Friday, November 28, 2014

1 HOUR LEFT! 40% off AllerAir Replacement Filters


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Our incredible once-a-year manufacturer's sale is almost over! Keep your AllerAir air purifier in top shape with new filters for a new year!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Replace your AllerAir filters at 40% off! ONE DAY ONLY

On Black Friday: Replace your AllerAir filters at 40% off!
Our incredible once-a-year manufacturer's sale is back! Keep your AllerAir air purifier in top shape with new filters for a new year!

With winter around the corner we'll be spending more time indoors. Make sure your AllerAir air purifier is ready to provide you with cleaner, fresher indoor air.
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(Note: This promotion cannot be combined with any other discounts including dealer discounts, prices are valid for one day only, Friday, November 28th, 2014, while supplies last. )

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Smokers' homes may be as polluted as worst cities: Study

Polluted air due to smoking has been
linked to heart disease, strokes and cancer.
Living with a smoker can be like breathing the air in the world’s most polluted cities, according to a new study from Scotland.

“The message is pretty simple really - smoking in your home leads to really poor air quality and results in concentrations of fine particles, that you can’t see, that would cause real concern to us if they were found outside,” said lead author Sean Semple, of the Scottish Center for Indoor Air at the University of Aberdeen.

Tiny particles 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, known as PM2.5, can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the blood. They’ve been linked to heart disease, strokes and cancer.

“Making your home smoke-free is key to reducing your exposure to PM2.5; for non-smokers who live with a smoker the impact of implementing smoke-free house rules would reduce their daily intake of PM2.5 by 70 percent or more,” Semple told Reuters Health in an email.

Such tiny particles typically result from combustion. Outdoors, the primary sources are vehicle exhaust, power plants and wildfires. Indoors, wood-burning or coal-burning stoves, gas cooking and heating fires and tobacco smoke are the most common sources of PM2.5 in the air.

For outdoor air, the World Health Organization says the safe exposure limit for PM2.5 particles is an average of 25 micrograms, or 25 millionths of a gram, per cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period, or average annual levels of 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets the 24-hour limit at an average of 12 micrograms.

Semple and his colleagues wanted to bring together two scientific communities: those involved in tobacco control work and those interested in outdoor air pollution and health.

“We think there is a lot that each can learn from the other,” he said.

Many studies have examined outdoor air pollution or indoor air quality in workplaces. But home is where most people spend the majority of their time, particularly small children and homebound elderly people, the researchers write.

By comparing indoor air pollution in the homes of smokers and non-smokers, then comparing that to the most polluted cities, they hoped to illustrate the perils of indoor tobacco smoke over a lifetime.

The study team looked at data from four separate studies that measured PM2.5 levels in 93 Scottish homes where people smoked and 17 homes that were smoke free.

On average, PM2.5 levels in smokers' homes were around 31 micrograms per cubic meter – 10 times greater than the average of 3 micrograms in non-smoking homes.

There was a wide range of smoke concentrations in the smokers’ homes, however, and in one quarter of them, the 24-hour averages were 111 micrograms.

Semple pointed out, “A considerable proportion of smokers’ homes had air pollution levels that were the same or higher than the annual average PM2.5 concentration measured in Beijing,” a heavily polluted city.

The study team estimates that over a lifetime, a non-smoker living with a smoker will inhale about 6 grams more particulate matter than a non-smoker living in a smoke-free home.

Semple said that isn’t much, but this amount is likely to "have a substantial effect on the risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.”

Semple said smokers often express the view that outdoor traffic pollution is a bigger problem than second-hand smoke pollution in the home.

“What this work shows is that, for most people living outside of major heavily polluted mega-cities like Beijing or Delhi, outdoor air pollution is much, much lower than what is measured inside homes where someone smokes,” he said.

“We have a lot of data and it’s an established fact how bad secondhand smoke is,” said Lucy Popova, from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. “There’s no safe level of exposure to it.”

“Smoke-free rules help not only by reducing the particulate matters for non-smokers but it actually helps smokers to quit too,” said Popova, who was not involved in the Scottish study.

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“Research shows when you have smoke-free rules in your home, that motivates smokers to make more cessation attempts and decrease the number of cigarettes that they smoke.”

Source: Fox News

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Study sheds light on asthma and respiratory viruses

Researchers try to find out why people with asthma have
more difficulty when contracting a respiratory virus.
People with asthma often have a hard time dealing with respiratory viruses such as the flu or the common cold, and researchers have struggled to explain why.

In a new study that compared people with and without asthma, the answer is becoming clearer. The researchers found no difference in the key immune response to viruses in the lungs and breathing passages.

The work, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, suggests that a fundamental antiviral defense mechanism is intact in asthma.

This means that another aspect of the immune system must explain the difficulty people with asthma have when they encounter respiratory viruses.

Among researchers who study asthma, there is debate over why patients with this common breathing disorder might have more trouble dealing with airway viruses than people without asthma.

The debate has centered on the role of proteins called interferons, which are released by cells lining the airways and are so named because they "interfere" with an invading virus.

"One school of thought says there is a defect in interferon production — that patients with asthma don't produce enough interferon," said senior author Michael J. Holtzman, MD, the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine. "But we couldn't find any significant differences between the two groups. In fact, we were struck by how similar they were."

Holtzman and his colleagues looked at two common airway viruses — influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — and the interferon response they triggered in airway cells sampled from 11 patients with mild to severe asthma and seven control participants without asthma.

Though the study's sample size was small, the researchers performed an elaborate analysis that took into consideration the downstream events triggered by interferon release.

"Even though we showed both groups made similar amounts of interferon, we recognized that there might be a difference in effectiveness, a difference in how well it triggered downstream events necessary to fighting the virus," Holtzman said.

To find out whether the same amount of interferon might be less effective in patients with asthma, the investigators compared the genes activated by interferon in both groups of patients.

"The products of these genes are very effective in their antiviral action," Holtzman said. "But on the other side, the virus has a lot of ways of getting around them. So it's a battlefield. Who will win out? The interferon-stimulated genes or the viral genes?"

