Erin E. Dooley
Erin E. Dooley, MA, is a staff writer for EHP.
Interagency Report Urges a Focus on Breast Cancer Prevention
In February 2013 the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee released recommendations for investigating and mitigating environmental causes of breast cancer.1 The committee’s report highlights the need for more emphasis on prevention—not just diagnosis and treatment—and suggests that a national breast cancer prevention strategy be developed that would increase and better coordinate the federal government’s investments in this area. The American Cancer Society estimated nearly 227,000 new cases of breast cancer would be diagnosed and nearly 40,000 women would die of the disease in the United States in 2012.2
Warm Winters Could Influence Flu Seasons
An analysis of climate trends and U.S. influenza seasons dating back to 1997–1998 has found that unusually warm winters tended to be followed by flu seasons marked by their severity and early onset.3 The authors of the study suggest that fewer people getting the flu during warm winters may lead to an unusually large number of susceptible people in the next flu season. This could drive earlier and more severe epidemics—a situation exacerbated if outbreaks occur before most people have a chance to get their yearly vaccination.
Ranking Sources of Foodborne Illness
More than 9 million U.S. cases of foodborne illness are caused by pathogens each year.4 A CDC analysis of such illnesses for the period 1998–2008 estimates that more deaths (19%) were associated with poultry than with any other food type and that 46% of illnesses were linked with produce.5 Of the latter, 22% were linked to leafy greens. The analysis also identified norovirus as causing the most outbreaks and the most cases of illness. These findings provide a starting point to help the food industry and government agencies prioritize efforts to reduce foodborne illness.
California Revisits Flame Retardant Regs
In response to concerns about potential health effects of flame retardants, California officials have proposed updated regulations for these chemicals in upholstered furniture.6 Under the proposed regulations, foam cushions and other furniture components would need to withstand a smoldering cigarette rather than the open flame mandated by current law. (State officials say this is a more realistic scenario for home fires.) The proposed rules would therefore reduce the amount of flame retardants needed in furniture. To further curtail children’s exposure, 17 baby and infant products would be exempt from having to meet the new flammability standards.
Ozone Exposure and Risk of Preeclampsia
Swedish researchers have estimated that 1 in every 20 cases of preeclampsia may be linked to exposure to ground-level ozone during the first trimester of pregnancy.7 The study of 121,000 singleton births found a slightly greater association in mothers who had asthma. Preeclampsia affects women later in pregnancy and involves elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine. It is more prevalent in developing countries and, with other hypertensive disorders, has been identified as a leading cause of perinatal deaths among children in these countries.8
1. NIEHS. Interagency Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Coordinating Committee [website]. Research Triangle Park, NC:National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health (updated 12 Feb 2013). Available: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/boards/ibcercc/ [accessed 20 Feb 2013].
2. ACS. Cancer Facts & Figures 2012. Atlanta, GA:American Cancer Society, Inc. (2012). Available: http://goo.gl/81Y4N [accessed 20 Feb 2013].
3. Towers S, et al. Climate change and influenza: the likelihood of early and severe influenza seasons following warmer than average winters. PLoS Curr Influenza; http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/currents.flu.3679b56a3a5313dc7c043fb944c6f138 [online 28 Jan 2013].
4. Scallan E, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens. Emerg Infect Dis 17(1):7–15 (2011); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375761/.
5. Painter JA, et al. Attribution of foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths to food commodities by using outbreak data, United States, 1998–2008. Emerg Infect Dis 19(3):507–515 (2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.111866.
6. Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair. Title 4: Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation. California Code of Regulations. Sacramento, CA:Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, State of California (2013). Available: http://www.bhfti.ca.gov/about/laws/notice.pdf [accessed 20 Feb 2013].
7. Olsson D, et al. Air pollution exposure in early pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a register-based cohort study. BMJ Open 3(2):e001955 (2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001955.
8. Ngoc NT, et al. Causes of stillbirths and early neonatal deaths: data from 7993 pregnancies in six developing countries. Bull World Health Organ 84(9):699–705 (2006); http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627466/.
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EHP is proud to announce its 2013 Paper of the Year is “450K Epigenome-Wide Scan Identifies Differential DNA Methylation in Newborns Related to Maternal Smoking during Pregnancy” [Environ Health Perspect 120(10):1425–1431 (2012); doi:10.1289/ehp.1205412]. The Paper of the Year award is given to the most highly cited Research Article, Commentary, or Review Article published in the preceding 12 months.
Congratulations to authors Bonnie R. Joubert, Siri E. Håberg, Roy M. Nilsen, Xuting Wang, Stein E. Vollset, Susan K. Murphy, Zhiqing Huang, Cathrine Hoyo, Øivind Midttun, Lea A. Cupul-Uicab, Per M. Ueland, Michael C. Wu, Wenche Nystad, Douglas A. Bell, Shyamal D. Peddada, and Stephanie J. London.
Children’s Health Collection 2013 is now available for browsing and downloading. The collection includes everything we've published on children's health from October 2012 through September 2013—you'll find abstracts of peer-reviewed research articles, reviews, and commentaries, plus quick links to relevant news articles, editorials, and podcasts.
Environment and Health—
Bridging South, North, East and West
Basel, Switzerland 19–23 August 2013
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Recent Advance Publications
- Metagenomic Frameworks for Monitoring Antibiotic Resistance in Aquatic Environments
- Within- and Between-Child Variation in Repeated Urinary Pesticide Metabolite Measurements over a 1-Year Period
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES)-Stimulated Hormonal Toxicity is Mediated by ERα Alteration of Target Gene Methylation Patterns and Epigenetic Modifiers (DNMT3A, MBD2, and HDAC2) in the Mouse Seminal Vesicle
- Anogenital Distance and Penile Length in Infants with Hypospadias or Cryptorchidism: Comparison with Normative Data
- DNA Methylation in Oocytes and Liver of Female Mice and Their Offspring: Effects of High-Fat-Diet–Induced Obesity
- Environmental Noise Pollution in the United States: Developing an Effective Public Health Response
- Enablers and Barriers to Large-Scale Uptake of Improved Solid Fuel Stoves: A Systematic Review
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- AdvPubl: Metagenomic frameworks for monitoring antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments http://t.co/Lw7Qr618P2
- EHPNoonNews: US EPA adds 9 sites to Superfund National Priorities List, proposes 8 more http://t.co/R3QFB50kZn
- EHPNoonNews: The Guardian—China's coal emissions responsible for 'quarter of a million premature deaths' http://t.co/ZGwVV1mx2Z