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Environmental research [journal]
- Communication in a Human biomonitoring study: Focus group work, public engagement and lessons learnt in 17 European countries. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 11.
A communication strategy was developed by The Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale (COPHES), as part of its objectives to develop a framework and protocols to enable the collection of comparable human biomonitoring data throughout Europe. The framework and protocols were tested in the pilot study DEMOCOPHES (Demonstration of a study to Coordinate and Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale). The aims of the communication strategy were to raise awareness of human biomonitoring, encourage participation in the study and to communicate the study results and their public health significance. It identified the audiences and key messages, documented the procedure for dissemination of results and was updated as the project progressed. A communication plan listed the tools and materials such as press releases, flyers, recruitment letters and information leaflets required for each audience with a time frame for releasing them. Public insight research was used to evaluate the recruitment material, and the feedback was used to improve the documents. Dissemination of results was coordinated in a step by step approach by the participating countries within DEMOCOPHES, taking into account specific national messages according to the needs of each country. Participants received individual results, unless they refused to be informed, along with guidance on what the results meant. The aggregate results and policy recommendations were then communicated to the general public and stakeholders, followed by dissemination at European level. Several lessons were learnt that may assist other future human biomonitoring studies. Recruitment took longer than anticipated and so social scientists, to help with community engagement, should be part of the research team from the start. As a European study, involving multiple countries, additional considerations were needed for the numerous organisations, different languages, cultures, policies and priorities. Therefore, communication documents should be seen as templates with essential information clearly indicated and the option for each country to tailor the material to reflect these differences. Future studies should consider setting up multidisciplinary networks of medical professionals and communication experts, and holding training workshops to discuss the interpretation of results and risk communication. Publicity and wide dissemination of the results helped to raise awareness of human biomonitoring to the general public, policy makers and other key stakeholders. Effective and timely communication, at all stages of a study, is essential if the potential of human biomonitoring research to improve public health is to be realised.
- Chronic SO2 inhalation above environmental standard impairs neuronal behavior and represses glutamate receptor gene expression and memory-related kinase activation via neuroinflammation in rats. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 11.:85-93.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2), as a ubiquitous air pollutant implicated in the genesis of pulmonary disease, is now being considered to be involved in neurotoxicity and increased risk for hospitalization of brain disorders. However, comparatively little is known about the impact of chronically SO2 inhalation on neuronal function. In the present study, by exposing male Wistar rats to SO2 at 3.50 and 7.00mg/m(3) (approximately 1225 and 2450ppb, 4.08-8.16 (24h average concentration) times higher than the EPA standard for environmental air concentrations) or filtered air for 90 days, we investigated the impact of chronic SO2 inhalation on performance in Morris water maze, and probed the accompanying neurobiological effects, including activity-regulated cytoskeletal associated gene (Arc) and glutamate receptor gene expression, memory-related kinase level and inflammatory cytokine release in the hippocampus. Here, we found that SO2 exposure reduced the number of target zone crossings and time spent in the target quadrant during the test session in the spatial memory retention of the Morris water maze. Following the neuro-functional abnormality, we detected that SO2 inhalation reduced the expression of Arc and glutamate receptor subunits (GluR1, GluR2, NR1, NR2A, and NR2B) with a concentration-dependent property in comparison to controls. Additionally, the expression of memory kinases was attenuated statistically in the animals receiving the higher concentration, including protein kinase A (PKA), protein kinase C (PKC) and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinaseIIα (CaMKIIα). And the inflammatory cytokine release was increased in rats exposed to SO2. Taken together, our results suggest that long-term exposure to SO2 air pollution at concentrations above the environmental standard in rats impaired spatial learning and memory, and indicate a close link between the neurobiological changes highlighted in the brain and the behavioral disturbances.
- Determination of human health risk incorporating experimentally derived site-specific bioaccessibility of arsenic at an old abandoned smelter site. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 6.:78-84.
This study was conducted to investigate the contribution of a site-specific bioavailability of arsenic (As) to human health risk at an old abandoned smelter site in Korea. The site was contaminated with As for over 60 years with the same source (As2O3 in flue gas), but concentration and in vitro bioaccessibility (IVBA) of As differed by operable units (OU), which consequently resulted in difference in estimated risk. Soil samples collected from six OUs showed that aqua regia-extractable As concentrations ranged from 9.8 to 52.8mg/kg (average 34.1mg/kg) at OUs 1-5, which had been used as rice paddy field and farmland, and a forest region OU 6 showed much higher As concentrations (14.4-169.8mg/kg, average 85.9mg/kg). IVBA of As, determined from the ratio of Solubility/Bioavailability Research Consortium (SBRC)-extractable As to aqua regia-extractable As had a wide range of values (90th percentile values of 28.2-65.8%). Carcinogenic risk calculated with total soil As concentration was the highest (1.4×10(-4)) at OU 6 and the risk at the other OUs ranged from 3.8×10(-5) to 5.7×10(-5). In contrast, when site-specific relative bioavailability (i.e., IVBA values) was incorporated, the estimated risk was reduced by 29.5-62.0% and the decrease was the highest at OUs 1 and 5 with the lowest IVBA of 28.2%. The results demonstrate that the chemical forms of As may be different although the source of contamination is similar, and site-specific bioavailability affected by the chemical forms is an important factor in determining human health risk.
