April 2015 News Bulletin: US pressures EU on pesticide rules; BPA is OK (if you ignore most studies); and more

April 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

April 2015 News Bulletin

The US Government Is Pressuring Europe to Dial Back Its Pesticide Rules. There’s an important debate going on in Europe that could dramatically influence how pesticides are used on the United States’ 400 million acres of farmland. At the center of the debate are endocrine disruptors, a broad class of chemicals known for their ability to interfere with naturally occurring hormones, and the impact on US agriculture which an EU ban on endocrine-disrupting pesticides could have. (Mother Jones)

BPA Is Fine, If You Ignore Most Studies About It. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is either a harmless chemical that’s great for making plastic or one of modern society’s more dangerous problems. Depends whom you ask. “There’s too much data consistent across studies…time and time again…to ignore it and suggest BPA has no effect on humans,” says Gail Prins, a physiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But the plastic industry, researchers it funds and, most important, many regulatory agencies—including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)—say BPA is safe for humans at the levels people are exposed to. (Newsweek)

Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs. Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a new study. (National Geographic)

Hand-Me-Down Hazard: Flame Retardants in Discarded Foam Products. On 1 January 2015 California implemented the first U.S. rule mandating that certain products containing polyurethane foam be labeled to identify whether they contain chemical flame retardants. Furniture industry experts predict flame-retardant-free couches, chairs, and other padded furnishings and products will be popular with consumers and large purchasers, and the new labeling law, known as SB 1019, is expected to have influence beyond the state’s borders. Crate and Barrel, IKEA, and La-Z-Boy are among the manufacturers that reportedly offer or will offer furniture with no added flame retardants. (EHP)

Widely used herbicide linked to cancer. The cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization last week announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. But the assessment, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups. (Nature)

How Lab Rats Are Changing Our View of Obesity. Obesity stems primarily from the overconsumption of food paired with insufficient exercise. But this elementary formula cannot explain how quickly the obesity epidemic has spread globally in the past several decades nor why more than one third of adults in the U.S. are now obese. Many researchers believe that a more complex mix of environmental exposures, lifestyle, genetics and the microbiome’s makeup help explain that phenomenon. (Scientific American)

Doctors and academics call for ban on ‘inherently risky’ fracking. Fracking should be banned because of the impact it could have on public health, according to a prominent group of health professionals. In a letter published by the British Medical Journal on Monday, 20 high-profile doctors, pharmacists and public health academics said the “inherently risky” industry should be prohibited in the UK. (The Guardian)

April 2015 Science Bulletin #2: increasing the policy impact of research; biomonitoring and the concept of “toxic trespass”; and more

April 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment

April Science Bulletin #2:
Non-human studies,
research methods and reviews

Science and policy | Scientific contestations over “toxic trespass”: health and regulatory implications of chemical biomonitoring. Interesting examination of stakeholder interpretations of biomonitoring evidence through interviews with scientists from industry, environmental health organizations, academia, and regulatory agencies. Both social movements and industry stakeholders frame the meaning of scientific data in ways that advance their own interests; the ways in which they do so are mapped in a very revealing diagram.

Science and policy | How to increase the potential policy impact of environmental science research. This article highlights eight common issues that limit the policy impact of environmental science research. The article also discusses what environmental scientists can do to resolve these issues, including optimising directness of the study to policy-makers needs, using powerful study designs, and minimising risk of bias.

Phthalates, fertility | Prenatal exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) affects reproductive outcomes in female mice. These results indicate that prenatal DEHP exposure increased male-to-female ratio compared to controls. Further, 22.2% of the 20μg/kg/day treated animals took longer than 5 days to get pregnant at 3 months and 28.6% of the 750mg/kg/day treated animals lost some of their pups at 6 months. Thus, prenatal DEHP exposure alters F1 sex ratio, increases preantral follicle numbers, and causes some breeding abnormalities.

