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October 7, 2011

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Better Regulation of Industrial Chemicals
The Australian Government recently announced that it will conduct a review of the
Commonwealth’s regulatory settings for the notification, assessment and regulation of
industrial chemicals. The review will examine ways of enhancing the competitiveness of
the Australian chemical industry as well as improving public health and environmental
outcomes. The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme
(NICNAS) is a statutory scheme within the Health and Ageing portfolio that provides
scientific assessment of industrial chemical risks to public health, occupational health and
safety and the environment. Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine
King said this is an important review into the regulatory settings for industrial chemicals.
“There has not been an overarching review of NICNAS since its establishment in 1990,”
Ms King said. “In that time NICNAS’s roles and responsibilities have evolved and there
have been calls from both industry and community sectors to improve the regulation of
industrial chemicals.”The review will assess the regulation of industrial chemicals in
Australia, as well as the current system of assessment and notification of these
substances, and look at ways to enhance them. Any recommendations will of course
ensure there is no weakening of human and environmental health protection standards.”
The Minister Assisting on Deregulation, Senator Nick Sherry, said the chemicals industry
is an important part of Australia’s manufacturing sector and a key contributor to our
economy. “There are a range of agencies and mechanisms which play a role in regulation
of this area,” Senator Sherry said. “This can give rise to overlapping arrangements and
considerable complexity, which can lead to increased compliance costs for industry.
“Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory processes for industrial chemicals
will enhance access to newer and safer chemicals, encouraging innovation and
competition, while benefiting human health and the environment.”

The review will be undertaken as a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership between the
Minister for Finance and Deregulation and the Minister for Health and Ageing and will build
on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission Research Report: Chemicals and
Plastics Regulation, July 2008 and relevant commitments made under COAG’s Seamless
National Economy National Partnership Agreement, 2009. The Partnership will consider
how to improve regulatory settings to enhance both the competitiveness of the Australian
chemical industry and public health and environmental outcomes, including by assessing
and making recommendations in relation to:
the role and functions of NICNAS as set out in the Act and the extent to which they
adequately reflect stakeholder expectations and international best practice, having regard
to the broader context of chemicals regulation in Australia;
the governance and consultation arrangements of NICNAS and the extent to which they
support the effective delivery of NICNAS’ functions;
the efficiency and effectiveness of NICNAS’ operating arrangements and business
processes, with particular regard to the protection of human and environmental health, the
management of risk, and compliance costs for business; and
any implications for the resourcing of functions currently cost recovered, should the review
recommend changed responsibilities.
The review will seek input from consumer and industry stakeholders.
For more information on the review is available at:
Department of Health & Aging, 8 September 2011

Australian NGO highlights risk of nano-silver, calls for regulation
In a recent report, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Australia has warned that the increasing use
of nano-silver as an antibacterial ingredient in consumer products could result in the
emergence of bacteria resistant to silver, leading to an increasing number of ‘superbugs’
presenting a significant risk to human health. The FoE report combines interviews with four
scientists with a literature review of scientific studies to argue that the current use of
nano-silver presents a risk to human health, and the current lack of regulation represents a
significant failure in public policy. Therefore, the NGO is calling for precautionary action by
the Australian government to restrict the use of nano-silver in consumer, industrial and
environmental products, despite the recent government opposition to mandatory labelling
rules. Furthermore, FoE has launched an online petition to gather public support for its
campaign. A copy of the report is available at:
public%20health%20at%20risk%203.77MB.pdf and the partition can be found at:
Chemical Watch, 15 September 2011

Japan to expand prohibition of asbestos products
Japan has notified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of a proposed expansion to the
scope of asbestos containing products which are banned from manufacture to protect
workers under the Industrial Health and Safety Law. This amendment will appear in the
Official Government Gazette KAMPO when adopted. Details are available at:
Chemical Watch, 12 September 2011

Palau ratifies Stockholm Convention on POPs
The Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has
announced that the Republic of Palau, in the Pacific Islands, ratified the Convention on 8
September 2011. It will enter into force in Palau on 7 December 2011.
Chemical Watch, 13 September 2011

Chemicals Of Concern
The White House is under pressure from two democratic senators to release a list of
chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency says could endanger human health or the
environment. This so-called chemicals of concern list would include eight phthalates,
polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and bisphenol A. Over the past year, the chemical
industry has attempted to block release of EPA’s proposed list. Congress granted EPA the
authority to create such a list in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was
signed into law in 1976. Until now, EPA hasn’t attempted to use this authority. Now,
Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are calling on the
White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to finish its regulatory review of the
EPA list, which it began in May 2010. The list would not propose controls on the chemicals
included, but it is nonetheless considered a regulation. Generally, OMB finishes its review
of proposed regulations within three or four months. Lautenberg and Whitehouse, who are
sponsoring a bill (S. 847) to modernise TSCA, wrote in a 9 September letter to OMB, “As
Congress works toward reform of the law, it is important that EPA is allowed to fully utilise
its current authorities under TSCA to provide the public with information on chemicals that
might pose unreasonable risk.” OMB records show that representatives of the chemical
industry met with White House officials about the proposed list seven times since June
2010. Such meetings included officials from Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and Saudi Basic
Industries Corp., as well as the trade associations American Chemistry Council and
Flexible Vinyl Alliance. Industry has argued to OMB that placing substances—especially
phthalates, a class of compounds widely used in plastics—on the chemicals of concern list
would hurt business, contribute nothing to public health, decrease exports, and kill jobs.
Before EPA proposes the list, industry wants the agency to lay out criteria for selecting
chemicals on it.
It’s unclear how far these industry arguments will go with OMB.
Chemical & Engineering News, 12 September 2011

Congress Revamps Patent System
President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign into law the most significant overhaul of the
U.S. patent system in almost six decades. The legislation (H.R. 1249), which the Senate
cleared with broad support on 8 September, aims to streamline the review process and
give the Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to tackle a backlog of nearly
700,000 unexamined patent applications. The House of Representatives approved the
same measure in June. “The America Invents Act was passed with the President’s strong
leadership after nearly a decade of effort to reform our outdated patent laws,” White House
Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “It also reflects strong bipartisan cooperation.”
Carney said that at the signing ceremony, planned for 16 September, Obama will also
announce “new steps the Administration is taking that will help convert the ideas from
America’s universities and research labs into new products, expanding our economy and
creating new jobs.” The patent legislation transitions the U.S. from the first-to-invent
system of awarding patents to the first-inventor-to-file approach used throughout Europe
and Asia. Advocates say the switch will simplify procedures and reduce litigation. In
addition, the bill gives the patent office the authority to set its own fees and retain access
to all the money it collects from patent and trademark applicants rather than being limited
to a fixed budget. PTO Director David J. Kappos says the changes will give his agency
“the tools it needs to deliver cutting-edge technologies to the marketplace sooner, drive
down the backlog of patent applications, and expedite the issuance of high-quality
patents—all without adding a dime to the deficit.” The Coalition for 21st Century Patent
Reform, whose members include 3M, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eastman Chemical, Eli Lilly
& Co., Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline, says inventors and patent applicants will have a
simpler, more transparent, and objective path to patent protection.
“At the same time, they benefit from a reduction in the time, costs, and unpredictability
associated with the current system,” the coalition adds.
Chemical & Engineering News, 15 September 2011

EPA Releases Strategy to Protect People’s Health and the Environment in
Communities Overburdened by Pollution
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of Plan
EJ 2014, a three-year, comprehensive plan to advance environmental justice efforts in
nine areas, including rulemaking, permitting, enforcement, and science. Plan EJ 2014
aims to protect people’s health in communities overburdened by pollution, to empower
communities to take action to improve their health and environment, and to establish
partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal governments and organisations to promote
sustainable communities where a clean environment and healthy economy can thrive. “Far
too often, and for far too long, low-income, minority and tribal communities have lived in
the shadows of some of the worst pollution, holding back progress in the places where
they raise their families and grow their businesses,” said Lisa F. Garcia, senior advisor to
the EPA Administrator for Environmental Justice. “Today’s release of Plan EJ 2014
underscores Administrator Jackson’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that all
communities have access to clean air, water and land, and that all Americans have a voice
in this environmental conversation.” Plan EJ 2014 is EPA’s strategy to meet the mandate
of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority
Populations and Low-Income Populations,” which states that each federal agency, with the
law as its guide, should make environmental justice part of its mission. EPA released the
draft plan for public comment in fall 2010 and spring 2011 and held forums and listening
sessions in communities across the country. EPA, along with its federal partners, will
continue to conduct outreach, education, stakeholder forums and listening sessions as it
moves forward to implement EO 12898 and Plan EJ 2014. EPA will issue annual reports
documenting the progress toward meeting the commitments outlined in Plan EJ 2014. The
annual reports will be made available to the public through EPA’s website. Further details
are available at:
U.S EPA, 14 September 2011

Department of Transportation Proposes to Ban Electronic Cigarettes on Aircraft
The Department of Transportation is proposing to explicitly ban the use of electronic
cigarettes on aircraft. “Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance
passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes
in flight,” said Secretary LaHood. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in Federal
Register would clarify that the airline smoking rule prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes
and similar products, as tobacco products are now prohibited. Electronic cigarettes are
designed to deliver nicotine or other substances to the smoker in the form of a vapour.
Electronic cigarettes cause potential concern because there is a lack of scientific data and
knowledge of the ingredients in electronic cigarettes. The Department views its current
regulatory ban on smoking of tobacco products to be sufficiently broad to include the use
of electronic cigarettes. The Department is taking this action to eliminate any confusion
over whether the Department’s ban includes electronic cigarettes. The proposal would
apply to all scheduled flights of U.S. and foreign carriers involving transportation to and
from the United States. Amtrak has banned the use of electronic smoking devices on
trains and in any area where smoking is prohibited. The Air Force Surgeon General issued
a memorandum highlighting the safety concerns regarding electronic cigarettes and placed
them in the same category as tobacco products. The U.S Navy has banned electronic
cigarettes below decks in submarines. Further, several states have taken steps to ban
either the sale or use of electronic cigarettes. This NPRM proposes an explicit ban on the
use of electronic cigarettes in all forms, including but not limited to electronic cigars, pipes
and devices designed to look like everyday products such as pens. The ban does not
include the use of a device such as a nebulizer that delivers a medically beneficial
substance to a user in the form of a vapour. In addition, the Department is considering
whether to extend the ban on smoking, including electronic cigarettes, to charter flights of
U.S. carriers and foreign air carriers with aircraft that have a designed seating capacity of
19 or more passenger seats. The rulemaking proposed is a part of the Department’s
broader effort to strengthen airline passenger rights and improve information available to
the public.
Environmental Protection News, 15 September 2011