- The temperature-mortality relationship in China: An analysis from 66 Chinese communities. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 6.:72-77.
Previous studies examining temperature-mortality associations in China focused on a single city or a small number of cities. A multi-city study covering different climatic zones is necessary to better understand regional differences in temperature risk on mortality in China.Sixty-six communities from 7 regions across China were included in this study. We first used a Distributed Lag Non-linear Model (DLNM) to estimate community-specific effects of temperature on non-accidental mortality during 2006-2011. A multivariate meta-analysis was then applied to pool the estimates of community-specific effects.A U-shaped curve was observed between temperature and mortality at the national level in China, indicating both low and high temperatures were associated with increased mortality risk. The overall threshold was at about the 75th percentile of the pooled temperature distribution. The relative risk was 1.61 (95% CI: 1.48-1.74) for extremely cold temperature (1st percentile of temperature), and 1.21 (95% CI: 1.10-1.34) for extreme hot temperature (99th percentile of temperature) at lag0-21 days. The temperature-mortality relationship is different for different regions. Compared with north China, south China had a higher minimum mortality temperature (MMT), and there was a larger cold effect in the more southern parts of China and a more pronounced hot effect in more northern parts.Both cold and hot temperatures increase mortality risk in China, and the relationship varies geographically. Our findings suggest that public health policies for climate change adaptation should be tailored to the local climate conditions.
- Gestational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans induced asymmetric hearing loss: Yucheng children study. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 6.:65-71.
In 1979, approximately 2000 people in central Taiwan were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans (PCBs/PCDFs) due to ingestion of contaminated rice oil. The children born to mothers exposed to PCBs/PCDFs were called Yucheng children. We conducted a follow-up study to examine the association between gestational PCBs/PCDFS exposure and auditory function in Yucheng children's early adulthood.In 1985 and early 1992, Yucheng children and their age, gender, socio-economic matched unexposed referent children were recruited for physical examination and long-term follow-ups. In 2007, Yucheng children and referent children were invited to participate in a health examination, including assessment of pure-tone air-conduction thresholds and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) test. Gestational exposure to PCBs/PCDFs in Yucheng children were estimated by back-extrapolation of their mother's serum concentration to the time of childbirth.A total of 86 Yucheng children (51.2% males) and 97 referent children (50.5% males) were included for analysis. No difference was found in demographic characteristics between two groups. Among the Yucheng children, 53 had estimated PCBs/PCDFs concentrations. We found that Yucheng children were at higher risk of having elevated hearing threshold at low frequencies in the right ear. Estimated maternal concentrations of 2,3,4,7,8-pnCDF at the time of birth were associated with increased hearing thresholds and decreased DPOAEs amplitudes at low frequencies in the right ear.Gestational exposure to PCBs/PCDFs caused adverse asymmetrical hearing effects detectable even in early adulthood.
- Health related quality of life and polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans exposure: 30 years follow-up of Yucheng cohort. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 6.:59-64.
Quality of life (QOL) can be affected by diseases, disasters, and exposure events to environmental factors. However, whether health-related QOL (HRQOL) might be adversely affected by exposure to dioxin-like chemicals 30 years ago is unknown.We studied people who were poisoned to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dibebenzofurans (PCDFs) due to ingestion of contaminated rice oil in 1979 in central Taiwan, and were called Yucheng (oil-disease in Chinese) people. In 2008, we conducted a survey in 1305 exposed people by mailed questionnaire, which included HRQOL by World Health Organization (WHO) quality of life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) Taiwanese version. A total of 240 Yucheng subjects aged 18-65 years satisfactorily completed the Questionnaire. For comparison, we obtained information from the database of 2001 National Health Survey conducted by the National Health Research Institute and Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health, Taiwan. Data from age-, sex-, and county-matched background individuals were extracted using 1:3 match. HRQOL among Yucheng people with/without skin manifestation and unexposed referents were compared, while adjusting for other factors by multiple regression analyzes.The Yucheng people had significantly reduced scores in the physical, psychological, social, and environmental domains as compared to the referents. Those with skin manifestations were more severely affected than those with no skin manifestations, suggesting a dose-related effect on QOL in exposed people.We show for the very first time that poisoning due to persistent organic pollutants PCBs and PCDFs can affect QOL 30 years after the exposure, especially among those most severely poisoned.
- Response of autochthonous microbiota of diesel polluted soils to land-farming treatments. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 5.:49-58.
