Erin E. Dooley
Erin E. Dooley, MA, is a staff writer for EHP.
A New Lighting Alternative?
Wake Forest University engineers are using multiwalled carbon nanotubes to enhance the brightness of field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology, potentially offering a step forward in the search for safe, pleasing, high-efficiency lighting.1 In this technology, moldable polymer matrix emits light when exposed to an electrical current. It could eventually yield high-efficiency lights without the mercury vapor of compact fluorescent lamps or the bluish tint of some fluorescents and LEDs, which has been linked with circadian rhythm disruption.2
Ceramic Cookstoves May Not Improve Child Pneumonia Rates
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under age 5 in developing countries. Exposure to smoke from fires for cooking and heating is a major risk factor for pneumonia, and cleaner-burning cookstoves are being explored as an intervention. But a new study of locally produced ceramic cookstoves (upesi jikos) in Kenya suggests that “cleaner” isn’t always clean enough when it comes to cookstoves.3 Although upesi jikos were linked with fewer respiratory symptoms, there was no appreciable reduction in pneumonia among babies in households using the stoves compared with babies from households that cooked with traditional three-stone firepits. The authors conclude there is an urgent need for “further research into cookstove design, improved methodology for measuring PM2.5 exposures, and adequately-powered health impact trials.”
EPA Revises Total Coliform Rule
Coliform bacteria in water are a marker for fecal contamination, which can cause gastroenteritis. This unpleasant but generally nonserious illness can lead to further health problems in vulnerable populations. But not all coliforms are fecal coliforms, so in December 2012 the U.S. EPA revised its Total Coliform Rule for drinking water to establish a maximum contaminant level specifically for Escherichia coli.4 With this more targeted test for fecal contamination, the public must be notified anytime drinking water is found to exceed this level. Noncompliant water systems also must conduct an inspection to locate and correct sources of fecal contamination.
Sound Alerts for Quiet Vehicles
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new rules for “alert sounds” that, when added to quiet electric and hybrid vehicles, will warn pedestrians and cyclists of their presence.5 The proposed rules address concerns that such alerts would increase community noise pollution6 with specifications designed to minimize noise impact while providing ample warning. Under the proposed rules, vehicles must be audible under a wide range of usual street and urban noises when the vehicle is moving slower than 18 mph. The agency estimates that adding alerts will prevent 2,800 pedestrian and cyclist injuries over the life of the 2016 model year fleet.5
NYC Fish Is Often Mislabeled
In its latest study on the occurrence of mislabeled fish in stores and restaurants, the nonprofit Oceana found that more than a third of the fish sampled in New York City had been mislabeled.7 Tilefish, which is not recommended for small children or pregnant or nursing women because of its high mercury content, was sold as both halibut and red snapper at one grocery store, and 94% of samples of “white tuna” from New York sushi restaurants was actually escolar, which can cause explosive diarrhea due to its high content of wax esters. In all, 58% of the restaurants and stores sampled sold mislabeled fish.
1. Chen Y, et al. Effect of multi-walled carbon nanotubes on electron injection and charge generation in AC field-induced polymer electroluminescence. Organ Electr 14(1):8–18 (2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.orgel.2012.10.017.
2. Holzman DC. What’s in a color? The unique human health effects of blue light. Environ Health Perspect 118(1):A22–A27 (2010); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831986/.
3. Foote EM. Impact of locally-produced, ceramic cookstoves on respiratory disease in children in rural western Kenya. Am J Trop Med Hyg 88(1):132–137 (2012); http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0496.
4. EPA. National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Revisions to the Total Coliform Rule. 40 CFR Parts 141 and 142. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0878. Washington, DC:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2012). Available: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/tcr/upload/tcrfinalprepub2012.pdf [accessed 14 Jan 2013].
5. NHTSA. Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. 49 CFR Part 571. NHTSA-2011-0148. Washington, DC:National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (2013). Available: http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/Quiet_Vehicles_NPRM.pdf [accessed 14 Jan 2013].
6. Holzman DC. Vehicle motion alarms: necessity, noise pollution, or both? Environ Health Perspect 119(1):A30–A33 (2011); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018517/.
7. Warner K, et al. Widespread Seafood Fraud Found in New York City. Washington, DC:Oceana (Dec 2012). Available: http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/Oceana_NYC_Seafood_Fraud_Report_FINAL.pdf [accessed 14 Jan 2012].
Upcoming Recruitment: Editor-in-Chief for Environmental Health Perspectives
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) will soon commence searching for the next Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Health Perspectives. For more information visit our Careers and Funding page.
CEHN March 2015 Article of the Month
“Maternal Arsenic Exposure, Arsenic Methylation Efficiency, and Birth Outcomes in the Biomarkers of Exposure to ARsenic (BEAR) Pregnancy Cohort in Mexico” (Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307476) has been selected by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) as its March 2015 Article of the Month. These CEHN summaries discuss the potential policy implications of current children’s environmental health research.
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Recent Advance Publications
Association of Parkinson’s Disease and Its Subtypes with Agricultural Pesticide Exposures in Men: A Case–Control Study in France
Quantitative Guidance for Stove Usage and Performance to Achieve Health and Environmental Targets
Air Pollution from Road Traffic and Systemic Inflammation in Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis in the European ESCAPE Project
Association between Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water and Longitudinal Change in Blood Pressure among HEALS Cohort Participants
In Utero Fine Particle Air Pollution and Placental Expression of Genes in the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Signaling Pathway: An ENVIRONAGE Birth Cohort Study