Human Consumption of Microplastics

You could be swallowing a credit card’s weight in plastic every week

Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, a new study suggests.

Abstract

Microplastics are ubiquitous across ecosystems, yet the exposure risk to humans is unresolved.
Focusing on the American diet, we evaluated the number of microplastic particles in commonly consumed foods in relation to their recommended daily intake.The potential for microplastic inhalation and how the source of drinking water may affect microplastic consumption were also explored.

Our analysis used 402 data points from 26 studies, which represents over 3600 processed samples.

Evaluating approximately 15% of Americans’ caloric intake, we estimate that annual microplastics consumption ranges from 39000 to 52000 particles depending on age and sex. These estimates increase to 74000 and 121000 when inhalation is considered. Additionally, individuals who meet their recommended water intake through only bottled sources may be ingesting an additional 90000 microplastics annually, compared to 4000 microplastics for those who consume only tap water.

These estimates are subject to large amounts of variation; however, given methodological and data limitations, these values are likely underestimates.

See also CNN press release.

60 MiNueTs Toxic

UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, 2017

Video published on 18 Apr 2019 by the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)’s mission is to create a healthier environment for human reproduction and development through advancing scientific inquiry, clinical care and health policies that prevent exposures to harmful chemicals in our environment.

More Information

Adult and Prenatal Chemical Exposures

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, with Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., Mar 2019

  • How am I exposed to chemicals?
  • What are prenatal exposures?
  • How can I reduce my own personal exposures?
  • What more can I do to help make a change?

Featuring BCPP Science Advisory Panel member Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California, San Francisco, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF

Bad Diets Are Responsible For More Deaths Than Smoking, Global Study Finds

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe

Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017

Summary

Background
Suboptimal diet is an important preventable risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs); however, its impact on the burden of NCDs has not been systematically evaluated. This study aimed to evaluate the consumption of major foods and nutrients across 195 countries and to quantify the impact of their suboptimal intake on NCD mortality and morbidity.

Methods
By use of a comparative risk assessment approach, we estimated the proportion of disease-specific burden attributable to each dietary risk factor (also referred to as population attributable fraction) among adults aged 25 years or older. The main inputs to this analysis included the intake of each dietary factor, the effect size of the dietary factor on disease endpoint, and the level of intake associated with the lowest risk of mortality. Then, by use of disease-specific population attributable fractions, mortality, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), we calculated the number of deaths and DALYs attributable to diet for each disease outcome.

Findings
In 2017, 11 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 10–12) deaths and 255 million (234–274) DALYs were attributable to dietary risk factors. High intake of sodium (3 million [1–5] deaths and 70 million [34–118] DALYs), low intake of whole grains (3 million [2–4] deaths and 82 million [59–109] DALYs), and low intake of fruits (2 million [1–4] deaths and 65 million [41–92] DALYs) were the leading dietary risk factors for deaths and DALYs globally and in many countries. Dietary data were from mixed sources and were not available for all countries, increasing the statistical uncertainty of our estimates.

Interpretation
This study provides a comprehensive picture of the potential impact of suboptimal diet on NCD mortality and morbidity, highlighting the need for improving diet across nations. Our findings will inform implementation of evidence-based dietary interventions and provide a platform for evaluation of their impact on human health annually.

EDC-Mix Risk policy brief

Key messages on the risks of exposure to mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals

Safe chemicals for future generations

EDC-MixRisk is an EU project designed to ultimately lead to a safer environment for our children, an environment where the next generation can grow old without their quality of life being threatened by environmental chemicals or their mixtures.

The endocrine disrupting properties of chemicals, and mixtures thereof, have become a global concern. A normally functioning healthy endocrine system is essential for our ability to reproduce and develop. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are linked to serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders and reproductive problems. The fact that we are exposed to complex mixtures of EDCs is of particular concern.

EDC-MixRisk is an EU Horizon 2020 research project that studied the effects of prenatal exposure to mixtures of suspected EDCs on the development and health in children. Our work emphasises potential effects of EDC mixtures during foetal development and provides new tools and approaches for mixture risk assessment.

Key findings

  • Chemicals identified in pregnant women within the general population originated from different sources and application areas which are currently regulated by different pieces of European Union legislations.
  • Epidemiological analysis showed that prenatal exposure to mixtures of EDCs was associated with various effects in children’s health and development. Some effects were sex specific.
  • The tested mixtures affected hormone-regulated and disease-relevant outcomes in a variety of experimental models at the same concentrations found in the pregnant women.
  • Applying our novel whole mixture approach indicates a higher risk for children compared to risk estimated by current methods based on a single compound assessment.

