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.”

The first industrial-grade air purifier available for home use, AllerAir room air purifiers remove 99.97% of fine particles to 0.3 microns and the airborne chemicals and odors that other air cleaners leave behind. Now available on Costco.com.

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

 For more stories on health, pollution, chemical exposure and improving your indoor air quality visit www.allerair.com or call to speak to an air quality expert about improving the air in your home 1-888-852-8247. 

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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