Holtzman and his colleagues showed that even in this downstream activation of genes, asthma patients and those without the condition were remarkably similar.

They also measured similar amounts of virus living in the cells at various points of time during the study, indicating that the battles against the viruses progressed similarly in both groups.

"Whatever is causing asthmatics and non-asthmatics to experience differences in how well they recover from these respiratory infections — why patients with asthma are more likely to end up in the hospital, for example — this interferon mechanism is not the deciding factor based on what we've seen so far," Holtzman said.

Given the complexity of the immune system, there are many other possible culprits to investigate. Holtzman and his colleagues are continuing to research these possibilities in similar studies with larger sample sizes and in studies looking at different aspects of the immune system.

One likely possibility that the group has proposed is that viruses have a special means to induce inflammatory airway disease, and the susceptibility to this process may be an essential feature of asthma and related lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

_________________________________________________________________________

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Greenest neighbourhoods produce bigger babies

Expecting mothers with access to trees and
grass delivered heavier babies: Study
Mothers who live in Metro Vancouver’s greenest neighbourhoods tend to deliver bigger babies and are more likely carry a baby to term than those who live in less green parts of the city, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Using data from more than 64,000 births and analysis of satellite imagery, researchers found that babies from the greenest residential spaces ­­— those with access to trees and grass within 100 metres — were up to 45 grams heavier, had a reduced likelihood of preterm birth and were less likely to be small for gestational age, according to the lead researcher Michael Brauer, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.

The positive effects of greenness persist even when the researchers control for other factors known to influence gestation and birth weight, including air pollution, noise, income, access to parks, opportunities for physical activity and the walkability of the immediate neighbourhood.

“We know from other studies that birth outcomes are influenced by pollution and noise in a negative way, so we went looking for something (in the urban environment) that is healthy,” said Brauer.

Cities in most of the developed world are designed to accommodate the automobile, which usually results in relatively barren, noisy and polluted environments. Brauer’s study seeks to quantify the benefits of a different approach to urban planning.

“If we didn’t design for automobiles and instead designed for people, the hope is that we would be healthier,” he said. “With the high cost of health care, modifying urban design features such as increasing green space may turn out to be an extremely cost-effective strategy to prevent disease.”

While 45 grams isn’t a lot of extra weight for one healthy infant, the effect of increased birth weight across the entire distribution of births moves thousands of babies from birth weights that are dangerously low into a healthier range.

“From a medical standpoint, those are small changes in birth weight, but across a large population, those are substantial differences that would have a significant impact on the health of infants in a community,” said co-author Perry Hystad, assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

Even in an urban area as rich in green space as Metro Vancouver the benefits conferred by the very greenest neighbourhoods compared with the least green neighbourhoods were substantial, including a 20-per-cent reduction in severely premature births and 13 per cent fewer moderately pre-term births.

The mechanism by which greenness translates into healthier babies is not exactly clear, but greener environments are known to facilitate social connectedness and reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress-related hormones, according to the study, the third in a series of similar inquiries on the health impacts of urban spaces.

“Even when we eliminate the noise and the pollution and (a measure) of physical activity, we still see this benefit of green space,” he said. “What we don’t know is whether it is enough to see a tree out your window or do you have to have a park across the street where you chat with your neighbours.”

Source: Vancouver Sun

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Friday, August 08, 2014

Air pollution actually beat first explorers to the South Pole

Roald Amundsen/ public domain
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December 1911, but scientists say industrial air pollution beat him to it.

"Our new record shows the dramatic impact of industrial activities such as smelting, mining and fossil fuel burning on even the most remote parts of the world," said Joe McConnell of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nevada.

Using data from 16 ice cores collected from widely spaced locations around the Antarctic continent, including the South Pole, a group led by McConnell, created the most accurate and precise reconstruction to date of lead pollution over Earth’s southernmost continent.

"It is very clear that industrial lead contamination was pervasive throughout Antarctica by the late 19th century, more than two decades before the first explorers made it to the South Pole," he added. "The idea that Amundsen and Scott were traveling over snow that clearly was contaminated by lead from smelting and mining in Australia, and that lead pollution at that time was nearly as high as any time ever since, is surprising to say the least."
This study included ice cores collected as part of projects funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional ice cores were contributed to the study by international collaborators including the British Antarctic Survey, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.

"The ice cores obtained through international collaborations were critical to the success of this study in that they allowed us to develop records from parts of Antarctica not often visited by U.S.-based scientists," said co-author Tom Neumann of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who participated in a Norway-U.S. traverse that collected several of the cores used in this study. "This included the Law Dome region of East Antarctica and a big section of East Antarctica visited by the Norwegian-United States Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica."

"Lead is a toxic heavy metal with strong potential to harm ecosystems," said co-author Paul Vallelonga of the University of Copenhagen. "While concentrations measured in Antarctic ice cores are very low, the records show that atmospheric concentrations and deposition rates increased approximately six-fold in the late 1880s, coincident with the start of mining at Broken Hill in southern Australia and smelting at nearby Port Pirie."

Data from the new ice core array illustrates that Antarctic lead concentrations reached a peak in 1900 and remained high until the late 1920s, with brief declines during the Great Depression and the end of World War II. Concentrations then increased rapidly until 1975 and remained elevated until the 1990s.
 "Our measurements indicate that approximately 660 tonnes [1.5 million pounds] of industrial lead have been deposited on the snow-covered surface of Antarctic during the past 130 years," McConnell said. "While recent contamination levels are lower, clearly detectable industrial contamination of the Antarctic continent persists today, so we still have a ways to go."

The report is published in the online edition of the Nature Publishing Group’s journal Scientific Reports.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Common chemical in mothers may negatively affect the IQ of their unborn children

In some women abnormally high levels of a common and pervasive chemical may lead to adverse effects in their offspring. The study, published recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, is the first of its kind to shed light on the possible harmful side effects of perchlorate in mothers and their children.

