comparing test results of physical and cognitive functioning with results of a cohort examined in 1989-90.
The current study will renew research on positive gerontology through the novel approach to active aging and by suggesting new biomarkers of resilience and active aging. Therefore, high interdisciplinary impact is expected. This cross-sectional study will not provide knowledge on temporal order of events or causality, but an innovative cross-sectional dataset provides opportunities for emergence of novel creative hypotheses and theories.
We evaluated risks associated with diaper changing in Finnish kindergartens where children were using either modern disposable paper or reusable cloth diapers.
We determined enteric micro-organisms and ammonia in diaper-changing rooms in four kindergartens in autumn and winter in the ambient air. No coliphages were detected in the air. The numbers of faecal coliforms and enterococci in air were typically low regardless of whether the children used either paper or cloth diapers. Ammonia concentrations increased over the background level because of diaper changing.
The numbers of bacteria or coliphages are not expected to pose any high air hygiene risks, and increased ammonia air concentrations are unlikely to impair the health of staff or children when diapers are changed in modern kindergartens. However, increased ammonia gas concentrations indicate that some other diaper-related gas-phase emissions should be studied to understand better diaper-related health risks.
Modern reusable cloth baby diapers and the modern paper baby diapers used in this study are equally safe with respect to risks from airborne virus, bacteria or ammonia.
Occurrence of molds and actinomycetes in the breathing zone of farmers during the handling of hay, straw, or grain was studied with the use of an Andersen sampler on 35 farms in Finland. On 24 farms there was a person with recently diagnosed farmer's lung disease, and on 11 farms people were free of the disease. The total spore concentration and the concentrations of the spores of Thermoactinomyces (T) vulgaris, Micropolyspora (M) faeni, and Aspergillus (A) umbrosus were statistically significantly higher on the farms of patients with farmer's lung than on the disease-free farms. The mean proportions of the spores of thermotolerant and thermophilic microbes were greater on the farms of farmer's lung patients than on the reference farms. T vulgaris was the predominant actinomycete species. Both T vulgaris and A umbrosus were found on all farms of farmer's lung patients, but M faeni on only about half of such farms. The findings match the results of previous microbiological analyses of Finnish moldy hay and serological analyses of Finnish farmer's lung patients. It seems that T vulgaris, not M faeni, may be the main causative agent of farmer's lung in Finland. The possible etiologic role of A umbrosus requires further investigation. Because the farmers often failed to identify the moldiness of the plant material in contrast to researchers, it might be possible, through training, to improve farmers' ability to identify moldiness.
During the winter of 1994, the association between daily changes in air pollution and in the respiratory health of children 7 to 12 yr of age were studied in Kuopio, Finland. Seventy-four children with asthmatic symptoms and 95 children with cough only, living either in urban or suburban areas, were followed for 3 mo. During the study period, the mean daily concentration of particulate air pollution (PM10) was 18 micrograms/m3 in the urban area and 13 micrograms/m3 in the suburban area. Lagged concentrations of PM10, black smoke, and NO2 were significantly associated with declines in morning peak expiratory flow (PEF) among asthmatic children. The regression coefficient (x10) for a 2-d lag of PM10 was -0.911 (SE, 0.386) in the urban and -1.05 (0.596), in the suburban area. Among children with cough only, PM10, black smoke, and NO2 were not significantly associated with PEF. In the urban area, there was a significant association between SO2 and morning and evening PEF and incidence of upper respiratory symptoms among children who cough only. No other associations between air pollution and evening PEF or respiratory symptoms were observed. This study suggests that particulate air pollution is associated with respiratory health, especially among children with asthmatic symptoms.
Aluminium, cadmium and lead concentrations in the spermatozoa and seminal plasma of 27 employees of two industrial companies, a refinery and a polyolefin factory, and 45 consecutive sperm donor candidates at a sperm bank were studied using atomic absorption measurements. The relationship between metal concentration and parameters of semen analysis was studied. A high concentration of aluminium in spermatozoa was correlated with decreased sperm motility. The concentrations of cadmium and lead were low and did not show any correlation with parameters of semen analysis. Aluminium may be one of the environmental pollutants causing impaired semen quality. The mean sperm concentrations were similar in the factory employees (96 x 10(6)/ml), in the sperm donor candidates of the comparison group (104 x 10(6)/ml) and in 352 donor candidates at the sperm bank of the Family Federation of Finland (107 x 10(6)/ml) between May 1993 and May 1995.
The exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) was measured in a Finnish coking plant over a 7-year period (1988-1994), since the beginning of production. Hygienic measurements including dust and vapour sampling were performed and the correlations between the concentrations of airborne pyrene with the levels of pyrene metabolite 1-pyrenol in urine were calculated. The profile of measured 12 or 15 PAHs was very similar between mean concentrations of personal samples, which suggests that it is possible to calculate the concentrations of total PAH by using e.g. pyrene as a marker compound. Measurements suggest that the progress of working conditions has been very favourable because the mean exposure level of shift workers to benzo[a]pyrene has decreased from 2.5 micrograms/m3 to 0.3 micrograms/m3. This points to successful measures of technical prevention. The mean concentration of 1-pyrenol in urine has been 0.2-0.6 mumol/mol creatinine. The concentration increases slightly towards the end of the working day, but the correlation urinary pyrenol and air pyrene was weak. Therefore the usefulness of pyrenol level for predicting the pyrene concentration at low exposure level in the ambient air is very limited.
