According to research from a consumer advocacy group, some fidget spinners may contain many times the legal limit for lead in children’s products. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund, which did the research, points out that the problem exists because of a loophole: technically the products are not made or marketed for children, so they’re not subject to the same safety standards as kids’ toys. But given that children are typically the ones who play with spinners, the results are concerning, particularly since lead exposure is known to be extremely harmful to kids’ developing nervous systems. Dr. Maida P. Galvez, P30 CEC Co-Director, says that she finds the high lead levels in spinners concerning. “Lead exposure during vulnerable periods—pregnancy and early childhood—have long-lasting effects into adulthood, on IQ, attention, and behavior,” she says. “And the fact that it can be on the market without premarket safety testing is absurd. The public is totally unaware. I’d recommend that concerned parents call the manufacturers. The real intervention is policy intervention.” To read the full article click here.
On Oct. 23rd, 2017, Dr. Philip Landrigan was interviewed by U.S News to talk about the U.S. government limits on arsenic in drinking water that have likely averted hundreds of cases of lung and bladder cancer annually. A government study published this October estimated that 2 million private well users may be exposed to high levels of arsenic in their drinking water. High levels of arsenic have been linked to an increased risk for a broad range of cancers, including skin, lung, bladder, kidney and liver cancers, the researchers noted. It can also threaten the nervous system, respiratory function, heart health and the immune system. “The findings are consistent with data from previous studies of the health benefits of reducing arsenic concentrations in drinking water,” Dr. Philip Landrigan wrote in an editorial that accompanied the latest study. To read the full article click here.
New York allergist Dr. Scott Sicherer has just published an extensively updated edition of his book: Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It. In the book, Sicherer answers about 1,000 food allergy questions in an engaging, easy-to-follow format. In the following Q&A, Allergic Living editor Gwen Smith lobs a several of our readers’ questions at the specialist, who replies with informative, engaging and sometimes surprising answers. To read the interview click here.
Allan Just, PhD was named one of the “20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health” by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. These 20 pioneering researchers and advocates were nominated by a committee of senior leaders and luminaries in environmental public health. The Collborative on Health and the Environmentl will be launching a series of 10 webinars that will feature the work of the next generation of environmental health scientists and advocates in a new series beginning on October 4. Chosen for exceptional levels of accomplishment in work that is rigorous, dynamic, and builds critical knowledge, the 20 speakers’ work promises to drive environmental health science and advocacy in new directions that will demonstrate the many links between the environment and public health and catalyze policies and actions that will protect the health of children, families, and communities. Our center congratulates Allan Just on this recognition! To learn more click here.
Dr. Stingone’s research “Maternal Exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide, Intake of Methyl Nutrients, and Congenital Heart Defects in Offspring” was featured in the American Journal of Epidmiology. The study looks at how nutrients that regulate methylation processes may modify susceptibility to the effects of air pollutants. To learn more click here.
On September 1, 2017 Dr. Landrigan’s article “Small Doses Matter” was published at Medium.com. In the article, Dr. Landrigan discusses the impacts of low-level chemical exposures on children’s health. He offers lessons from two events of low-level exposures that happened over the summer. To read the full article click here.
On August 16, 2017, Dr. Shanna Swan’s research was highlighted in the New York Times article, “Sperm Count in Western Men Has Dropped Over 50 Percent Since 1973, Paper Finds.” Dr. Swan’s research study “Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis”, which was featured in the NYT article, looks at the decline of sperm count in Western countries. By examining thousands of studies and conducting a meta-analysis of 185 — the most comprehensive effort to date — an international team of researchers ultimately looked at semen samples from 42,935 men from 50 countries from 1973 to 2011. They found that sperm concentration — the number of sperm per milliliter of semen — had declined each year, amounting to a 52.4 percent total decline, in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Total sperm count among the same group also tumbled each year for a total decline of 59.3 percent over the nearly 40-year period. To read the article click here.
Center Director, Dr. Robert Wright, and several collaborators from Harvard’s P30 Center collaborated on a paper entitled “Maternal and Cord Blood Manganese Concentrations and Early Childhood Neurodevelopment among Residents near a Mining-Impacted Superfund Site” that was featured as The August Article of the Month (AOM) by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). The study examined the connection between prenatal manganese exposure and neurodevelopmental deficits in children living near a Superfund site. Elevated levels of manganese is believed to be caused by the proximity to the Superfund site. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program cleans up hazardous waste and protects our nation’s vulnerable populations—it must be well-funded to continue this vital work. Check out the entire August Article of the Month for more information!
Dr. Shanna Swan
P30 Center Member, Dr. Shanna Swan, was interviewed by the Washington Post regarding the decline of male reproductive health.
The quality of sperm from men in North America, Europe and Australia has declined dramatically over the past 40 years, with a 52.4 percent drop in sperm concentration, according to a study published in the Human Reproduction Update. The research — the largest and most comprehensive look at the topic, involving data from 185 studies and 42,000 men around the world between 1973 and 2011 — appears to confirm fears that male reproductive health may be declining. The state of male fertility has been one of the most hotly debated subjects in medical science in recent years. While a number of previous studies found that sperm counts and quality have been falling, some dismissed or criticized the studies over factors such as the age of the men included, the size of the study, bias in counting systems or other aspects of the methodologies.
Dr. Shanna H. Swan, one of the authors of the new study published in the Human Reproduction Update, said that the new meta-analysis is so broad and comprehensive, involving all the relevant research published in English, that she hoped it would put some of the uncertainty to rest. Then the scientific community could move forward into putting its resources into figuring out the why of what is going on, she said. “It shows the decline is strong and that the decline is continuing,” Swan said in an interview. To read the full article click here.
In this podcast host Ashley Ahearn discusses the neurodevelopmental effects of metals mixtures with researcher P30 Center Director, Robert O. Wright.
In our daily lives we’re rarely exposed to just one chemical at a time. Metals, for example, are ubiquitous in the environment, and most of us are exposed to different combinations of metals each day through air, water, and food. Simultaneous exposures to different metals may have synergistic effects in children, whose developing brains are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects from these potentially neurotoxic agents. To listen to the full podcast click here.