"The reason people really care about perchlorate is because it is ubiquitous. It's everywhere," said Elizabeth Pearce, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). "Prior studies have already shown perchlorate, at low levels, can be found in each and every one of us."

Using data from the Controlled Antenatal Thyroid Study (CATS), researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Cardiff University studied the effect of perchlorate, an environmental contaminant found in many foods and in some drinking water supplies, and its effects on children born to mothers with above average levels of this substance in their system. They studied 487 mother-child pairs from women with underactive thyroid glands and in the 50 women with the highest levels of perchlorate in their body, their offspring had below average IQ levels when compared to other children.

Perchlorate is a compound known to affect the thyroid gland, an organ needed to help regulate hormone levels in humans. According to Pearce, previous studies have attempted to implicate this anti-thyroid activity in pregnant mothers as a possible cause of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism in newborns and children can lead to an array of unwelcome side effects, including below average intelligence.



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Monday, August 04, 2014

Air pollution and climate change will curb world food supplies

Howden/freedigitalphotos

Researchers at MIT say that the double-whammy of air pollution and rising world temperatures could affect our most important food sources.

The study looked in detail at global production of four leading food crops — rice, wheat, corn, and soy — that account for more than half the calories humans consume worldwide. It predicts that effects will vary considerably from region to region, and that some of the crops are much more strongly affected by one or the other of the factors: For example, wheat is very sensitive to ozone exposure from air pollution, while corn is much more adversely affected by heat.

The research was carried out by Colette Heald, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at MIT, former CEE postdoc Amos Tai, and Maria van Martin at Colorado State University. Their work is described this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Heald explains that while it's known that both higher temperatures and ozone pollution can damage plants and reduce crop yields, "nobody has looked at these together." And while rising temperatures are widely discussed, the impact of air quality on crops is less recognized.

In the United States, tougher air-quality regulations are expected to lead to a sharp decline in ozone pollution, mitigating its impact on crops. But in other regions, the outcome "will depend on domestic air-pollution policies," Heald says. "An air-quality cleanup would improve crop yields."

Overall, with all other factors being equal, warming may reduce crop yields globally by about 10 percent by 2050, the study found. But the effects of ozone pollution are more complex — some crops are more strongly affected by it than others — which suggests that pollution-control measures could play a major role in determining outcomes.

Ozone pollution can also be tricky to identify, Heald says, because its damage can resemble other plant illnesses, producing flecks on leaves and discoloration.

Potential reductions in crop yields are worrisome: The world is expected to need about 50 percent more food by 2050, the authors say, due to population growth and changing dietary trends in the developing world.

While heat and ozone can each damage plants independently, the factors also interact. For example, warmer temperatures significantly increase production of ozone from the reactions, in sunlight, of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. Because of these interactions, the team found that 46 percent of damage to soybean crops that had previously been attributed to heat is actually caused by increased ozone.

Under some scenarios, the researchers found that pollution-control measures could make a major dent in the expected crop reductions following climate change. For example, while global food production was projected to fall by 15 percent under one scenario, larger emissions decreases projected in an alternate scenario reduce that drop to 9 percent.

Air pollution is even more decisive in shaping undernourishment in the developing world, the researchers found: Under the more pessimistic air-quality scenario, rates of malnourishment might increase from 18 to 27 percent by 2050 — about a 50 percent jump; under the more optimistic scenario, the rate would still increase, but that increase would almost be cut in half, they found.

Agricultural production is "very sensitive to ozone pollution," Heald says, adding that these findings "show how important it is to think about the agricultural implications of air-quality regulations. Ozone is something that we understand the causes of, and the steps that need to be taken to improve air quality."


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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Asthma drugs suppress children's growth say researchers

Corticosteroid drugs that are given by inhalers to children with asthma may suppress their growth, evidence suggests.

Two new systematic reviews published in The Cochrane Library focus on the effects of inhaled corticosteroid drugs (ICS) on growth rates.

The authors found children’s growth slowed in the first year of treatment, although the effects were minimized by using lower doses.

Inhaled corticosteroids are prescribed as first-line treatments for adults and children with persistent asthma.

They are the most effective drugs for controlling asthma and clearly reduce asthma deaths, hospital visits and the number and severity of exacerbations, and improve quality of life.

Yet, their potential effect on the growth of children is a source of worry for parents and doctors.

Worldwide, seven ICS drugs are currently available: beclomethasone, budesonide, ciclesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone, mometasone and triamcinolone.

Ciclesonide, fluticasone and mometasone are newer and supposedly safer drugs.

The first systematic review focused on 25 trials involving 8,471 children up to 18 years old with mild to moderate persistent asthma.

These trials tested all available inhaled corticosteroids except triamcinolone and showed that, as a group, they suppressed growth rates when compared to placebos or non-steroidal drugs. 14 of the trials, involving 5,717 children, reported growth over a year.

The average growth rate, which was around 6-9 cm per year in control groups, was reduced by about 0.5 cm in treatment groups.

The researchers found that growth suppression varied across studies, and so they looked at the relationship between a variety of factors and their effects on growth. Some of the variation could be explained by the drugs used, although since this was an indirect comparison the authors say more evidence is needed.

“Conclusions about the superiority of one drug over another should be confirmed by further trials that directly compare the drugs,” said Zhang.

More long-term trials and trials comparing different doses are also needed, particularly in children with more severe asthma requiring higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids, the researchers conclude.

“Only 14% of the trials we looked at monitored growth in a systematic way for over a year. This is a matter of major concern given the importance of this topic,” said Francine Ducharme, one of the authors of both reviews and senior author of the second review, based at the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Montreal in Montreal, Canada.

“We recommend that the minimal effective dose be used in children with asthma until further data on doses becomes available. Growth should be carefully documented in all children treated with inhaled corticosteroids, as well in all future trials testing inhaled corticosteroids in children.”

