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September 26, 2008

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Hazard Alert

Concrete is a construction material composed of cement as well as other
materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate (generally a coarse
aggregate such as gravel limestone or granite, plus a fine aggregate such
as sand), water, and chemical admixtures. Concrete solidifies and hardens
after mixing with water and placement due to a chemical process known as
hydration. Concrete is used to make pavements, architectural structures,
foundations, motorways/roads, bridges/overpasses, parking structures,
brick/block walls and footings for gates, fences and poles. [1]

Health Effects
Hazards from contact with wet (unhardened) concrete, mortar, cement,
or cement mixtures can cause skin irritation, severe chemical burns (third
degree) or serious eye damage. Frequent exposure may be associated with
irritant and/or allergic contact dermatitis. [2]

Effects Of Acute Exposure
Wet concrete mixtures can dry the skin, cause alkali burns, and irritate the
eyes and upper respiratory tract. Ingestion can cause irritation of the throat.

Effects Resulting from Eye Contact
Eye contact by splashes of concrete may cause effects ranging from
moderate eye irritation to chemical burns or blindness. Such exposures
require immediate first aid and medical attention to prevent significant
damage to the eye. [4]

Effects Resulting from Skin Contact
Discomfort or pain cannot be relied upon to alert a person to hazardous skin
exposure. Consequently, the only effective means of avoiding skin injury or
illness involves minimizing skin contact, with concrete. Exposed persons may
not feel discomfort until hours after the exposure has ended and significant
injury has occurred. Exposure to concrete may cause more severe skin
effects including thickening, cracking or fissuring of the skin. Prolonged
exposure can cause severe skin damage in the form of (alkali) chemical
burns. Some individuals may exhibit an allergic response upon exposure to
concrete, possibly due to trace elements of chromium. The response may
appear in a variety of forms ranging from a mild rash to severe skin ulcers.
Persons already sensitized may react to their first contact with the product.
Other persons may first experience this effect after years of contact with
concrete products. [4]

Effects Resulting from Ingestion
Although small quantities of concrete are not known to be harmful, ill effects
are possible if larger quantities are consumed. Concrete should not be
eaten. [4]

Effects Of Chronic Exposure:
Dust from concrete can cause inflammation/irritation of the tissue lining the
interior of the nose and the cornea (white) of the eye. [3]

Carcinogenic potential
NTP, OSHA, or IARC does not list concrete as a carcinogen. It may
however, contain trace amounts of substances listed as carcinogens by
these organizations.Crystalline silica, a potential
component in concrete, is now classified by IARC as known human
carcinogen (Group I). NTP has characterized silica that can be
inhaled as “reasonably anticipated to be [a] carcinogen”. [4]

Personal Protection [2]
Eye Protection
Proper eye protection is essential when working with cement or concrete.
Eyes are particularly vulnerable to blowing dust, splattering concrete, and
other foreign objects. On some jobs it may be advisable to wear full-cover
goggles or safety glasses with side shields.

Respiratory Protection
Avoid actions that cause dust to become airborne. Local or general ventilation
can control exposures below applicable exposure limits; respirators may
be used in poorly ventilated areas, where exposure limits are exceeded,
or when dust causes discomfort or irritation. Avoid prolonged exposure to

Skin Protection
Prolonged contact between fresh concrete and skin surfaces, eyes, and
clothing may result in burns that are quite severe, including third-degree
burns. If irritation persists consult a physician. For deep burns or large
affected skin areas, seek medical attention immediately.
Clothing worn as protection from fresh concrete should not be allowed to
become saturated with moisture from fresh concrete because saturated
clothing can transmit alkaline or hygroscopic effects to the skin.
Waterproof gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants should be worn.
If you must stand in fresh concrete while it is being placed, screeded, or
floated, wear rubber boots high enough to prevent concrete from getting
into them. The best way to avoid skin irritation is to wash frequently with pH
neutral soap and clean water. [2]

1. Wikipedia (2008) Concrete retrieved on 9th September 2008 from
2. Portland Cement Association (2008) Working Safely with Concrete
retrieved on 9th September 2008 from
3. Delaware Valley Concrete (2006) Ready Mix Concrete retrieved on 9th
2008 from
MIXED CONCRETE retrieved on 9th September 2008 from


Asia Pacific

Nasal spray linked to convulsions in children
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has announced that a nasal spray
designed to stop bed-wetting has triggered seizures in more than a dozen
Australians, including seven children. The agency sys that 68 reports of
adverse reactions linked to the drug, desmopressin, used to limit urination
in children, and after injury and surgery has been received. There were
17 reports of convulsions and a further 10 of hyponatremia, a condition of
dangerously low salt levels in the blood. Furthermore, the drug is sold in oral
tablet form but the TGA say the side effects were mostly seen with the nasal
spray formula. “Of 12 reports of convulsions or hyponatremia following the
use of desmopressin nasal spray, seven involved children under 13 years
of age,” the TGA said in its adverse drug reactions bulletin. The authority
said the product, sold under the brand Minirin, will not be removed from
sale but warned doctors to prescribe the product only when a bed-wetting
alarm device has failed to work. “Avoidance of excessive fluid intake should
be advised during treatment with desmopressin,” the bulletin stated. “The
ongoing need for these products should be reviewed periodically in patients
taking desmopressin long-term.” Last year the US health authorities received
61 reports of serious adverse events associated with the drug, including
two deaths, and they removed it from sale. Following these reports, TGA
updated its guidelines for the drug. The nasal spray was implicated in 36
of the cases, with 25 involving children. More than half of all affected were
also taking another medication, making it difficult for authorities to establish
a definite causal link. The drug works by limiting the amount of water that
is eliminated in the urine and is used to prevent excessive thirst, urination
and dehydration caused by injury, surgery and certain medical conditions
including a form of diabetes.
The Australian, 1 August 2008

Daily test for lead in Mount Isa air
For the first time, Swiss mining giant Xstrata will face daily independent
monitoring of its lead emissions over Mount Isa after more than 10 per cent
of children in the central Queensland town were found to have dangerously
high levels of the metal in their blood. Following decades of inaction, the
Queensland Government will take over Xstrata’s self-regulation of its heavy
metal emissions control to provide openness and public confidence amid
a series of looming civil trials over alleged negligence and widespread air,
water and soil contamination. The action, which will also force Xstrata to
release its own monitoring reports that will then be made public every month,
follows recent reports that an independent study had found household dust
samples contained lead levels up to 40 times greater than in international
guidelines. Queensland Environment Minister Andrew McNamara said the
measures were being adopted to introduce greater transparency in tackling
the problem of lead poisoning in the town. “Obviously, more work will need
to be done and there is no question that 10 per cent of the children having
these blood levels is of serious concern,” he said. “These measures will
simply defeat some of the public concerns because under this scheme,
there will be no place to hide. “We want public confidence in the data and
we want to ensure we get the best possible picture.” Under the current
scheme, Xstrata’s heavy metal monitoring stations run for 24 hours, every
six days - in line with federal guidelines. But the data is provided on an
irregular basis to Queensland’s Environmental Protection Agency - and not
released to the public - before being collated annually for analysis. The only
government monitoring in Mount Isa is for sulphur dioxide emissions. Mr
McNamara said the new monitoring equipment - which would test for up to
20 metals, including copper, zinc and lead - would provide near-hourly data
reports for analysis by the EPA. “This is state-of-the-art monitoring, the first
time it has been used in Australia,” he said. Earlier this year, legislation was
introduced to repeal exemptions to environmental standards granted to the
Mount Isa hardrock mine and smelters by the Bjelke-Petersen government.
A Queensland Health screening of 400 Mount Isa children this year found
more than 10 per cent of children tested had dangerous blood lead levels.
Studies in Australia and the US have linked blood levels of 10 micrograms
per decilitre to intellectual and behaviour difficulties in youngsters. The
Queensland Health study found 45 children tested above 10micrograms,
with nine above 15, two above 20 and one registering 31.5.
The Australian, 1 August 2008

Drug warning ‘suppressed’
A Taxpayer-funded medical journal has been accused of suppressing
criticisms of flaws in patient medicine handouts that could have fatal
consequences for thousands of Australians. The criticisms in a paper by
five medical specialists reveal that alleged problems with the official advice
for the drugs Cortate and Hysone are still unresolved, more than a year
after the concerns were first publicised. In the case of Cortate -- like Hysone
an essential treatment for people with Addison’s disease and some other
hormonal conditions -- the consumer medicine information (CMI) handouts
still advise patients not to take the drug if they have an uncontrolled infection.
The paper reported that this is “dangerously incorrect” and patients taking
the drug in fact need to double or even treble their dose to avoid serious
illness. “If followed, such advice could lead to life-threatening consequences
within 24-36 hours for some thousands of Australians who depend on
glucocorticoid replacement,” the paper says.
However, the journal Australian Prescriber, part of the government-funded
National Prescribing Service, faces claims it “nobbled” attempts to alert
medical experts to the issue “to avoid a few red faces in Canberra”, after it
refused to publish the paper. The journal and its editor, John Dowden, may
also face accusations they breached internationally accepted publishing
procedures, by allegedly sending the five experts’ paper to the Therapeutic
Goods Administration for comment before the journal had decided whether to
accept it. The TGA not only has ultimate responsibility to ensure CMI leaflets
are accurate, it is entirely funded by fees charged to drug manufacturers. In
its response to Australian Prescriber, the TGA’s national manager Rohan
Hammett said a “careful review” of the CMI should allay any concerns over
misinformation. The advice in Cortate’s CMI regarding infections was not
misleading, Dr Hammett said, because this appeared beneath a sub-heading
“Before you take Cortate” -- which Dr Hammett said indicated it was only
relevant to patients starting the drug, not those already on it. The lead author
of the rejected paper, Jim Stockigt -- a professor of medicine at Monash
University -- said the approach of Australian Prescriber had been “amazing”,
and the journal had “fought tooth and nail to prevent dissemination” of
concerns. “It’s my feeling that this submission may have been suppressed or
nobbled to avoid a few red faces in Canberra and to preserve the impression
that all is well with Australian pharmaceutical product and consumer medicine
information,” Professor Stockigt said. “For those who depend on adrenal
replacement for their survival, it is simply dangerous nonsense for the advice
‘Do not take Cortate if you have an uncontrolled infection’ to remain on the
books.” In a letter to Professor Stockigt, Dr Dowden said the paper had
been rejected because it was referring to letters printed in other publications
a year earlier, it was not related to an article in Australian Prescriber, it was
too long, allegations were included in the paper and an “external review did
not support all the interpretations made in the correspondence”. After the
paper’s rejection Professor Stockigt consulted the British-based Committee
on Publication Ethics for its views on Australian Prescriber’s actions. The
COPE’s chairman, Harvey Marcovitch, replied that Australian Prescriber
had either breached confidentiality by sending the paper to the TGA or,
alternatively, the journal had “breached fundamental rules on the potential
conflict of interest of reviewers”. A spokesman for Australian Prescriber said
the journal had “robust and ethical editorial processes”. “The decision not to
publish in this case was made by the editorial executive committee and a full
explanation was given to the authors,” the spokesman said. “The committee
stands by this
The Australian, 26 August 2008

The scope of hazardous waste further detailed
On 6 June 2008, the Ministry of Environment Protection in conjunction with
the National Development and Reform Commission released the List of
Hazardous Waste. Largely, the 6 June 2008 list replaced the previous list of
4 January 1998. the new list includes 399 sub-classifications of hazardous
waste under 49 main categories. In addition, the new list provides a listing
of 498 hazardous chemicals so as to determine the characteristics of
hazardous waste.
Enhesa Update, July 2008


Saying No To PFCs
Starting in 2010, California will ban one type of perfluorinated chemicals
(PFCs) from food wrappers. Both the California Senate and Assembly
have passed versions of a bill to stop the use of food packaging containing
eight-carbon PFCs in the state. PFCs impart oil, stain, grease, and water
repellency to food wrappers. However, these chemical are biopersistent and
some have been linked to health problems. It is expected that the Senate
will vote on the bill by 30 August. The Senate passed an earlier version of the
bill that would have banned all PFCs from materials that have contact with
food. After lobbying by the chemical industry, the Assembly narrowed the
scope of the bill to just the eight-carbon PFCs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
has not indicated whether he would sign the bill if the Senate concurs on the
Assembly-passed version. The Chemical Industry Council of California, the
American Chemistry Council, Ciba, DuPont, and Hercules have fought hard
against the bill and are seeking a veto from Schwarzenegger, says John
Ulrich, executive director of the California Industry Council. Chemical makers
argue that a widely used PFC, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), is already
being managed well at the federal level. The EPA has created a voluntary
initiative under which eight major manufacturers of PFOA pledged to reduce
worldwide emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals
95% by 2010 and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content
of these chemicals by 2015. For some observers, volunteer approaches
are questionable. “The federal government’s toothless approach does not
ensure that people will be protected from these chemicals,” says RenÈe
Sharp, senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, an activist
organization that supports S.B. 1313.
Chemical & Engineering News, 29 August 2008