Read the full EDC-MixRisk policy brief on edcmixrisk.ki.se, 2019.
Read the press release, 26 March, 2019.

Why are ObGyns Talking Toxins ?

Let’s make environmental health part of health care

Doctors from 125 countries want policies to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals

Produced for PRHE by Susan Lamontagne, Public Interest Media Group, for the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) XXI World Congress on September 30, 2015.

Les enfants que nous concevons seront-ils aptes à gérer le futur que nous leur préparons ?

Bébés thérapeutiques

Publié par Luc Perino, médecin généraliste, humeur du 05/06/2019

Le terme de « bébé médicament » désigne un enfant conçu in vitro pour sauver un frère ou une sœur porteur d’une maladie génétique. L’embryon sélectionné doit être indemne de la maladie et immuno-compatible avec son aîné afin d’utiliser le sang de cordon ombilical. Cette pratique rarissime est difficile, et nous ignorons l’impact psychologique à long terme sur ces enfants découvrant qu’ils ont été conçus exclusivement pour la survie d’un autre.

Inversement, existe une pratique courante que nous pouvons nommer « bébé thérapeutique », conçu essentiellement pour le bénéfice de ses géniteurs. Nous ne parlons pas de la vertu thérapeutique qu’ont tous les enfants en apportant du bonheur à leurs géniteurs. Classiquement, on désapprouvait les couples en conflit dont un nouvel enfant semblait avoir été conçu comme médiateur. Mais ce sujet n’est pas médical.
Le médecin doit commencer à s’interroger lorsque le bénéfice parental risque de se faire aux dépens des enfants et des adultes qu’ils deviendront.

Dans ce cadre, les enfants nés par PMA (Procréation Médicalement Assistée ; FIV ou stimulation ovarienne) sont exposés à plus de risques que les autres.

  • Le risque de malformations cardiovasculaires, musculo-squelettiques, urogénitales et gastro-intestinales est significativement plus élevé.
  • Le risque de troubles cognitifs et d’infirmité motrice cérébrale est aussi plus élevé.
  • Les troubles visuels sérieux sont plus fréquents.
  • Les enfants ainsi conçus ont un net excédent de maladies orphelines, particulièrement celles qui sont liées à une anomalie de l’empreinte parentale (épigénétique).
  • Les dépressions du post-partum sont plus importantes après PMA et retentissent évidemment sur l’enfant.
  • Le recours à la PMA se révèle nocif en lui-même, indépendamment de la méthode utilisée. En effet les personnes y ayant recours ont logiquement des problèmes d’infertilité, le plus souvent liés à l’âge parental. Le risque d’autisme et de schizophrénie augmente considérablement avec l’âge du père.
  • Il existe également un risque majeur avec les jeunes anorexiques niant leur problème. La stimulation ovarienne réussit très souvent chez ces jeunes femmes (parfois adolescentes ou vierges) et conduit à des grossesses qui aggravent les troubles psychiatriques et créent de sévères pathologies de l’attachement nuisibles à l’enfant.
  • La liste est plus longue et encore mal connue. En effet, notre pays déconseille de faire des études sur les enfants nés par PMA pour ne pas les stigmatiser. Les médecins n’étant pas bridés par le législateur ont tendance à élargir les indications pour le plaisir des parents et pour la prouesse technique ; hors de toute considération éthique, et inconscients des malformations et handicaps induits.

Se préoccuper du réchauffement climatique, de la biodiversité, de la pollution atmosphérique et chimique, pour les générations futures, est une bonne chose. Encore faut-il concevoir des enfants qui seront psychologiquement, cognitivement et physiologiquement capables d’affronter et de gérer ces périls.

En Savoir Plus

Why are Doctors Talking Toxins ?

And how to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals worldwide ?

It’s time to shift the burden of proof, from scientists, back to the chemical industry

Video published on 5 June 2019, by UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

Nearly half of (Italian) playgrounds tested contaminated by pesticide(s)

Pesticide contamination and associated risk factors at public playgrounds near intensively managed apple and wine orchards

2019 Study Abstract

Background
Pesticide levels are generally monitored within agricultural areas, but are commonly not assessed at public places. To assess possible contamination of non-target areas, 71 public playgrounds located next to intensively managed apple and wine orchards were selected in four valleys of South Tyrol (northern Italy). Further, the impact of environmental site characteristics on the number and concentration of pesticides was assessed. Grass samples from the selected playgrounds were collected and screened for 315 pesticide residues using standard gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Results
Nearly half of the playgrounds (45%) were contaminated by at least one pesticide and a quarter (24%) by more than one. Eleven of the 12 different detected pesticides are classified as endocrine-active substances including the insecticide phosmet and the fungicide fluazinam showing the highest concentrations (0.069 and 0.26 mg kg−1, respectively). Additionally, one disinfectant and one preservation agent was found. Playgrounds in Venosta valley were most often contaminated (76% of all investigated playgrounds), highest concentrations were found in the Low Adige (2.02 mg kg−1). Pesticide concentrations were positively associated with areal proportion of apple orchards in the surroundings, the amount of rainfall and wind speed. In contrast, increasing global irradiance, opposite wind direction, increasing distance to agricultural sites and high wind speeds when pesticide application was not allowed were associated with decreasing pesticide contamination.

Conclusion
This study is among the first investigating pesticide contamination of public playgrounds together with environmental factors in areas with pesticide-intensive agriculture at the beginning of the growing season. It is likely that playgrounds will be affected by more pesticides and higher concentrations over the course of the crop season. The result, that the majority of the detected pesticides are classified as endocrine active is worrisome as children are especially vulnerable. Hence, we recommend that pesticide risk assessments should better include protection measures for non-target areas.
Image Antonio Thomás Koenigkam Oliveira.

Environmental Health Concerns From Unconventional Natural Gas Development

After a decade of research, here’s what scientists know about the health impacts of fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process of extracting oil and gas from the Earth by drilling deep wells and injecting a mixture of liquids and chemicals at high pressure. According to a new study, fracking has been linked to preterm births, high-risk pregnancies, asthma, migraine headaches, fatigue, nasal and sinus symptoms, and skin disorders over the last 10 years, Environmental Health News reports. Image Victoria Buchan-Dyer.

Summary and Keywords

Unconventional natural gas development (UNGD), which includes the processes of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from unconventional reservoirs such as shale, has dramatically expanded since 2000. In parallel, concern over environmental and community impacts has increased along with the threats they pose for health. Shale gas reservoirs are present on all continents, but only a small proportion of global reserves has been extracted through 2016. Natural gas production from UNGD is highest in the United States in Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. But unconventional production is also in practice elsewhere, including in eighteen other U.S. states, Canada, and China. Given the rapid development of the industry coupled with its likelihood of further growth and public concern about potential cumulative and long-term environmental and health impacts, it is important to review what is currently known about these topics.

The environmental impacts from UNGD include chemical, physical, and psychosocial hazards as well as more general community impacts. Chemical hazards commonly include detection of chemical odors; volatile organic compounds (including BTEX chemicals [benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene], and several that have been implicated in endocrine disruption) in air, soil, and surface and groundwater; particulate matter, ozone, and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in air; and inorganic compounds, including heavy metals, in soil and water, particularly near wastewater disposal sites. Physical hazards include noise, light, vibration, and ionizing radiation (including technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials [TENORMs] in air and water), which can affect health directly or through stress pathways. Psychosocial hazards can also operate through stress pathways and include exposure to increases in traffic accidents, heavy truck traffic, transient workforces, rapid industrialization of previously rural areas, increased crime rates, and changes in employment opportunities as well as land and home values. In addition, the deep-well injection of wastewater from UNGD has been associated with increased seismic activity.

These environmental and community impacts have generated considerable concern about potential health effects and corresponding political debate over whether UNGD should be promoted, regulated, or banned. For several years after the expansion of the industry, there were no well-designed, population-based studies that objectively measured UNGD activity or associated exposures in relation to health outcomes. This delay is inherent after the introduction of new industries, but hundreds of thousands of wells were drilled before any health studies were completed. By 2017, there were a number of important, peer-reviewed studies published in the scientific literature that raised concern about potential ongoing health impacts. These studies have reported associations between proximity to UNGD and pregnancy and birth outcomes; migraine headache, chronic rhinosinusitis, severe fatigue, and other symptoms; asthma exacerbations; and psychological and stress-related concerns. Beyond its direct health impacts, UNGD may be substantially contributing to climate change (due to fugitive emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas), which has further health impacts. Certain health outcomes, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, cannot yet be studied because insufficient time has passed in most regions since the expansion of UNGD to allow for latency considerations. With the potential for tens of thousands of additional wells across large geographic areas, these early health studies should give pause about whether and how UNGD should proceed. Citing health concerns, several U.S. states and nations in Europe have already decided to not allow UNGD.