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Air Quality Alert: High health risk for Canada's Northern Territories

Environment Canada has issued a high health risk warning for Yellowknife and surrounding area because of heavy smoke in the region due to forest fires. Currently 160 wildfires are burning across the region. 
 
This satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on July 20, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red.
Fire danger in this area remains very high to extreme, with no discernible change in that forecast in the near future.

Source:: NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner with information from Canada's National Wildland Fire Situation site.



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Friday, July 18, 2014

What's third-hand smoke? Researchers say it's far more dangerous than we ever realized.

"The results indicate potentially severe, long-term consequences, particularly to children."

Have you ever walked out of a building and smelled smoke even after the smoker has moved on? Or maybe caught a whiff on someone's clothes long after their cigarette has been extinguished? That's what scientists have termed - third hand smoke, and its effects may have been greatly underestimated.

Research led by the University of York has highlighted the potential cancer risk in non-smokers – particularly young children – of tobacco smoke gases and particles deposited to surfaces and in household dust.

Until now, the risks of this kind of exposure have not been well studied or considered in public policy.

However, a new study published in the journal Environment International, has estimated for the first time the potential cancer risk by age group through non-dietary ingestion and skin exposure to third hand smoke. The results indicate potentially severe, long-term consequences, particularly to children.

The research was carried out by York’s Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, and the Chromatography and Environmental Applications research group at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain.

The study demonstrates for the first time the widespread presence of tobacco related carcinogens in house dust, even in ‘smoke-free’ environments.

Scientists collected dust samples from private homes occupied by both smokers and non-smokers. Using observations of house dust composition, they estimated the cancer risk by applying the most recent official toxicology information.

They found that for children aged one to six years old, the cancer risks exceeded the limit recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in three quarters of smokers’ homes and two thirds of non-smokers’ homes. The maximum risk predicted from the third hand smoke levels in a smoker occupied home equated to one extra cancer case per one thousand population exposed.

Lead investigator, Dr Jacqueline Hamilton, from York’s Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, said: “The risks of tobacco exposure do not end when a cigarette is extinguished. Non-smokers, especially children, are also at risk through contact with surfaces and dust contaminated with residual smoke gases and particles, the so-called third hand smoke. This risk should not be overlooked and its impact should be included in future educational programs and tobacco-related public health policies.”


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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gene discovered that could stop the spread of a common type of lung cancer

Scientists at the Salk Institute have identified a gene responsible for stopping the movement of cancer from the lungs to other parts of the body, indicating a new way to fight one of the world’s deadliest cancers.

By identifying the cause of this metastasis—which often happens quickly in lung cancer and results in a bleak survival rate—scientists are able to explain why some tumors are more prone to spreading than others. The newly discovered pathway, detailed in Molecular Cell, may also help researchers understand and treat the spread of melanoma and cervical cancers.

“Lung cancer, even when it’s discovered early, is often able to metastasize almost immediately and take hold throughout the body,” says Reuben J. Shaw, professor of molecular and cell biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “The reason behind why some tumors do that and others don’t has not been very well understood. Now, through this work, we are beginning to understand why some subsets of lung cancer are so invasive.”

Lung cancer, which also affects nonsmokers, is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country (estimated to be nearly 160,000 this year). The United States spends more than $12 billion on lung cancer treatments, according to the National Cancer Institute. Nevertheless, the survival rate for lung cancer is dismal: 80 percent of patients die within five years of diagnosis largely due to the disease’s aggressive tendency to spread throughout the body.

Deviously, cancer can switch on and off their "molecular anchors" protruding from the cell membrane , preparing the cell for migration. This allows cancer cells to begin the processes to move through the bloodstream and take up residence in new organs.

In addition to different cancers being able to manipulate these anchors, it was also known that about a fifth of lung cancer cases are missing an anti-cancer gene called LKB1 (also known as STK11). Cancers missing LKB1 are often aggressive, rapidly spreading through the body. However, no one knew how LKB1 and focal adhesions were connected.

Now, the Salk team has found the connection and a new target for therapy: a little-known gene called DIXDC1. The researchers discovered that DIXDC1 receives instructions from LKB1 to go to focal adhesions and change their size and number.

When DIXDC1 is “turned on,” half a dozen or so focal adhesions grow large and sticky, anchoring cells to their spot. When DIXDC1 is blocked or inactivated, focal adhesions become small and numerous, resulting in hundreds of small “hands” that pull the cell forward in response to extracellular cues. That increased tendency to be mobile aids in the escape from, for example, the lungs and allows tumor cells to survive travel through the bloodstream and dock at organs throughout the body.

“The communication between LKB1 and DIXDC1 is responsible for a ‘stay-put’ signal in cells,” says first author and Ph.D. graduate student Jonathan Goodwin. “DIXDC1, which no one knew much about, turns out to be inhibited in cancer and metastasis.”

Tumors, Shaw and collaborators found in the new research, have two ways to turn off this “stay-put” signal. One is by inhibiting DIXDC1 directly. The other way is by deleting LKB1, which then never sends the signal to DIXDC1 to move to the focal adhesions to anchor the cell. Given this, the scientists wondered if reactivating DIXDC1 could halt a cancer’s metastasis. The team took metastatic cells, which had low levels of DIXDC1, and overexpressed the gene. The addition of DIXDC1 did indeed blunt the ability of these cells to be metastatic in vitro and in vivo.

“It was very, very surprising that this gene would be so powerful,” says Goodwin. “At the start of this study, we had no idea DIXDC1 would be involved in metastasis. There are dozens of proteins that LKB1 affects; for a single one to control so much of this phenotype was not expected.”

Right now, there is no specific treatment for cancers harboring LKB1 or DIXDC1 alterations, but those with a deletion of either gene would likely see results from cancer drugs that target the focal adhesions, says Shaw.

“The good news is that this finding predicts that patients missing either gene should be sensitive to new therapies targeting focal adhesion enzymes, which are currently being tested in early-stage clinical trials,” says Shaw, who is also a member of the Moores Cancer Center and an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego.

