Night has always been a difficult realm for humans: we’ve had to learn to cope with the cold and the dark to thrive in it. Since the industrial revolution we’ve found ways to adapt our homes and cities to operate during the night. But as our conquest of the dark continues, the border between night and day is becoming increasingly blurry.
The credibility of scientific findings hinges on their reproducibility. As a scientist, it is therefore disastrous when you are unable to replicate your own findings. Our laboratory has found itself in just this situation several times; in each instance, unintended environmental exposure distorted our data. Our first accidental foray into toxicology 20 years ago convinced us of the need to understand the reproductive effects of environmental chemical contaminants. The latest twist in our journey down that road adds a new dimension to an old concern, BPA.
Not everyone will readily admit to peeing in swimming pools, but it does happen. An anonymous survey from 2012 found that 19 percent of adults admitted they had peed in a pool at least once. But when you use a pool as a giant toilet, that yellow trail contains some nasty bacteria and parasites.
One of the main problems with plastics is that although we may only need them fleetingly – seconds in the case of microbeads in personal care products, or minutes as in plastic grocery bags – they stick around for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, much of this plastic ends up as environmental pollution.
In the first of many pending lawsuits to go to trial, a jury in San Francisco concluded on Aug. 10 that the plaintiff had developed cancer from exposure to Roundup, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide, and ordered the company to pay US$289 million in damages. The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, had used Roundup in his job as groundskeeper in a California school district. He later developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages to cover pain, suffering and medical bills due to negligence by Monsanto, plus an additional $250 million in punitive damages.
Today, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults and 21 percent of youth are obese. This trend is on the upswing and the worldwide population is becoming more obese – which is increasing the risk of other conditions like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease whose prevalence has doubled globally in the last 30 years. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s not just food that is making us fat.
During recent summers, children living on the West Coast of Canada have been breathing some of the most polluted air on record. This is due to seasonal wildfires, which have burned through vast zones of North America and affected even larger areas with their smoke.
As you pack your bags for the cottage or campground this weekend, don’t forget to bring light clothes with long sleeves — and a truckload or two of insect repellent.
The health risk presented by air pollution depends on how much dirty air we breathe over time. But people’s exposure to pollution can vary greatly between people living on the same street, or even the same house.
How can you tell whether an agency has been captured?
It’s recently been reported that scientists have managed to create a test to measure how much urine is in a swimming pool.
Mercury pollution is a problem usually associated with fish consumption. But some people in China, the world’s largest mercury emitter, are exposed to more methylmercury from rice than they are from fish.
Exposure to fracking chemicals in utero may harm the immune system and diminish the ability of female offspring to fend off diseases like multiple sclerosis, according to a new study with mice.
It’s hard not to empathize with the people in the smoggy images of New Delhi or Ulaanbataar or Kathmandu, often wearing masks, walking to school or work though soupy cloudiness.
There is growing evidence to suggest that air pollution does not just affect our health – it affects our behavior too.
A new scientific study shows that bright electric light exposure of preschool children in the evening suppresses melatonin production almost completely, an important addition to the growing body of research in this area.
We poisoned ourselves with lead during the 20th century in most industrial nations. We used the metal widely, because lead paint is durable, engines run better on leaded gasoline and lead water pipes don’t rust.
Graphene is something of a celebrity in the world of nanoscale materials. Isolated in 2004 by Nobel Prize winners Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov
Anxiety caused by exposure to pollution may make people more prone to cheating and unethical behavior, according to new research. And that can be a driver behind the higher crime rates in high-pollution areas.
The search for autism’s causes is a daunting task — but researchers are investigating a variety of factors that might play a role.
Theresa May’s new environment plan sets ambitious goals for plastic waste reduction. But there’s lots of room for slippage. One goal is to eradicate all “avoidable” plastic waste, though it’s not clear how “avoidable” will be defined.
A common herbicide is ending up in our food, thanks to the growing practice of using it to dry crops in preparation for harvest. In addition to speeding crop drying, glyphosate can help synchronize ripening in plants at harvest time.
Humans have built high-rises since ancient Roman times, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they became the default work space for a significant slice of the world’s workers. While these buildings are certainly efficient, they can cause real health issues.
Runoff from melting snow carries road salt into streams and lakes, and causes extraordinarily high salinity.
Antibiotics are losing their ability to kill bacteria. One of the main reasons for the rise in antibiotic resistance is the improper use of antibiotics, but our latest research shows that the ingredients in commonly-used weed killers like Round-up and Kamba can also cause bacteria to become less susceptible to antibiotics.
Infectious diseases are spreading faster due to warmer temperatures, hunger and malnourishment is worsening, allergy seasons are getting longer and sometimes it’s simply too hot for farmers to tend to their crops. But what would happen if we treated climate change as a health problem rather than an environmental one?
The higher the level of particulates in the air, a new study shows, the greater the indications of psychological distress. Where a person lives can make a big difference to health and quality of life. Every increase in pollution of 5 micrograms per cubic meter had the same effect as a 1.5-year loss in education.
What substances in wildfire smoke are most dangerous to human health? What kinds of impacts can they have? Is a brief exposure, say for a few hours, dangerous, or is smoke mainly a concern if it lingers for days?
New sales of petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040 in the UK; France. Sweden and Scotland by 2032; Norway by 2025. Coupled with increasing concern over the carcinogenic effects of diesel emissions, the Volkswagen defeat device scandal, and the link between diesel particulates and Alzheimer’s, focus has turned again to electric cars.
In the end, the military campaign was called Operation Ranch Hand, but it originally went by a more appropriately hellish appellation
People in northern China have a reduced life expectancy when compared with people living in the south due to higher concentrations of air pollution, a new study suggests.
Subways are vital for commuting in crowded cities, something that will become more and more important over time – according to a United Nations 2014 report, half of the world’s population is now urban. They can also play a part in reducing outdoor air pollution in large metropolises by helping to reduce motor-vehicle use.
Mice exposed to household fabrics contaminated with third-hand tobacco smoke showed changes in biological markers of health after only one month, a recent study found.
The most heavily used pesticide in California, elemental sulfur, may harm the respiratory health of children who live near farms that use it, new research suggests.
Scientists have developed a method for removing more than 99 percent of bisphenol A (also known as BPA) from water quickly and cheaply.
Toxicology’s founding father, Paracelsus, is famous for proclaiming that “the dose makes the poison.”
A new electronic sensor can monitor water quality in homes or cities, informing residents or officials of the presence of lead in water within nine days—all for around $20.
Researchers measuring the exposure to pollution inside cars during rush hour commutes have found that the levels of some harmful particulate matter are twice as high as previously believed.
Summer is the season for harmful algae blooms in many U.S. lakes and bays
The change in urban environments because of development, associated with a rapid increase in chronic disease, is a global phenomenon in developed countries. Getting further and further away from nature, it turns out, isn’t great for our health.
It’s hard to think back to what English pubs and clubs were like before the law about smoke-free public places came into force ten years ago.
We live in a dirty world. Wherever we go, we are among microbes. Bacteria, fungi and viruses live on our phones, bus seats, door handles and park benches.
The environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on June 15 released a study about dietary lead exposure, with a focus on food intended for babies and young children.
People who live near airports are at increased risk of high blood pressure, our latest research shows. We found that exposure to high levels of noise, especially during the night
When President Donald Trump announced on June 1 that he had decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, he asserted that staying in the pact would prevent our nation from further developing its fossil fuel reserves.
I had assumed that the small lump in my breast was a blocked milk duct from nursing my seven-month-old son.
A “congestion tax” that discourages downtown driving not only cuts traffic and pollution, but also sharply reduces children’s asthma attacks.
A new way to test for a wide range of micropollutants in waterways has already turned up a nightmarish cocktail of contaminants.
New research shows how brake and tire dust—a cloud of tiny metal particles—could wreak havoc on respiratory health.
A gun is a dangerous weapon for obvious reasons. But there are less obvious risks to those who use them. New research shows people who shoot, for work or leisure, risk lead poisoning.
The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, appears to aid the survival of inflammatory breast cancer cells, according to research that reveals a potential mechanism for how the disease grows.
What’s at stake in a world where science is marginalized? Programs like AguaClara, which offer sustainable, low-cost solutions to communities in need.
In the United States, Florida has the sixth highest number of hazardous waste sites known as Superfund sites
There is strong and consistent evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart attacks and that smokefree workplace and public place laws cut heart attacks (and other diseases).
This year marks 20 years since Hasbro was fined for false advertising, claiming their Playskool toys laden with the antimicrobial chemical triclosan would keep kids healthier.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that eventually strips sufferers of their ability to remember, communicate and live independently.
The rise in recent decades of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis suggests that factors in the environment are contributing.
Expanding the control strategy for intestinal worms to treating adults as well as children could improve the health of millions of people worldwide who are infected or reinfected by these parasites every year.
Glyphosate is by far the most heavily used chemical weed killer in human history. It’s so pervasive, it’s difficult to avoid ingesting it on a daily basis.
In the absence of a federal U.S. policy for schools located near potentially dangerous sites, community activists search for safer solutions.
Scientists have now analyzed long-awaited data from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment to determine the specific rates of biodegradation for 125 compounds that settled to the deep ocean floor after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel cars from their city centres by 2025, in order to improve air quality.
Most of us considered microbes little more than nasty germs before science recently began turning our view of the microbial world on its head.
The Senate inquiry’s report into the planned closure of coal-fired power stations will no doubt shed light on the compelling health reasons to close them.
Among the many human, environmental, and economic impacts of global climate change, heat stress itself is perhaps underestimated as a major challenge to health and sustainability.
Low-income and Latina pregnant women in a recent study had widespread exposure to environmental pollutants. In addition, many of the toxins showed up at even higher levels in their newborns
Over the last 40 years, hundreds of millions of people in China have escaped poverty as this enormous nation urbanized and became a manufacturing powerhouse fueled by cheap coal and cheap labor.