ASSE Announces New Prevention-Through-Design Standard
Recently, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) announced the approval of
the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE Z590.3 standard, “Prevention
through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign
Processes.” This new standard provides guidance on including prevention through design
concepts within an occupational safety and health management system, and can be
applied in any occupational setting. The Z590.3 standard focuses specifically on the
avoidance, elimination, reduction, and control of occupational safety and health hazards
and risks in the design and redesign process. Through the application of the concepts
presented in the standard, decisions about occupational hazards and risks can be
incorporated into the process of design and redesign of work areas, tools, equipment,
machinery, substances, and work processes. In addition, design and redesign includes
construction, manufacture, use, maintenance, and disposal of equipment used on the job.
One of the key elements of this standard is that it provides guidance for “lifecycle”
assessments and a design model that balances environmental and occupational safety
and health goals over the life span of a facility, process or product. The Z590.3 focuses on
the four key stages of occupational risk management. The pre-operational, operational,
post incident and, post operational stages are all addressed within. Fred Manuele, CSP,
P.E., chair of the Z590.3 committee that developed the standard stated, “This standard
supports and gives guidance for the well-established premise that occupational hazards
and risks are most effectively and economically avoided, eliminated, or controlled in the
design and redesign process.” Development and publication of this standard was a major
goal for the NIOSH Prevention through Design Plan for the National Initiative. The
standard also provides tools for determining and achieving acceptable levels of risk to
hazards that cannot be eliminated during design. Z590.3 complements, but does not
replace, performance objectives existing in other specific standards and procedures. The
goals of applying prevention through design concepts in an occupational setting are to:
achieve acceptable risk level; prevent or reduce occupationally related injuries, illnesses,
and fatalities; and reduce the cost of retrofitting necessary to mitigate hazards and risks
that were not sufficiently addressed in the design or redesign processes. ASSE currently
serves as the ANSI secretariat for 10 additional standards’ committees, working with
professionals worldwide to establish best practices for protecting people, property and the
Occupational Health & Safety News, 16 September 2011

Swedish researchers conclude little global harmonisation of occupational exposure
Researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have published a study
examining the current state of harmonisation between occupational exposure limits (OELs)
in Europe and Asia. The authors assessed the similarities and differences in the OEL
systems of eight Asian and 17 European organisations with respect to the system for
determining OELs, the selection of substances, and the levels of the OELs. They found
that the initiation of harmonisation processes within Europe reflected trends towards
convergence in the region. However, their comparisons of Asian and European
organisations showed no evidence that OELs are becoming globally harmonised, with
significant differences in both substance selection and the level of OELs shown.
Chemical Watch, 7 September 2011

Ireland publishes guidelines for biomonitoring programmes
Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published new guidelines for employers
managing a workplace biological monitoring programme to protect workers from exposure
to hazardous chemicals. For details go to:
Chemical Watch, 6 September 2011

UK Food Agency Calls for Clearer Date Labelling
Two new guidance documents issued by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) are
going to help consumers more easily understand “use by” date labels on their food
products and also make some products healthier. The second document tells
manufacturers how to remove six colours from food products because research has shown
they may be linked to hyperactivity in children who consume them. Both documents were
released 15 September. FSA and Defra, another government agency, jointly published the
guidance to help the food industry decide whether their products require a “use by” or
“best before” date. FSA said under the new, voluntary guidelines, food packaging should
use only “use by” or “best before” date labels to make it easier for shoppers to know when
food is at its best and how long it is safe to eat. “Sell by” and “display until” labels used for
stock rotation should be removed to avoid confusion for shoppers, and retailers should
explore different ways of tracking stock control, according to the agency. Liz Redmond,
who heads Hygiene and Microbiology at FSA, said there is a lot of confusion among
customers about date marks. “A number of different dates can be found on our food, so we
need to make sure that everyone knows the difference between them. We always
emphasise that ‘use by’ dates are the most important, as these relate to food safety. This
new guidance will give greater clarity to the food industry on which date mark should be
used on their products while maintaining consumer protection.” It is a violation to sell food
after the “use by” date, but retailers can -- with the exception of eggs -- sell products after
the “best before” date, providing it is safe to eat. Eggs have a “best before” date but should
not be eaten after the date shown on the label. FSA’s guidance on food colours said
combinations of these six permitted colours and the preservative sodium benzoate could
be linked to increased hyperactivity in some children. The colours are sunset yellow
(E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102),
and ponceau 4R (E124). Some manufacturers and retailers have already acted to remove
them, and the agency said it encourages others to work toward finding alternatives and
voluntarily withdraw the colours as requested by UK Ministers and the Food Standards
Agency in 2008. The guidance includes technical details with more information about
alternative colours that may be appropriate. The guidance was commissioned by the Food
Standards Agency in Scotland and produced by Campden BRI. FSA is an independent
government department created by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the public’s
health and consumer interests in relation to food. It represents the British government on
food safety and standards issues in the European Union.
Occupational Health & Safety News, 19 September 2011

Kemi plans more action on chemicals in articles
Sweden recently announced that it will push the EU to ban more chemicals from consumer
goods. In addition, it wants more information made available on the substances used in
products and to encourage manufacturers to substitute harmful ingredients. The goals are
among a series set out by chemicals agency Kemi in its strategy on chemical use in
articles. This follows the publication of a more general action plan on toxic substances in
March aiming for a “toxin-free everyday environment”. Consumers are at more risk today
as international trade makes it harder to track production processes and ensure imported
articles do not contained hazardous substances, the agency notes in its strategy,
published recently. Kemi will step up research on the risks posed by chemicals in
consumer goods and see how EU rules could be changed to encourage more disclosure.
Its initial focus will be on building products, furnishings, electronic goods, clothing and toys.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) must give sufficient weight to public interest
when considering chemicals firms’ requests for confidentiality, MEPs said in a resolution
on public access to documents adopted recently.
ENDS Europe Daily, 16 September 2011

REACH Update
ECHA publishes the analysis of substances that were not registered by the first
deadline despite the reported intentions
Some 1500 substances, identified to be registered according to a survey carried out in
April 2010, were not registered by the first registration deadline. The Directors’ Contact
Group (DCG) agreed to conduct an analysis of the reasons, and the European Chemicals
Agency (ECHA) has now published the results. DCG carried out a survey in spring 2010 to
focus the estimates of substances intended to be registered by the first registration
deadline. The list was assembled from different sources. After the deadline, ECHA
reported a gap of about 1500 substances, which represented 30% of all the intentions.
Mandated by the DCG, ECHA has analysed the discrepancy between the intended and
the realised registrations of phase-in substances. ECHA will now publish the list of those
substances that were identified to be registered by the first registration deadline but have
not been registered yet. The coordinated efforts of ECHA, industry associations and
Member State Competent Authorities have to date produced information for over 1200
substances and the explanations are given in the list. ECHA was unable to trace the
reason for non-registration for the remainder of the substances due to lack of feedback.
The list will not be updated. Therefore, downstream users interested in the status of their
substance(s) should first check the list of registered substances, which is updated
regularly. Only following this check, should they look for a potential explanation for
non-registration in the list published. The list is available at:
ECHA, 21 September 2011

Removal of invalid pre-registrations
The European Chemicals Agency supports the data sharing process between registrants
by removing invalid pre-registrations from its database. ECHA has removed some
outdated or irrelevant pre-registration information from the REACH-IT database. This will
enhance the data sharing process between potential registrants. After consultation with the
concerned pre-registrants, ECHA has removed the following:
pre-registrations for which the deletion was requested by the pre-registrant during the
pre-registration period;
pre-registrations corresponding to Annex IV entries;
based on inspection reports issued by the Member State Competent Authorities,
pre-registrations that are considered invalid because the pre-registrant is not lawfully
established in the EU or the pre-registrant could not be identified, because its postal
address is not correct and it did not reply to electronic and postal inquiries;
all pre-registrations made by legal entities whose REACH-IT accounts were blocked and
the use of the account was never reclaimed.
ECHA advises importers, potential registrants and downstream users to consult the list of
invalid pre-registrations on ECHA’s new dedicated website. In addition, the agency
reminds pre-registrants who do not intend to register a given substance to deactivate
themselves in the corresponding pre-SIEF page of REACH-IT.
ECHA, 21 September 2011

Report of the Directors’ Contact Group (DCG) available
The European Commission has published a report presenting achievements, lessons
learnt and recommendations from the Directors’ Contact Group between the European
Commission, ECHA and Industry Associations on meeting the first REACH registration
deadline. Fulfilling the REACH registration requirements by the deadline presented
significant challenges to industry. Therefore, the Commission invited six industry
organisations and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to the Directors’ Contact
Group (DCG) to monitor progress towards meeting the first registration deadline and to
reduce practical obstacles to registration. In the course of 2010, the DCG monitored the
overall preparedness of companies in meeting the registration deadline. Furthermore, the
DCG identified and addressed a total of 28 issues, contributing to the successful
completion of registration by the first deadline. The practical cooperation between the
Commission, ECHA and industry associations proved fruitful. The Commission has
published a report analysing the work of the DCG in 2010. The report sets out the
achievements, lessons learnt and recommendations of the group, demonstrating that
obstacles to registration can be reduced. The success of its efforts in 2010 made the
group decide to continue its work under a new and revised mandate, thus continuing its
support in facilitating the registration process through to the next major registration
deadline of 31 May 2013. The report is available at: Report_20110923.pdf
ECHA, 23 September 2011

Companies are urged to start preparing for the 2013 REACH registration deadline
ECHA launches the ‘REACH 2013 - Act Now!’ campaign at the REACH Conference on 23
September to remind the industry to start preparing for the second REACH registration
deadline. Companies manufacturing or importing chemicals in quantities at or above 100
tonnes per year are required to register these substances with ECHA by 31 May 2013.
The Agency has organised this awareness campaign to promote the best practise in
fulfilling the obligations and also to publicise the various services and tools that can help
companies comply with the REACH registration requirements. Geert Dancet, ECHA’s
Executive Director, says to industry: “I ask you to help us to pass this message on so that
companies start their preparations for registration earlier than last time and take full benefit
from the best practice and our support tools to deliver dossiers of higher quality.” On
ECHA’s website, there is a dedicated webpage on which there is an agenda for the events
that ECHA is rolling out in relation to the REACH 2013 deadline. All relevant materials and
links can also be found there. In addition, ECHA has designed a promotional web banner
that Member States, industry associations and other organisations can add to their
REACH web pages. This banner will help to brand the ‘Act now!’ campaign in all EU
countries. Additionally, by clicking on the banner visitors will be directed to the ECHA
‘REACH 2013 - Act now!’ campaign pages. The REACH conference, organised by the
European Commission together with the Agency, is the first event on the agenda of the
‘REACH 2013 Act now!’ campaign. The conference will highlight best practise and
necessary improvements to ease the way for the 2013 registration deadline. The event
can be followed live in six languages and a recording of the web stream will be available
after the event.
ECHA, 23 September 2011

ECHA risk assessment committee adopts seven scientific opinions
ECHA has announced the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has adopted opinions
on seven proposals for harmonised classification and labelling. These are for the
polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride (PHMB);
di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP);
trichloromethylstannane (MMTC);
tetradecanoate (MMT (EHMA));
benzenamine, 2-chloro-6-nitro-3-phenoxy- (Aclonifen); and perestane.
For all seven substances, the RAC agreed with country proposals to classify these
substances under harmonised C&L. The opinions were adopted during the RAC’s 17th
meeting held from 13 to 16 September in Helsinki. Further information is available at:
Chemical Watch, 21 September 2011

Janet’s Corner – Not too seriously!
The computer prayer
Our Morning Prayer
Our Hard Drive
Which art internal
Volume C by name
Thy code be clean
Thy fonts be seen
On screen as they are on paper
Give us this day our documents
And lead us not into fragmentation
But deliver us our data
For thine is the SCSI
And the EISA, and the NuBus
Forever and Ever
Please note: articles for Janet’s Corner are not original, and come from various sources.
Author’s credits are supplied when available.

