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!
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.
On July 19, 2017, Dr. Perry Sheffield was interviewed by Yale Climate Connections to weigh in on how longer and hotter summers, associated with continued climate change, are creating hotspots of bad air across the nation. Dr. Sheffield stated “As a pediatrician, I worry most about children, because their lungs are still growing and because they breathe faster than adults. Because of those reasons, they are more affected by bad air quality like ozone and ragweed pollen.” To read the full article click here.
On July 2017, Dr. Perry Sheffield was featured in the USA Today article “127M Americans at risk of air-quality ‘double whammy’ of smog, ragweed pollen.” Dr. Perry Sheffield discussed why clean air is so important for human health since it doesn’t just impact the lungs, it also affects the brain, heart and skin. To read the full article click here.
Dr. Robert Wright’s exposome work, “Using Team Science to Understand the Exposome and Children’s Health”, work was featured as an NIEHS Story of Success. As director of the NIEHS-funded Transdisciplinary Center on Health Effects of Early Environmental Exposures (TCEEE), Wright promotes the team science approach. He also advocates the need for investigators in multiple disciplines to perform exposomics research, including experts in molecular biology, genetics, exposure science, biostatistics, analytical chemistry, and environmental modeling. To read the full NIEHS article click here.
P30 Center Members, Drs. Reichenberg and Arora, research “Fetal and postnatal metal dysregulation in Autism” was highlighted by NIEHS’s Environemental Factor. Baby teeth from children with autism contain more toxic lead and less of the essential nutrients zinc and manganese than baby teeth from children without autism, according to Drs. Reichenberg’s and Arora’s study. The findings, published June 1 in Nature Communications, suggest that differences in early-life exposure to metals, and more importantly, how a child’s body processes them, may affect the risk of autism. “Autism is a condition in which both genes and environment play a role, but figuring out which environmental exposures may increase risk has been difficult,” said lead researcher Manish Arora, Ph.D., an environmental scientist and dentist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Some scientists have proposed that events before we are born may increase our risk of autism, but what is needed is a window into our fetal life — which baby teeth provide,” he added. Dr. Arora and his colleagues developed and validated this innovative use of baby teeth with NIEHS support. They previously showed that the amount of lead in dentine formed around the time of birth was strongly correlated with lead levels in umbilical cord blood. To read the full story click here.
Dr. Maida Galvez, MD, MPH, associate professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, director of the Region 2 Environmental Health Specialty Unit (NJ, NY, PR, and USVI) and Tom Neltner, JD, Chemicals Policy Director for the Environmental Defense Fund discuss a study which discovered that roughly 20 percent of baby food samples were found to contain lead. The study also found that more than 1 million children consume more lead than FDA’s limit. Eliminating lead in food would save society more than $27 billion annually in total lifetime earnings from saved IQ points. To read the full EDF report click here and to watch the video click here.