FDA Allows Irradiation Of Lettuce And Spinach
Following numerous outbreaks of food-borne illness over the past two years,
the Food & Drug Administration announced recently that it will allow the
irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach to kill bacteria such as Escherichia
coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica. Both the food industry and Congress
have welcomed this move. However, some food safety experts warn that
the technology will rob food of essential nutrients and create a disincentive
for growers and food handlers to clean up their acts. The FDA have been
considering a petition submitted by a coalition organised by the Grocery
Manufacturers Association in 1999, to allow irradiation-zapping food with
low levels of ionising radiation-of fresh produce and other ready-to-eat
foods. “After letting a petition that would allow irradiation on fresh fruits
and vegetables to languish for more than eight years, I am happy to hear
that FDA has finally acted and approved irradiation for use on fresh lettuce
and fresh spinach,” said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the
House Energy & Commerce Committee. Dingell urged FDA “to take quick
action and approve irradiation for use on other fresh produce and ready-
to-eat foods.” Currently in the U.S, irradiation is mainly used on ground
beef, poultry, and spices. In addition, it can led to significant reductions of
pathogens in produce, depending on the dose of radiation, Suresh Pillai,
director of the National Centre for Electron Beam Research at Texas A&M
University, said. The new rule will allow up to 4 kilograys (kGy) of ionising
radiation on fresh lettuce and spinach. That amount is enough to also kill
many viruses, Pillai notes. His group is currently determining the lowest
dose needed to destroy food-borne viruses such as norovirus, hepatitis A,
and polio. “We are trying to reduce the dose because it makes the process
cheaper and takes less time,” he says. “Even at 1.5- or 2-kGy doses, you
can achieve safe products.” However, some food experts have cautioned
that irradiation of fresh produce may not be a good idea. They emphasised
that the technology will distract attention from unsanitary conditions and
decrease levels of some nutrients. “Irradiation is no substitute for measures
to clean up the huge animal operations that pollute our waterways and
irrigation water with the raw manure that often carries pathogenic bacteria,”
said Bill Freese, science policy adviser at the nonprofit Centre for Food
Safety, in a statement. According to Freese, scientific studies have shown
that irradiation can dramatically lower amounts of nutrients, such as
vitamin A and folate, both of which are found at high levels in spinach. FDA
acknowledges that irradiation does lead to the loss of some vitamins, but
the agency concludes in a Federal Register notice that a maximum dose of
4 kGy on fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce “will not have an adverse impact
on the nutritional adequacy of the overall diet.”
Chemical & Engineering News, 27 August 2008

Strengthening the Advisory Committee Process
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that they are
strengthening and improving the workings of their advisory committees.
Advisory committees are groups of experts from outside the agency that
FDA sometimes turns to for help on complex scientific, technical, and policy
issues. They provide independent, professional expertise related to the
development and evaluation of products regulated by FDA, such as human
and animal drugs, blood and other biological products, medical devices,
and foods. For example, an advisory committee may provide advice to help
FDA weigh the risks and benefits of a new potential treatment for a disease.
FDA may pose questions to an advisory committee about a specific product.
The committee discusses the questions after looking at briefing materials,
which contain background information such as available studies on the
product, and then votes on the questions. Although the committee makes
recommendations to FDA, the agency makes the final decisions. Currently,
the FDA has 48 scientific and technical advisory committees. The committee
generally consist of chairperson, several scientists and health professionals,
an industry representative, a consumer representative, and sometimes a
patient representative. On 4 August 2008, FDA released improvements,
aimed at strengthening the advisory committee process, in a set of four
final guidances and a draft guidance. In preparing the final guidances,
FDA considered public comments on previously issued draft guidances.
Guidances are not legally enforceable, but instead are recommendations
that describe FDA’s current thinking on a topic. The five guidances and their
main purposes are described below.
1. Final Guidance- Procedures for Determining Conflict of Interest and
Eligibility for Participation in FDA Advisory Committees: the purpose of
this guidance is to strengthen the transparency and consistency of the
process FDA uses to assess advisor potential conflicts of interest. FDA laws
and regulations require that the financial interests of advisory committee
members be scrutinised for their potential to create a conflict of interest. For
example, an advisor who has a contract with a company whose product is
being discussed in the meeting may have a potential conflict of interest. This
guidance sets out a clear, streamlined approach for determining who may
be eligible to participate on an advisory committee. The approach makes
the review of conflicts of interest more stringent-beyond that required by
2. Final Guidance- Public Availability of Advisory Committee Members’
Financial Interest Information and Waivers: The purpose of this guidance
is to be transparent and open to the public. This guidance describes FDA’s
policy for public disclosure of information when an advisory committee
member has a potential conflict of interest. Advisory committee members
who have been granted a waiver by FDA to participate in a meeting will be
asked to publicly disclose their potentially conflicting financial interests, and
FDA will then make this information publicly available. FDA will also make
publicly available waivers that the agency grants allowing participation in
advisory committee meetings.
3. Final Guidance- Voting Procedures at Advisory Committee Meetings: The
purpose of this guidance is to help ensure the integrity and meaning of the
voting results. In the past, during advisory committee meetings, members
have often voted sequentially-aloud, one right after the other. This new
guidance recommends voting at the same time to prevent some voters
from being potentially influenced by the votes of those who precede them.
Simultaneous voting may be done by a show of hands, by written vote, or
other method decided by the committee chairperson.
4. Final Guidance- Public Availability of Briefing Materials: The purpose
of this guidance is to help prepare briefing materials and to be open and
transparent to the public. This guidance presents tools, such as timelines, to
help product sponsors develop, organise, and submit briefing materials for
FDA to pass on to committee members before a meeting occurs. In addition,
it discusses when FDA intends to make these materials available to the
public by posting them on FDA’s Advisory Committee Web site.
5. Draft Guidance- When FDA Convenes Advisory Committee Meetings:
The purpose of this guidance is to clarify when FDA should refer a matter
to an advisory committee. In some instances, FDA is required by law to
refer an issue to an advisory committee. In others, the agency can choose
whether or not to refer an issue. The draft guidance proposes that FDA
consider several specific factors when making this choice. FDA believes
that prioritising according to these factors would help ensure that the limited
resources of the advisory committee program are devoted to consideration
of those matters in which the agency would most benefit from the advice of
outside, independent experts.
In addition to the guidances, another improvement is the redesign of
FDA’s Advisory Committee Web site. The redesign makes it easier for
viewers to locate previously hard-to-find information, for example, meeting
announcements and meeting materials. The redesign was based on
feedback from usability testing and other scientific methods. Furthermore,
the web site gives users an opportunity to provide feedback on the site to
FDA. FDA often seeks the advice of advisory committee members before
it makes decisions such as whether or not to approve a product, extend a
product’s use to more people or for another indication, or add a warning to a
product’s label. Advisory committees make an important contribution to FDA’s
decision-making processes, which ultimately determine what treatments
and other products are available to consumers. Each advisory committee
usually has a consumer representative, who may be a health professional
with links to consumer advocacy groups or community-based organisations.
FDA may also invite a patient representative to participate in a committee.
A patient representative is knowledgeable about, or may even have, the
disease or condition under discussion by the committee. While contributing
to the scientific discussion, consumer and patient representatives bring to
the committees an awareness of concerns of patients and family members
directly affected by a serious disease.
FDA consumer Update, 4 August 2008


Green groups take EU to court over ‘dangerous’ pesticide
New maximum legal limits for the pesticide content of food products sold
within the EU, came into force on 1 September 2008, “violate food safety” by
exposing consumers to unacceptable levels of contamination, environmental
groups claimed, announcing their intention to challenge the law in court.
The EU institutions first reached agreement on a new law setting Europe-
wide limits on pesticide content in food sold within the bloc in February
2005. The regulation is intended to address growing public concern over the
health and environmental impact of the so-called plant protection products.
However, according to a new study published by Greenpeace Germany and
Austrian NGOs Global 2000 and Friends of the Earth Austria, found that
under the new regulation “almost 700 of the maximum amounts of pesticide
in fruit and vegetables allowed throughout the EU are too high”. The studies
results have led environmental groups Pesticides Action Network (PAN)
Europe and Dutch NGO Natuur en Milieu to lodge an appeal at the Court of
First Instance in an attempt to force the Commission to review its position
and to encourage it to take their views more seriously at an earlier stage
of the policy process in future. The EU executive has “failed to deliver on
its obligation to set legal limits at the lowest achievable level,” claimed
Hans Muilerman of Natuur en Milieu. “There is also no consideration of the
cumulative effects that pesticides have on human health. Legal action is
now necessary to force the Commission to think again.” In the meantime,
PAN Europe coordinator Elliott Cannell questioned the mechanism by which
the new limits were devised. “For each pesticide, the Commission identified
the country with the worst safety limit and then sought to adopt this level as
the new EU-wide standard,” he said. During the recent study, Greenpeace
examined 170,000 pesticide limits as laid out in the Commission regulation
- singles out apples, pears, grapes, tomatoes and sweet peppers among
produce with a level of contamination high enough “to threaten acute
and chronic damage to health, especially that of children”. It estimates
that over half of all food sold in the EU is contaminated by some form of
pesticide. But pesticides manufacturers say their products are all the more
necessary to keep down the cost of food in the current climate of rising
prices. According to the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA),
overly stringent EU rules on pesticides would trigger a decline in European
agricultural self-sufficiency, contribute to price increases and cause job
losses in the agri-food sector. What’s more, the association insists that all its
products respect stringent safety criteria and undergo rigorous testing. The
Commission dismissed the findings of the Greenpeace study as “based on
crude, outdated and imprecise information”. It said it “examines every study
brought to its attention” and “will ask [European Food Safety Agency] EFSA
for an opinion” if new scientific evidence emerges “showing that any of the
maximum residue limits might not be safe”. PAN Europe expects the court
to issue an opinion on the case in early 2009.
Euractive, 29 August 2008

EU NGO lobbies MEPs for tougher controls on chemicals
in toys
Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), the NGO behind the
pocket-sized shoppers’ guide to REACH launched last year, is to hold
an event in the European Parliament to lobby for stronger controls on
hazardous substances under a revised EU toys Directive. Earlier this year
WECF Germany called for complete bans of certain substances under the
Chemical Watch, 2 September 2008
New EU chemical labelling rules to get MEPs’ nod
MEPs are set to approve a revision of EU chemical classification, labelling
and packaging (CLP) rules after representatives of the European parliament
and the council of ministers agreed on a compromise text for a new EU
regulation earlier in the summer. The CLP regulation is the last major
legislative element in the REACH overhaul of EU substance policy and will
implement an international agreement on classification and labelling known
as the globally harmonised system (GHS). In addition, the deal includes
relevant changes to other substance-related EU legislation. Among the
changes made to the European Commission’s initial proposals in the
compromise are agreements to improve communication on safer consumer
use of chemicals and within supply chains, to limit confidentiality claims
and to push for stronger international rules on the labelling of persistent,
bioaccumulative and toxic substances (PBTs). Once approved by MEPs the
text will be rubber-stamped by ministers before entering law.
ENDS Europe Daily, 1 September 2008

Revised exemptions from chemical restrictions under EU
ELV law published
The European Commission has recently published revised exemptions
from restrictions on the use of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent
chromium under the EU end-of-life vehicles Directive. For further details
refer to:
Chemical Watch, 1 September 2008

REACH Update

Producers set up REACH ethyl benzene consortium
The Styrene Producers Association has organised a REACH registration
consortium for ethyl benzene. Initially around ten companies are expected
to join; membership is open to all EU producers and importers and Only
Representatives of non-EU firms. Downstream users may join as associate
Ethyl benzene will require full registration under REACH before 1 December
2010 as about 1% of production, approximately 50,000 tonnes/year, is used
in solvents applications. The bulk of output is used as an intermediate in the
manufacture of styrene.
SPA sector group manager Oliver Sloan says law firm McKenna Long &
Aldrich (MLA) has been contracted to manage the consortium. It already
manages the SPA’s REACH styrene consortium, which was launched in
To cover the running costs, companies will have to pay between •4,000-
5,000 to join. Mr. Sloan says as ethylene benzene is a high production
volume chemical there is a lot of data already available. However he
notes that the EU Risk Assessment Report is still being finalised, and the
European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental
Risk has identified that the risk assessment of ethyl benzene is inconclusive
and there is insufficient data. He adds that over the next year the consortium
will complete a gap analysis and start working on how to generate the
necessary data. The cost of obtaining the additional data is not covered
by the consortium joining fee. For more information contact Oliver Sloan:
Ethyl Benzene REACH Consortium:
Source: Chemical Watch 15-Sep-08

REACH updateIndustry group wants sharper focus on
science in chemicals policy
Three chemicals firms have formed a group called REACHforLIFE to
promote the use of sound science in EU decision-making on chemicals.
REACHforLIFE website:
Source: Chemical Watch 15-Sep-08

