Air Pollution May Shorten Telomeres in Newborns – A Sign of Increased Health Risks

Shorter telomere length in cord blood associated with prenatal air pollution exposure: Benefits of intervention

A study conducted before and after the 2004 closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China, found children born before the closure had shorter telomeres than those conceived and born after the plant stopped polluting the air.

“An individual’s telomere length at birth is known to influence their risk for disease decades later during adulthood,”

Tang, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School.

2018 Study Highlights

  • Compared telomere length (TL) in babies born before and after a coal plant shutdown.
  • Prenatal exposure coal pollutants (PAH) estimated by cord PAH-DNA adducts.
  • Shorter TL previously associated with certain adverse health outcomes in adults.
  • PAH-DNA adducts in cord blood associated with shorter TL.
  • The second (post- intervention) cohort had significantly longer TL compared to the first.


To examine the molecular benefits of the government action to close the local coal burning power plant in Tongliang County, Chongqing Municipality, we compared biologic markers and health outcomes in two successive birth cohorts enrolled before and after the plant was shut down. In this city, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were primarily emitted by the coal burning facility. We previously reported that cord blood levels of PAH-DNA adducts (a biomarker of exposure) and various adverse health outcomes were reduced in the second cohort, whereas levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor/BDNF (a protein involved in neuronal growth) were increased. Here we assessed telomere length (TL), which has been associated with risk of certain chronic diseases, early mortality, aging and cognitive decline in adults.

The goals of the present study were to determine whether TL differed between the two cohorts and whether prenatal PAH exposure, estimated by PAH-DNA adducts in cord white blood cells of newborns in China, were predictive of shorter TL in cord blood, suggesting the potential accrual of risk of certain chronic diseases during the prenatal period. We explored relationships of TL with BDNF and neurodevelopmental outcomes, each previously associated with PAH-DNA adducts in these cohorts, as well as the potential mediating role of TL in the associations between adducts and neurodevelopmental outcomes.

We analyzed TL in cord blood of 255 newborns who also had data on PAH-DNA adducts, BDNF, and relevant covariates. Multiple regression analysis was carried out to test associations between adducts and TL and between TL and BDNF, adjusting for relevant covariates. In the subset with developmental quotient (DQ) scores from Gesell testing at age 2 (N = 210), we explored whether TL was a mediator of the relationship between PAH-DNA adducts and DQ scores by first examining the associations between cord adducts and DQ, cord adducts and TL, and TL and DQ, adjusting for the same covariates.

As hypothesized, the mean TL was significantly higher in the second cohort compared to the first cohort. Overall, PAH-DNA cord adducts were significantly and inversely correlated with TL. Multiple regression analysis showed a significant association between adducts and TL, after adjusting for key covariates: β (effect size per standard deviation adducts) = −0.019, p = .003. The regression coefficient of TL on (Ln) BDNF was also significant (β = 0.167, p < .001). Exploratory analysis, regressing TL on Gesell developmental scores, showed generally inverse, but not significant associations. TL was not, therefore, deemed to be a potential mediator of the association between adducts and developmental scores at age two.

This study provides the first evidence that prenatal PAH exposure from coal burning may adversely affect TL, with potential implications for future risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. The improvement in TL in the second cohort and the observed correlation between increased TL and higher levels of BDNF indicate direct benefits to the health and development of children resulting from the government’s closure of the power plant.

“The new study adds to the evidence that closing this coal-burning power plant was beneficial to the health and future wellbeing of newborns there,”
“Moreover, we know that lowering exposure to air pollution anywhere will be beneficial to children’s health and long-term potential.”

Perera, Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Chongqing featured image credit wikipedia.

Diethylstilbestrol crystalline powder

CAS No.: 56-53-1 via Hangzhou Royall Import & Export Co., Ltd, China

DES was/is still sold under many names including Distilbène®, Stilbetin®, Stilboestrol-Borne®, Benzestrol®, Chlorotrianisene®, Estrobene® and Estrosyn® to name just a few.

Many different companies manufactured and marketed this drug under more than 200 different brand names.

This Diethylstilbestrol CAS No.: 56-53-1 is sold by Hangzhou Royall Import & Export Co., Ltd, China.

DES Drugs Pictures
DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Diethylstilbestrol dimethyl ether

DES dimethyl ether via Shenzhen Cisco reaches biological technology LLC, China

DES was/is still sold under many names including Distilbène®, Stilbetin®, Stilboestrol-Borne®, Benzestrol®, Chlorotrianisene®, Estrobene® and Estrosyn® to name just a few.

Many different companies manufactured and marketed this drug under more than 200 different brand names.

These Diethylstilbestrol dimethyl ether bottles are sold by Shenzhen Cisco reaches biological technology LLC, China.

DES Drugs Pictures
DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Bioaccumulation of Antibiotic Pollution in Marine Food Webs

Antibiotic Pollution in Marine Food Webs in Laizhou Bay, North China: Trophodynamics and Human Exposure Implication

2017 Study Abstract

Little information is available about the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of antibiotics in marine food webs.

Here, we investigate the levels and trophic transfer of 9 sulfonamide (SA), 5 fluoroquinolone (FQ), and 4 macrolide (ML) antibiotics, as well as trimethoprim in nine invertebrate and ten fish species collected from a marine food web in Laizhou Bay, North China in 2014 and 2015.