A reliable and sensitive graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) method with Zeeman background correction was developed for the analysis of aluminium in serum and urine in the biological monitoring of aluminium exposure. The method is based on platform atomisation in pyrolytically coated graphite tubes after fourfold dilution with nitric acid. For serum analysis, a matrix matched standard curve is prepared and for urine the method of standard additions is used. The within-run imprecision (C.V.) for serum and urine was 3% and 5%, and the between-day imprecision, 6% and 7.2%, at a concentration level of 4.0 mumol/l. The between-day imprecision for urinary aluminium was 15.7% at a concentration level of 0.24 mumol/l. The detection limits were 0.02 mumol/l for serum and 0.07 mumol/l for urine. During 1 year of participation in TEQAS external quality assessment scheme of the Robens Institute for Health and Safety (Guildford, UK) for serum aluminium the maximum cumulative performance score was achieved. For urinary aluminium a certificate in the external quality control scheme of the German Society of Occupational Medicine was obtained. The mean concentration of aluminium in a non-exposed population, who did not use antacid drugs, was 0.06 mumol/l (S.D. 0.03, range 0.02-0.13, n = 21) in serum, and 0.33 mumol/l (S.D. 0.18, range 0.07-0.82, n = 44) in urine. The upper reference limit for aluminium in a healthy, non-exposed population was estimated to be 0.1 mumol/l in serum and 0.6 mumol/l in urine.
A method is described for the simultaneous analysis of nicotine and two of its major metabolites, cotinine and 3-hydroxycotinine, as well as for caffeine from urine samples. The method was developed to assess exposure of restaurant and hotel workers to environmental tobacco smoke.
The method includes sample pretreatment and reversed-phase HPLC separation with tandem mass spectrometric identification and quantification using electrospray ionization on a quadrupole ion trap mass analyzer. Sample pretreatment followed standard protocols, including addition of base before liquid-liquid partitioning against dichloromethane on a solid matrix, evaporation of the organic solvent using gaseous nitrogen, and transferring to HPLC vials using HPLC buffer. HPLC separation was run on-line with the electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometric detection.
The detection limits of the procedure were in the 1 microg/L range, except for nicotine (10 microg/L of urine). Still lower detection limits can be achieved with larger sample volumes. Recoveries of the sample treatment varied from 99% (cotinine) to 78% (3-hydroxycotinine).
The method described is straightforward and not labor-intensive and, therefore, permits a high throughput of samples with excellent prospects for automation. The applicability of the method was demonstrated in a small-scale study on restaurant employees.
The particulate matter (PM) concentration has been one of the most relevant environmental concerns in recent decades due to its prejudicial effects on living beings and the earth's atmosphere. High PM concentration affects the human health in several ways leading to short and long term diseases. Thus, forecasting systems have been developed to support decisions of the organizations and governments to alert the population. Forecasting systems based on Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) have been highlighted in the literature due to their performances. In general, three ANN-based approaches have been found for this task: ANN trained via learning algorithms, hybrid systems that combine search algorithms with ANNs, and hybrid systems that combine ANN with other forecasters. Independent of the approach, it is common to suppose that the residuals (error series), obtained from the difference between actual series and forecasting, have a white noise behavior. However, it is possible that this assumption is infringed due to: misspecification of the forecasting model, complexity of the time series or temporal patterns of the phenomenon not captured by the forecaster. This paper proposes an approach to improve the performance of PM forecasters from residuals modeling. The approach analyzes the remaining residuals recursively in search of temporal patterns. At each iteration, if there are temporal patterns in the residuals, the approach generates the forecasting of the residuals in order to improve the forecasting of the PM time series. The proposed approach can be used with either only one forecaster or by combining two or more forecasting models. In this study, the approach is used to improve the performance of a hybrid system (HS) composed by genetic algorithm (GA) and ANN from residuals modeling performed by two methods, namely, ANN and own hybrid system. Experiments were performed for PM2.5 and PM10 concentration series in Kallio and Vallila stations in Helsinki and evaluated from six metrics. Experimental results show that the proposed approach improves the accuracy of the forecasting method in terms of fitness function for all cases, when compared with the method without correction. The correction via HS obtained a superior performance, reaching the best results in terms of fitness function and in five out of six metrics. These results also were found when a sensitivity analysis was performed varying the proportions of the sets of training, validation and test. The proposed approach reached consistent results when compared with the forecasting method without correction, showing that it can be an interesting tool for correction of PM forecasters.
Cites: Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Mar;121(3):267-37323384584
Cites: Environ Int. 2013 Apr;54:100-1123434817
Cites: World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul 7;19(25):3951-623840139
This study was conducted in a school center that had been the focus of intense public concern over 2 years because of suspected mold and health problems. Because several attempts to find solutions to the problem within the community were not satisfactory, outside specialists were needed for support in solving the problem. The study group consisted of experts in civil engineering, indoor mycology, and epidemiology. The studies were conducted in close cooperation with the city administration. Structures at risk were opened, moisture and temperature were measured, and the causes of damage were analyzed. Microbial samples were taken from the air, surfaces, and materials. Health questionnaires were sent to the schoolchildren and personnel. Information on the measurements and their results was released regularly to school employees, students and their parents, and to the media. Repairs were designed on the basis of this information. Moisture damage was caused mainly by difficult moisture conditions at the building site, poor ventilation, and water leaks. Fungal genera (concentrations
Cites: Sci Total Environ. 1992 Dec 15;127(1-2):79-891480960
Traffic congestion is rapidly becoming the most important obstacle to urban development. In addition, traffic creates major health, environmental, and economical problems. Nonetheless, automobiles are crucial for the functions of the modern society. Most proposals for sustainable traffic solutions face major political opposition, economical consequences, or technical problems.
We performed a decision analysis in a poorly studied area, trip aggregation, and studied decisions from the perspective of two different stakeholders, the passenger and society. We modelled the impact and potential of composite traffic, a hypothetical large-scale demand-responsive public transport system for the Helsinki metropolitan area, where a centralised system would collect the information on all trip demands online, would merge the trips with the same origin and destination into public vehicles with eight or four seats, and then would transmit the trip instructions to the passengers' mobile phones.
We show here that in an urban area with one million inhabitants, trip aggregation could reduce the health, environmental, and other detrimental impacts of car traffic typically by 50-70%, and if implemented could attract about half of the car passengers, and within a broad operational range would require no public subsidies.
Composite traffic provides new degrees of freedom in urban decision-making in identifying novel solutions to the problems of urban traffic.
During the manufacturing of reinforced plastics, large amounts of styrene and trace quantities of styrene-7,8-oxide (SO) are released. Since previous work suggests that inhalation of even small amounts of SO might be an important health risk, we investigated several possible factors contributing to styrene and SO exposure during the manufacture of reinforced plastics. Factors related to job type, worker and the type and quantity of styrene-containing resins were investigated using mixed-effects multiple linear regression models. Overall, SO exposure levels were positively correlated with styrene exposure levels. However, this correlation was statistically significant only among hand laminators who had the highest exposures to both styrene and SO. An important factor for predicting both styrene and SO concentrations was the type of resin used, while the quantity of resin consumed was predictive of styrene but not of SO exposure. Since So exposure appears to be associated with factors other than coexposure to styrene, more effort should be placed on investigating emissions of SO per se. The type of mixed-models regression analysis employed in this study can be used for clarifying the underlying patterns for exposures to styrene and SO as well as for evaluating preventive measures.
Comparative research of environmental attitudes has concentrated on adults of Western countries, whereas knowledge of environmental consciousness of East European people is modest. This article compares anxiety that teenagers in Helsinki, Moscow and Tallinn express about environmental hazards and their health effects. The data (Helsinki, N = 1396; Moscow, N = 618; Tallinn, N = 1268) were collected in schools by questionnaires from pupils between 13 and 18 years in 1994-1995. Air pollution, water pollution and survival of plant and animal species were considered most worrying environmental threats in every city. Environmental concern was usually highest in Moscow, but the effects of pollution on an individual's health worried Estonian teenagers most. The worry was most consistent in Moscow, where sex, class level or opinion of the state of one's own living environment did not usually have an effect on attitudes. Finnish girls and pupils in higher school classes were environmentally more conscious than boys or younger teenagers. In Tallinn, the sex and age differences in worry were smaller. Environmental worry seemed to have connections to a general sense of responsibility and risk behaviour such as heavy drinking and smoking. For all sites those pupils who often throw empty packages onto the street or into the nature expressed lower environmental concern than their more responsible peers. The differences of worry between the cities were difficult to interpret, but the greater total concern of young Muscovites may be part of their general social anxiety, which is associated with the instability of the Russian society.
The purpose of the study was to assess occupational exposure to chemicals, by taking the aspects presented in European standard EN 689 into account, especially with respect to homogeneous exposure groups and their suitability as the basis for exposure assessment. In addition, dermal exposure to chemicals was assessed when appropriate. The industries studied included a plywood factory, a paint factory and a sewage treatment plant of an oil refinery. The workers were classified into homogeneous exposure groups by the persons in charge of occupational health issues in the respective workplaces. The concentrations of the contaminants were measured in workplace air by breathing-zone and stationary sampling, and these approaches were compared. Dermal exposure was measured when applicable. The homogeneity of the grouping was tested with analysis of variance whenever possible. The tasks studied in plywood manufacturing fulfilled the criteria of homogeneous exposure groups for both respiratory and dermal exposure. The group of operators in the sewage treatment plant was highly homogeneous. The complicated organization of the tasks made the use of homogeneous exposure groups (HEG) unsuitable at the paint factory. These findings show that reliable exposure assessment cannot be achieved with a formal standard; instead, comprehensive occupational hygiene evaluation is needed. It should also have a great importance when exposure models are developed.