Hexavalent Chromium
Chromium is a lustrous, brittle, hard metal. Its colour is silver-grey and it can be highly
polished. It does not tarnish in air, when heated it burns and forms the green chromic
oxide. Chromium is unstable in oxygen, it immediately produces a thin oxide layer that is
impermeable to oxygen and protects the metal below. [1] Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI))
(also known as chromium-6) compounds are a group of chemical substances that contain
the metallic element chromium in its positive-6 valence (hexavalent) state.[2]

Uses [2]

Industrial uses of hexavalent chromium compounds include chromate pigments in dyes,
paints, inks, and plastics; chromates added as anticorrosive agents to paints, primers, and
other surface coatings; and chromic acid electroplated onto metal parts to provide a
decorative or protective coating. Hexavalent chromium can also be formed when
performing “hot work” such as welding on stainless steel or melting chromium metal. In
these situations the chromium is not originally hexavalent, but the high temperatures
involved in the process result in oxidation that converts the chromium to a hexavalent

Routes of Exposure [3]
People who live near industrial facilities that use or manufacture hexavalent chromium,
cement plants, or landfills with wastes that contain chromium may be exposed to higher
levels of chromium than the general population. Busy roadways that generate vehicle
exhaust and cement particles may also increase exposure for near-by residents. Tobacco
products also contain chromium.

There are three routes of exposure for hexavalent chromium, inhalation of airborne
particles, ingestion, and to a much lesser extent, through the skin. For the general
population, the most common route of exposure is by eating foods containing hexavalent
chromium. Only very small amounts of hexavalent chromium can enter the body through
the skin unless the skin is damaged.

Occupations that lead to exposure by inhalation to hexavalent chromium, such as
chromate and chromate pigment production and chrome plating, are associated with
respiratory disease and lung cancer. Nasal septum perforation and other respiratory
effects have been reported among workers chronically exposed to hexavalent chromium

Health Effects [1,4]

The health hazards associated with exposure to chromium are dependent on its oxidation
state. Chromium-6 is recognised as a human carcinogen when it is inhaled. Chronic
inhalation of chromium-6 has been shown to increase risk of lung cancer and may also
damage the small capillaries in kidneys and intestines.

Other adverse health effects associated with chromium-6 exposure, according to the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), include skin irritation or
ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration,
perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer,
eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary
congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of one’s teeth.

Safety Precautions [5,6]

The new U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace standard
requires employers to:
limit eight-hour time-weighted average hexavalent chromium exposure in the workplace to
5 micrograms or less per cubic metre of air.
perform periodic monitoring at least every 6 months if initial monitoring shows employee
exposure at or above the action level (2.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air calculated as
an 8-hour time-weighted average).
provide appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment when there is likely to be a
hazard present from skin or eye contact.
implement good personal hygiene and housekeeping practices to prevent hexavalent
chromium exposure.
prohibit employee rotation as a method to achieve compliance with the exposure limit
provide respiratory protection as specified in the standard.
make available medical examinations to employees within 30 days of initial assignment,
annually, to those exposed in an emergency situation, to those who experience signs or
symptoms of adverse health effects associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, to
those who are or may be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year,
and at termination of employment.
The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission of Australia (NOHSC) have set
the exposure limits for workers exposure to Hexavalent Chromium. The permissible
exposure limit (PEL) is set at 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air (0.5 mg/cm3), calculated
as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).


Scientists link environmental arsenic exposure, diabetes
While scientist know that exposure to high levels of arsenic can be unhealthy, they are
less sure about low-level exposures. Now, a new study by Korean researchers has
provided more evidence that even small amounts of arsenic may affect adult health. The
researchers report that low-level exposures – mainly through food and drinking water – are
associated with an increased risk of diabetes in the general population. The result adds
another strong piece of evidence that arsenic may affect health even at low levels of
exposure. Arsenic can cause many health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular
disease. Animal experiments and studies in highly exposed people show that arsenic
exposure – at least at high levels – increases the risk of developing diabetes. Research
from the United States seem to support the view that low levels of arsenic exposure can
also increase the risk for diabetes. However, scientists disagree about how to interpret the
data and so the experts continue to debate whether low levels influence diabetes. Arsenic
is a metalloid that occurs naturally in certain kinds of soil. In some parts of Asia and South
America, it is so prevalent that levels in drinking water can poison people. In areas with
little endemic arsenic, mining can be a major environmental source. People are exposed to
arsenic most commonly by eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water.
Arsenic can be found in several different chemical forms that determine its toxicity. The
variety of arsenic found in underground water and taken up by plants from contaminated
soil is the most toxic. Rice is particularly good at absorbing arsenic from soils. The
varieties of arsenic found in fish, seafood and seaweed are much less toxic to humans.
During the new study, the researchers used data collected as part of a national survey of
health and nutrition among people in Korea. They examined arsenic levels in the urine of
1,677 study participants and confirmed if they were diagnosed with diabetes. Because
arsenic found in seafood is less toxic than arsenic from other sources, they also asked
participants to tell them how much fish, seafood and seaweed they normally ate. People in
Korea are exposed to slightly higher levels of arsenic compared to most people in the
United States and Europe, probably due to the higher consumption of rice and seafood.
The levels measured in Koreans, though, are much lower – about 10 times lower – when
compared to people who live in naturally arsenic-rich areas, such as Bangladesh. Yet,
even at the low levels found in Korea, arsenic exposure was associated with an increased
risk of diabetes. The risk was greater for women compared to men. The scientists were
careful to take into account the amount of seafood that participants ate, so they could be
sure the results reflected the effects of the more toxic arsenic type. Because this study
does not show that arsenic exposure occurred before the onset of diabetes, more research
is required to demonstrate whether arsenic at these low levels can cause diabetes.
Environmental Health News, 25 August 2011

Making Greener Flame Retardants
According to work presented at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver
recently, flame-retardant coatings for clothing and foam in furniture could soon be made of
environmentally benign substances such as clay and polysaccharides. The new layered
films might answer the call for safer alternatives to commonly used halogenated
compounds, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, that are being phased out because
of toxicity concerns. Using layer-by-layer assembly, a process in which a substrate is
coated with alternating layers of positively and negatively charged substances,
researchers led by Jaime C. Grunlan of Texas A&M University created two types of new
flame-retardant films. One coating, made of nanometres-thick layers of poly(sodium
phosphate) and poly(allylamine), protects cotton from being consumed during flame tests
(Adv. Mater., DOI: 10.1002/adma.201101871). Compared with uncoated cotton, which
completely disintegrates in an applied flame, a 10-bilayer phosphate-amine coating
develops only a char when exposed to a flame, retaining 41% of its weight. Under high
heat, the same film does not ignite at all. This is the first time that an intumescent
coating—one that forms a protective carbon foam when exposed to fire or high heat—has
been applied via layer-by-layer assembly on such a small scale, Grunlan says. Typically,
intumescents are used on steel beams and plastics in millimetre-thick films. The second
coating Grunlan’s group described in the Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry during
the Denver meeting is one composed of alternating nanolayers of montmorillonite, or clay,
and chitosan, a linear polysaccharide. During 10 seconds of exposure to a butane torch,
polyurethane foam coated with 10 bilayers of the clay-chitosan film escaped with only a
blackened skin. Despite its charred outer layer, Grunlan says, the foam’s white, squishy
innards remain intact. “If the foam doesn’t have the coating on it,” he adds, “it catches fire
and melts down to a puddle.” If halogenated flame retardants continue to be banned
because of toxicity concerns, says Rick D. Davis, a materials research engineer in the Fire
Research Division at NIST, manufacturers will have to find more sustainable, innovative
alternatives. Grunlan’s new research is a “cool, sexy, very green approach” that appears to
fill this immediate need, he adds. Charles Wilkie, a retired flame retardant researcher from
Marquette University, in Milwaukee, says that Grunlan’s work is “neat stuff,” but he hopes
to see more extensive fire testing on the coatings. “It’s nice to say that something doesn’t
burn in a flame for 10 seconds,” he says. “But what happens if it is in a full-blown fire for 2
minutes or longer?” he asks. Grunlan says his team is now working with USDA to further
test the polymeric coating on cotton, particularly for durability in washing machines. The
next step, he says, is to add cross-linkers to the coating recipe to prevent long-term
degradation of the films.
Chemical & Engineering News, 31 August 2011

Pesticide problem: Exposure ups prostate cancer risk
A new study has identified an increased risk of prostate cancer among older men exposed
to agricultural pesticides that drift into residential settings in the Central Valley of California.
This study of non-work-related exposures is the first of its kind to examine the relationship
between prostate cancer in older populations and ongoing pesticide exposure from the
surrounding environment. Exposure to methyl bromide or a collection of organochlorine
pesticides increased the risk of cancer by almost one and a half times. These same
pesticides are associated with prostate cancer in farm workers. Prostate cancer is the third
most common cause of death from cancer in men and is calculated to affect as many as 1
in 6 men during their lifetime. The cancer affects the prostate gland, a small gland in the
reproductive system that releases fluid to help carry sperm. Common risk factors for
prostate cancer are diet and genetics, though there is little research on environmental
exposures. Those at highest risk include men older than 60, those with a family history of
the disease and African American men. Also at increased risk are men with occupational
exposures to a wide variety of chemicals – such as farmers, tyre plant workers and
painters – and those who eat a high fat diet or abuse alcohol. Because many pesticides
can mimic hormones, experts hypothesise that exposure may increase prostate cancer
risk. In particular, methyl bromide and organochlorine pesticides are thought to be related
to prostate cancer cause and risk. Methyl bromide use has decreased in recent years
because it contributes to ozone depletion. Additionally, the heavily regulated
organochlorine pesticides are still used in agriculture though mandatory reporting of their
application is required. During the new study, the researchers compared pesticide
exposure from non-work sources during a 25-year period in older California men with and
without prostate cancer. They looked at methyl bromide, the fungicide captan and the total
of eight organochlorine pesticides because of their likely association with prostate cancer.
Three other chemicals – maned, paraquat and simazine – were evaluated as control
exposures. The authors recruited 173 men aged 60 to 74 years old from 670 identified by
the California Cancer Registry as being diagnosed with prostate cancer between August
2005 and July 2006 in Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties in Central California. In addition,
Medicare lists and tax records were used to find 1,212 men aged 65 years and older
without prostate cancer. Of those, 162 participated as study controls. To assess pesticide
exposure, subjects recounted through calendars and questionnaires where they lived and
their job history between the years of 1974 and 1999. The locations were matched with
and compared to historical data of each area’s agricultural pesticide use. This information
was gathered from California pesticide use reports and land use records. Home and
occupational pesticide exposures were self-reported. These and other potential personal
exposure values were used to statistically adjust and account for non-agricultural pesticide

Since studies like this are often plagued by low response rates, the authors also estimated
the risk of prostate cancer due to pesticide exposure for all cases (670 men), compared to
controls (1,212 men) in the three central valley counties. They used only the address
where each subject lived when they were diagnosed. This address was also matched to
pesticide-use data from the California pesticide use reports. The authors found that the
men exposed to methyl bromide had a 1.62-fold increased risk of prostate cancer
compared to the men who were never exposed. Similarly, for organochlorine pesticides, a
1.64 increase risk was found for men exposed versus those non-exposed. Interestingly,
men exposed to higher levels of the organochlorines had a two-fold increased risk when
compared to unexposed men. In addition, the authors examined exposure to other
commonly applied pesticides, including maned, paraquat and simazine. They found no
association between these chemicals and prostate cancer. When all 670 cases and 1,212
controls were examined using only the address related to the cancer diagnosis or from the
Medicaid record, a risk of 1.47 for prostate cancer was found for exposure to methyl
bromide, 1.50 for organochlorines and 2.12 for captan. Lifetime, non-work-related
exposure to certain pesticides used in a heavily agricultural region may increase the risk of
prostate cancer in men by one and a half times. Specifically, casual exposure to methyl
bromide and a collection of organochlorines used on crops appear to be related to the
common – but sometimes deadly – cancer. This is the first examination of prostate cancer
risk among men exposed to pesticides in the surrounding environment rather than at work.
Extensive agriculture and its associated pesticide use makes long-term exposure to
pesticides likely in this area of the United States. California itself ranks first of the 50 states
in agricultural production, and within California, the highest production occurs in the three
counties studied. Exposure can occur when pesticides sprayed on fields drift through the
air into neighbourhoods or contaminate drinking water. Research from studies on men
exposed at work also report increased prostate cancer risks among groups of agricultural
workers. Examining populations of workers is different from studying those unintentionally
exposed in the general population through the environment. But, this study suggests
exposure outside of work carries as much risk of prostate cancer as exposure at work (1.3
for workers vs. 1.6 increased risk for non-work exposures). The study method gets at two
important issues many work-based studies cannot. First, the study investigated effects in a
general population over a large area. Individuals who are working may be healthier than
those who are not, creating bias in study results, and generally come from specific
geographic locations and groups. Second, maps and reported state data on historical
pesticide use provided more reliable exposure estimates than personal memory. Taken
together, there appears to be some similarities in risk between work and non-work
exposures. Further research is required to fully understand if pesticide exposure may be a
causal factor for prostate cancer.
Environmental Health News, 26 August 2011

Owl Eggs Reveal Complex Pollutant Patterns
The findings from a new long term study of tawny owls have suggested that an animal’s
load of persistent organic pollutants depends on more than the amount of the chemicals in
the environment. The study connects variations of pollutant levels in the owls’ eggs with
changes in climate conditions and the birds’ food supply. Every year since 1986, Georg
Bangjord, a study co-author and bird enthusiast who lives in Trondheim, Norway, has
collected egg samples from more than 100 tawny owl nest boxes. Jan Bustnes of the
Norwegian Institute of Nature Research and his colleagues have been studying the
concentrations of pollutants in these eggs. The owls accumulate chemicals, including
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
from their prey, and store them in their fat. When the females lay their eggs each year,
they transfer some of those chemicals to the eggs. In 2007, Bustnes and his colleagues
reported that concentrations of these chemicals in the eggs had declined since the 1980s.
Despite the overall decline, the researchers also noticed significant year-to-year variations
in the pollutant levels. Bustnes and his colleagues decided to examine how variables such
as climate conditions or food availability might have affected the chemicals’ levels. So they
combined their pollutant data with yearly observations of prey numbers and snow depth,
along with climate data from the North Atlantic Oscillation index. They then ran statistical
analyses to look for trends. Owl eggs had greater levels of PCBs and DDT during winters
with lower temperatures, periods of high snowfall, and seasons with smaller populations of
their preferred prey, voles. Colder temperatures and scarce food sources could prompt
owls to burn more of their fat stores, which contain high levels of the pollutants. As the
owls metabolise the fat, greater amounts of the pollutants enter their blood stream and
eventually accumulate in their eggs, Bustnes says. Under these conditions, the owls also
lay fewer eggs, which could further concentrate the chemicals, he says. The trend for
PBDEs, the chemicals found in flame retardants, was slightly different. Levels of those
chemicals also increased in eggs during colder, snowier winters, but only when voles were
plentiful. Bustnes says there isn’t a clear explanation for the PBDE trend. Integrating food
supply data with physical data, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation index, is a new and
interesting way to understand variations in pollutant loads, says Craig Hebert, a research
scientist at Environment Canada, the nation’s environmental agency. The study
“emphasises how complex the interpretation of some of these temporal trends can be,”
and why researchers should consider multiple variables when analysing pollutant levels in
animals, he says. Karen Foster, a postdoctoral researcher at Trent University, in Canada,
adds that the data suggest that simply reporting the concentrations of pollutants measured
in wildlife is not sufficient: “We really need to understand why we’re seeing these
concentrations.” The study was published in the journal Environmental Science &
Chemical & Engineering News, 31 August 2011

Mass extinctions linked to climate change are already underway
New evidence confirms what scientists have long suspected: that climate change is
already having major effects on many of the world’s species. For the first time, researchers
have reported that the documented species responses – migration to a higher or cooler
climate or changes in population – suggest actual extinction risks linked to climate change
are almost double those that were predicted. Just as grim are future outlooks – almost
one-third of species will be threatened by 2100. Temperature, ocean acidity and other
climate-related changes can set the stage for widespread extinctions by adding even more
pressure to ecosystems already stressed by habitat loss, pollution, disease and other
human-related impacts. Currently, we are witnessing a mass extinction event, the sixth of
such thought to have occurred in the Earth’s history. Mass extinctions were responsible for
the demise of marine organisms more than 400 million years ago and the fall of the
dinosaurs about 65 million years ago – an event which led to the ascent of modern-day
mammals. The causes of these historical extinctions can only be guessed at based on
geological records. But, the result then – as now – is a sharp reduction in global diversity
of plant and animal species. The current round of mass extinctions may be triggered by a
combination of human-related environmental and ecosystem impacts, experts contend. In
general, habitat loss, over harvesting, pollution and invasive species can combine with
disease, parasites and other health problems to contribute to decreasing populations. In
addition, climate change is surfacing as a main threat to global biodiversity. The added
stress of climate-related changes in temperature, rainfall, sea level or ocean chemistry put
many plant and animal species at more risk. Especially hard hit are species that are not
able to migrate to areas better suited to their needs. While there is much debate on the
cause of climate change, most scientists agree that the earth’s climate is changing at an
accelerated pace. Ecologists have attempted to predict how temperature, ocean acidity or
other climate-related changes might affect populations of different species or possibly
cause extinctions. Typically, scientists rely on models to predict the types and rates of
extinctions. A new, growing body of studies now documents actual impacts and responses
in a variety of species. These new studies make it possible to compare the theoretical with
actual, observed responses. No one knows for sure how many species live on Earth. More
than one and a half million species are identified but tens – if not hundreds – of millions of
species are estimated to live on the globe.

Biodiversity - the number of plants and animals in the world and their genetic variety – is
important for a number of reasons. An organism-rich world provides direct benefits to
humans. Many known and many yet-to-be-discovered resources can lead to the
development of needed food, energy and medicines. Furthermore, biodiversity protects
vital ecosystems that contribute to clean water and air against environmental damage from
pollution and extreme weather. During the new research, the scientists compared
predictions of species extinction risks to documented observations to determine whether
recent climate changes have contributed to the risk of a species going extinct. The
scientists took advantage of the recent spate of studies on individual species from all over
the world. They included all major groups of plants, animals and other organisms from
terrestrial and marine environments. The researchers collected data from published
studies that either measured – 130 studies – or predicted – 188 studies – a variety of
species responses specifically due to recent climate change. These responses can lead to
extinctions. A species can go extinct in a number of ways, so the scientists included
different types of responses, including changes in population size or a species geographic
range. Also included were different types of climate impacts, including changes in
temperature or sea level. Extinction risk was estimated from observations gathered from
different studies. The scientists used a set of criteria established by the International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List to categorise each of the 305 identified
organism groups according to its risk of extinction. The criteria allowed them to express
observed ecological responses (such as a decrease in population size) in terms of
extinction risk. The scientists then checked if the observations matched predictions of a
single measurement: the average probability that a species will be extinct by the year

The researchers found that no matter how they did the analysis, the actual observed
extinction risks were always worse than the predictions. Predictions of the average
probability of extinction ranged from seven to 10 percent, depending on how they did the
analysis (such as whether they looked only at certain kinds of climate impacts or
geographic regions). Meanwhile, the analysis of observations suggest that extinction risk is
actually worse, ranging from 14 to 15 percent. The proportion of taxa that will be
threatened by 2100 is almost eight percent according to predictions, but a whopping 32
percent based on actual observations. The authors note that most studies show threats
from changes in temperature and rainfall, while there are far fewer studies on the effects of
changes in ocean circulation patterns or ocean acidity. Also, vertebrates are more
vulnerable than plants and invertebrates. Marine organisms are at particularly high risk,
though this is largely based on coral research. The number of species going extinct in
response to the changing climate outstrip the predictions now, and will continue to do so
well into the future. In short, more species than researchers expect may well go the way of
the dinosaur. The findings present a clearer picture of climate change effects on
biodiversity. They also reveal the areas where scientists should focus their efforts in order
to track the effects of climate change. The results of the study do not bode well for the
species slated for extinction. These organisms are the ones most sensitive to temperature,
precipitation and other environmental changes. The scientists argue that extinction risk
based on real observations may be higher because prediction estimates may not fully
account for regions of the world that are relatively sensitive to climate change. For
example, observations show that marine organisms have an elevated extinction risk. On
land, organisms in temperate and high latitude regions are more threatened than those in
the tropics. However, the authors point out that there were fewer studies from the tropics,
which are the most diverse, and that marine research tended to focus on corals, which
may be relatively sensitive to climate change. The studies analysed suggest species are
already responding to climate change in various ways. That major insight – in conjunction
with higher predicted levels of extinctions – “shows the need to give climate change high
priority in conservation planning and to communicate its potentially wide-ranging
consequences to policy makers and the wider public,” the authors conclude.
Environmental Health News, 29 August 2011

Teens, young men way over limit on sugary drinks
According to new U.S government data, on any given day, approximately half of the
population drink a sugar-sweetened beverage, with teens and young men consuming way
more than recommended limits for staying healthy. The survey results from the Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention show how far consumer habits must change to help fight
the nation’s obesity epidemic, with nearly two-thirds of Americans either overweight or
obese. Coinciding with the data, city health departments from Los Angeles, Boston,
Philadelphia, San Antonio and Seattle announced plans for a new campaign to encourage
cutting down on sugary beverage consumption. “We’re concerned about sugary drinks
because they are the only foods and beverages that have directly been linked to obesity ...
Reducing their consumption is the perfect place to start to reduce the epidemic,” said
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Centre for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI) that is spearheading the campaign. The CSPI is working with city officials
on the new campaign, along with the American Heart Association and the American
Diabetes Association. CDC researchers interviewed 17,000 Americans about their diets.
The average male in the survey consumed 175 calories in a day from drinks containing
added sugar, while the typical female consumed 94 calories from such drinks. Boys aged
12 to 19 consumed 273 calories a day from sugar-sweetened drinks, or the equivalent of
about two 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola -- more than any other group. Men aged 20
to 39 consumed 252 calories a day from beverages containing added sugar, the
second-highest amount. The American Heart Association recommends getting no more
than 450 calories a week from sugar-sweetened beverages, or less than three cans of
soda. They include sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports and sweetened bottled waters.
“This is one area that people can look to if they are trying to limit their consumption of
added sugars,” study author Cynthia Ogden said in an interview.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that non-Hispanic black children and adolescents
obtained 8.5 percent of their daily calories from sugar-sweetened drinks, higher than the
7.7 percent among non-Hispanic white children and teens and 7.4 percent for
Mexican-American youths. For adults 20 and over, the percentage of daily calories
obtained from sugar drinks rose to 8.6 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and 8.2 for
Mexican-Americans but declined to 5.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites. In addition, the
study found that lower-income children and adults consumed more daily calories from
sugar-added drinks than those with higher incomes. The new campaign in cities, dubbed
“Life’s Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks,” aims to limit consumption to about three cans a
week by 2020. Such campaigns have attracted legal attack by leading beverage makers,
who have also been resisting efforts to propose taxes on sugary drinks. New York City,
which has been at the forefront of public awareness campaigns on the ills of drinking too
much soda, was sued in July by the American Beverage Association (ABA). In response to
the CDC’s new findings, the ABA argued that sugar-sweetened beverages are just one
contributor, and at that small and declining, to Americans’ poor state of health. “Contrary to
what may be implied by the introductory statement of this (CDC) data brief that reaches
back 30 years, sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving health issues like obesity and
diabetes,” the ABA said in a statement, highlighting the declining of both sales of
full-calorie drinks and U.S. consumption of added sugars. Close to 26 million Americans
have diabetes, and most have Type 2, the kind linked to poor diet and lack of exercise. “If
you wouldn’t eat 22 packs of sugar, why are you drinking it?” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding,
public health director in Los Angeles, highlighting the question from his city’s own
campaign launching next month.
Reuters Health, 31 August 2011

Just relax! Mum’s stress is linked to baby’s health
A one of the largest studies to date on the link between prenatal environment and health
after birth has reported that higher amounts of everyday stress during pregnancy can
increase the risk of many early childhood diseases and health problems. A mother’s level
of everyday stress during pregnancy may influence the health of her child for years to
come, a large study from Denmark suggests. The study is one of the first to consider daily
stress as a health predictor in people and may provide another approach to reduce
disease in children. Everyday stress included both life stress and emotional stress. Life
stress was determined by how burdened the woman felt by her work, home situation and
relationships with other people, while emotional stress covers feelings like anxiety,
nervousness and depression. The results suggest that children whose mums had higher
levels of life duty stress during pregnancy were more likely to have a wide variety of
diseases during childhood, from infections and respiratory problems to mental health and
behavioural problems. Emotional stress was associated with fewer effects. Much research
has focused on how a mother’s diet or chemical exposures during pregnancy can affect
children’s health later in life. Evidence suggests they can affect a baby’s health in subtle
ways, often programming the child before birth for health advantages and disadvantages
that can last a lifetime. Researchers have long suspected that stress during pregnancy
may affect children’s development. Women who were pregnant during major disasters –
such as Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 – or women who have suffered the death of a close
relative or partner while pregnant have been shown to have babies with more health
problems, ranging from behavioural disorders to asthma. However, it is unclear whether
stress associated with everyday events can impact children’s development in the same
way as stress from a major disaster. For this study, researchers collected data on more
than 60,000 mothers in Denmark who gave birth between 1996 and 2003. The
researchers interviewed women over the telephone during the third trimester and again at
six months postpartum to gauge the stress levels in the women’s lives.

The researchers compared the two to evaluate whether maternal stress before or after
birth was associated with health outcomes. In addition, the researchers collected
information on other factors that might influence a child’s health, such as maternal
smoking and health complications during pregnancy. After the children were born, they
examined medical records to look for disease early in the child’s life. Most children were
followed until they were at least seven years old. The results demonstrated that there was
actually little overlap between life stress and emotional stress in the women studied. Life
stress was associated with an increased risk of having any disease in early childhood. In
particular, life stress was associated with increased risk of serious infections in childhood
and mental health and behavioural disorders, as well as other conditions affecting eye, ear,
skin and digestive health. Once the researchers took into account maternal life stress after
birth, the association between stress and mental health and behavioural disorders in early
childhood was less strong. This indicates that stressful conditions during the early years of
life may have more to do with these conditions than stress before birth. These effects are
difficult to separate. The researchers found fewer effects of emotional stress. High levels
of emotional stress were associated with an increased risk of serious infections in
childhood, but surprisingly very high levels of emotional stress seemed to protect children
against some diseases like problems with the eyes and metabolic disorders. Controlling
stress during pregnancy and early childhood may be another effective approach to lower
children’s illness and disease, the researchers note.
Environmental Health News, 31 August 2011

Poor Sleep Quality Increases Risk of High Blood Pressure
Reduced slow wave sleep (SWS) is a powerful predictor for developing high blood
pressure in older men, according to new research published in the journal Hypertension.
SWS, one of the deeper stages of sleep, is characterised by non-rapid eye movement
(non-REM) from which it’s difficult to awaken. It’s represented by relatively slow,
synchronised brain waves called delta activity on an electroencephalogram. Researchers
from the Outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Older Men Study (MrOs Sleep Study) found that
people with the lowest level of SWS had an 80 percent increased risk of developing high
blood pressure. “Our study shows for the first time that poor quality sleep, reflected by
reduced slow wave sleep, puts individuals at significantly increased risk of developing high
blood pressure, and that this effect appears to be independent of the influence of breathing
pauses during sleep,” said Susan Redline, M.D., the study’s co-author and Peter C. Farrell
Professor of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s
Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Harvard Medical School in Boston,
Mass. Men who spent less than 4 percent of their sleep time in SWS were significantly
more likely to develop high blood pressure during the 3.4 years of the study. Men with
reduced SWS had generally poorer sleep quality as measured by shorter sleep duration
and more awakenings at night and had more severe sleep apnoea than men with higher
levels of SWS. However, of all measures of sleep quality, decreased SWS was the most
strongly associated with the development of high blood pressure. This relationship was
observed even after considering other aspects of sleep quality. Participant’s average body
mass index was 26.4 kg/m2. But the study effects of SWS were independent of obesity
and continued to be seen after considering the effects of obesity. The researchers
conducted comprehensive and objective evaluation of sleep characteristics related to high
blood pressure in 784 men who didn’t have hypertension.

They were studied in their own homes using standardised in-home sleep studies, or
polysomnography, with measurement of brain wave activity distinguishing between REM
and non-REM sleep, and sleep apnoea through measurement of breathing disturbances
and level of oxygenation during sleep. Using a central Sleep Reading Centre directed by
Redline, the researchers assessed a wide range of measurements of sleep disturbances,
such as frequency of breathing disturbances, time in each sleep state, number of night
time awakenings, and sleep duration. The participants were an average 75 years old and
almost 90 percent were Caucasian. All were healthy and living in one of six communities,
geographically representative of the United States: San Diego, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.;
Pittsburgh, Pa.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Portland, Oregon. The study
was coordinated by California Pacific Medical Centre. Generally, older men and women
are more likely to develop high blood pressure than younger people. Sleep disorders and
poor quality sleep are more common in older adults than in younger ones. Obesity is also
associated with hypertension, researchers said. In the Sleep Heart Health Study, another
large cohort study, researchers found that men were more likely to have less SWS than
women. Men were also at an increased risk of high blood pressure when compared to
women. The current study raises the possibility that poorer sleep in men may partly
explain the male gender predisposition to high blood pressure. “Although women were not
included in this study, it’s quite likely that those who have lower levels of slow wave sleep
for any number of reasons may also have an increased risk of developing high blood
pressure,” Redline said. Slow wave sleep has been implicated in learning and memory
with recent data also highlighting its importance to a variety of physiological functions,
including metabolism and diabetes, and neurohormonal systems affecting the sympathetic
nervous system that contribute to high blood pressure, researchers said. Good quality
sleep is the third pillar of health, Redline said. “People should recognise that sleep, diet
and physical activity are critical to health, including heart health and optimal blood
pressure control. Although the elderly often have poor sleep, our study shows that such a
finding is not benign. Poor sleep may be a powerful predictor for adverse health outcomes.
Initiatives to improve sleep may provide novel approaches for reducing hypertension
Science Daily, 31 August 2011

Migraines are not a lupus symptom: study
Despite a commonly-held belief among many doctors who treat lupus patients, headaches
-- particularly migraines -- are not a manifestation of that disease and should be treated as
a separate problem, report researchers in Greece. Previous studies that found migraines
to be more common in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may have
suffered from methodological errors, said senior author Dr. Dimos Mitsikostas from Athens
Naval Hospital, and have led doctors to dismiss headaches as a neurological symptom of
lupus. Instead of being part of the disease, however, headaches may result from the stress
of having the disease. “In SLE, headaches may be associated with poor quality of life and
bad mood. If an SLE patient reports headaches, please see if he or she is happy and if
there is any other reason to cause secondary headaches and treat them not as an SLE
feature, but like a separate disorder,” Mitsikostas said. Although various studies of the
headache question have produced conflicting results, the American College of
Rheumatology includes headaches and migraine as part of the spectrum of lupus
symptoms. In a previous analysis, Mitsikostas and colleagues found no significant link
between migraines and lupus. To clarify the association (or lack thereof), they performed
the current study, in which lupus patients, healthy controls and multiple sclerosis (MS)
patients all kept headache diaries for a year. Like lupus, MS is a disease in which the
body’s own immune system attacks its nervous system, so Mitsikostas’ group included 48
MS patients for comparison. The healthy controls in the study were matched by age and
gender with the lupus patients to form 72 pairs. All participants had similar headache
frequencies in the year before the study period, except the lupus patients, who had a
significantly higher number of tension-type headaches, the researchers report in the
journal Headache. Results were similar during the year of headache diaries: the three
groups suffered comparable numbers of headaches, but chronic tension-type headache
continued to occur more often in the lupus patients. Migraine attacks were less severe and
tended to be of shorter duration in lupus patients, whereas the severity of the chronic
tension-type headaches was milder among lupus patients than among controls (but similar
between lupus and MS patients). Among both lupus and MS patients, the presence and
type of headache could not be related to any other detectable manifestation of the disease,
flare-up or cumulative damage. Lupus patients had higher levels of anxiety and lower
quality of life compared to controls and MS patients, and depression status was worse in
lupus and MS patients than in controls. None of these features, however, coincided with
the presence of headache. “Although there are always missed points and issues for further
evaluation, we feel that this study may be the last one in a long clinical research (path),
starting 15 years ago,” Mitsikostas concluded. “Yet, no pathophysiological links between
SLE and migraine” could be found along the way, he wrote. Somewhere between 322,000
and one million Americans are believed to have lupus, nine out of 10 of them women,
according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is difficult
to diagnose and there is no cure. Although some symptoms are treatable, approximately
one third of deaths among lupus patients occur before age 45.
Reuters Health, 31 August 2011

Mysteries of Ozone Depletion Continue 25 Years After the Discovery of the Antarctic
Ozone Hole
Even after many decades of studying ozone and its loss from our atmosphere miles above
the Earth, plenty of mysteries and surprises remain, including an unexpected loss of ozone
over the Arctic this past winter, an authority on the topic said 242nd National Meeting &
Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She also discussed chemistry and
climate change, including some proposed ideas to “geoengineer” the Earth’s climate to
slow down or reverse global warming. In a Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry
Lecture, Susan Solomon of the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that the combined
efforts of scientists, the public, industry and policy makers to stop ozone depletion is one
of science’s greatest success stories, but unanswered questions remain. And ozone is still
disappearing. “We’re no longer producing the primary chemicals — chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) — that caused the problem, but CFCs have very long lifetimes in our atmosphere,
and so we’ll have ozone depletion for several more decades,” said Solomon. “There are
still some remarkable mysteries regarding exactly how these chlorine compounds behave
in Antarctica — and it’s amazing that we still have much to learn, even after studying
ozone for so long.” The ozone layer is crucial to life on Earth, forming a protective shield
high in the atmosphere that blocks potentially harmful ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Scientists
have known since 1930 that ozone forms and decomposes through chemical processes.
The first hints that human activity threatened the ozone layer emerged in the 1970s, and
included one warning from Paul Crutzen that agricultural fertilisers might reduce ozone
levels. Another hint was from F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina who described how
CFCs in aerosol spray cans and other products could destroy the ozone layer. The three
shared a 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for that research. In 1985, British scientists
discovered a “hole,” a completely unexpected area of intense ozone depletion over
Antarctica. Solomon’s 1986 expedition to Antarctica provided some of the clinching
evidence that underpinned a global ban on CFCs and certain other ozone-depleting gases.
Evidence suggests that the ozone depletion has stopped getting worse. “Ozone can be
thought of as a patient in remission, but it’s too early to declare recovery,” Solomon said.
And surprises, such as last winter’s loss of 40 percent of the ozone over the Arctic still
occur due to the extremely long lifetimes of ozone-destroying substances released years
ago before the ban. In addition, Solomon took listeners on a tour of gases and aerosols
that affect climate change and described how these substances can contribute to global
warming. “On the thousand-year timescale, carbon dioxide is by far the most important
greenhouse gas produced by humans, but there are some other interesting — though
much less abundant — gases such as perfluorinated compounds that also last thousands
of years and similarly affect our climate for millennia,” Solomon said. Increases in
atmospheric “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere,
causing the Earth’s temperature to creep upward. Global warming is causing ocean levels
to rise and could lead some regions to become dry “dust bowls.” Dealing with global
warming has prompted a lot of interesting research on how to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, how to adapt to a changing climate and on the possibility of “geoengineering” to
cool the climate. “Recent studies on ‘geoengineering’ the Earth’s climate involve
stratospheric particles of different sorts,” she said. “Most of these schemes involve sulfate
particles, but other types have been proposed.”
Environmental Protection News, 31 August 2011

Is chocolate good for your heart? It depends
Chocolate may be good for the heart but cardiologists are not giving you a license to
indulge. New research presented at Europe’s biggest medical meeting suggested
chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of
developing heart disease. Just why there should be such a link was unclear, the European
Society of Cardiology congress was told. There has been a string of scientific studies in
recent years showing a potential health benefit from eating chocolate. Dark chocolate, in
particular, contains compounds called flavanols thought to be good for the blood system.
In an attempt to paint a clearer picture, Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University
of Cambridge pooled results from seven studies involving 100,000 people. Five of the
studies showed a beneficial link between eating chocolate and cardiovascular health, while
two did not. Overall, the findings showed the highest levels of chocolate consumption were
associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent
reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels. Franco said there were limitations with
the pooled analysis, which did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate, and more
research was needed to test whether chocolate actually caused better health outcomes or
if it was due to some other confounding factor. “Evidence does suggest chocolate might
have some heart health benefits but we need to find out why that might be,” said Victoria
Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved in the research. “If you want
to reduce your heart disease risk, there are much better places to start than at the bottom
of a box of chocolates.” Franco, whose findings were also published online in the British
Medical Journal, said while it seemed chocolate had heart benefits, these could easily be
outweighed by the unhealthy nature of much confectionery. “The high sugar and fat
content of commercially available chocolate should be considered, and initiatives to reduce
it might permit an improved exposure to the beneficial effect of chocolate,” the research
team wrote.
Reuters Health, 29 August 2011

New Chemical Reagent Turns Mouse Brain Transparent
Researchers at RIKEN, Japan’s flagship research organisation, have developed a
ground-breaking new aqueous reagent which literally turns biological tissue transparent.
Experiments using fluorescence microscopy on samples treated with the reagent,
published in Nature Neuroscience, have produced vivid 3-D images of neurons and blood
vessels deep inside the mouse brain. Highly effective and cheap to produce, the reagent
offers an ideal means for analysing the complex organs and networks that sustain living
systems. Our understanding of biological organisms and how they function is intrinsically
tied to the limits of what we can actually see. Even today’s most promising techniques for
visualising biological tissue face this limitation: mechanical methods require that samples
be sectioned into smaller pieces for visualisation, while optical methods are prevented by
the scattering property of light from probing deeper than 1mm into tissue. Either way, the
full scope and detail of the biological sample is lost. The new reagent, referred to as Scale
and developed by Atsushi Miyawaki and his team at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute
(BSI), gets around these problems by doing two things together that no earlier technique
has managed to do. The first is to render biological tissue transparent. Scale does this
significantly better than other clearing reagents and without altering the overall shape or
proportions of the sample. The second is to avoid decreasing the intensity of signals
emitted by genetically-encoded fluorescent proteins in the tissue, which are used as
markers to label specific cell types. This combination makes possible a revolution in optical
imaging, enabling researchers to visualise fluorescently-labelled brain samples at a depth
of several millimetre and reconstruct neural networks at sub-cellular resolution. Already,
Miyawaki and his team have used Scale to study neurons in the mouse brain at an
unprecedented depth and level of resolution, shedding light onto the intricate networks of
the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and white matter. Initial experiments exploit Scale’s
unique properties to visualize the axons connecting left and right hemispheres and blood
vessels in the postnatal hippocampus in greater detail than ever before. But the potential
of Scale goes much further. “Our current experiments are focused on the mouse brain, but
applications are neither limited to mice, nor to the brain,” Miyawaki explains. “We envision
using Scale on other organs such as the heart, muscles and kidneys, and on tissues from
primate and human biopsy samples.” Looking ahead, Miyawaki’s team has set its sights
on an ambitious goal. “We are currently investigating another, milder candidate reagent
which would allow us to study live tissue in the same way, at somewhat lower levels of
transparency. This would open the door to experiments that have simply never been
possible before.”
Science Daily, 31 August 2011

’Plastic Bottle’ Solution for Arsenic-Contaminated Water Threatening 100 Million
With almost 100 million people in developing countries exposed to dangerously high levels
of arsenic in their drinking water, and unable to afford complex purification technology,
scientists have now described a simple, inexpensive method for removing arsenic based
on chopped up pieces of ordinary plastic beverage bottles coated with a nutrient found in
many foods and dietary supplements. The report was part of the 242nd National Meeting &
Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), a major scientific meeting with 7,500
technical papers, being held in Denver Colorado the week of 29 August. “Dealing with
arsenic contamination of drinking water in the developing world requires simple technology
based on locally available materials,” said study leader Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, Ph.D.,
professor of analytical and environmental chemistry at Monmouth University, West Long
Branch, N.J. “Our process uses pieces of plastic water, soda pop and other beverage
bottles. Coat the pieces with cysteine -- that’s an amino acid found in dietary supplements
and foods -- and stir the plastic in arsenic-contaminated water. This works like a magnet.
The cysteine binds up the arsenic. Remove the plastic and you have drinkable water.”
Tongesayi described laboratory tests of the plastic bottle arsenic removal method on water
containing 20 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic, which is two times the safe standard set by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water. It produced drinkable water
with 0.2 ppb of arsenic that more than meets the federal standard. The technology is so
straight-forward that people without technical skills can use it, Tongesayi said, citing that
as one of its advantages over some of the existing arsenic-removal technologies. It can
use discarded plastic bottles available locally, and the application of cysteine does not
require complicated technology. Tongesayi is seeking funding or a commercial partner,
which he said is the key to moving the arsenic-removing process into use in a relatively
short time. In addition, the technology has the potential for removing other potentially toxic
heavy metals from drinking water. Odourless, tasteless and colourless, arsenic enters
drinking water supplies from natural deposits in soil and rock that occur in some parts of
the world, including parts of the United States, and from agricultural and industrial sources.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include thickening and discoloration of the skin; stomach
pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea; vision loss; and numbness in hands and feet.
Arsenic also has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages,
liver and prostate.
Science Daily, 31 August 2011

The impact of fires and fire fighting on the environment
In this study, the environmental impact of fires is illustrated with many examples. The
article says fire brigades should keep environmental protection in mind while fighting fires
and choose environmentally friendly methods.
Author: Yang, Dian-bo
Full Source: Advanced Materials Research (Zuerich, Switzerland) 2010, 113-116(Pt.1,
Environment Materials and Environment Management), 434-436 (Eng)

Field and Wind Tunnel Comparison of Four Aerosol Samplers Using Agricultural
Occupational lung disease is a significant problem among agricultural workers exposed to
organic dusts. Measurements of exposure in agricultural environments in the USA have
traditionally been conducted using 37-mm closed-face cassettes (CFCs) and respirable
Cyclones. Inhalable aerosol samplers offer significant improvement for dose estimation
studies to reduce respiratory disease. The goals of this study were to determine correction
factors between the inhalable samplers (IOM and Button) and the CFC and Cyclone for
dusts sampled in livestock buildings and to determine whether these factors vary among
livestock types. Results allow comparison between inhalable measurements and historical
measurements. Ten sets of samples were collected in swine, chicken, turkey, and dairy
facilities in both Colorado and Iowa. Pairs of each sampling device were attached to the
front and back of a rotating mannequin. Laboratory studies using a still-air chamber and a
wind tunnel provided information regarding the effect of wind speed on sampler
performance. Overall, the IOM had the lowest coefficient of variation (best precision) and
was least affected by changes in wind speed. The performance of the Button was
negatively impacted in poultry environments where larger (feather) particulates clogged
the holes in the initial screen. The CFC/IOM ratios are important for comparisons between
newer and older studies. Wind speed and dust type were both important factors affecting
ratios. Based on the field studies a ratio of 0.56 was suggested as a conversion factor for
the CFC/IOM (average for all environments because of no statistical difference).
Suggested conversion factors for the Button/IOM were swine
(0.57), chicken (0.80), turkey (0.53), and dairy (0.67). Attempts to apply a conversion
factor between the Cyclone and inhalable samplers were not recommended.
Authors: Reynolds, Stephen J.; Nakatsu, Jason; Tillery, Marvin; Keefe, Thomas; Mehaffy,
John; Thorne, Peter S.; Donham, Kelley; Nonnenmann, Matthew; Golla, Vijay;
O’Shaughnessy, Patrick.
Full Source: Annals of Occupational Hygiene 2009, 53(6), 585-594(Eng)

Investigating the mechanisms of hallucinogen induced visions using
3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA): a randomised controlled trial in humans
The mechanisms of drug-induced visions are poorly understood. Very few serotonergic
hallucinogens have been studied in humans in decades, despite widespread use of these
drugs and potential relevance of their mechanisms to hallucinations occurring in
psychiatric and neurological disorders. The mechanisms were investigated by measuring
the visual and perceptual effects of the hallucinogenic serotonin 5-HT2AR receptor agonist
and monoamine releaser, 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), in a double-blind
placebo-controlled study. MDA was found to increase self-report measures of
mystical-type experience and other hallucinogen-like effects, including reported visual
alterations. MDA produced a significant increase in closed-eye visions (CEVs), with
considerable individual variation. Magnitude of CEVs after MDA was associated with lower
performance on measures of contour integration and object recognition. Drug-induced
visions may have greater intensity in people with poor sensory or perceptual processing,
suggesting common mechanisms with other hallucinatory syndromes. MDA is a potential
tool to investigate mystical experiences and visual perception.
Authors: Baggott, Matthew J.; Siegrist, Jennifer D.; Galloway, Gantt P.; Robertson, Lynn
C.; Coyle, Jeremy R.; Mendelson, John E.
Full Source: PLoS One [online computer file] 2010, 5(12), e14074 (Eng)

Protopine and allocryptopine increase mRNA levels of cytochromes P450 1A in
human hepatocytes and HepG2 cells independently of AhR
The isoquinoline alkaloids protopine and allocryptopine are present in phytopreparations
from medicinal plants, such as Fumaria officinalis. Since nothing is known about the
effects of the alkaloids on the expression of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes, the authors
examined whether protopine or allocryptopine affect the expression of cytochromes P 450
(CYPs) 1A1 and 1A2 in primary cultures of human hepatocytes and human hepatoma Hep
G2 cells. In Hep G2 cells, protopine and allocryptopine significantly increased CYP1A1
mRNA levels after 24 hour exposure at concentrations from 25 and 10 íM, respectively, as
shown by real-time PCR. Both protopine and allocryptopine also dose-dependently
increased CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 mRNA levels in human hepatocytes. However, the
effects of the tested alkaloids on both cell models were much lower than the effects of
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a prototypical CYP1A inducer. Using gene
reporter assays performed in transiently transfected Hep G2 cells, the authors
demonstrated that the induction of CYP1A1 expression by either protopine or
allocryptopine was associated with mild or negligible activation of the aryl hydrocarbon
receptor. In contrast to TCDD, CYP1A mRNA levels induced by protopine or allocryptopine
in both Hep G2 cells and human hepatocytes did not result in elevated CYP1A protein or
activity levels as shown by Western blotting and EROD assays, respectively. Thus, the
use of products containing protopine and-(or) allocryptopine may be considered safe in
terms of possible induction
of CYP1A enzymes.
Authors: Vrba, Jiri; Vrublova, Eva; Modriansky, Martin; Ulrichova, Jitka
Full Source: Toxicology Letters [online computer file] 2011, 203(2), 135-141 (Eng)

Nrf2-mediated adaptive response to cadmium (Cd) induced toxicity involves protein
kinase C delta in human 1321N1 astrocytoma cells
At high concentrations, Cd causes damage to cells via a range of mechanisms. At low
concentrations, Cd can stimulate expression of genes that are part of an adaptive
response. The astrocytoma cell line 1321N1 is used as a model to investigate the
induction of protective enzymes in response to Cd. Expression of NAD(P)H:quinone
oxidoreductase and haem oxygenase enzymes are induced as the protein level, and in
response to 5 and 10 íM Cd. Levels of NQO1 and HO1 mRNA are also increased by
following 24 hour exposure to 5 and 10 íM cadmium. An increase in the nuclear
accumulation of the transcription factor Nrf2 was also observed following Cd treatment.
Through the use of the protein kinase C inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide (VIII) acetate the
authors have demonstrated the involvement PKC in the Nrf2-mediated response of
1321N1 cells to 5-10 íM Cd. Through the use of 10 íM rottlerin, PKCä is the isoform
responsible for mediating this response.
Authors: Lawal, Akeem O.; Ellis, Elizabeth M.
Full Source: Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology [online computer file] 2011,
32(1), 54-62 (Eng),

Glucuronidation of zearalenone, zeranol and four metabolites in vitro: Formation of
glucuronides by various microsomes and human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase
Glucuronidation constitutes an important pathway in the phase II metabolism of the
mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) and the growth promotor R-zearalanol (R-ZAL, zeranol), but
the enzymology of their formation is yet unknown. In the present study, ZEN, R-ZAL and
four of their major phase I metabolites were glucuronidated in vitro using hepatic
microsomes from steer, pig, rat and human, intestinal microsomes from humans, and
eleven recombinant human UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs). After assigning
chemical structures to the various glucuronides by using previously published information,
the enzymic activities of the various microsomes and UGT isoforms were determined
together with the patterns of glucuronides generated. All six compounds were good
substrates for all microsomes studied. With very few exceptions, glucuronidation occurred
preferentially at the sterically unhindered phenolic 14-hydroxyl group. UGT1A1, 1A3 and
1A8 had the highest activities and gave rise to the phenolic glucuronide, whereas
glucuronidation of the aliphatic hydroxyl group was mostly mediated by UGT2B7 with low
activity. Based on these in vitro data, ZEN, R-ZAL and their metabolites must be expected
to be readily glucuronidated both in the liver and intestine as well as in other extrahepatic
organs of humans and various animal species.
Authors: Pfeiffer, Erika; Hildebrand, Andreas; Mikula, Hannes; Metzler,
Full Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2010, 54(10), 1468-1476 (Eng)

Modulation of arsenic induced genotoxicity by curcumin in human lymphocytes
Arsenic contamination of ground water is a vital health concern in West Bengal, India,
where nine districts were affected. Oxidative stress created by arsenic may lead to genetic
instability which may in turn lead to initiation of carcinogenesis. Management of arsenic
problem at the preclinical stage by utilising natural compounds could be a preventive
strategy. The present study aims to bio-monitor the level of arsenic exposure in
asymptomatic individuals by studying the DNA damage in lymphocytes and to use
curcumin, an active ingredient of turmeric, in providing protection against arsenic toxicity.
DNA damage was assessed by comet assay. Arsenic induced oxidative stress was
observed by generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In vitro studies with human
lymphocytes revealed that curcumin was effective in regression of arsenic induced ROS
generation and thereby the DNA damage. The bio-monitoring of Chakdah block in West
Bengal revealed that population residing in those areas exhibited severe DNA damage.
When the same individuals were given curcumin for three months and monitored monthly,
there was a remarkable regression in DNA damage as well as a reduction in ROS
generation. Thus, curcumin may have some role in prevention and repair of the DNA
damage caused by arsenic contaminated water.
Authors: Sinha, Dona; Mukherjee, Sutapa; Roy, Soumi; Bhattacharya, R. K.; Roy,
Full Source: Journal of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology [online computer file]
2009, 1(1), 001-011 (Eng)

Antineoplastic agent workplace contamination study: the Alberta Cancer Board
pharmacy perspective phase III
In this study, the authors continued with workplace contamination monitoring in the Alberta
Cancer Board (ACB) pharmacy practice environment. The ACB in the Canadian province
of Alberta which includes two public tertiary centres and 19 associated community satellite
sites based around the province in existing hospitals. After the completion of a Phase I and
Phase II study, which investigated the feasibility of routine monitoring of antineoplastic
agent contamination in the pharmacy practice environment, it was decided to launch a
Phase III study. The Phase III study would be done at the Cross Cancer Institute in the
main pharmacy department as well as at a brand new satellite pharmacy within the CCI
hospital. Samples would be taken in these areas as well as on the outer exterior of latex
gloves worn to prep. cyclophosphamide and other antineoplastics. The results showed that
the area in front of the biological safety cabinet in the main CCI pharmacy department as
well as the exterior of the latex gloves showed evidence of cyclophosphamide
contamination. The results from the sample taken in the new satellite pharmacy showed
no evidence of cyclophosphamide contamination. The authors concluded that the findings
from the present study have prompted a decision to launch a Phase IV study to determine
the feasibility within the network, for routine monitoring as well as sampling throughout the
clean room beyond the BSC.
Authors: Bigelow, Susan; Schulz, Heidi; Dobish, Roxanne; Chambers, Carole R.
Full Source: Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice 2009, 15(3), 157-160 (Eng)

Surfactant protein-D and exposure to bioaerosols in wastewater and garbage
Purpose: Bioaerosols and their constituents, such as endotoxins, are capable of causing
an inflammatory reaction at the level of the lung-blood barrier, which becomes more
permeable. In this study the authors hypothesised that occupational exposure to
bioaerosols can increase leakage of surfactant protein-D (SP-D), a lung-specific protein,
into the bloodstream. SP-D was detected by ELISA in 316 wastewater workers, 67
garbage collectors, and 395 control subjects. Exposure was assessed with four
interview-based indicators and by preliminary endotoxin measurements using the Limulus
amoebocyte lysate assay. Influence of exposure on serum SP-D was assessed by multiple
linear regression considering smoking, glomerular function, lung diseases, obesity, and
other confounders. The results showed that overall, mean exposure levels to endotoxins
were below 100 EU/m3. However, special tasks of wastewater workers caused higher
endotoxin exposure. SP-D concentration was slightly increased in this occupational group
and associated with the occurrence of splashes and contact to raw sewage. No effect was
found in garbage collectors. Smoking increased serum SP-D. No clinically relevant
correlation between spirometry results and SP-D concentrations was detected. The
authors concluded that these findings support the hypothesis that inhalation of bioaerosols,
even at low concentrations, has a subclinical effect on the lung-blood barrier, the
of which increases without associated spirometric changes.
Authors: Daneshzadeh Tabrizi, R.; Bernard, A.; Thommen, A. M.; Winter, F.; Oppliger, A.;
Hilfiker, S.; Tschopp, A.; Hotz, P.
Full Source: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health [online
computer file] 2010, 83(8), 879-886 (Eng)

Evaluation of the relationship between mercury exposure and oxidative DNA lesions
in workers occupationally expose to mercury
In this study, the authors undertook an evaluation of antioxidant status by measuring the
activities of superoxidase dismutase and glutathione peroxidase and the concentrations of
total reduced glutathione and protein-bound thiols in the serum. In addition, they measured
urinary 8-hydroxy-2- deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG); which is used as biomarker of oxidative
DNA damage in the mercury exposed persons. The study was carried out on 40 workers
exposed to mercury on the job in collaboration with National Institute of Occupational
Safety and Health. Samples were collected in December 2008 from workers at fluorescent
lamps and dry batteries factories. Urinary 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) was
measured used as biomarker of oxidative DNA damage in the mercury exposed persons.
The antioxidant status was assessed by measuring the activities of superoxidase
dismutase and glutathione peroxidase and the concentrations of total reduced glutathione
and protein-bound thiols were also evaluated in the serum. In this study, urinary 8-OHdG
which is a metabolite of oxidised DNA was used to evaluate whether mercury exposure led
to oxidative damage to DNA. The activities of serum GSH-Px and superoxide dismutase
(SOD) and the concentrations of GSH and total protein-bound thiol were also investigated
to clarify the relationship between body mercury status and oxidative stress. Forty subjects
were chosen to participate in this study from workers exposed to mercury on the job. Ten
healthy subjects, matching in age, sex and socio-economic status were chosen as a
control group. There was increase in 8-OHdG concentrations in urine which means that
DNA damage had occurred. The mercury exposed workers had significantly higher serum
concentrations of GSH and protein-bound thiols than did the control groups. Serum and
urinary mercury a concentration in the exposed group was more than 40 fold higher than in
the controls. The author concluded that measurement of urinary 8-hydroxy-2-
deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) could be useful for evaluating in vivo oxidative DNA damage in
the mercury- exposed populations.
Author: Mohammed, A. A.
Full Source: Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 2010, 28(2), 1-16 (Eng)

Occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer in women
Although studies in rodents suggest possible associations between exposure to organic
solvents and breast cancer, the evidence in humans is limited. In the present study, the
authors evaluated job histories of 2383 incident breast cancer cases diagnosed during
2000-2003, and 2502 controls who participated in a large population-based case-control
study in Poland. Industrial hygienists reviewed occupational histories and developed
exposure metrics for total organic solvents and benzene. Unconditional logistic regression
analyses estimated ORs and 95% Cls as the measure of association with breast cancer,
controlling for breast cancer risk factors. Stratified analyses examined the potential
modification by known breast cancer risk factors. In addition, associations were evaluated
by oestrogen and progesterone receptor status and by other clinical characteristics of the
tumours using polytomous regression analyses. The results showed that women who ever
worked at jobs with organic solvents exposure had a small, non-significant increase in
breast cancer risk (OR)1.16; 95% Cl 0.99 to 1.4). A significant association was present for
oestrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-negative tumours (OR 1.40; 95% Cl 1.1 to
1.8), but there was no association with tumours with both positive receptors (OR 0.97;
95% Cl 0.8 to 1.2 (p heterogeneity: 0.008)). We did not observe trends with increasing
level of exposure. Known breast cancer risk factors did not modify the association between
organic solvents and breast cancer risk. No association with breast cancer was found for
benzene exposure (OR 1.00; 95% Cl 0.8 to 1.3). The authors concluded that the results
from this study provide weak evidence for a possible association between occupational
exposure to organic solvents as a class and breast cancer risk. The association might be
limited to hormone receptor-negative tumours.
Authors: Peplonska, Beata; Stewart, Patricia; Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila; Lissowska,
Jolanta; Brinton, Louise A.; Gromiec, Jan Piotr; Brzeznicki, Slawomir; Yang, Xiaohong R.;
Sherman, Mark; Garcia-Closas, Montserrat; Blair, Aaron (Department of Environmental
Epidemiology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Pol.). Occupational and
Environmental Medicine 2010, 67(11), 722-729 (Eng), BMJ Publishing Group.