“By identifying this unexpected connection between DIXDC1 and LKB1 in certain tumors, we have expanded the potential patient population that may be good candidates for these therapies,” adds Goodwin.

Source: Press Release

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AllerAir shipping air purifiers to worldwide destinations

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hormone-disrupting activity of fracking chemicals worse than initially found

Many chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can disrupt not only the human body's reproductive hormones but also the glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors, which are necessary to maintain good health, a new study finds.

"Among the chemicals that the fracking industry has reported using most often, all 24 that we have tested block the activity of one or more important hormone receptors," said study author, Christopher Kassotis, a PhD student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. "The high levels of hormone disruption by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that we measured, have been associated with many poor health outcomes, such as infertility, cancer and birth defects."

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting numerous chemicals and millions of gallons of water deep underground under high pressure to fracture hard rock and release trapped natural gas and oil. Kassotis said spills of wastewater could contaminate surface and ground water.

In earlier research, this group found that water samples collected from sites with documented fracking spills in Garfield County, Colorado, had moderate to high levels of EDC activity that mimicked or blocked the effects of the female hormones (estrogens) and the male hormones (androgens) in human cells. However, water in areas away from these gas-drilling sites showed little EDC activity on these two reproductive hormones.

The new study extended the analysis to learn whether high-use fracking chemicals changed other key hormone receptors besides the estrogen and androgen receptors. (Receptors are proteins in cells that the hormone binds to in order to perform its function.) Specifically, the researchers also looked at the receptor for a female reproductive hormone, progesterone, as well as those for glucocorticoid—a hormone important to the immune system, which also plays a role in reproduction and fertility—and for thyroid hormone. The latter hormone helps control metabolism, normal brain development and other functions needed for good health.

Among 24 common fracking chemicals that Kassotis and his colleagues repeatedly tested for EDC activity in human cells, 20 blocked the estrogen receptor, preventing estrogen from binding to the receptor and being able to have its natural biological response, he reported. In addition, 17 chemicals inhibited the androgen receptor, 10 hindered the progesterone receptor, 10 blocked the glucocorticoid receptor and 7 inhibited the thyroid hormone receptor.

Kassotis cautioned that they have not measured these chemicals in local water samples, and it is likely that the high chemical concentrations tested would not show up in drinking water near drilling. However, he said mixtures of these chemicals act together to make their hormone-disrupting effects worse than any one chemical alone, and tested drinking water normally contains mixtures of EDCs.

"We don't know what the adverse health consequences might be in humans and animals exposed to these chemicals," Kassotis said, "but infants and children would be most vulnerable because they are smaller, and infants lack the ability to break down these chemicals."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Air filtration for preppers and emergency preparedness

AllerAir 6000 AH
If you are among the thousands of North Americans quietly organizing yourself to be more prepared and self-sufficient, than you've likely covered the basics of food, water, power and security. One neglected area of preparedness is air quality.

In many possible emergency scenarios airborne particles, chemicals, smoke and odors will likely be a problem with a basic air exchange system providing little to no protection. While many sites online recommend HEPA filtration, this type of particle trapper is not designed for chemicals and odors. A great solution is a basic mechanical air purifier with a large, deep-bed activated carbon filter and HEPA filtration. Activated carbon was originally used in water and air filtration by the military (think gas masks, water filters etc.). It's able to attract and trap many times its weight in chemicals and odors. Paired with a HEPA (high efficiency particle filer), an air cleaner like this will cover the widest range of air pollutants.


A unit like the AllerAir 6000 Exec can also be used as a room air purifier or can be modified (AH model) to be used as a by-pass in your existing ventilation plan. The added benefit of an AllerAir unit is that it's designed first and foremost for function. Unlike an air purifier used by a typical home-owner (built as much for style as for filtration), AllerAir units are designed for industrial use. These are simple, robust units made for constant, 24/7 operation. There are no fancy digital panels to maintain or repair and almost no plastic parts to wear and crack. The filters and the 3-speed motor (max power-draw 156 Watts, but typical users leave it on the lowest setting) are housed in tough, powder-coated steel. The carbon filters can also be refilled rather than replaced (this survivalist thread discusses making your own activated carbon, but having some on hand in a sealed container is easier and more reliable.)

For more information on AllerAir air cleaners visit www.allerair.com. The room air cleaners (no by-pass modification) are also available on Costo.com.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Air Pollution exposure in second trimester may cause an increased asthma risk

Children who are exposed in utero to high levels of particulate air pollution during the second trimester of pregnancy may be at greater risk of developing asthma in early childhood, according to a new study presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

“We know that mothers' exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can affect lung development of their babies and lead to subsequent respiratory disorders, including asthma, although little is known about whether timing of the exposure is important to consider,” said lead author Yueh-Hsiu Mathilda Chiu, ScD, from the Department of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “In our study, we assessed whether higher exposure to particulate air pollution at more specific time windows in pregnancy were particularly linked to higher asthma risk in urban children.”

The study included 430 full-term children followed to age 7 years and their mothers. Daily exposure to air pollution from sources including traffic, power plants, and other industrial sources consisting of fine particles in the prenatal period was estimated based on where these mothers lived. These fine particles, which are more likely to be inhaled deep into the lungs, have been linked to the greatest health risk and previous studies have suggested that effects on pregnant women can be transferred to the growing baby.

The researchers found that exposure to higher levels of fine particles in the second trimester was most strongly associated with increased asthma onset among the children, particularly for those born to non-obese mothers. “It is possible that the effect of maternal obesity, another known risk factor of childhood asthma onset, may be so strong that it was difficult to determine additional effects of air pollution among children born to obese mothers in this setting.”

“While we should continue to improve air quality and minimize exposure to pregnant women throughout the entire pregnancy for a host of health reasons,” said Dr. Rosalind Wright, MD MPH, senior investigator from the Department of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “pinpointing the gestational period during which air pollution has the greatest effects on the developing lung may add to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this relationship.”