REACH updateCefic gives advice in mid-term REACH pre-
registration review
Earlier this month Cefic organised a workshop to provide a mid-term review
of REACH pre-registration. At the review, ECHA set out the next steps for its
tools IUCLID5 and REACH-IT.
The next release of IUCLID5, which is planned in a few weeks, will be able to
support Windows Vista and will allow queries to be made. It will also include
other web services.
The next release of REACH-IT will contain added functionality, covering
registration dossier submission, joint submission, invoicing, on-line dossier
creation and the claiming of registration numbers. This version should be
available by the end of September.
The Technical Completeness Check of dossier compliance and the invoicing
process will remain partially manual.
ECHA is planning to publish an intermediate list of pre-registered
substances in October 2008.
The Agency made a number of suggestions to the workshop delegates,
Follow the Agency guidance, especially with regards to the naming of
substances and company contact details.
Do not use the portal as a training system, and do not carry out tests using
dummy companies or bogus substances.
From Cefic’s perspective, the trade association says the pre-registration
process appears to be easy. It noted the automatic link to a substance’s
relevant pre-SIEF page was particularly useful.
It is recommending that companies should use on-line pre-registration if
they have less than 50 substances to pre-register or if they are handling
substances not in the EC inventory. For many substances, all in the EC
inventory, it suggests companies use bulk pre-registration with XML files.
Industry users have the option of submitting files to REACH-IT using the
IUCLID5 plug-in or the tool jointly developed by Cefic and Concawe. This
has been used for 2,400 file uploads since its launch. Cefic says the tool
aims to make bulk uploads easy. It is an Excel-XML transfer tool that
supports bulk submission of pre-registration data only. The association says
that users should be aware that there could be compliance issues between
the pre-registration file and the data format required by the REACH-IT
portal. It strongly recommendations companies carry out the appropriate
Recommendations were also made on how to manage legal entities and
data within REACH-IT. These included:
Maintain data centrally and carefully map the legal entity and the role it will
play through the REACH process.
Additional identification of the legal entity’s role is best done via the
Company Name field in REACH-IT, as this is shown in each screen.
A unique user-identification has to be created in either IUCLID5 or REACH-
IT for each legal entity; this will be used to identify legal entities in a REACH
dossier submission later.
REACH IT overview:
Source: Chemical Watch 16-Sep-08

REACH updateFirst two REACH candidate list substances
European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) executive director Geert Dancet today
defended the shortness of the official REACH authorisation candidate list
announced before the summer and comprising just 16 substances.
Speaking at the launch of ChemSec’s SIN List, he cited Member State
resource constraints and a desire to ensure that the new REACH processes
were manageable for both authorities and industry. Under Article 33 of
the Regulation, companies would need to respond to consumer enquiries
as soon as the first candidates are published, he noted, it was thought
important that they did not have too large a range of substances to deal
with at the first attempt.
The list would be extended he stressed, with the aim that further potential
candidate substances would be nominated in batches in a process to be
agreed with Member States. A registry of intent - substances that Member
States are considering - will be made public soon, he announced
But Mr Dancet also advised Member States to consider carefully whether
they would like to direct substances through the REACH authorisation
process which could take months, even years. Alternatively, and particularly
if there is a more immediate concern, he said, it might be more appropriate
and quicker to apply for a restriction of the substance. Mixing the two
processes for any specific substance would be complicated and inadvisable
he warned.
Mr Dancet revealed that of the 16 nominated candidates, two - short chain
chlorinated paraffins and bis (tributyltin) oxide - had received no comments.
Under the terms of REACH these have therefore automatically been placed
on the candidate list. ECHA hopes to have decisions on the remaining 14 by
22 October.
Comments for 12 of the substances will be dealt with by Member States
through a written procedure, with the hope that they can reach a decision
on whether or not they should go on the candidate list by the meeting of
ECHA’s Member States Committee in October.
But four of the substances have been earmarked as particularly
controversial and these will be debated by Member State representatives
in person at the October meeting. Three nominations - HBCD, anthracene
and musk xylene - are said to have attracted “major comments by industry”.
For the fourth, cyclododecane, one Member State has indicated it does not
support the nomination and industry objections have also been received.
Mr Dancet said many comments had been received from across the
world. Those that did not relate specifically to the hazard properties of the
substances concerned, but to the availability of alternatives or exposure
or use information, would be stored and considered at a later stage of the
authorisation process, he said.
Source: Chemical Watch 17-Sep-08

REACH updateVersion 1.0 of ChemSec SIN List goes live
A list of 267 chemicals was published by NGO the International Chemicals
Secretariat (ChemSec), comprising those “substances of very high concern
(SVHCs)” for which it feels companies should be searching for alternatives.
The list includes 226 substances from the 905 that have already been
classified under EU law as carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to
reproduction (CMR) as well as 17 from the list of 27 substances that have
been categorised by the EU working group on persistent, bioaccumulative
and toxic (PBT) substances.
More controversially, ChemSec has taken the step of including 30
substances which it considers to meet REACH Regulation Article 57f’s
definition of substances of equivalent concern. These include heavily
publicised substances such as bisphenol A, formaldehyde, PFOA, styrene,
Many of the substances in this category were selected for their suspected
endocrine disrupting properties, ChemSec director Per Rosander noted.
The reasons for their selection are given in the Substitute It Now (SIN) List
database that went live. He said the organisation had “stuck our neck out”
in trying to use this difficult clause in the Regulation to see what could
be justified under it. From an initial list of 4,000 substances considered
potentially to qualify under Art 57f, the group selected those that met
its priority criteria, including if they were found in consumer products,
produced in high volumes, had appropriate hazard properties and were
not exempted from REACH registration or authorisation. Independent
toxicologists were also asked to review the selection of all substances on
the SIN List.
Launching the list, Mr. Rosander advised firms to “use it wisely”. It should
be fed into corporate toxics use reduction programmes to trigger a
process of finding alternatives, he said. Companies should consider all
options, including alternative technologies as well as substitute chemicals,
he advised. Substitutes should also be carefully assessed to avoid
“jumping from the frying pan into the fire”. He described the list as the
start of a process under which ChemSec hopes to facilitate discussions
on alternatives to listed substances, sectoral initiatives as well as invite
feedback on the selection of candidates for SIN List. This would be used
to refine the list. There will be a version 2.0 of the list he promised, and it
should not be too long in the future, but he could not predict when. The
credibility of the list would be crucial to its success, he noted.
Though the SIN List is owned by ChemSec, it has had input from nine
consumer and environmental NGOs as well as ChemSec’s ‘business
reference’ group of companies such as Dell, Skanska, H&M, Boots and Sara
Lee. The companies provided details of their own restricted substance lists,
information on the availability of alternatives, helped with trouble shooting,
discussed the challenges they face with restrictions and ‘pre-tested’ the list.
Several of the companies spoke at today’s launch. Mark Newton,
environmental policy manager in the sustainable business division of
computer giant Dell, welcomed the list saying it was just the kind of tool
that downstream users needed to give them predictability. Mr. Newton said
the value of the list lay in the fact that it represented a harmonised priority
list with the backing of NGOs. Dell regarded NGOs as “issue experts”, not
antagonists, he remarked. While downstream users are often caught in the
middle, Mr Newton remarked, they also have an important opportunity to
feed messages back up the supply chain. Noel Morrin of Skanska related
his experience of searching for an alternative to the brominated flame
retardant deca-BDE in insulation board. A chance discussion at an industry
meeting, he said, led to the discovery that the world’s largest producer of
the flame retardant has already developed an alternative but is waiting for
the commercial prospects for the substitute to be good enough to introduce
it in the EU. Skanska is now in discussions with the firm.
Zoran Gavric, manager for safety, environment and regulatory affairs at Sara
Lee International which covers a range of food, beverage, household goods
and personal care product brands, also welcomed the list. He said many of
the substances fulfilled criteria already applied by many firms.
A representative of Eureau in the audience stated that his organisation
would find the list very useful in helping it decide the substances it did
not want to see in drinking water. But a representative from a Japanese
chemical firm said his head office would question the relevance of the list,
wanting to know how much further it is likely to be extended and how soon.
Industry and Member States delegates at the conference pushed ChemSec
to reveal details of the studies, assumptions and criteria behind its
selections. One, from an EU national environmental protection agency, said
she felt this would facilitate Member States using the SIN List to prioritise
substances to be nominated for the official REACH candidate list. European
Chemicals Agency (ECHA) executive director Geert Dancet also noted that
Member States needed to follow strict criteria and procedures stipulated in
the REACH Regulation in order to nominate substances for authorisation, a
step that cannot be taken lightly. Mr. Dancet also commented on progress
under the official REACH candidate list process (see story today).
Daryl Ditz of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), another
of the organisations backing ChemSec’s initiative, said it was designed
particularly with the plight of downstream users in mind who were often
caught in the middle between chemical manufacturers and the changing
expectations of the marketplace, while trying to make sense of numerous
lists of classified chemicals. The list would give them a signal of NGOs’
priorities he said, and should send the message that alternatives are
urgently sought.
WWF Europe’s senior policy officer Ninja Reineke stressed that the criteria
for definition of SVHCs themselves need revisions, in particular those
concerning PBTs to take account of new data on the risks posed through
intake by inhalation.
SINList database:
List 1.0:
SIN List methodology:
SIN List website:
Source: Chemical Watch 17-Sep-08

REACH updateReport identifies chemical sectors most at
risk from REACH authorisation
Green investment advisor Innovest has issued a report detailing the
potential impacts of REACH authorisation on the chemical sector. The
analysis looks at 73 major chemical companies and assesses their
management strategy for REACH, their exposure to potential regulatory
action, and the strategic profit opportunities being pursued. As well as
benchmarking the companies, Innovest has identified which sectors will
likely be hardest hit by the regulation.
As the basis for its assessment, the company utilized the Substitute it
Now (SIN) database launched by the International Chemical Secretariat
(ChemSec), which identifies 267 chemicals that apparently meet the
authorisation criteria of REACH. Noran Eid, senior analyst at Innovest
said this list was used as it is the first of its kind: “With the current
uncertainty regarding REACH authorization, ChemSec’s SIN list is the most
comprehensive proxy currently available.”
Within the benchmark, top ranked company in terms of management
strategy, exposure and strategic profit opportunities, is PPG-and worst
performer is ICL. Ms Eid noted that DuPont faced a similar risk to ICL, but
the US firm’s management strategy and opportunities for profit raised its
overall ranking. The report indicates that for 11 companies-15% of the
sample-the potential exposure could be greater than 2% of annual sales,
if all substances on the ChemSec SIN List are subject to authorization.
Companies affected particularly badly include Lanxess and Ciba. The report
also looks at how different product segments will be impacted by higher
costs related to the authorisation phase of REACH. Inks and dyes, polymers
and agrochemicals are seen as most at risk due to the large number of
substances of very high concern (SVHCs) that are employed.
According to Innovest’s impact assessment, 62% of the identified SVHCs
involved in inks and dyes manufacturing are imperative to the production
process and will require significant reformulation, while an additional 24%
will require moderate changes to be made. Meanwhile, some plastics
manufacturers could see an estimated ~1.5% to 3% impact on value says
the report.
On the upside, Ms Eid says, some companies are attempting to capitalise
on REACH by developing alternative chemicals to replace those that are
likely to be early candidates for restriction or phase-out. Over time this type
of activity could represent a potential source of breakthrough revenue.
Ms Eid adds: “This report provides a unique insight into the potential
exposure of global chemical manufacturers to the new European regulation
and highlights companies that are prepared and well-positioned to generate
revenue streams through value-added REACH alternatives and processes.”
For more information contact Ms Eid on
Source: Chemical Watch 18-Sep-08

REACH updateCEFIC calls for clarity over EU ‘endocrine
disrupters priority list’
In a position paper published last week, the European Chemical Industry
Council (CEFIC) calls for the European Commission to get on and take the
next step in its endocrine disrupters strategy, adopted in 1999. So far the
strategy has got as far as identifying a list of possible endocrine disrupters
but, according to CEFIC, this is being misinterpreted by various actors
as a confirmation of their status when it is meant as a tool to aid further
investigation. It should be possible to delete chemicals as well as add them
to the list, the organisation states, noting that the list was cited by some during
the process of prioritising chemicals for the REACH candidate list as well
as other papers. It says it stands ready to contribute knowledge on the subject.
CEFIC position paper:
Source: Chemical Watch 19-Sep-08

REACH updateECHA warns firms breaching REACH pre-
registration rules
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has issued a statement warning
firms that some are breaching REACH rules and are liable to enforcement
actions by Member States. Companies should only pre-register substances
they are intending to register, the Agency says. It points the finger at two
companies that have pre-registered the entire EINECS inventory comprising
over 100,000 substances, a practice that, the statement says, is in breach
of REACH Article 3 (20) which defines ‘phase-in’ substances. The identity
of the two firms is not given, but from a country-by-country breakdown
attached to the statement, it can be worked out that the pre-registrations
must have come from Germany and the UK. But just how the firms have
breached Article 3 (20) and how, if they have, this can ever be proven by
enforcing authorities remain open to question.
The Agency is said by outside sources to suspect that such actions may
be construed as deliberate acts of sabotage of the REACH implementation
process. The statement says: “pre-registration of the entire inventory
impacts heavily on the usefulness of the list of pre-registered substances.” It
will create disadvantages for downstream users trying to establish whether
substances of interest to them have been pre-registered by their supplies,
it points out, while the two firms themselves will have an “unmanageable”
workload in handling the communication demands of participation in
‘substance information exchange fora’. It says the pre-registrations made
by the two firms - and any others that are deleted - will not be included in
an intermediate list of pre-registered substances that the Agency intends to
publish in October to help downstream users.
As a protective measure, ECHA has now imposed a ceiling of 10,000 as
the maximum number of substances a company may pre-register via bulk
submission. To pre-register more substances, companies will have to obtain
prior approval from the Agency using the ‘contact ECHA’ form on the ‘About
ECHA’ web page.
ECHA also says that it has received pre-registrations from some ‘only
representatives’ (ORs) that do not meet the conditions of Article 8,
which states that the only actors allowed to appoint ORs are non-EU
manufacturers, formulators or article producers that export to the EU.
The Agency says it is contacting companies in such cases to check the
validity of their pre-registrations. It is also offering firms a route to have
pre-registrations deleted in such cases by sending a request by registered
mail to: ECHA, Directorate C/pre-registration team; Annankatu 18, 00121
Helsinki; Finland.
ECHA statement:
Source: Chemical Watch 19-Sep-08

Janet's Corner - Not Too Seriously!

Doctor and patient!

“Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pack of cards.”
“Please wait a minute and I’ll deal with you.”

“Doctor, doctor, I’ve swallowed the film from my camera.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see what develops.”
“Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I’m a clock.”
“OK, just relax. There’s no need to get yourself wound up.”

“Doctor, doctor, I think I’m a dustbin.”
“Now you’re just talking rubbish.”

“Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I’m a dog.”
“Sit down and tell me all about it.”
“I can’t, I’m not allowed on the furniture.”

“Doctor, doctor, I’ve lost my memory.”
“When did this happen?”
“When did what happen?”

Please note: articles for Janet’s Corner are not original, and come from various
sources. Author’s credits are supplied when available.


Pesticides endanger Pacific salmon
On July 31, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a draft
biological opinion, which concluded that three pesticides are likely to hurt the
chances for survival of already threatened or endangered Pacific salmon. The
evaluation is part of a 4 year study evaluating the impacts of 37 pesticides
on the fates of these species. The pesticides studied, malathion, diazinon,
and chlorpyrifos, disrupt the nervous systems of organisms and are used
to exterminate a variety of pests in farmlands and homes. They have been
detected at varying levels in watersheds in several states, including Oregon
and California. The U.S EPA requested the study be undertaken as they are
considering authorising the continued use of these three pesticides under
the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The act requires
pesticide manufacturers to register the chemicals they make with EPA. The
agency determines whether the chemicals are for “general” or “restricted”
use, depending on available hazard information. In addition, EPA is required
to cancel registration of a chemical if its use is shown to cause “unreasonable
adverse effects on the environment.” Prior to consulting NMFS for its opinion,
EPA studied the impact of the three pesticides on several species of Pacific
salmon and concluded that adverse effects on the struggling species were
unlikely. NMFS disagreed, concluding that EPA’s approval of the pesticides
is “likely to jeopardise the continued existence of these endangered or
threatened species.” Furthermore, according to NMFS, the chemicals may
destroy or negatively modify critical habitat for these salmon species. NMFS
is working with EPA to develop safer alternatives to these pesticides and will
include those recommendations in the final biological opinion, to be released
31 October 2008.
Environmental Science & Technology, 27 August 2008
Gas hydrates on the front burner
Thirty years ago, gas hydrates were highly mysterious. Now, countries
are investing tens of millions of dollars in research on this topic. Although
currently very little is known about the role of gas hydrates in regulating
climate, government and industry researchers in the U.S. and Canada are
hoping to begin commercial exploitation of this unconventional fossil fuel
within the next 10 years. However, critics have said that it remains unclear
whether people can use and manage this novel natural gas in ways that
won’t add to climate destabilisation. According to a report released by
the Council of Canadian Academies, a nonprofit organisation warned, “If
Canada ignores gas hydrates altogether, more damaging ways of meeting
energy needs could be adopted, and Canada could lose out competitively to
other countries, perhaps even to the point of having others exploit Canadian
resources.” Released at the International Conference on Gas Hydrates in
Vancouver, the report outlines a resource that has great potential, yet poses
big uncertainties. When methane encounters water under high pressure and
low temperature, gas hydrates form as molecules of methane are enclosed in
a crystalline cage of water molecules. The ideal conditions for generating gas
hydrates, also known as methane hydrates or clathrates, are found in deep
ocean sediments that ring the continental margins at 500-600 meters below
sea level and in Arctic permafrost, says Charles Paull, a marine geologist at
the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. According to the report, gas
hydrates may contain the largest pool of carbon on earth; estimates of their
extent range from 35,000 to 4,200,000 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of methane.
Tim Collett, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a contributor to
the report explained that while the global volume may exceed the worldwide
store of conventional fossil fuels, most gas hydrates are disseminated at
low concentrations in fine-grained sediments unsuitable for exploitation.
“Methane hydrates are a big part of the earth-ocean-atmosphere system
that we know little about, and [they] have the potential for big impact,” says
Neil Hamilton, director of the International Arctic Programme for WWF.
Gas hydrates are in constant flux as microbes and geological processes
generate methane that becomes trapped in ice, which in turn melts and
releases methane into the environment, he explains. The liberated methane
can feed microorganisms or enter the atmosphere, where it has 23 times the
greenhouse warming power of CO2 over a 50-year period. Nevertheless,
most climate models ignore gas hydrate dynamics, he says. However, the
chronic seepage of methane into the environment is very likely over the next
century or more, Hamilton says. Gas hydrates are sensitive to changes in
temperature and pressure, and as global climate change heats the shallow
Arctic Ocean, gas hydrates could become unstable and release methane
that would further accelerate climate change, he adds.
Harvesting the gas hydrate for energy use is not likely to solve this problem.
“It should also be noted that the exploitation of gas hydrate could not remove
sufficient quantities from the earth’s crust to prevent the possible long-term
dissociation of gas hydrate due to climate change,” the report’s authors write.
Up until now, both gas and oil companies have been looking at gas hydrates
primarily as a safety hazard to be avoided while drilling for conventional fuel,
says Gordon Pospisil, technology and resource manager at BP Exploration,
Inc. “BP is one of the few oil and gas companies active in hydrates research
and development,” he says. BP drilled a gas hydrate test well in 2007 on
Alaska’s North Slope, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE), and plans more tests. It is possible that enough concentrated gas
hydrate deposits exist in coarse sand formations to rival conventional oil and
gas deposits, Collett says. For instance, local accumulations as large as 35
Tcf occur on Alaska’s North Slope. “But, given the challenges, unlocking
the potential of hydrates is likely to take at least 5-10 years,” Pospisil says.
That timeline fits well with DOE’s goal of having technologies in place so
that industry could begin extracting gas hydrates in Alaska by 2015. In
the meantime, at the test site in Mallik in Canada’s Northwest Territories,
researchers have sunk a well under the permafrost into a gas hydrate reservoir
and drawn down the pressure to release the methane. A 6-day test in March
sustained gas flows ranging from 70,000 to 140,000 cf per day (cf/day), the
report says. Gas hydrate production models predict that similar deposits
could eventually yield several million cubic feet of gas per day, more than
the 1 million cf/day found in average conventional Rocky Mountain wells,
Collett says. So far, Japan, India, South Korea, and China-all large energy
importers-are driving the research on gas hydrates, because they may have
large deposits offshore and they see the resource as a way to gain energy
independence and security, Collett says. If clean-burning gas from hydrates
were used to replace coal in electric power plants, CO2 emissions from the
plants could be cut by half, says Edith Allison, exploration program manager
at DOE. “In less than 20 years, we need to move away from high-carbon
fuels,” Hamilton adds. Gas hydrates could be used to make the transition to
a sustainable energy mix, provided there is a way to document that they are
replacing a high-carbon fuel, he says. Rather than simply adding hydrates
to the current fossil-fuel-based mix, Hamilton suggests that global leaders
reach a compromise on what level of CO2 in the atmosphere is safe, and
then not exceed that level. “The key issue is that we can’t add methane
hydrates to the existing fossil fuel resources because you start to increase
atmospheric CO2 to levels that are really scary,” he says.
Environmental Science & Technology, 27 August 2008

Farm pregnancy ‘cuts asthma risk’
According to a new study by researchers at Massey University, living on a
farm during pregnancy may help reduce the chance of the child developing
asthma, eczema and even hayfever. The New Zealand researchers have
suggested that exposure to animals and the bacteria they carry may affect
the foetus’s immune system. However, some experts have warned that
some animals carry infections that may harm the baby. The findings from
the research have added to evidence from other studies suggesting that
living on a farm, with regular contact with animals, during the early years
of life, could cut the risk of asthma and other allergic diseases. However,
the latest study involving more than 1,300 farmers’ children goes further,
suggesting that this protection could start building even before birth. The
results demonstrated that the greatest apparent protection, a 50% reduction
in asthma, and an even greater reduction in eczema and hay fever, was
gained by children whose mothers had been exposed to farm life during
pregnancy, and who currently lived on a farm. The reasons behind why
this may be the case remained unclear, although the researchers have
suggested that they are likely to be related to the way that the child begins
to develop its immune system. Living on a farm means frequent contact with
animal bacteria, perhaps through the consumption of unpasteurised milk, or
contact with the animals directly. The researchers suggested that this might
suppress the production of particular immune cells linked to the development
of asthma. However, they suggested that while exposure during pregnancy
might be useful, it might only persist if the child was exposed after its birth
as well. The results from the study are unlikely to result in the advice given
to pregnant women, which urges caution about contact with certain farm
animals. In particular, an infection that can cause miscarriage in pregnant
ewes can lead to the same result in humans. In addition, the faeces of
other animals can also carry infections, which can affect a pregnancy. Dr
Elaine Vickers, research manager at Asthma UK, said: “This study adds
to existing evidence supporting the hygiene hypothesis, which states that
early exposure to potential allergens results in a reduced risk of asthma
development. “However, the causes of asthma are still largely unknown and
the processes involved in asthma development are incredibly complicated,
including family history, environment and lifestyle.”
BBC News, 30 August 2008

Happiness And Satisfaction Might Lead To Better Health
A new study has reported that people who are happy and satisfied with
their lives might be healthier. Additionally, the benefit comes with a quick
turnaround time, with greater happiness possibly boosting health in as little
as three years. “Everything else being equal, if you are happy and satisfied
with your life now, you are more likely to be healthy in the future. Importantly,
our results are independent of several factors that impact on health, such
as smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and age,” said lead
author Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D. Siahpush is a professor of health
promotion at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha. During
the study, the researchers examined data from two waves of an Australian
survey conducted in 2001 and 2004. Nearly 10,000 adults responded to
items about health indicators including the presence of long-term, limiting
health conditions and physical health. They used the question, “During the
past four weeks, have you been a happy person?” to assess happiness.
They determined satisfaction with life by asking: “All things considered,
how satisfied are you with your life?” “We found strong evidence that both
happiness and life satisfaction have an effect on our indicators of health,”
Siahpush said. Happiness and life satisfaction at the baseline survey were
both associated with excellent, good or very good health; the absence of
long-term, limiting health concerns and higher levels of physical health three
years later. Furthermore, the results indicated that improving happiness or
life satisfaction might also result in better future health. “There are indications
that as you become happier and more satisfied with your life, you tend
to become healthier as well,” Siahpush said. Paul Hershberger, Ph.D., a
professor at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in
Dayton, Ohio, said he found it interesting that the researchers were able to
isolate happiness and life satisfaction out of all of the other factors that can
influence future health. Hershberger was unaffiliated with the study.
“Their unique contribution is the short, three-year time period of their study,”
he said. “To my knowledge, this the shortest time I’ve seen where looking
at baseline happiness predicts future health. It is compelling to me that
measuring someone’s happiness now accounts for some differences in
physical health in as little as three years.”
Science Daily, 30 August 2008

Environmental Friendly Technology Can Remove Ink
Stains In Paper Recycling
One of the biggest challenges in recycling paper is the removal of polymeric
ink and coating; and the most difficult paper is mixed office wastepaper
that has gone through photocopiers and laser printers. Traditionally, de-
inking processes involve large quantities of chemicals, which are expensive
and unfriendly to the environment. Environmental friendly technology that
exploits enzymes (biological molecules) potential has been the focus of many
researches that look for lower operational cost and minimal environmental
impact in paper de-inking processes. Enzymatic treatment can achieve
similar effect as chemical treatment. It can even improve the de-inking
results without affecting the physical properties in the final paper product.
Application of enzyme stable in alkaline environment has been shown in
other research to be effective in increasing the brightness and reduced
the ink counts of recycled paper. A new study by researchers at Universiti
Malaysia Sarawak and Sarawak Forestry Corporation described the use
of a crude enzyme preparation for the enzymatic de-inking of mixed office
paper. During the study the researchers prepared the enzyme material by
growing endoglucanase (enzyme use for the enzymatic treatment) producing
Bacillus licheniformis BL-P7 in a liquid culture media containing sago pith
waste and rice husk. The results from the new enzyme treatment where
then compared to the conventional chemical treatment. The enzymatic de-
inking process was reported to produce better deinking effects on the mixed
office paper compared to conventional chemical methods. Ink detachment
from the paper fibre was facilitated by the enzymatic modification of the
fibre surfaces. Furthermore, the process proved to be more effective for the
removal of larger ink particles. In addition, properties such as brightness, air
permeability, tensile, and tear were enhanced in the handsheets preparation
of the recycled mixed office paper.
Science Daily, 30 August 2008

Researchers Provide Solution To World’s Worst Mass
Poisoning Case
A new study by an international research team has found a solution to the
world’s worst case of ongoing mass poisoning, linked to rising cancer rates
in Southern Asia. It is estimated that over 70 million people in Eastern India
and Bangladesh, experience involuntary arsenic exposure from consuming
water and rice; the main staple food in the region. This includes farmers
who have to use contaminated groundwater from minor irrigation schemes.
It has been estimated that for every 100 people randomly sampled in the
Bengal Delta, at least one person will be near death as a result of arsenic
poisoning, while five in 100 will be experiencing other symptoms. A new
study has developed a low-cost technology to provide arsenic-free water
to millions of people in South Asia currently exposed to high levels of the
poison in groundwater. The international team, led by researchers from
Queen’s University, Belfast, have developed a trial plant in Kasimpore, near
Calcutta, which offers chemical-free groundwater treatment technology to
rural communities for all their drinking and farming needs. The technology
is based on recharging a part of the groundwater, after aeration, into a
subterranean aquifer (permeable rock) able to hold water. Increased levels
of oxygen in the groundwater slow down the arsenic release from the soil.
At higher dissolved oxygen levels, soil microorganisms, as well as iron and
manganese, reduce the dissolved arsenic level significantly. Dr Bhaskar
Sen Gupta of Queen’s, co-ordinator of the project said: “Arsenic poisoning
is behind many instances of ill-health in Southern Asia, including a rising
number of cancer cases. Developing a low cost method of decontaminating
ground water that is laced with high levels of arsenic is a key challenge for
sustainable agriculture there. “While there are some techniques available
for treating relatively small quantities of water, there has, until now, been
no viable technology available for decontaminating groundwater on a large
scale that can ensure safe irrigation and potable water supply. “This project
developed by Queen’s is the only method which is eco-friendly, easy to use
and deliverable to the rural community user at an affordable cost.” The study
is part of the Asia Pro Eco Programme funded by the EU. The aim of the
programme is to improve environmental performance in Asian economic
sectors. Known as TiPOT (Technology for in-situ treatment of groundwater
for potable and irrigation purposes), a key part of the project is the
establishment of sustainable technology partnerships. Explaining further, Dr
Sen Gupta said: “From its inception we have had the vital support of Indian-
based stakeholders, such as village councils and local financial institutions.
This has been vital as they are the authorities that monitor the water supply
and distribution in rural areas and provide micro-credit to the local farmers.
“With their help, we now have a solution which is transferable to many areas
in need across Asia.” The new plant will be maintained and operated by local
village technicians. To help apply the technology to other areas in the South
Asian region, the World Bank has given a grant of $200,000 to the TIPOT
consortium to set up six more subterranean water treatment plants in the
Gangetic plains of West Bengal.
Science Daily, 29 August 2008

MSG linked to increased body weight: study
The results from a new study by researchers at University of North Carolina
School of Public Health have shown that consuming the flavour enhancer
monosodium glutamate (MSG) may increase the risk of gaining weight,
regardless of energy intake. The findings demonstrated that the risk
of being overweight - having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg per sq.
m - was increased by 175 per cent in people with a high intake of MSG.
“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with
weight gain,” said lead researcher Ka He, MD, from the University Of North
Carolina School Of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link
between MSG use and weight in humans.” However, the study findings have
been challenged by industry. “This study has no practical significance,” said
Brendan Naulty, president of the Glutamate Association, a trade association
for manufacturers, and processed food users of glutamic acid and its salts.
Naulty said that, based on World Health Organization (WHO) data, countries
with high intakes of the flavour enhancer do not have high population BMI.
“Second, human studies where MSG was added to the diet have failed
to show changes in body weight. And third, a recently published rat study
suggests that MSG in the diet actually suppresses body weight,” he added.
However, the introduction to the report cites other animal studies that have
found an induction of lesions in the hypothalamus region of the brain, in
addition to leptin resistance, both of which could influence energy balance
and promote weight gain. During the study, the researchers recruited 752
healthy Chinese volunteers (366 women), aged between 40 and 59, and
measured their use of MSG. The volunteers all prepared their food at home
and did not consume commercially processed foods. The researchers
observed that 82 per cent of the participants regularly used MSG in food
preparation, and the average intake was 0.33 g/day. Non-MSG users had
an average BMI of 22.3 kg per sq. m, while MSG users had an average BMI
23.5 kg per sq. m.
Comparing people with the highest average MSG intake to those with
the lowest, the researchers calculated that MSG users were likely to be
overweight than non-users. Indeed, high MSG consumption was associated
with a 110 per cent increase in the risk of having a BMI of 23 kg per sq.
m - considered overweight for Asian populations. Furthermore, high MSG
consumption was linked to a 175 per cent increase in the risk of having a
BMI of 25.0 kg per sq. m - the international standard for overweight. “We
found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users
than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for
physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the
difference in body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and
overweight were consistent with data from animal studies.” The Glutamate
Association has led the challenge to the study. The association stated
that the North Caroline study failed to account for other dietary sources of
glutamate beyond soy sauce. In addition, the association noted that the
average American consumes about one-tenth of a tea spoon of MSG per
day, while total dietary consumption of glutamate is about 11 grams per
day. “In the He et al. study, the average BMI among non-MSG users versus
the highest quartile of estimated MSG use was 22.3 versus 23.5. Given
this small difference, the imprecise methods by which MSG intake was
estimated, and controlled human studies that directly conflict with the results
of this report, The Glutamate Association statement strongly questions the
broad extrapolation made by the authors,” stated the association. “Numerous
regulatory authorities and expert bodies, including FAO/WHO, FDA, Health
Canada, EFSA and FSANZ, all have concluded that MSG is safe for use as
an ingredient in foods,” added the association.
Nutra Ingredients, 28 August 2008

Facades: A Source Of Water Pollution
For many years now, agriculture has been blamed for pesticide pollution in
rivers and streams. Now, studies conducted by Eawag and Empa show that
built-up areas also account for a considerable proportion of such inputs. For
example, substances can be leached out of facade renders and paints by
rainwater and enter the environment, where they may have toxic effects on
organisms. The researchers, in conjunction with manufacturers, cantonal
authorities and other partners, have studied these leaching processes and
are currently discussing ways of tackling the problem. The Zurich Office
of Waste, Water, Energy and Air (Awel) routinely analyses surface waters
for pesticides, and excessive pesticide concentrations are regularly found
in individual watercourses. Recent measurements carried out on the
Furtbach stream and on the Glatt river identified 26 active substances. In
the case of 22 compounds, the quality standard specified in the Federal
Water Protection Ordinance (maximum level of 0.1 µg/l) was exceeded, with
concentrations in some cases being several times higher than permitted.
Not all of these substances can be of agricultural origin: certain agents
are prohibited for agricultural applications, or their concentrations do not
exhibit the seasonal pattern typical of products used in the fields, so they
must come from a different source. These findings are confirmed by studies
performed by Eawag on effluents from wastewater treatment plants and on
rainwater runoff in the catchment of Lake Greifen, which clearly indicate that
non-agricultural sources also contribute significantly to water pollution via
urban drainage. The latest study forms part of the URBIC project. During the
study, the researchers from Eawag and Empa (the materials science and
technology research institute) demonstrated - under both laboratory and
real-life conditions - that a number of biocides are leached out of building
facades. To provide antialgal and antifungal protection, these substances
are routinely added to synthetic resin-bound paints and renders for exterior
insulation systems. It is estimated that 60-300 tonnes of biocides are used
for such applications in Switzerland each year. The use of biocides has risen
sharply as a result of improved thermal insulation and current architectural
trends (short or non-existent roof overhangs). In order to quantify the
leaching from facade elements in the laboratory, the researchers subjected
the materials to artificial rainfall and exposed to ultraviolet light and various
In addition, tests were performed in the open air under real-life weather
conditions, using a specially constructed small building. Finally, researchers
conducted experiments on several new buildings in the Zurich region.
The results indicated that the biocide concentrations were extremely high
especially in the first facade runoff collected from freshly rendered or painted
houses. For example, the concentration of diuron (herbicide) measured
in the first litre of facade runoff was 7000 µg/L. If released into a stream,
this litre would therefore have to be diluted by a factor of 70,000 so as not
to exceed the standard specified in the Water Protection Ordinance. This
shows the problems that may be associated with the infiltration of facade
runoff and drainage from urban areas into small waterbodies. Subsequently,
however, concentrations declined rapidly, both during prolonged rainfall,
and following further rain events. Leaching rates are dependent not only
on the solubility of the agent in question, but also on the photochemical
degradation of substances and on the quality of the renders and paints.
The researchers concluded that the there is no doubt that the resulting
biocide concentrations, measured both in the facade runoff and additionally
estimated using a computer model, have toxic effects on algae and aquatic
plant and animal life. Contaminated facade runoff can enter watercourses
directly via drains or stormwater sewers. Substances that inhibit algal growth
on facades exert the same effects in waterbodies - even when heavily diluted.
Even a few nanogrammes per litre of certain substances can produce toxic
effects; these include the marine antifouling agent cybutryne (also known as
Irgarol(r)1051). Further research is still required to clarify the environmental
effects of “cocktails” of substances. Michael Burkhardt, coordinator of the
URBIC project, believes that there is a regulatory gap in the Biocidal Products
Ordinance, since direct inputs of material protection agents from facades
into receiving waters are not currently covered. Burkhardt emphasises that
in general, greater attention to the selection of construction materials and
water quality in the disposal of rainwater from urban areas is required.
He says that it is also legitimate to question the need for the routine use
of biocides, since algal and fungal growth is certainly not to be expected
everywhere. Furthermore, many facade-related problems could be avoided:
architects could include moisture control as a design element. Likewise,
property owners could assume greater responsibility through upkeep
easures such as facade cleaning or tree pruning, rather than demanding
warranties. As a result of guarantees, in particular, manufacturers feel
increasingly obliged to incorporate biocides into synthetic renders and
facade paints. However, the researchers are also involved in discussions
with manufacturers concerning innovative embedding processes for
biocides and the use of less problematic agents or biocide-free coatings,
and it is promoting a close dialogue between academia, industry and the
authorities. Additives are substances added to products in small quantities
to confer or enhance certain properties. This general term encompasses,
for example, antioxidants, ultraviolet filters and flame-retardants. Although
biocides are also additives, they are governed in terms of their specific
effects on organisms, under the Biocidal Products Ordinance (VBP). This
regulates the authorisation procedure, use in products and product labelling.
The Swiss VBP, which has been in force since 2005, is in line with the EU
Biocidal Products Directive (98/8/EC). To protect facades against fungi and
algae, a relatively small number of biocides are available. These are used
in combination as mixtures in synthetic resin-bound renders and facade
paints. In some cases they contain agents also used in agriculture, e.g. the
herbicides diuron and isoproturon, which also have algicidal properties. Some
of the substances are no longer approved for agricultural applications (e.g.
terbutryn) or are known from other areas - such as the algicide cybutryne,
which is used in marine antifouling paints.
Science Daily, 28 August 2008

Heavy Metal Link To Mutations, Low Growth And Fertility
Among Crustaceans In Sydney Harbour Tributary
A new study has found that heavy metal pollutants are associated with genetic
mutations, stunted growth and declining fertility among small crustaceans in
the Parramatta River, the main tributary of Sydney Harbour. The results from
the recent study add to the growing body of evidence that toxic sediments
and seaweeds in Sydney Harbour are a deadly diet for many sea creatures.
The new findings reveal genetic mutations among crustaceans (Melita
plumulosa) in the Parramatta River but none among those in the cleaner
Hawkesbury River. During a study by UNSW researchers earlier this year,
it was found that copper-contaminated seaweeds in Sydney Harbour were
killing 75 percent of the offspring of small crustaceans that feed on a common
brown seaweed. The results demonstrated that the harbour’s seaweeds
have the world’s highest levels of copper and lead contamination as a
consequence of stormwater run-off, industrial wastewaters and motorised
watercraft. The new study found the mutations and lower growth and
fertility persisted through several generations of M. plumulosa in controlled
laboratory conditions, suggesting that genetic changes are causing
permanent negative impacts. “The lower fertility and growth rates among
the creatures exposed to contaminants is probably a stress response,” says
the study’s lead author, UNSW science honours student, Pann Pann Chung.
The new study randomly sampled the crustaceans from two sites within
each river: Homebush Bay South and Duck River in the Parramatta River,
and Mooney Mooney and Half Moon Bend in the Hawkesbury. M. plumulosa
is a shrimp-like creature found among rocks and mudflats on shorelines
and tide zones, although little is known about its genetic history. A native
to the south-eastern coast of Australia, the amphipod feeds on organic
material in sand and sediment. “These crustaceans are sensitive to heavy
metals such as copper, cadmium and zinc and scientists use them as a ‘test
organisms’ for assessing the toxicity of marine sediments, says Ms Chung.
“They accumulate heavy metals inside their tissues and scientists use them
to monitor environmental pollutants.” Other research has revealed that
chronic exposure to metal toxicants is linked to DNA damage in earthworms,
periwinkles and some fish species.
Science Daily, 28 August 2008

Two-Faced Flowers
In order to attract pollinators, flowers use sweet-smelling nectar. However, a
new study has found that some plants prevent birds and insects from binge
drinking by lacing the attractive potion in their blooms with a little poison.
Effective cross-pollination is reliant on pollinators travelling from one flower to
the next. If nectar is too sweet, pollinators might sate themselves at a single
plant, explains Ian T. Baldwin of Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology,
in Jena, Germany, who led the study. “Adding the deterrent is the plant’s way
of saying, ‘Move along, we need a job done here,’ “ comments Robert A.
Raguso, a chemical ecologist at Cornell University. “The plant needs a way
to show pollinators the door.” During the study, Baldwin’s team discovered
that pollinators are first attracted to the flowers of Utah’s native Nicotiana
attenuata tobacco plant with a cocktail of volatile attractants, the most potent
of which is benzyl acetone. But the plant also adds a dose of bitter nicotine
to ensure only fleeting visits from pollinating hummingbirds, restricting
their nectar intake to just two microliter sips, Baldwin says. To show that
adding a little poison to the nectar enables cross-pollination, the researchers
engineered tobacco plants that cannot produce nicotine and benzyl acetone.
To achieve this, the researchers introduced sequences of interfering RNA, or
RNAi, into the tobacco plant genome that block the production of essential
enzymes in the nicotine and benzyl acetone biosynthetic pathways. The
researchers then performed field tests to evaluate the ability of normal and
engineered plants to cross-pollinate. They observed that nicotine enabled
tobacco to genetically diversify its progeny (Science 2008, 321, 1200).
Adding feeding deterrents to nectar is probably used by other plants that,
like tobacco, can also rely on self-pollination, Raguso notes. “The tobacco
plant has a contingency plan,” because it can also self-pollinate, Raguso
says. “If you can already ensure a profit” that is, seed production through
self-pollination, “then you can afford to toy with your pollinator,” he adds. “It’s
an all-encompassing study,” comments L. Irene Terry, a chemical ecologist
at the University of Utah. “They use not only molecular genetics and plant
bioengineering to obtain the traits they want in the plants, but they also
follow up this work with chemical analyses, field, and pollinator behaviour
studies.” “People who have worked in pollination have long claimed that
nectar is sugar water, like a soft drink,” Baldwin adds. “Nectar is less like
a soft drink and more like a hard drink that, like whiskey, contains a mix of
sweet and harmful ingredients.”
Chemical & Engineering News, 1 September 2008

All Types Of Antipsychotic Drugs Increase The Risk Of
According to a new study published on the British Medical Journal website,
psychosis drugs are linked to an increased risk of stroke, and dementia
sufferers are at double the risk. Previous research has demonstrated
that second generation (atypical) antipsychotic drugs can increase the
chances of patients having a stroke. However, the risk of stroke associated
with first generation (typical) antipsychotics, and whether the risk differs
in people with and without dementia, is unclear. In 2002, concerns were
raised regarding the increased risk of stroke among people taking atypical
antipsychotic drugs, particularly in people with dementia. In 2004, the UK’s
Committee on Safety of Medicines recommended that these drugs should
not be used in people with dementia, despite a lack of clear evidence.
Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined data from the General Practice
Research Database (GPRD), which contains the clinical information of
more than six million patients registered at over 400 general practices in the
UK. The effect of exposure to antipsychotic medication on the incidence of
stroke in 6 790 patients with a recorded incident of stroke and at least one
prescription of any antipsychotic between January 1988 and the end of 2002
was examined. The results showed that during periods when patients were
receiving an antispychotic drug they were 1.7 times more likely to have a
stroke, whereas people with dementia were 3.5 times more likely to have a
stroke whilst taking any antipsychotic. The likelihood of having a stroke was
slightly higher for people taking atypical antipsychotics than people taking
typical antipsychotics. The study did not investigate the specific mechanism
responsible for the link between the antipsychotics and stroke or why the risk
is greater with atypical antipsycotics. Previously, the risk of stroke associated
with typical antipsychotics was unclear, say the researchers, but “we have
established that all types of antipsychotics carry an increased risk, although
the risk might be somewhat higher with the atypical drugs.” The researchers
concluded, “We reaffirm that the risks associated with antipsychotic use
in patients with dementia generally outweigh the potential benefits, and in
this patient group, use of antipsychotic drugs should be avoided wherever
Science Daily, 28 August 2008

Study Shows Air Pollution Also Affects Cardiac System
A study published in the 26 August issue of the Journal of the American
College of Cardiology found that air pollution has both short- and long-
term toxic effects that injure the heart and blood vessels, increase rates
of hospitalisation for cardiac illness, and can even cause death. According
to Robert A. Kloner, M.D., Ph.D., director of research at the Heart Institute
of the Good Samaritan Hospital, and a professor of medicine at the Keck
School of Medicine, University of Southern California, both in Los Angeles,
“We used to think air pollution was a problem that primarily affects the lungs.
We now know it is also bad for the heart.” When pollutants are inhaled, they
trigger an increase in “reactive oxygen species”-superoxiding molecules
that damage cells, cause inflammation in the lungs, and spark the cascade
of harmful effects in the heart and cardiovascular system. In other recent
studies, it has been found that ultrafine air pollutants, such as those coming
from car exhaust, may pass into the blood stream and damage the heart
and blood vessels directly. Hearts directly exposed to ultrafine air pollutants
show an immediate decrease in both coronary blood flow and the heart’s
pumping function, as well as a tendency to develop arrhythmias, according
to studies conducted at the Heart Institute. “There doesn’t have to be an
environmental catastrophe for air pollution to cause injury,” said Boris Z.
Simkhovich, M.D., Ph.D, a senior research associate at the Heart Institute
of the Good Samaritan Hospital, and an assistant professor of research
medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.
“We’re talking about very modest increases. Air pollution can be dangerous
at levels that are within the accepted air quality standards.” Both human
and animal studies have demonstrated that exposure to air pollution can
affect heart rate, blood pressure, blood vessel function, blood clotting, and
heart rate variability (a factor in developing heart rhythm disturbances), and
speed the progression of atherosclerosis. The elderly and patients who have
already been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes (which damages the
blood vessels) are particularly vulnerable to the cardiovascular effects of air
Environmental Protection News, 27 August 2008

Teflon: Chemists Break Harmful Bonds
The carbon-fluorine bond at the heart of Teflon cookware is so helpful that it is
also used in clothing, lubricants, refrigerants, anaesthetics, semiconductors,
and even blood substitutes. However, it is the very strength of the C-
F bond that makes it useful in so many applications, which also gives it
formidable greenhouse gas effects that persist in nature. In a new study by
Brandeis scientists has identified a catalyst that efficiently breaks the C-F
bond and converts it to a carbon-hydrogen bond, rendering it harmless to
the environment. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs or freons) are harmful to the
ozone layer. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are
generating concern because they are considered super-greenhouse gases,
with great potential to warm the environment by trapping solar radiation
and remaining virtually indestructible in the atmosphere. “The C-F bond is
difficult to transform into other bonds under mild conditions because it is
inert and unreactive; it’s a challenge to chemists,” said lead author chemist
Oleg Ozerov, who conducted the research with postdoc Christos Douvris.
“But we found a way to take a C-F bond that you can do very little with and
break it and convert it cleanly into something else at room temperature.” With
research support from the Department of Energy, Sloan Foundation, and
Research Corporation, Ozerov identified a new catalytic process for a class
of carborane-silylium compounds that causes the bonds in representative
HFCs to react at room temperature, swapping their carbon-fluorine bonds
for carbon-hydrogen bonds. The silylium catalyst is responsible for breaking
the C-F bond by abstracting the fluoride from the fluorocarbon and attaching
it to a silicon atom. The end product is a compound with a silicon-fluorine
bond, which is no longer a greenhouse threat. This result could eventually
lead to large-scale reactions to convert environmental pollutants that contain
C-F bonds into products that could be reused or destroyed without special
equipment. “Conversion of PFCs remains a challenge, and our research
efforts are directed at designing even more active catalysts, capable of PFC
activation,” said Ozerov.
Science Daily, 28 August 2008

Mental skills fade earlier than thought: study
According to the findings of a recent study by Swedish researchers, the
rapid deterioration of our mental abilities as we age begins far earlier than
suspected. The study involving simple tests of perceptual speed, spatial ability
and verbal function showed that some cognitive skills begin rapidly fading
nearly 15 years before death, said Valgeir Thorvaldsson, who worked on the
study. “Previous studies have showed that the steep decline begins around
five years before death,” said Thorvaldsson, a psychologist at Gothenburg
University in Sweden. “What we could see in our data is that these changes
occur much earlier than thought.” The researchers said that most people
reach their mental peak between the ages of 35 and 40, then begin a steady
decline that speeds up in the years before death. The Swedish researchers
wanted to test when that acceleration began, in order to better understand
the loss of mental ability. In a 30-year study, the researchers tracked 288 men
and women from age 70 until death, measuring their mental skills at regular
intervals. The observed that perceptual speed, a measure of how quickly
people can compare figures, deteriorated rapidly from about 15 years before
death. Spatial ability began to decline fast about eight years pre-death, and
verbal skills nearly seven years before. “There is substantial acceleration
in cognitive decline many years prior to death among individuals without
dementia,” Thorvaldsson and colleagues wrote in the journal Neurology.
Lack of exercise and mental stimulation in old age, and increasing health
problems, may help explain what triggers that final decline, Thorvaldsson
added. Tracking when the rapid change begins could help doctors identify
people likely to encounter severe health problems in the near future, he said.
“A change in verbal ability might therefore be considered a critical marker for
degeneration in health in older people,” Thorvaldsson said.
Reuters, 27 August 2008

High Levels Of Toxic Metals Found In Herbal Medicine
Products Sold Online
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found
that one fifth of both U.S.-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic
medicines purchased via the Internet contain lead, mercury or arsenic.
Ayurveda is a form of medicine that originated in India more than 2,000
years ago and relies heavily on herbal products. In India, an estimated 80
percent of the population practices Ayurveda. In the United States, Ayurvedic
remedies have increased in popularity and are available from South Asian
markets, health food stores, and on the Internet. Ayurvedic medicines are
divided into two major types: herbal only and rasa shastra. Rasa shastra is
an ancient practice of deliberately combining herbs with metals, minerals
and gems. Ayurvedic experts in India believe that if Rasa Shastra medicines
made with metals such as lead and mercury are properly prepared and
administered, they will be safe and therapeutic. During the new study, the
researchers used an Internet search to identify 25 Web sites featuring 673
Ayurvedic medicines. They randomly selected and purchased 193 products
made by 37 different manufacturers for analyses. Overall, 20.7 percent of
Ayurvedic medicines contained detectable lead, mercury and/or arsenic.
U.S. and Indian manufactured products were equally likely to contain toxic
metals. Rasa shastra compared with non-rasa shastra medicines were
more than twice as likely to contain metals and had higher concentrations of
lead and mercury. Among products containing metals, 95 percent were sold
by U.S. Web sites and 75 percent claimed Good Manufacturing Practices
or testing for heavy metals. All metal-containing products exceeded one
or more standards for acceptable daily intake of toxic metals. According to
lead author Robert Saper, MD, MPH, Director of Integrative Medicine in the
Family Medicine Department at BUSM, “This study highlights the need for
Congress to revisit the way dietary supplements are regulated in the U.S..”
Saper first published on this topic in December, 2004 (JAMA). In that study
he and his colleagues found 20% of Ayurvedic medicines produced in South
Asia only and available in Boston area stores contained potentially harmful
levels of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic. “Our first priority must be the safety
of the public. Herbs and supplements with high levels of lead, mercury, and
arsenic should not be available for sale on the Internet or elsewhere,” he
said. Saper adds, “We suggest strictly enforced, government mandated daily
dose limits for toxic metals in all dietary supplements and requirements that
all manufacturers demonstrate compliance through independent third-party
testing.” “The medicines which are supposed to cure sickness should not
promote another illness due to the presence of toxic materials such as lead,”
said co-author Venkatesh Thuppil, PhD, Director of the National Referral
Centre for Lead Poisoning in India, as well as a Professor at St. John’s
Medical College in India.

Science Daily, 27 August 2008
Toxic sites come at a high price
A legal loophole is allowing property owners to turn a blind eye to potential
soil contamination and sell toxic sites to unwary buyers - costing Victorian
businesses millions of dollars in delays and clean-up costs. Victorian law
does not require landowners to find out what lies beneath the surface unless
their properties fall under an environmental audit overlay, have been the
subject of an EPA alert or require rezoning. Critics of the system say that
as a result buyers are kept in the dark until they begin earthworks and find
previously unknown or undeclared toxic wastes. Several large inner city
developments have stalled after new owners were saddled with the cost
of cleaning up toxic sites never registered with the EPA. Among those that
have been caught out are homewares retailer, Harvey Norman, when it paid
Telstra $15 million for eight hectares at Springvale in 2003 only to find it was
contaminated with carcinogenic PCBs. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are
used in electrical transformers, lubricants, adhesives and varnishes but have
been banned from manufacture in Australia for 20 years. The Springvale
site was never licensed to receive PCBs and none of the former tenants or
owners - including Volkswagen, Nissan, the Commonwealth Government
and Telstra - accepts responsibility for them or can explain how they got
there. This has left Harvey Norman with a $6 million clean-up bill after
importing a thermal desorption plant from NSW to decontaminate 20,000
tonnes of soil on-site and safely convert the PCBs into carbon dioxide.
“Harvey Norman did everything right,” said a company spokesman. “This
site was bought in good faith. “As responsible citizens it is the duty of any
developer to address contamination issues. “In Harvey Norman’s case it now
takes a high level of due diligence on any land acquisition, particularly after
the Springvale exercise.” However, due to a complex bureaucratic process,
it took Harvey Norman longer to get EPA approval for the clean-up than it
will take carrying out the work. “We have a lot of goodwill with the EPA now,
but it has still taken us five years to get to where we are,” said site project
manager Peter Hardiman, of Norwood Hall Asia. While Harvey Norman
shouldered the multimillion-dollar clean-up costs and plans to go ahead with
a retail and distribution hub on the Springvale site, property developers are
increasingly capping, sealing and reburying toxic wastes where they lie as
the cheapest option. If a landowner notifies the EPA of this the site may then
be subject to ongoing monitoring or be placed under an environmental audit
overlay. Environmental audit overlays, which come under state government
frameworks and local government enforcement, are designed to ensure that
potentially contaminated land is cleaned up before it is used for sensitive
developments, such as residential projects, child-care centres or schools.
But some waste industry experts are urging the State Government to
follow Western Australia’s lead and introduce mandatory reporting of toxic
sites. “If it were to happen in Victoria it would be a good thing,” said waste
management engineer Jon Miller. “The first step in the process should be
that the person who makes the mess cleans it up. That means the polluter
takes responsibility and from there the vendor should be obliged to make
themselves aware of just what is on their land and declare it.”
The Age, 31 August 2008

Concerns raised over fruit juices and meds interactions
A new study by U.S researchers has suggested that fruit juices may inhibit the
absorption of certain, potentially wiping out their beneficial effects. Grapefruit
juice, well established to interfere with some drugs such as the high-blood-
pressure drug felodipin, but new research suggests that it may also effect the
absorption of anti-allergy drugs. Researchers from the University of Western
Ontario in London, Ontario told attendees at the 236th National Meeting of
the American Chemical Society that the compound naringin appeared to be
at the centre of the issue. Moreover, orange and apple juices also appear
to contain naringin-like substances that may inhibit drug activity, said lead
researcher David Bailey, PhD. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Bailey.
“I’m sure we’ll find more and more drugs that are affected this way.” If further
research supports these preliminary findings, it could lead to more warning
labels on pharmaceutical products to avoid certain fruit juices. The “Grapefruit
Juice Effect” was first observed about 20 years ago when researchers noted
that the fruit juice increased the absorption of felodipine, thereby causing
potentially dangerous effects from excessive drug concentrations in the
blood. The new study reports for the first time that the juice may also lower
the activity of a certain drug, according to a controlled human study. During
the study, the researchers administered the antihistamine fexofenadine to
healthy volunteers. They consumed the drug with either a single glass of
grapefruit juice, water containing only naringin, or water.
They found that grapefruit juice reduced absorption by 50 per cent, compared
to water. Loosing half of the amount of drugs taken into the body can be critical
for the performance certain drugs, added Bailey. “Recently, we discovered
that grapefruit and these other fruit juices substantially decrease the oral
absorption of certain drugs undergoing intestinal uptake transport,” he said
“The concern is loss of benefit of medications essential for the treatment of
serious medical conditions.” Grapefruit juice appears to act via one of two
avenues, said the researchers. Inhibition of absorption was linked to naringin
blocking the drug uptake transporter OATP1A2, which shuttles drugs from
the small intestine to the bloodstream. On the other hand, the juice may
also block the enzyme CYP3A4 that plays an important role in metabolising
drugs. This leads to an increase in blood levels of the drug. The evidence
linking certain fruit juices to drug interactions is growing with studies already
linking grapefruit, orange and apple juices to lower absorption of the anti-
cancer agent etoposide, certain beta blockers (atenolol, celiprolol, talinolol),
the anti-transplant rejection drug cyclosporine, and certain antibiotics
(ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, itraconazole). The researchers warned that this
list may grow as more studies are performed. While naringin is identified as
the problem in grapefruit, the researchers note that the chemical in oranges
could be hesperidin, while they do not know what the chemical in apples is.
Nutra Ingredients, 29 August 2008


Epidemiology survey on coal-burning endemic arsenism
in Shanxi province
The relation between coal-burning endemic arsenism and environmental
arsenic levels was investigated, and the distribution, severity and affected
population of arsenism in South Shanxi province were clarified. Sampling
survey was carried out in all areas using and producing coal, and relations
between arsenism and arsenic levels in coal, corn, hot pepper and hair
were analysed. Coal-burning endemic arsenism accompanied by fluorosis
distributed in all 8 counties, which were surveyed. Arsenism detectable
rate reached 19.26%, which was increasing with age and higher for male
than for female Most of patients suffered mild arsenism, mainly with skin
depigmentation or hyperpigmentation, and the no. of patients with skin
depigmentation was larger than that with hyperpigmentation while only
0.75% of patients suffered hyperkeratosis. Coal arsenic level pos. correlated
with corn and hair arsenic levels while the correlation between coal and hot
pepper arsenic levels was non- Page 24 CA SELECTS PLUS: Chemical
Hazards, Health, & Safety Issue 13, 2008 significant. Moreover, arsenism
detectable rate significantly correlated with coal hot pepper and hair arsenic
levels, but not significantly with corn arsenic level. All 8 coal-producing and
- using counties are affected by both coal burning endemic arsenism and
Authors: Bai, Guanglu; Liu, Xiaoli; Fan, Zhongxue; Li, Xiaoqian
Full Source: Zhongguo Difangbingxue Zazhi 2006, 25(1), 57-60 (Ch)

Addressing the Risk of Surface Water Intrusion in Old
Romanian Salt Mines
In Romania, surface waters near underground salt mines represent a
significant risk to the stability of the mine workings. Such problems occur in
many salt-exploiting facilities, i.e. Slanic Prahova, Targu Ocna, Praid. The
authors present a method of dealing with this issue at the Praid salt mine with
research targeted at avoiding the hazard presented by intrusion of surface
waters into old mine workings. Monitoring activities are proposed to prevent
damage due to the seepage of Corund Creek water into the subsurface salt
body, which could compromise and even produce collapses in the salt mine
sanatorium and old and new mines.
Authors: Deak, Gyorgy; Mihai, Sorin; Deak, Stefania E.; Oancea, Ilie
Full Source: Mine Water and the Environment 2007, 26(4), 251-255 (Eng)


Simultaneous determination of bisphenol A, triclosan, and
tetrabromobisphenol A in human serum using solid-phase
extraction and gas chromatography-electron capture
negative-ionisation mass spectrometry
This study aimed at optimising and validating a sensitive method for
simultaneous determination of bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan (TCS), and
tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) in human serum using solid phase
extraction (SPE) and gas chromatography coupled to electron-capture
negative-ionisation mass spectrometry (GC-ECNI/MS). Sample preparation
involved denaturation of serum proteins with formic acid followed by SPE
on an Oasis HLB cartridge. Fractionation was performed on Florisil from
which the phenolic compounds were eluted with methanoldichloromethane.
The phenolic fraction was further derivatised with pentafluoropropionic acid
anhydride. Further liquid-liquid partitioning using hexane-DCM and K2CO3
3% aqueous solution was used to eliminate excess reagent and acidic by-
products formed during derivatisation. The cleaned extraction was injected
into a GC-ECNI/MS system operated in selected ion monitoring mode. The
median concentration obtained for BPA (0.71 ng mL-1) and TCS (0.52 ng
mL-1) in Belgian human serum samples were similar to previously reported
data for human fluids. Slightly higher levels of TBBPA (0.08 ng mL-1) were
found in Belgium samples compared to Norwegian serum.
Authors: Dirtu, Alin C.; Roosens, Laurence; Geens, Tinne; Gheorghe,
Adriana; Neels, Hugo; Covaci, Adrian
Full Source: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2008, 391(4), 1175-1181

Cadmium induces mitochondria-dependent apoptosis of
normal human hepatocytes
In the present study, we examined the effects of cadmium in nonmalignant
human hepatocytes. For that purpose, we investigated whether cadmium
was able to induce apoptosis of normal human hepatocytes (NHH) in
primary culture and of a SV40-immortalized human hepatocyte (IHH) cell
line. Treatment of IHH and NHH with cadmium induced the presence of a
sub-G1 population at 10 and 100 µmol/L, respectively DAPI staining of both
cell types treated with cadmium 100 µmol/L revealed the induction of nuclear
apoptotic bodies, supporting the hypothesis of apoptosis. In IHH and NHH,
cadmium 100 µmol/L induced PARP cleavage into a 85 kDa fragment. In
order to investigate the involvement of mitochondria in cadmium-induced
apoptosis, we measured the mitochondrial membrane potential. We
observed that in IHH and NHH, cadmium 100 µmol/L induced a decrease.
As expected, cadmium under the same conditions enhanced caspase-9 and
caspase-3 activities. In addition, cadmium from 1 to 100 µmol/L induced
the expression of p53 and phosphorylation of its Ser15 in IHH and NHH.
Authors: Lasfer, M.; Vadrot, N.; Aoudjehane, L.; Conti, F.; Bringuier, A. F.;
Feldmann, G.; Reyl-Desmars, F.
Full Source: Cell Biology and Toxicology Page 4 CA SELECTS PLUS: Chemical
Hazards, Health, & Safety Issue 15, 2008 2008, 24(1), 55-62 (Eng)

Phthalate diesters and their metabolites in human
breast milk, blood or serum, and urine as biomarkers of
exposure in vulnerable populations
Phthalates may pose a risk for perinatal developmental effects. An important
question relates to the choice of suitable biology matrixes for assessing
exposure during this period. Objectives: This study was designed to measure
the concentration of phthalate diesters or their metabolites in breast milk,
blood or serum, and urine and to evaluate their suitability for assessing
perinatal exposure to phthalates. Methods: In 2001, 2-3 wk after delivery, 42
Swedish primipara provided breast milk, blood, and urine samples at home.
Special care was taken to minimize contamination with phthalates (e.g., use
of a special breast milk pump, heat treatment of glassware and needles,
addition of phosphoric acid). Results: Phthalate diesters and metabolites in
milk and blood or serum, if detected, were present at concentration close to
the limit of detection. By contrast, most phthalate metabolites were detectable
in urine at concentrations comparable to those from the general population
in the United States and in Germany. No correlations existed between urine
concentration and those found in milk or blood/serum for single phthalate
Authors: Hoegberg, Johan; Hanberg, Annika; Berglund, Marika; Skerving,
Staffan; Remberger, Mikael; Calafat, Antonia M.; Filipsson, Agneta Falk ;
Jansson, Bo; Johansson, Niklas; Appelgren, Malin; Hakansson, Helen
Full Source: Environmental Health Perspectives 2008, 116(3), 334-339

Low-level human equivalent gestational lead exposure
produces sex-specific motor and coordination
abnormalities and late-onset obesity in year-old mice
Our goals were to establish a murine model of human equiv. GLE and to
determine dose-response effects on body weight, motor functions, and
dopamine neurochemistry in year-old offspring. Methods: We exposed
female C57BL/6 mice to water containing 0, 27 (low), 55 (moderate), or
109 ppm (high) of lead from 2 wk prior to mating, throughout gestation,
and until postnatal day 10 (PN10). Maternal and litter measures, blood
lead concentrations ([BPb]), and body weights were obtained throughout
the experiment Locomotor behaviour in the absence and presence of
amphetamine, running wheel activity, rotarod test, and dopamine utilization
were examined in year-old mice. Results: Peak [BPb] were < 1, e 10, 24-27,
and 33-42 µg/dL in control, low-, moderate- and high-dose GLE groups at
PN0-10, respectively Year-old male but not female GLE mice exhibited late-
onset obesity. Similarly, we observed male-specific decreased spontaneous
motor activity, increased amphetamine induced motor activity, and decreased
rotarod performance in year old GLE mice. Levels of dopamine and its major
metabolite were altered in year-old male mice, although only forebrain
utilization increased. GLE-induced alterations were consistently larger in
low dose GLE mice.
Authors: Leasure, J. Leigh; Giddabasappa, Anand; Chaney, Shawntay; Johnson,
Jerry E., Jr.; Pothakos, Konstantinos; Lau, Yuen Sum; Fox, Donald A.
Full Source: Environmental Health Perspectives 2008, 116(3), 355-361


Analysis of organic markers for identifying sources of
human exposure to airborne fine particulate matter
High resolution capillary column gas chromatography is an extremely useful
application for the characterisation of airborne particulate matter. Two major
challenges in the use of this method to source apportionment of particulate
matter are the large amounts of material required for analysis and the
analysis of multiple classes of analytes with a single method. Several
studies of human exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
have been successfully carried out with daily low volume (10 L/min) samples
using selective ion monitoring gas chromatography methods in combination
with mass spectrometry. By extending these methods to include other
organic source markers, an approach has been developed that makes it
feasible to collect low volume, daily samples for source apportionment using
organic source markers. A crucial component of this effort is the thorough
characterisation of method detection limits (MDLs) and verification that
typical sample concentrations will exceed MDLs. MDLs have been detected
using a widely used procedure for EPA method validation (CFR). The authors
concluded that preliminary results indicate detection limits on the order of
100 pg/m3 or less for daily 24-h samples.
Authors: Mc-Dow, Stephen R.; Turlington, John; Olson, D.; Stockburger, L.;
Tong-Argao, S.
Full Source: Preprints of Extended Abstracts presented at the ACS National
Meeting, American Chemical Society, Division of Environmental Chemistry
[computer optical disk] 2007, 47(2), 675-677 (Eng)

Regulatory science. To prevent occupational cancer
In 1775, Sir Percival Pott, an English surgeon, was the first to report skin
cancer of the scrotum in chimney sweeps. Since this time, many occupational
cancers have been reported. Many urinary bladder cancers were observed in
dye production workers in Japan from 1917 to 1985. The administrative step
was not done at all until 1971. In 1975, Professor Bruce N. Ames reported a
method for detecting mutagens with the Salmonella/mammalian-microsome
mutagenicity test as a screening system for chemical carcinogens. Animal
tests to demonstrate the carcinogenicity of chemicals have problems in
term of cost, time, and manpower. On the other hand, the Ames test is
used worldwide because of its high sensitivity and specificity. To prevent
occupational cancer, the use of short-term test systems, such as the Ames
test and other mutagenicity tests, is recommended.
Author: Shimizu, Hidesuke
Full Source: Tokyo Jikeikai Ika Daigaku Zasshi 2007, 122(6), 267-278

Characterisation of exposure to total and hexavalent
chromium of welders using biological monitoring
This study investigated the inhalation exposure to total and hexavalent Cr
(TCr and HCr) using personal air sampling and biomonitoring. Fifty-three
welders and 20 referents were recruited for the study. Median TCr inhalation
exposure levels were 1.3, 6.0, and 5.4 µg/m3 for welders of mild steel (MS,
<5% alloys), high alloy steel (HAS, >5% alloys), and stainless steel (SS,
>26% alloys), respectively; median exposures to HCr compounds were 0.23,
0.20, and 0.08 µg/m3, respectively. Median TCr concentrations in urine,
blood plasma, and erythrocytes were analysed in all subjects and compared
to the median concentrations in the referent group. TCr concentrations in
plasma were 2-fold higher in SS and HAS welders than in MS welders. HCr
exposure, indicated by median TCr content in erythrocytes, was 10 µg/L in
SS, MS, and HAS welders. TCr uptake during the shift was confirmed for
SS welders by a median increase of urinary TCr from pre- to post-shift of
0.30 µg/g creatinine. For MS and HAS welders as a group, TCr was not
Authors: Scheepers, P. T. J.; Heussen, G. A. H.; Peer, P. G. M.; Verbist, K.;
Anzion, R.; Willems, J.
Full Source: Toxicology Letters 2008, 178(3), 185-190 (Eng)

Biological exposure assessment to tetrachloroethylene
for workers in the dry cleaning industry
This study assessed the feasibility of conducting biological tetrachloroethylene
(perchloroethylene, PCE) exposure assessments of dry cleaning employees
in conjunction with evaluation of possible PCE health effects. Eighteen
women from 4 dry cleaning facilities in southwestern Ohio were monitored
in a pilot study of workers with PCE exposure. Personal breathing zone
samples were collected from each employee on 2 consecutive work days.
Biological monitoring included a single measurement of PCE in blood and
multiple measurements of pre- and post-shift PCE in exhaled breath and
trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in urine. The results showed that post-shift PCE in
exhaled breath gradually increased throughout the work week. The authors
observed statistically significant between the exposure indexes. Decreases
in PCE in exhaled breath and TCA in urine were observed after 2 days
without exposure to PCE. A mixed-effects model identified statistically
significant associations between PCE in exhaled breath and airborne PCE
time weighted average (TWA) after adjusting for a random participant effect
and fixed effects of time and body mass index. While the sampling strategy
was comprehensive, it was also challenging to implement due to fluctuating
work schedules and the number (pre and post-shift on 3 consecutive days)
and multiplicity (air, blood, exhaled breath, and urine) of samples collected.
PCE in blood is the preferred biological index to monitor exposures, but may
make recruitment difficult. The authors concluded that PCE TWA sampling is
an appropriate surrogate, although more field intensive. Repeated measures
of exposure and mixed-effects modelling may be required for future studies
due to high within-subject variability. Workers should be monitored over a
long enough period of time to allow the use of a lag term.
Authors: McKernan, Lauralynn T.; Ruder, Avima M.; Petersen, Martin R.;
Hein, Misty J.; Forrester, Christy L.; Sanderson, Wayne T.; Ashley, David L.;
Butler, Mary A.
Full Source: Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source [online
computer file] 2008, 7, No pp. given (Eng)

Public Health

Relationship between low blood lead levels and growth in
children of white-collar civil servants in Korea
This study examined the relationship between low blood lead levels and
the physical growth of children in Seoul, Korea. Data was collected from
108 children (62 boys, 46 girls) aged 5-13 years, and the mean of the blood
lead levels was 2.4 µg/100 mL (SD ) 0.7). Subjects under went analysis for
blood lead levels, height, total arm length, weight, body mass index (BMI),
and father’s level of education. Four multiple linear regression models
were used with height, total arm length, weight, and BMI as the dependent
variables, and age, sex, father’s level of education, and blood lead levels as
independent variables. The results demonstrated a statistically significant
negative association for height and total arm length with blood lead levels.
No association was observed between blood lead or weight and BMI. The
authors concluded that the findings from the study suggests that low blood
lead levels specifically influence children’s physical growth.
Authors: Min, Kyoung-Bok; Min, Jin-Young; Cho, Sung-Il; Kim, Rokho; Kim,
Ho; Paek, Domyung
Full Source: International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
2008, 211(1-2), 82-87 (Eng)

Assessment of exposure of children and adolescents to
acrylamide originating from potato products and cereal
During this study preliminary assessment of acrylamide intake from selected
potato products and cereal products among children and adolescents was
conducted. The assessment was conducted on children ranging from 7-18
years. For the purposes of assessment, the resulting acrylamide content in
the above products and 24-h recalls were used by the National Food and
Nutrition Institute in 2000. The results showed that intake was 36.2% by
children aged 7-13 and 25% for adolescents aged 14-18. In the population
of consumers eating those products the average intake of acrylamide
amounted to 0.76 µg/kg b.w./day. In both studied groups of boys, intake
of acrylamide was more from those products but the differences were not
significant. The authors concluded that the main sources of acrylamide were
crisps and French fries, which provided approximately 58.9% and 33% of
acrylamide, respectively.
Authors: Gielecinska, Iwona; Mojska, Hanna; Szponar, Lucjan
Full Source: Zywienie Czlowieka i Metabolizm 2007, 34(3-4), 921-925 (Pol)

Meat and Meat-Mutagen Intake and Pancreatic Cancer
Risk in the NIH-AARP Cohort
Previous epidemiological studies have found that meat intake, particularly
red meat, has been positively associated with pancreatic cancer. However,
detailed meat-cooking methods and related mutagens formed in meat
cooked at high temperatures have not been evaluated prospectively as
risk factors for this malignancy. This study investigated the association
between meat, meat-cooking methods, meat-mutagen intake, and exocrine
pancreatic cancer in the NIH-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-
AARP) Diet and Health Study cohort of 537,302 individuals, aged 50 to 71
years, with complete baseline dietary data (1995-1996) ascertained from
a food frequency questionnaire. A meat-cooking module was completed
by 332,913 individuals 6 months after baseline. During 5 years of follow-
up, 836 incident pancreatic cancer cases (555 men, 281 women) were
identified. Four hundred and fifty-nine cases had complete meat module
data. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate hazard ratios
(HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). The results indicated that total, red,
and high-temperature cooked meat intake was positively associated with
pancreatic cancer among men, but not women. In addition, men showed
significant 50% increased risks for the highest tertile of grilled/barbecued
and broiled meat and significant doubling of risk for the highest quintile of
overall meat-mutagenic activity. The fifth quintile of the heterocyclic amine,
2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline intake showed a significant
29% increased risk in men and women combined. The authors concluded
that these results support the hypothesis that meat intake, particularly meat
cooked at high temperatures and associated mutagens, may play a role in
pancreatic cancer development.
Authors: Stolzenberg-Solomon, Rachael Z.; Cross, Amanda J.; Silverman,
Debra T.; Schairer, Catherine; Thompson, Frances E.; Kipnis, Victor; Subar,
Amy F.; Hollenbeck, Albert; Schatzkin, Arthur; Sinha, Rashmi
Full Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2007, 16(12),
2664-2675 (Eng)

Environmental exposure and children’s health in China
There is an increasing concern over the adverse health effects of exposure
to environmental pollutants among children. This is of particular concern in
China due to the environmental pollution problems associated with rapid
development and a large population. This study reviews literature regarding
the current status of environmental exposures to children in China and the
impact of these exposures on the health of children. Children in China are
exposed to diverse environmental pollutants, including traditional pollutants
such as lead and mercury and emerging pollutants such as phthalates and
perfluorinated compounds. Incidence and prevalence of certain childhood
diseases have increased in last decades. The authors concluded that the
review showed that in China, a limited number of data on environmental
exposure and children’s health are available, and further high-quality studies
are required.
Authors: Ye, Xibiao; Fu, Hua; Guidotti, Tee
Full Source: Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health 2007, 62(2),
61-73 (Eng)

Influence of basements, garages, and common hallways
on indoor residential volatile organic compound
Concentrations of many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are often higher
inside residences than outdoors as a result of sources or activities within
the residences. These sources can be located directly in the living space
of the home or in areas associated with the home such as an attached
garage, basement, or common apartment hallway. This study characterised
the contributions from these areas to indoor residential concentrations, VOC
concentrations by measuring inside, outside, and, if present, in the attached
garage, basement, or common hallway of an apartment of 55 residences in
the Boston area, most over two seasons, as part of the Boston Exposure
Assessment in Microenvironments (BEAM) Study. From the total houses
analysed, 11 had attached garages and basements, 24 had only basements,
10 other residences had common apartment hallways, and the remaining
10 were treated as single compartment residences. Concentrations in the
garage were up to 5-10 times higher at the median than indoor concentrations
for mobile source pollutants including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and
xylenes. Basement/indoor concentration ratios were significantly >1 for
methylene chloride, ethylbenzene, m,p-xylene, annd o-xylene, and summer
ratio tended to be higher than winter ratios. Approximately, 20-40% of the
indoor concentration for compounds associated with gasoline sources, such
as Me t-Bu ether (MTBE), benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes, can
be attributed to an attached garage at the residence, with garages laterally
attached to the first floor of the home having a larger impact. At the median,
basements contributed to approximately 10-20% of the estimated indoor
concentrations. For apartments, approximately 5-10% of the estimated
indoor concentrations confer with air from the hallway. Contributions of
these secondary zones to concentrations in the living area of a home were
calculated using concentration and airflow estimates. The authors concluded
that the findings from the study showed the potential significance of these
non-living spaces from an exposure perspective and suggest potentially
effective mitigation measures.
Authors: Dodson, Robin E.; Levy, Jonathan I.; Spengler, John D.; Shine,
James P.; Bennett, Deborah H.
Full Source: Atmospheric Environment 2008, 42(7), 1569-1581 (Eng)


Study on safety and immunization type after inoculating
with different epitope subunit vaccine against ‚-amyloid
To study safety and immunization type after inoculating with different epitope
subunit vaccine, thirty-two Tg2576 mice of 5 mo old were randomly divided
into control, ‚-amyloid (A‚)42, A‚1-15 and A‚36-42 groups. Tg2576 mice were
inoculated by corresponding vaccine in 5 mo old for 7 mo. Indirect ELISA was
used to assay antibody against A‚42 in the serum and homogenate of brain.
Splenocytes obtained from the 4 group mice were cultured and stimulated
them with concanavalin-A (ConA) and corresponding antigen. Quantity of
interferon (IFN)-∂, interleukin- 2 (IL-2), IL-4 and IL-10 in culture liquid were
assayed by ELISA, and the method of immunohistochemical staining was
performed to observe proliferation of microglia. Histochemical staining was
used to check if the tissue of brain, liver, lung, spleen and kidney were the
pathol. change. The results showed that compared to control group, the titer
of antibody against A‚42 of the serum and homogenate of brain were greatly
increased in the inoculated groups Splenocyte proliferation in the immunized
groups was markedly higher than that in the control group by stimulating with
ConA and corresponding vaccine. The cellular factors detected in medium,
IFN-∂, IL-2, IL-4 and IL-10 were relatively higher in A‚42 group. IL-4 and IL-
10 were higher in A‚1-15 group. IL-2 and IFN-∂ were relatively higher in A‚36-
42 group. There were a great deal of OX-42 pos. microglias in the cerebrum
cortex and the hippocampal regions of the experimental or control group, and
they were more in experimental group than that in control group, but the d.
of OX-42 pos. microglias was no greatly different in 4 groups. No pathology
change was detected in the brain, liver, spleen, lung, kidney of immunized
mice by hematoxylin/eosin (HE) and histochemical staining. These results
demonstrated that A‚42 induced both Th2 and Th1 reactions. A‚1-15 chiefly
induced Th2 reaction, while A‚36-42 caused mainly Th1 reaction. The types
of three vaccines can stimulate microglias into increasing ability of removing‚-
amyloid plaque. No side effect is found after inoculating these three subunit
Authors: Li, Guoying; Hu, Jinjia; Wang, Huaqiao; Xu, Jie; Yao, Zhibin
Full Source: Shenjing Jiepouxue Zazhi 2007, 23(3), 232-238 (Ch)

Safety and immunogenicity of myxoma virus as a new
viral vector for small ruminants
Myxoma virus (MYXV), a leporide-specific poxvirus, represents an attractive
candidate for the generation of safe and non-replicative vaccine vectors for
other species. With the aim of developing new recombinant vaccines for
ruminants, we evaluated the safety and the immunogenicity of recombinant
MYXV in sheep. In vitro studies indicated that ovine primary fibroblasts
were not permissive for MYXV and that infection of ovine peripheral blood
mononuclear cells occurred at a low rate. Although non-specific activation
significantly improved the susceptibility of lymphocytes, MYXV infection
remained abortive. Histological and immunohistochemical examination at
the inoculation sites revealed the development of an inflammatory process
and allowed the detection of sparse infected cells in the dermis. In addition,
inoculated sheep developed an antibody response directed against MYXV
and the product of the transgene.
Authors: Pignolet, Beatrice; Boullier, Severine; Gelfi, Jacqueline; Bozzetti,
Marjorie; Russo, Pierre; Foulon, Eliane; Meyer, Gilles; Delverdier, Maxence;
Foucras, Gilles; Bertagnoli, Stephane
Full Source: Journal of General Virology 2008, 89(6), 1371-1379 (Eng)

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