All the antibiotics were detected in the marine organisms, with SAs and FQs being the most abundant antibiotics. Benthic fish accumulated more SAs than invertebrates and pelagic fish, while invertebrates exhibited higher FQ levels than fish.

Antibiotic Pollution in Marine Food Webs in Laizhou Bay, North China: Trophodynamics and Human Exposure Implication, Environmental Science & Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b04556, January 20, 2017.

Generally, SAs and trimethoprim biomagnified in the food web, while the FQs and MLs were biodiluted. Trophic magnification factors (TMF) were 1.2–3.9 for SAs and trimethoprim, 0.3–1.0 for FQs and MLs. Limited biotransformation and relatively high assimilation efficiencies are the likely reasons for the biomagnification of SAs. The pH dependent distribution coefficients (log D) but not the lipophilicity (log KOW) of SAs and FQs had a significant correlation (r = 0.73; p < 0.05) with their TMFs.

Although the calculated estimated daily intakes (EDI) for antibiotics suggest that consumption of seafood from Laizhou Bay is not associated with significant human health risks, this study provides important insights into the guidance of risk management of antibiotics.

New form of antibiotic resistance may already be spreading across borders

Apocalypse Pig: The Last Antibiotic Begins to Fail

image of pigs
On Thursday, researchers from several Chinese, British and US universities announced in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases that they have identified a new form of resistance, to the very last-ditch drug colistin—and that it is present in both meat animals and people, probably comes from agricultural use of that drug, can move easily among bacteria, and may already be spreading across borders. This is very bad news. CAFNR.

2015 Study abstract

Until now, polymyxin resistance has involved chromosomal mutations but has never been reported via horizontal gene transfer. During a routine surveillance project on antimicrobial resistance in commensal Escherichia coli from food animals in China, a major increase of colistin resistance was observed. When an E coli strain, SHP45, possessing colistin resistance that could be transferred to another strain, was isolated from a pig, we conducted further analysis of possible plasmid-mediated polymyxin resistance. Herein, we report the emergence of the first plasmid-mediated polymyxin resistance mechanism, MCR-1, in Enterobacteriaceae.

The mcr-1 gene in E coli strain SHP45 was identified by whole plasmid sequencing and subcloning. MCR-1 mechanistic studies were done with sequence comparisons, homology modelling, and electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry. The prevalence of mcr-1 was investigated in E coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae strains collected from five provinces between April, 2011, and November, 2014. The ability of MCR-1 to confer polymyxin resistance in vivo was examined in a murine thigh model.

Polymyxin resistance was shown to be singularly due to the plasmid-mediated mcr-1 gene. The plasmid carrying mcr-1 was mobilised to an E coli recipient at a frequency of 10−1 to 10−3 cells per recipient cell by conjugation, and maintained in K pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In an in-vivo model, production of MCR-1 negated the efficacy of colistin. MCR-1 is a member of the phosphoethanolamine transferase enzyme family, with expression in E coli resulting in the addition of phosphoethanolamine to lipid A. We observed mcr-1 carriage in E coli isolates collected from 78 (15%) of 523 samples of raw meat and 166 (21%) of 804 animals during 2011–14, and 16 (1%) of 1322 samples from inpatients with infection.

The emergence of MCR-1 heralds the breach of the last group of antibiotics, polymyxins, by plasmid-mediated resistance. Although currently confined to China, MCR-1 is likely to emulate other global resistance mechanisms such as NDM-1. Our findings emphasise the urgent need for coordinated global action in the fight against pan-drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.

Sources and more information
  • Apocalypse Pig: The Last Antibiotic Begins to Fail,
    phenomena.nationalgeographic, 11/21/2015.
  • Emergence of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism MCR-1 in animals and human beings in China: a microbiological and molecular biological study, sciencedirect, 19 November 2015.
  • Colistin resistance: a major breach in our last line of defence,
    sciencedirect, 19 November 2015.

Excessive amount of antibiotics found in Chinese waters threatens health of millions, ecosystems

High levels of antibiotics in China’s rivers expose millions of nearby residents and local ecosystems to grave risks

High levels of antibiotics found in Yangtse river, China – image credit Marshall Segal.

China Central Television reported this week that a very excessive amount of antibiotics has been found in water tested from China’s major rivers, as well as in tap water in East China’s Jiangsu Province, exposing millions of nearby residents and local ecosystems to grave risks.

The report said that the high concentration of antibiotics was created by pharmaceutical drug producers illegal discharges and by poultry farmers abuse.

Read High levels of antibiotics in China’s rivers,
Global Times, 2014-12-26.

China’s Food Safety Standards: Diethylstilbestrol DES max residual Limit 250 times higher

Fatal Misperception: How Unsafe Is Chinese Food?

Fatal Misperception: How Unsafe Is Chinese Food?
China’s maximum residual limit of DiEthylStilbestrol is 250 times that of the EU

China has fewer and often lower food safety standards, and about one fourth of the current standards have not been updated for more than ten years.

The gap between Chinese and EU standards is especially large.
For example, China’s maximum residual limit of diethylstilbestrol (DES) is 0.25/kg, 250 times that of the EU (0.001 mg/kg).

Are you a fan of Chinese herbal products?
Read more about the astonishing findings of two reports …
Fatal Misperception: How Unsafe Is Chinese Food?
by Yanzhong Huang, 10 July 10 2013.

More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources