How chemicals can affect the health of developing children

There is an increased concern about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially their interference on the thyroid gland

The impact of such chemicals on thyroid hormone levels, especially those of pregnant women during the first three months of pregnancy, may result in neurodevelopmental diseases, autism and IQ loss in the unborn child.

Barbara Demeneix, Professor from the French National Museum of Natural History, explains why these chemicals affect the signalling of thyroid hormones and what we can do to protect our children.

Video published on 7 February 2018, by EUchemicals.

What are you putting on your baby? Or on your genitals?

Sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products

2019 Study Highlights

  • Three VOCs and 4 phthalates were measured in commercial sanitary pads and diapers.
  • Air in the packages of sanitary pads and diapers contained as high as 5.9 ppb of VOCs.
  • Sanitary pads and diapers contained as high as 8,014.9 ppb of phthalates.
  • VOCs and phthalates contained in the commercial products considerably vary among the brands.

Abstract

Sanitary pads and diapers are made of synthetic plastic materials that can potentially be released while being used. This study measured the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (methylene chloride, toluene, and xylene) and phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, and BBP) contained in sanitary pads and diapers. In sanitary pads, 5,900- and 130-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were seen among the brands. In the diapers, 3- and 63-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were detected among the brands. VOC concentrations from the sanitary pads and diapers were similar to that of the residential air. However, phthalate concentrations of sanitary pads and diapers were significantly higher than those found in common commercial plastic products. As sanitary pads and diapers are in direct contact with external genitalia for an extended period, there is a probability that a considerable amount of VOCs or phthalates could be absorbed into the reproductive system.

 

A policy of pollution prevention is clearly preferable to pollution control

REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle

Video published on 21 November 2012, by Dove Medical Press.

Read REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle, 10/2017.

Reference.

REACH, animal testing, and the precautionary principle

In drug, EDCs, chemical safety tests, using one species to represent another simply doesn’t work

Abstract, 2012

Relatively little is known about the toxicity of the many chemicals in existence today. This has prompted European Union regulatory authorities to launch a major chemicals testing program, known as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Although the driving force behind REACH is ostensibly based on the precautionary principle, in practice, the evidence suggests that it is oriented more toward risk assessment than precaution. In addition, the test methods used to assess chemical risk also raise questions about the efficacy of REACH in achieving its stated aims of protecting human health and the environment. These tests rely in large part on animal models. However, based on empirical evidence and on well-established principles of evolutionary biology and complex systems, the animal model fails as a predictive modality for humans. In turn, these concerns raise significant ethical and legal issues that must be addressed urgently. Immediate measures should include a major biomonitoring program to reliably assess the chemical burden in European Union citizens as a means of prioritizing the most dangerous substances present in the environment. Blood and urine biomarkers are useful tools with which to implement biomonitoring and to help guide public policy. An ecological paradigm, based on pollution prevention, rather than pollution control and risk assessment of individual chemicals, represents a superior strategy, to prevent global chemical pollution and toxicity risks to human health.

Reference. Image theecologist.

Recycling plastics resulting in toys and other items being saturated with flame retardants harmful substances

European study exposing toxic e-waste chemicals in children’s products spurs calls for policy to end recycling exemptions for hazardous waste

Brussels, 16.10.2018 – Environmental health researchers released alarming evidence  that toxic brominated flame retardants, hazardous chemicals from electronic waste that are known to disrupt thyroid function and cause neurological and attention deficits in children, are contaminating recycled plastics in consumer products across Europe.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics World Congress 2018

XXII FIGO 2018, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics is the single largest global congress on maternal and infant health, bringing together obstetricians, gynecologists and related health professionals from around the world.

The #FIGO2018 XXII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics will take place in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 14-19 October 2018.

Environmental threats to human health

FIGO Media Briefing, Environmental Health, London, 1 October, 2018

In the last 40 years, there has been a global increase in human exposure to a variety of potentially toxic chemicals in the environment.

Research shows that whether we are concerned with reproductive health, cancer, infertility, neonatal and childhood health or neurodevelopment; toxic exposures are implicated.

World leaders have acknowledged that minimising environmental threats to human health and reproduction is a necessity if we are to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination, and therefore progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

“We are at the very beginning of a tsunami that will require local leadership: California has placed a priority on energy independence which can improve air quality and reduce birth defects, prematurity, asthma and heart disease. The European Union has limited exposure to endocrine disruptors. China instituted a host of measures in 2013, so that by 2018 there has been a reduction of air particulate matter by 32%. They declared a war on pollution and are winning!”

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.