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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Industrial pollution may be behind a drop in the birth of baby boys

Researchers in Scotland say industrial pollution may be behind a drop in the number of boys being born.

Normally, in Britain and across the world, slightly more boys are born than girls, but the authors of the Stirling University study found that the ratio of boys to girls being born is falling, particularly in more industrial regions.

The researchers, led by Dr Ewan McDonald and Prof Andrew Watterson, wanted to discover what was behind this trend. Suspecting air pollution and socio-economic status, their study focused on a mix of heavily industrialized areas, including major sites of pollution such as a coal-fired power station, as well as rural areas with low pollution levels.

And, while their results did find that the wealthiest communities were more likely to have boys, the clearest link discovered was to pollution - specifically endocrine disruptor pollution that affects hormones.

This discovery is backed up small studies in heavily industrialized areas of Canada and elsewhere in the world.

"We run faster and faster introducing new products and processes," said researcher Dr. Ewan McDonald. "Yet we don't properly understand how they may affect us. Great care is needed in approving and regulating such developments when we lack the necessary information to assess their risks adequately."

The findings have been published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Source: BBCnews



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AllerAir units are now available at Costco.com.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Boost your child'd future earnings by improving air quality, says scientist

Reducing air pollution would result in substantial economic gains for children by boosting their IQs says a study from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

The study is the first to estimate the costs of IQ loss associated with exposure to air pollution, and is based on prior research on prenatal exposure to air pollutants among low-income children.

The analysis focused on the 63,462 New York City children born in 2002 to women on Medicaid. They estimated that a 25% reduction in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a family of chemicals created by burning fossil fuels, would translate to increased lifetime earnings of $215 million for the group.


Researchers had previously reported that children born to nonsmoking mothers exposed to higher levels of airborne PAH during pregnancy had IQs three points lower at age 5 than children whose mothers had lower PAH exposures. The IQ reduction was modest but in the range of that seen with low-level lead.

The researchers say they have likely underestimated the total economic benefit associated with reduction in prenatal PAH exposure because it does not include estimates of economic gains due to broader neurotoxic, respiratory, and carcinogenic effects, all also linked with PAH. While based on children born to mothers on Medicaid in New York City, the authors say, the results likely apply to children more broadly.

"Our analysis suggests that a modest reduction in urban air pollution would provide substantial economic benefits and help children realize their full potential," says Frederica Perera, PhD, lead author.


The study results were published in the Journal of Public Health Policy.



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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New evidence links air pollution to autism, schizophrenia

Could exposure to air pollution early on permanently change our brains? That's what scientists are seeing in animal studies and it may offer clues as to how air quality is affecting human growth and development.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives describes how early exposure to air pollution produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia.

As in autism and schizophrenia, the changes occurred predominately in males. The mice also performed poorly in tests of short-term memory, learning ability, and impulsivity.

The new findings are consistent with several recent studies that have shown a link between air pollution and autism in children. Most notably, a 2013 study in JAMA Psychiatry reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism. "Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders," said Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study.

In three sets of experiments, Cory-Slechta and her colleagues exposed mice to levels of air pollution typically found in mid-sized U.S. cities during rush hour. The exposures were conducted during the first two weeks after birth, a critical time in the brain's development. The mice were exposed to polluted air for four hours each day for two four-day periods.

In one group of mice, the brains were examined 24 hours after the final pollution exposure. In all of those mice, inflammation was rampant throughout the brain, and the lateral ventricles -- chambers on each side of the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid -- were enlarged two-to-three times their normal size.

"When we looked closely at the ventricles, we could see that the white matter that normally surrounds them hadn't fully developed," said Cory-Slechta. "It appears that inflammation had damaged those brain cells and prevented that region of the brain from developing, and the ventricles simply expanded to fill the space."

The problems were also observed in a second group of mice 40 days after exposure and in another group 270 days after exposure, indicating that the damage to the brain was permanent. Brains of mice in all three groups also had elevated levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter, which is also seen in humans with autism and schizophrenia.

Most air pollution is made up mainly of carbon particles that are produced when fuel is burned by power plants, factories, and cars. For decades, research on the health effects of air pollution has focused on the part of the body where its effects are most obvious -- the lungs. That research began to show that different-sized particles produce different effects. Larger particles -- the ones regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- are actually the least harmful because they are coughed up and expelled. But many researchers believe that smaller particles known as ultrafine particles -- which are not regulated by the EPA -- are more dangerous, because they are small enough to travel deep into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can produce toxic effects throughout the body.

That assumption led Cory-Slechta to design a set of experiments that would show whether ultrafine particles have a damaging effect on effect on the brain, and if so, to reveal the mechanism by which they inflict harm. Her study published today is the first scientific work to do both.

"I think these findings are going to raise new questions about whether the current regulatory standards for air quality are sufficient to protect our children," said Cory-Slechta.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Air measurements confirm leaks from oil and gas operations in Colorado's Front Range

CIRES, NOAA study finds more methane, ozone precursors and benzene than estimated by regulators

During two days of intensive airborne measurements, oil and gas operations in Colorado's Front Range leaked nearly three times as much methane gas, as predicted based on inventory estimates, and seven times as much benzene, a regulated air toxic. Emissions of other chemicals that contribute to ozone pollution were about twice as high as estimates, according to the study.

"These discrepancies are substantial," said lead author Gabrielle Petron, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. "Emission estimates or 'inventories' are the primary tool that policy makers and regulators use to evaluate air quality and climate impacts of various sources, including oil and gas sources. If they're off, it's important to know."

The new paper provides independent confirmation of findings from research performed from 2008-2010, also by Petron and her colleagues, on the magnitude of air pollutant emissions from oil and gas activities in northeastern Colorado. In the earlier study, the team used a mobile laboratory—sophisticated chemical detection instruments packed into a car—and an instrumented NOAA tall tower near Erie, Colorado, to measure atmospheric concentrations of several chemicals downwind of various sources, including oil and gas equipment, landfills and animal feedlots.