Cookies containing iron can cause a striking reduction in the blood lead levels of children in regions with high exposure to the toxic heavy metal, report researchers.
A decrease in the average level of lead in a preschooler’s blood reduces the probability of that child being substantially below proficient in reading by the third grade, report researchers.
Mercury contamination is widespread across western North America in the air, soil, lake sediments, plants, fish, and wildlife, according to new research.
Researchers at George Washington University compiled data from household dust samples collected throughout the United States and found 45 potentially toxic chemicals used in many common products, such as vinyl flooring, personal care and cleaning products, building materials, and furniture.
Anyone who has stepped off an airplane in one of the major cities of the developing world has encountered profound and noxious air pollution. In New Delhi, Jakarta,
This is the worst year in decades for U.S. coal. During the first six months of 2016, U.S. coal production was down a staggering 28 percent compared to 2015, and down 33 percent compared to 2014.
Iron is known to be toxic to brain cells, and tiny magnetic iron particles (magnetite) are thought to be involved in the development of neurological disorders.
The updated Toxic Substances Control Act brings new hope for protecting Americans’ health and environment. Here's what it does — and doesn’t — do.
The fracking industry has been an energy success story: Natural gas prices have decreased as fracking has skyrocketed, and natural gas now produces more electricity than coal does, which has resulted in improved air quality.
As an emergency room physician in Washington, D.C., it didn’t take long for Leana Wen to notice a pattern
Neighbors with the most exposure to natural gas fracking are nearly twice as likely to suffer from some combination of migraine headaches, chronic nasal and sinus symptoms, and severe fatigue.
New research finds that sperm quality in a population of stud dogs studied over a 26-year period had fallen significantly.
"It doesn't matter how old you are or if you're in a wealthy country or a poorer one or if you've had it before—you can get it again," says Sarah M. Bartsch. "And it is really unpleasant. But if we don't focus on norovirus and teach people how to prevent it, little headway will be made to combat it."
A new study of pigeons in New York City shows that levels of lead in the birds track with neighborhoods where children show high levels of lead exposure.
“Calais Jungle Camp littered with asbestos”; “Buckingham Palace could be vacated to remove asbestos”; “Safety concerns for refugees and workers as Nauru asbestos removal programme kicks off”.
Asthma patients who live near major Pennsylvania fracking sites are as much as four times more likely to suffer attacks than those farther away, a new study shows.
A new study backs up concerns about exposure to the chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, from food cans and jar lids.
Summer holidays are upon us, and many of us will finally get to spend some lazy days by the pool. But how can you ensure this pleasant experience doesn’t leave you with any nasty surprises?
BBP is not used in food preparation, but it is used in the conveyor belts and plastic fittings on machines used to process many prepared foods. Food becomes contaminated when BBP leeches into it from the plastic.
"People who live in rural areas and who use private wells need to have their well water tested, particularly if they are thinking about becoming pregnant," Jean Brender says.
Hospital infections affect almost two million people in the United States every year, 100,000 of whom die. Up to 70 percent of these infections could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include hand hygiene.
Even though most people don’t know much about chemicals in general or poisons in particular, virtually everyone knows that arsenic is bad. In the first century, arsenic was already known to be a deadly poison .
Almost every product we purchase, use in our homes or give to our children contains tens, if not hundreds, of chemicals. The United States chemical industry alone produced US$769.4 billion worth of chemicals in 2012.
The calls and e-mails arrive as often as several times a week from people with concerns about drinking water. Some of the callers — who include homeowners, architects and builders — want to know why their water smells like gasoline.
Even after taking into account residents' wealth, age, sex, and other neighborhood factors, the study found that having a view of the ocean was associated with improved mental health.
The mice in the enriched environment, where they exercised more, lived anywhere from 16 to 22 percent longer than those in a deprived environment, depending on the level of gene expression.
A good night’s sleep is a crucial aspect to overall health and well-being, yet so many Americans are lacking in that department. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 40% of American adults get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
"This is a global issue rather than one that's simply isolated in China; multidrug resistance is just a plane ride away," says James Tiedje.
People in developed countries turn on the tap and safe drinking water flows, a dramatic health benefit they tend to take for granted. That complacency was dramatically disrupted last year when children in Flint, Michigan, started testing positive for lead poisoning and the source was traced to tap water.
The Dutch famine of 1944 was a terrible time for many in the Netherlands – with around 4.5m people affected and reliant on soup kitchens after food supplies were stopped from getting into the area by German blockades. As many as 22,000 people were thought to have died, and those who survived would find...
The industrial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is an ingredient in dozens of everyday products – baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental filling sealants, CDs and DVDs, household electronics, eyeglass lenses, foundry castings and the lining of water pipes. Manufacturers worldwide use at least 3.6 billion kilograms (8
The debate about whether or not talcum powder causes ovarian cancer has rumbled on for decades. However, it recently reached fever pitch after a US court awarded damages to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer, allegedly as a result of having used talc as a feminine hygiene product for many years. Does that mean women should avoid using talcum powder?