Phthalates, neurotoxicity | Phthalates and neurotoxic effects on hippocampal network plasticity. This review summarizes the effects of phthalate exposure on brain structure and function with particular emphasis on developmental aspects of hippocampal structural and functional plasticity. In general, it appears that widespread disruptions in hippocampal functional and structural plasticity occur following developmental (pre-, peri- and post-natal) exposure to phthalates. Whether these changes occur as a direct neurotoxic effect of phthalates or an indirect effect through disruption of endogenous endocrine functions is not fully understood.

Phthalates, fertility | Short term exposure to di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) disrupts ovarian function in young CD-1 mice. DBP exposure decreased serum E2 at all doses. 0.1 mg/kg/day DBP increased FSH, decreased antral follicle numbers, and increased mRNA encoding pro-apoptotic genes (Bax, Bad, Bid). These novel findings show that DBP can disrupt ovarian function in mice at doses relevant to humans.

BPA, autoimmunity | Environmental estrogen bisphenol A and autoimmunity. Autoimmunity development is influenced by multiple factors and is thought to be a result of interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Here, we review the role of a specific environmental factor, bisphenol A (BPA), in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. BPA belongs to the group of environmental estrogens that have been identified as risk factors involved in the development of autoimmune diseases.

April 2015 Science Bulletin #1: flame retardants in fatter children; pesticides linked to reduced male fertility; and more

April 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

April 2015 Science Bulletin #1:
Human Research

Flame retardants, child BMI | In Utero and Childhood Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Exposures and Body Mass at Age 7 Years: The CHAMACOS Study. We estimated sex-specific associations with maternal PBDE levels during pregnancy and body mass index at age 7 with positive associations in boys and negative associations in girls. Children’s serum BDE-153 concentrations were inversely associated with body mass index at age 7 with no difference by sex. Future studies should examine the longitudinal trends in obesity with PBDE exposure and changes in hormonal environment as children transition through puberty, as well as evaluate the potential for reverse causality.

Pesticides, cardiovascular disease, fat mass | Associations of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls with total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality in elders with differing fat mass. The positive association between OC pesticides and CVD mortality was also observed only among elderly with low fat mass. The possibility of interaction between POPs and the amount of fat mass on risk of mortality from chronic diseases is clinically important in modern societies with an obesity epidemic and requires confirmation in other studies with larger sample size.

BPA, neonatal thyroid function | Gestational urinary bisphenol A and maternal and newborn thyroid hormone concentrations: The HOME Study. We observed no significant associations between 16-week BPA and THs in maternal or cord serum, but 26-week maternal BPA was inversely associated with TSH in girls (-42.9%; 95% CI: -59.9, -18.5%), but not boys (7.6%; 95% CI: -17.3, 40.2%; p-for-effect modification=0.005) at birth. The inverse BPA-TSH relation among girls was stronger, but less precise, among iodine deficient versus sufficient mothers. Prenatal BPA exposure may reduce TSH among newborn girls, particularly when exposure occurs later in gestation.

Biomonitoring | A pilot study on the feasibility of European harmonized Human Biomonitoring: Strategies towards a common approach, challenges and opportunities. Next steps in European harmonization in Human Biomonitoring surveys include the establishment of a joint process for prioritization of substances to cover and biomarkers to develop, linking biomonitoring surveys with health examination surveys and with research, and coping with the diverse implementations of EU regulations and international guidelines with respect to ethics and privacy.

EDCs, cancer | Occupational exposure to endocrine disruptors and lymphoma risk in a multi-centric European study. We evaluated occupational exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) among 2457 controls and 2178 incident lymphoma cases and subtypes from the European Epilymph study. Over 30 years of exposure to EDCs compared to no exposure was associated with a 24% increased risk of mature B-cell neoplasms (P-trend=0.02). Associations were observed among men, but not women.

Pesticides, male fertility | Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic. Consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic. Click here for a detailed explanatory synopsis about how “whether or not pesticide residue found in our diet is another factor that affects sperm quality is an important topic that needs further study”.

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