Back then, the scientists determined that methane emissions from oil and gas activities in the region were likely about twice as high as estimates from state and federal agencies, and benzene emissions were several times higher. In 2008, northeastern Colorado's Weld County had about 14,000 operating oil and gas wells, all located in a geological formation called the Denver-Julesburg Basin.

In May 2012, when measurements for the new analysis were collected, there were about 24,000 active oil and gas wells in Weld County. The new work relied on a different technique, too, called mass-balance. In 2012, Petron and her colleagues contracted with a small aircraft to measure the concentrations of methane and other chemicals in the air downwind and upwind of the Denver-Julesburg Basin. On the ground, NOAA wind profilers near Platteville and Greeley tracked around-the-clock wind speed and wind direction.

On two days in May 2012, conditions were ideal for mass-balance work. Petron and her team calculated that 26 metric tons of methane were emitted hourly in a region centered on Weld County. To estimate the fraction from oil and gas activities, the authors subtracted inventory estimates of methane emissions from other sources, including animal feedlots, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. Petron and her team found that during those two days, oil and gas operations in the Denver-Julesburg Basin emitted about 19 metric tons of methane per hour, 75 percent of the total methane emissions. That's about three times as large as an hourly average estimate for oil and gas operations based on Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (itself based on industry-reported emissions).

Petron and her colleagues combined information from the mass-balance technique and detailed chemical analysis of air samples in the laboratory to come up with emissions estimates for volatile organic compounds, a class of chemicals that contributes to ozone pollution; and benzene, an air toxic.

Benzene emissions from oil and gas activities reported in the paper are significantly higher than state estimates: about 380 pounds (173 kilograms) per hour, compared with a state estimate of about 50 pounds (25 kilograms) per hour. Car and truck tailpipes are a known source of the toxic chemical; the new results suggest that oil and gas operations may also be a significant source.

Oil-and-gas-related emissions for a subset of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can contribute to ground-level ozone pollution, were about 25 metric tons per hour, compared to the state inventory, which amounts to 13.1 tons. Ozone at high levels can harm people's lungs and damage crops and other plants; the northern Front Range of Colorado has been out of compliance with federal health-based 8-hour ozone standards since 2007, according to the EPA. Another CIRES- and NOAA-led paper published last year showed that oil and natural gas activities were responsible for about half of the contributions of VOCs to ozone formation in northeastern Colorado.

This summer, dozens of atmospheric scientists from NASA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NOAA, CIRES and other will gather in the Front Range, to participate in an intensive study of the region's atmosphere, said NCAR scientist Gabriele Pfister. With research aircraft, balloon-borne measurements, mobile laboratories and other ground-based equipment, the scientists plan to further characterize the emissions of many possible sources, including motor vehicles, power plants, industrial activities, agriculture, wildfires and transported pollution.

"This summer's field experiment will provide us the information we need to understand all the key processes that contribute to air pollution in the Front Range," Pfister said.

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Engineers confirm crib mattresses emit potentially harmful chemicals

In what they say is a first-of-its-kind study, a team of environmental engineers from The University of Texas at Austin has found that infants are indeed exposed to high levels of chemical emissions from crib mattresses while they sleep.

Analyzing the foam padding in crib mattresses, the team found that the mattresses release significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially harmful chemicals also found in household items such as cleaners and scented sprays.

The researchers studied samples of polyurethane foam and polyester foam padding from 20 new and old crib mattresses. 

The researchers found:
  • New crib mattresses release about four times as many VOCs as old crib mattresses.
  • Body heat increases emissions.
  • Chemical emissions are strongest in the sleeping infant's immediate breathing zone.
The 20 mattress samples are from 10 manufacturers. The researchers say they chose not to disclose the names of the manufacturers studied so that their results could draw general attention to the product segment without focusing on specific brands.

The researchers reported their findings in the February issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Coughs and sneezes staying airborne

Cold and flu pathogens may stay airborne for long
distances after a sneeze or a cough, researchers say.
The next time you feel a sneeze coming on, raise your elbow to cover up that multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud you're about to expel.

That's right: A novel study by MIT researchers shows that coughs and sneezes have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized.

"When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you," says John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, and co-author of a new paper on the subject.

"But you don't see the cloud, the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones."

Indeed, the study finds, the smaller droplets that emerge in a cough or sneeze may travel five to 200 times further than they would if those droplets simply moved as groups of unconnected particles � which is what previous estimates had assumed.

The tendency of these droplets to stay airborne, resuspended by gas clouds, means that ventilation systems may be more prone to transmitting potentially infectious particles than had been suspected.

With this in mind, architects and engineers may want to re-examine the design of workplaces and hospitals, or air circulation on airplanes, to reduce the chances of airborne pathogens being transmitted among people.

"You can have ventilation contamination in a much more direct way than we would have expected originally," says Lydia Bourouiba, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and another co-author of the study.

The paper, "Violent expiratory events: on coughing and sneezing," was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.

It is co-written by Bourouiba, Bush, and Eline Dehandschoewercker, a graduate student at ESPCI ParisTech, a French technical university, who previously was a visiting summer student at MIT, supported by the MIT-France program.

Smaller drops, longer distances

The researchers used high-speed imaging of coughs and sneezes, as well as laboratory simulations and mathematical modeling, to produce a new analysis of coughs and sneezes from a fluid-mechanics perspective.

Their conclusions upend some prior thinking on the subject. For instance: Researchers had previously assumed that larger mucus droplets fly farther than smaller ones, because they have more momentum, classically defined as mass times velocity.

That would be true if the trajectory of each droplet were unconnected to those around it. But close observations show this is not the case; the interactions of the droplets with the gas cloud make all the difference in their trajectories. Indeed, the cough or sneeze resembles, say, a puff emerging from a smokestack.

A cough or sneeze is a "multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud," as the researchers term it in the paper, because the cloud mixes with surrounding air before its payload of liquid droplets falls out, evaporates into solid residues, or both.