Incidence of extrapleural malignant mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, from the
Italian national register
The epidemiology of extrapleural malignant mesothelioma is rarely discussed and the risk
of misdiagnosis and the very low incidence complicate the picture. This study presents
data on extrapleural malignant mesothelioma from the Italian National Mesothelioma
Register (ReNaM). ReNaM works on a regional basis, searching for cases and
interviewing subjects to investigate asbestos exposure. Classification and code criteria for
certainty of diagnosis and exposure modalities are set by national guidelines. Between
1993 and 2004, 681 cases were collected. Incidence measures and exposure data refer to
the ReNaM database. Age-standardised rates were estimated by the direct method using
the Italian resident population in 2001. Correlations between the incidence of pleural and
non-pleural malignant mesothelioma for the 103 Italian provinces were analysed.
Standardised incidence rates (Italy, 2004, per million inhabitants) were 2.1 and 1.2 cases
for the peritoneal site (in men and women, respectively), 0.2 cases for the tunica vaginalis
testis, and 0.1 in the pericardial site, varying widely in different parts of the country. Mean
age at diagnosis for all extrapleural malignant mesothelioma cases was 64.4 years and the
men/women ratio was 1.57:1. Median latency was over 40 years for all extrapleural sites
combined. The correlation between pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma was 0.71
(Pearson’s r coefficient, p<0.001). Modalities of exposure to asbestos fibres were
investigated for 392 cases. The authors concluded the rarity of the disease, the low
specificity of diagnosis and difficulties in identifying the modalities of asbestos exposure
call for caution in discussing etiological factors other than asbestos.
Authors: Marinaccio, Alessandro; Binazzi, Alessandra; di Marzio, Davide; Scarselli, Alberto;
Verardo, Marina; Mirabelli, Dario; Gennaro, Valerio; Mensi, Carolina; Merler, Enzo; de Zotti,
Renata; Mangone, Lucia; Chellini, Elisabetta; Pascucci, Cristiana; Ascoli, Valeria;
Menegozzo, Simona; Cavone, Domenica; Cauzillo, Gabriella; Nicita, Carmela; Melis,
Massimo; Iavicoli, Sergio
Full Source: Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2010, 67(11), 760-765 (Eng)

Estimates of historical exposures by phase contrast and transmission electron
microscopy in North Carolina USA asbestos textile plants
This study developed a job-exposure matrix (JEM) for fibre exposures in three asbestos
textile plants and developed estimates of fibre size-specific exposures. Historical dust
samples from three North Carolina, USA asbestos textile plants were obtained. Plant
specific samples were used to express impinger dust concentrations as fibre
concentrations by phase contract microscopy (PCM). Mixed models were used to estimate
PCM exposures by plant, department, job and calendar time. Archived membrane filter
samples were analysed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to determine the
bivariate diameter/length distribution of airborne fibres by plant and operation. PCM fibre
levels estimated from the models were very high in the 1930s, with some operations
having in excess of 200 fibres/mL, and decreased appreciably over time. TEM results for
77 airborne dust samples found that only a small proportion of airborne fibres were
measured by PCM (>0.25 ím in diameter and >5 ím in length) and the proportion varied
considerably by plant and operation (range 2.9% to 10.0%). The bivariate diameter/length
distribution of airborne fibres demonstrated a relatively high degree of variability by plant
and operation. In addition, PCM adjustment factors varied substantially across plants and
operations. The authors concluded that the findings from this study provide new
information concerning airborne fibre levels and characteristics in three historically
important asbestos textile plants. PCM concentrations were high in the early years and
TEM data demonstrate that the vast majority of airborne fibres inhaled by the workers
were shorter than 5 ím in length, and thus not included in the PCM-based fibre counts.
Authors: Dement, J. M.; Myers, D.; Loomis, D.; Richardson, D.; Wolf, S.
Full Source: Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2009, 66(9), 574-583 (Eng)

Investigation and analysis on equipment allocation for sudden chemical poisoning
emergency in Guangdong
Emergency equipments are important resources in sudden chemical poisoning emergency.
In order to analyse the status of emergency equipment allocation for sudden chemical
poisoning emergency in the institutions of Guangdong, an investigation was carried out
based on the ‘Health Emergency Troop Equipment References (draft)’ released by
National Health Bureau. Fifty kinds of equipment in 4 categories, including personal
protection, samples collection and preservation, rapid identification and detection, and
auxiliary equipment, were selected as the study content. Questionnaire, standard setting
and field verification were the methods used in this investigation. Compared with the
based standard, the equipment allocation rate and up-to-standard rate were not satisfied in
the 76 investigated institutions (prevention and treatment centres for occupational
diseases and CDCs). None of the 76 institutions had allocated the required 50 kinds of
equipment, but only allocating an average of 15 kinds. The authors concluded that the
equipment allocation of personal protection and rapid identification and detection was
relatively low. Therefore, emergency equipments are urgently needed in the institutions,
especially for personal protection, rapid identification and detection.
Authors: Li, Rong-zong; Qiu, Chuang-yi; Chen, Jia-bin
Full Source: Zhongguo Anquan Shengchan Kexue Jishu 2010, 6(2), 99-103 (Ch)

Effects of azo dyes on human health
This study presents the results of certain research regarding the influence of azo dyes and
pigments used in the dyeing and printing of textiles, on health and, in particular, on the
possibility of triggering certain allergic reactions or cancer. The development of
carcinogenic amines is believed to be the major factor determining the carcinogenic
potential of a given dye. In most cases, allergies have been caused by the utilisation of
dispersion dyes on synthetic materials, meant for the manufacturing of textile items or toys
which exhibited a low colour resistance. The dye extraction degree from textile materials
varies depending on the number of washing/wear cycle the pH level, the perspiration
acidity,/alky., etc. In the manufacturing of dyes, an alternative to aromatic amines is the
use of aromatic sulphonate amines, which do not have a genotoxic effect, or, if they do it is,
in general, very low.
Authors: Leucea, Daciana Ilica
Full Source: Industria Textila (Bucharest, Romania) 2010, 61(6), 304-309 (Rom)

Multiple metals exposure in a small-scale artisanal gold mining community
In this study, the authors characterise urinary metals in 57 male residents of a small-scale
gold mining community in Ghana. Chromium and arsenic exceeded health guideline
values for 52% and 34%, respectively, of all participants. About 10-40% of the participants
had urinary levels of aluminium, copper, manganese, nickel, selenium, and zinc that fell
outside the U.S. reference range. The authors concluded that exposures appear
ubiquitous across the community as none of the elements were associated with
occupation, age, and diet.
Authors: Basu, Niladri; Nam, Dong-Ha; Kwansaa-Ansah, Edward; Renne, Elisha P.;
Nriagu, Jerome O.
Full Source: Environmental Research 2011, 111(3), 463-467 (Eng)

Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam Collected from Baby
With the phase-out of PentaBDE in 2004, alternative flame retardants are being used in
polyurethane foam to meet flammability standards; however, insufficient information is
available on the identity of the flame retardants currently in use. Baby products containing
polyurethane foam must meet California state furniture flammability standards, which likely
affects the use of flame retardants in baby products throughout the US. It is not clear
which products contain flame retardants and at what concentrations. This study
investigated baby products containing polyurethane foam to assess how often flame
retardants were used in these products. Information on when the products were purchased
and whether they contained a label indicating the product meets requirements for a
California flammability standard were recorded. When possible, the flame retardants being
used and their in-foam concentrations were identified. Foam samples collected from 101
commonly used baby products were analysed. In total, 80 samples contained an
identifiable flame retardant additive, and all but 1 was chlorinated or brominated. The most
common detected flame retardant was tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCPP;
detection frequency 36%), followed by components typically found in the Firemaster550
common mixture (detection frequency 17%). Five samples contained PBDE congeners
commonly associated with PentaBDE, suggesting products with PentaBDE are still in-use.
Two chlorinated organophosphate flame retardants (OPFR) not previously documented in
the environment were also identified, one of which is commonly sold as V6 (detection
frequency 15%) and contains tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) as an impurity. As an
addition to this study, a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyser estimated the Br and
Cl content of foams to assess whether XRF is a useful method to predict the presence of
halogenated flame retardant additives in these products. A significant correlation was
observed for Br; there was no significant relationship observed for Cl. Two chlorinated
OPFR not previously documented in the environment or in consumer products were
identified. Based on exposure estimates conducted by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC), it was predicted that infants may receive greater TDCPP exposure
from these products versus the average child or adult from upholstered furniture, all of
which are higher than acceptable daily TDCPP intake levels established by the CPSC. The
authors concluded that future studies are warranted to specifically measure infant
exposure to these flame retardants from intimate contact with the products and to
determine if there are any associated health concerns.
Authors: Stapleton, Heather M.; Klosterhaus, Susan; Keller, Alex; Ferguson, P. Lee; van
Bergen, Saskia; Cooper, Ellen; Webster, Thomas F.; Blum, Arlene
Full Source: Environmental Science & Technology [online computer file] 2011, 45(12),
5323-5331 (Eng)

A simple and feasible grading method for major dangerous chemical hazard
The grading method is very important in the safety supervision and administration of major
dangerous chemical hazard installations. A new grading method is proposed in which R is
a grading indicator. R is calculated by the ratios of different chemical quantities and their
threshold quantities in the unit after correction of chemical categories and numbers of
people. This method is applied in one enterprise and the results show that it has a certain
degree of science and better operability, and can meet the need of the grading for major
Authors: Wei, Li-jun; Wu, Zong-zhi
Full Source: Zhongguo Anquan Kexue Xuebao 2009, 19(12), 45-50 (Ch)

Determination of hazardous thresholds for chemical accidents
The risk of fire and explosion is determined and the emergency exposure thresholds for
common toxic substances are compared. Based on this, the hazardous threshold criteria
for various accidents are classified according to the severity of the incident ranging from
fatalities, irreversible effects and reversible effects. The technique can be applied to the
fields of safety assessment, land use planning and emergency planning for major hazard
installations or industrial zones.
Authors: Shi, Li-chen; Duo, Ying-quan.
Full Source: Zhongguo Anquan Kexue Xuebao 2009, 19(12), 51-56 (Ch)

Monitoring of personnel engaged in bomb disposal
The benefits of deployed body sensor networks (BSNs) for bomb disposal personnel are
assessed in terms of providing detailed physiological profiles of operatives; supporting
online, real time extraction of accurate human thermal comfort values based on multiple
sensor measurements; reporting of information to a remote station, thus enabling rapid
assessment of hazardous situations; supporting automated control of cooling systems
commonly integrated with armoured suits; and providing alerts to both operatives and
remote monitors. BSNs deployed in this manner must be both robust and reliable in order
to fulfil the safety criteria requirements of the application. The paper describes and
evaluates a fully functional prototype instrumentation system which complies with these
Authors: Kemp, John; Gaura, Elena; Brusey, James.
Full Source: Nanotech Conference & Expo 2009: An Interdisciplinary Integrative Forum on
Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Microtechnology, Houston, TX, United States, May
3-7, 2009, 1, 517-520 (Eng).

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