“Our first challenge is awareness: Most clinicians are not aware that environmental exposures impact health. Most of us assume that the chemicals released into the environment, that we are exposed to as we apply make-up, prepare food, or breathe air, have been studied. They have not. Clinicians need to understand that the lack of research doesn’t mean they are safe, and makes the burden of proof very difficult, because our patients are exposed repeatedly to many chemicals in many ways through many types of exposure”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA

This month, October 14 – 19, over 10,000 health professionals are attending FIGO World Congress 2018 in Rio de Janiero. Environmental Health is a core theme throughout the event, with key sessions being covered include:

  • Impact of Environmental Toxics on Global Women’s Health
  • Environmental Reproductive Health and the Heath Care Provider: Evidence based approaches to providing advice
  • Research agenda to illuminate how the environment affects reproductive and developmental health
  • “Training the Trainers” to talk with their patients and the public about environmental impacts on health

“Our challenge is priorities: When we are faced with maternal mortality, cancer, and violence, it may seem we do not have the “band width” or capacity to discuss the environment. BUT we need to help clinicians understand they are equipped to discuss this subject and lead their patients in awareness, and that advocacy for change is essential”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

Reference.

Much pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective

How to control and mitigate the effects of pollution on public health ; The Lancet Commission on pollution and health

Pollution is the world’s largest environmental cause of disease and premature death. The Lancet Commission on pollution and health brought together leaders, researchers and practitioners from the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development to elucidate the full health and economic costs of air, water, chemical and soil pollution worldwide.

By analysing existing and emerging data, the Commission reveals that pollution makes a significant and underreported contribution to the global burden of disease, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The Commission also provides six recommendations to policymakers and other stakeholders looking for efficient, cost-effective and actionable approaches to pollution mitigation and prevention, Science for Environment Policy reports.

Six Lancet Commission recommendations

  1. Make pollution prevention a high priority nationally and internationally and integrate it into country and city planning processes.
  2. Mobilise, increase and focus the funding and international technical support dedicated to pollution control.
  3. Establish systems to monitor pollution and its effects on health.
  4. Build multi-sectoral partnerships for pollution control.
  5. Integrate pollution mitigation into planning processes for NCDs.
  6. Research pollution and pollution control.

Read The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, October 19, 2017.

Fracking chemicals entering the food chain

Accumulation of Marcellus Formation Oil and Gas Wastewater Metals in Freshwater Mussel Shells

Radioactive fracking chemicals dumped in the Allegheny River a decade ago are still showing up in mussels, Environmental Health News
reports. Chemicals from fracking wastewater dumped into Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River before 2011 are still accumulating in the bodies of freshwater mussels downstream, according to a new study.

Abstract

For several decades, high-salinity water brought to the surface during oil and gas (O&G) production has been treated and discharged to waterways under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

In Pennsylvania, USA, a portion of the treated O&G wastewater discharged to streams from 2008 to 2011 originated from unconventional (Marcellus) wells.

We collected freshwater mussels, Elliptio dilatata and Elliptio complanata, both upstream and downstream of a NPDES-permitted facility, and for comparison, we also collected mussels from the Juniata and Delaware Rivers that have no reported O&G discharge.

We observed changes in both the Sr/Cashell and 87Sr/86Srshell in shell samples collected downstream of the facility that corresponded to the time period of greatest Marcellus wastewater disposal (2009–2011). Importantly, the changes in Sr/Cashell and 87Sr/86Srshell shifted toward values characteristic of O&G wastewater produced from the Marcellus Formation. Conversely, shells collected upstream of the discharge and from waterways without treatment facilities showed lower variability and no trend in either Sr/Cashell or 87Sr/86Srshell with time (2008–2015).

These findings suggest that

  1. freshwater mussels may be used to monitor changes in water chemistry through time and help identify specific pollutant sources
  2. and O&G contaminants likely bioaccumulated in areas of surface water disposal.

The Dangers of Plastic Food Packaging : Food Additives and Child Health Report

Chemicals in Food May Harm Children, Pediatricians’ Group Says

In their Policy Statement and Technical Report, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers, cut down on processed meat during pregnancy and consume more whole fruits and vegetables rather than processed food.

Such measures would lower children’s exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems such as obesity, Roni Caryn Rabin reports. Featured image credit Fancycrave.com from Pexels.

2018 Technical Report Abstract

Increasing scientific evidence suggests potential adverse effects on children’s health from synthetic chemicals used as food additives, both those deliberately added to food during processing (direct) and those used in materials that may contaminate food as part of packaging or manufacturing (indirect). Concern regarding food additives has increased in the past two decades in part because of studies that increasingly document endocrine disruption and other adverse health effects. In some cases, exposure to these chemicals is disproportionate among minority and low-income populations. This report focuses on those food additives with the strongest scientific evidence for concern. Further research is needed to study effects of exposure over various points in the life course, and toxicity testing must be advanced to be able to better identify health concerns prior to widespread population exposure. The accompanying policy statement describes approaches policy makers and pediatricians can take to prevent the disease and disability that are increasingly being identified in relation to chemicals used as food additives, among other uses.