"The cloud entrains ambient air into it and continues to grow and mix," Bourouiba says. "But as the cloud grows, it slows down, and so is less able to suspend the droplets within it. You thus cannot model this as isolated droplets moving ballistically."

The MIT researchers are now developing additional tools and studies to extend our knowledge of the subject. For instance, given air conditions in any setting, researchers can better estimate the reach of a given expelled pathogen.

Source: EurekAlert

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Breathing air pollution may be as toxic as cigarette smoke for pregnant women

Photo: Adamr/freedigitalphotos.net
Breathing the air outside their homes may be just as toxic to pregnant women —if not more so — as breathing in cigarette smoke, increasing a mom-to-be’s risk of developing deadly complications such as preeclampsia, according to findings from a new University of Florida study.

UF researchers compared birth data with Environmental Protection Agency estimates of air pollution, finding that heavy exposure to four air pollutants led to a significantly increased risk for developing a high blood pressure disorder during pregnancy. The research was published in the January issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The pollutants include two specific types of fine and coarse particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. According to the EPA, particulate matter includes acids, dust, metals and soil particles. These inhalable particles are released from industries and forest fires and can form when gases react with each other in the air. Sulfur dioxide is emitted from power plants and industries. Most carbon monoxide is produced by car exhaust.

“Fetal development is very sensitive to environmental factors,” said Xiaohui Xu, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology in the colleges of Public Health and Health Professions and Medicine. “That is why we wanted to do this research. Hypertension (high blood pressure), in particular, is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, causing a lot of problems for the mother and fetus, including preterm delivery.”

Hypertensive disorders such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and the deadly condition it leads to, eclampsia, affect about 10 percent of pregnancies. Despite the serious risks to mother and baby, little is known about what specifically causes these conditions to develop in pregnant women, the researchers say.

Although more studies are needed, the researchers hypothesize that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may affect a woman’s normal pattern of blood pressure.

“We also want to look at preterm delivery and low birth-weight and find out what the effects of breathing contaminated air are on fetal development.” Xu said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What percentage of your food has some type of packaging? It may be making you sick.

photo: antpkr/freedigitalphotos.net
Think of your last trip to the grocery store -- it's likely that even your vegetables may be housed in some type of packaging. 

Scientists are now concerned that all those synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term.

In a commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers say that most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat.

Despite the fact that some of these chemicals are regulated, people who eat packaged or processed foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives, say the authors.

And far too little is known about their long term impact, including at crucial stages of human development, such as in the womb, which is "surely not justified on scientific grounds," the authors claim.

They point out that lifelong exposure to food contact materials or FCMs - substances used in packaging, storage, processing, or preparation equipment - "is a cause for concern for several reasons."

These include the fact that known toxicants, such as formaldehyde, a cancer causing substance, are legally used in these materials. Formaldehyde is widely present, albeit at low levels, in plastic bottles used for fizzy drinks and melamine tableware.

Secondly, other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production also crop up in FCMs, including bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan, and phthalates.

"Whereas the science for some of these substances is being debated and policy makers struggle to satisfy the needs of stakeholders, consumers remain exposed to these chemicals daily, mostly unknowingly," the authors point out.

And, thirdly, the total number of known chemical substances used intentionally in FCMs exceeds 4000.

Furthermore, potential cellular changes caused by FCMs, and in particular, those with the capacity to disrupt hormones, are not even being considered in routine toxicology analysis, which prompts the authors to suggest that this "casts serious doubts on the adequacy of chemical regulatory procedures."

They admit that establishing potential cause and effect as a result of lifelong and largely invisible exposure to FCMs will be no easy task, largely because there are no unexposed populations to compare with, and there are likely to be wide differences in exposure levels among individuals and across certain population groups.

But some sort of population-based assessment and biomonitoring are urgently needed to tease out any potential links between food contact chemicals and chronic conditions like cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurological and inflammatory disorders, particularly given the known role of environmental pollutants, they argue.

"Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled," they urge.


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Study to look into possible links between air pollution and brain cancer

Photo: ddpavumba/freedigitalimages.net
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai have been awarded a $1 million grant to determine if several potentially toxic compounds that exist in polluted air are capable of entering the brain from the bloodstream and causing brain cancer.

The Brain and Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation is providing the funds for the south coast air quality management district study.

The National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Environmental Health Services, has identified 13 chemicals that have caused brain tumors. The Cedars-Sinai study will focus on three – naphthalene, butadiene and isoprene – that often are associated with polluted air.

Naphthalene, used in the plastics industry and a component of mothballs and other products, may be released into the air when coal and oil are burned. Butadiene, used in rubber manufacturing and found in vehicle exhaust, exists in low levels in the air of urban and suburban areas. Isoprene, a natural compound produced by certain trees and shrubs, is used in manufacturing synthetic rubber and adhesives. Alone, it usually is not considered an air pollutant, but when it mixes with high levels of nitric oxide – which often occurs in industrial areas – the combination produces "ground-level" ozone, which can be harmful when inhaled.

The air pollution study is intended to determine whether up to 12 months of ongoing exposure to air pollution causes molecular changes in the brain that are consistent with the development of brain tumor pathways and  if toxins associated with air pollution can cross the brain's natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier.

"Most studies looking at central nervous system cancers have focused on occupational hazards and have found that many manufacturing, farming, chemical and other industries are associated with increased risk. In this study, we will learn about particular components of air pollution and how they may be involved with the abnormal expression of genes and proteins that activate cancer stem cells. This may increase our understanding of air pollution as a potential risk factor for the generation of brain cancer," said Keith Black, MD, chair and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, director of the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience.

Black is principal investigator of this study. He and other Cedars-Sinai researchers have conducted earlier studies on air pollution and molecular brain changes that could lead to cancer development – primarily on the potential effects of diesel fuel exhaust – for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

In the new study, researchers will examine tissue exposed to pollutants at three months, six months and 12 months to determine if there is a change with longer exposure compared to shorter.

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