This study investigated the response of autochthonous microorganisms of diesel polluted soils to land-farming treatments. Inorganic NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) fertilizer and Ivey surfactant were applied alone or in combination as biostimulating agents. The study was carried out in experimental separated land-farming plots performed with two soils: a sandy clay soil with low biological activity and a sandy clay soil with higher biological activity, contaminated with two concentrations of diesel: 10,000 and 20,000mgkg(-1). Bacterial growth, dehydrogenase activity and CO2 production were the biological parameters evaluated. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis proved that moisture content showed a tendency related to microbial growth and that heterotrophic and degrading microorganisms had the best relationship. Initial biological activity of soil influenced the response with 11.1% of variability attributed to this parameter. Soils with low activity had higher degree of response to nutrient addition.
- Effects of particulate air pollution and ozone on lung function in non-asthmatic children. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 5.:40-48.
Information on the long-term effects of different air pollutant levels on lung function is relatively lacking in Asia and still inconclusive in the world. Age differential effects of air pollution are not known.To assess the acute and subchronic effects of ambient air pollution on lung function and compared among children of different ages.From April to May 2011, a nationwide study was conducted on schoolchildren aged 6-15 years in 44 schools of 24 districts in Taiwan. Spirograms were obtained from 1494 non-asthmatic children. Air pollution data were retrieved from air monitoring stations within one kilometre of the schools. Using three-level hierarchical linear models, individual lung function was fitted to air pollution, with adjustments for demographics, indoor exposures, outdoor activity, and districts.Lung function changes per inter-quartile increase of the past two-months average levels of particulate matter <2.5μm (PM2.5) and ozone (12μg/m(3), 32-44 and 6.7ppb, 32-38, respectively) were -103 and -142ml on FVC, -86 and -131 on FEV1, and -102 and -188ml/s on MMEF, respectively. Lag-1-day ozone exposure was associated with decreased MMEF. In children aged 6-10, PM2.5 was associated with decreased FEV1/FVC and MMEF/FVC ratios.In children aged 6-15 years, sub-chronic exposure to ambient PM2.5 and ozone leads to reduced lung capacity, whereas acute exposure to ozone decreases mid-expiratory flow. In children aged 6-10 years, additional airway obstructive patterns in lung function may be associated with PM2.5 exposure.
- Mercury analysis in hair: Comparability and quality assessment within the transnational COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 4.
Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an effective tool for assessing actual exposure to chemicals that takes into account all routes of intake. Although hair analysis is considered to be an optimal biomarker for assessing mercury exposure, the lack of harmonization as regards sampling and analytical procedures has often limited the comparison of data at national and international level. The European-funded projects COPHES and DEMOCOPHES developed and tested a harmonized European approach to Human Biomonitoring in response to the European Environment and Health Action Plan. Herein we describe the quality assurance program (QAP) for assessing mercury levels in hair samples from more than 1800 mother-child pairs recruited in 17 European countries. To ensure the comparability of the results, standard operating procedures (SOPs) for sampling and for mercury analysis were drafted and distributed to participating laboratories. Training sessions were organized for field workers and four external quality-assessment exercises (ICI/EQUAS), followed by the corresponding web conferences, were organized between March 2011 and February 2012. ICI/EQUAS used native hair samples at two mercury concentration ranges (0.20-0.71 and 0.80-1.63) per exercise. The results revealed relative standard deviations of 7.87-13.55% and 4.04-11.31% for the low and high mercury concentration ranges, respectively. A total of 16 out of 18 participating laboratories the QAP requirements and were allowed to analyze samples from the DEMOCOPHES pilot study. Web conferences after each ICI/EQUAS revealed this to be a new and effective tool for improving analytical performance and increasing capacity building. The procedure developed and tested in COPHES/DEMOCOPHES would be optimal for application on a global scale as regards implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
- Fluidic oscillator-mediated microbubble generation to provide cost effective mass transfer and mixing efficiency to the wastewater treatment plants. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Environ Res 2014 Dec 4.:32-39.
Aeration is one of the most energy intensive processes in the waste water treatment plants and any improvement in it is likely to enhance the overall efficiency of the overall process. In the current study, a fluidic oscillator has been used to produce microbubbles in the order of 100μm in diameter by oscillating the inlet gas stream to a pair of membrane diffusers. Volumetric mass transfer coefficient was measured for steady state flow and oscillatory flow in the range of 40-100l/min. The highest improvement of 55% was observed at the flow rates of 60, 90 and 100l/min respectively. Standard oxygen transfer rate and efficiency were also calculated. Both standard oxygen transfer rate and efficiency were found to be considerably higher under oscillatory air flow conditions compared to steady state airflow. The bubble size distributions and bubble densities were measured using an acoustic bubble spectrometer and confirmed production of monodisperse bubbles with approximately 100μm diameters with fluidic oscillation. The higher number density of microbubbles under oscillatory flow indicated the effect of the fluidic oscillation in microbubble production. Visual observations and dissolved oxygen measurements suggested that the bubble cloud generated by the fluidic oscillator was sufficient enough to provide good mixing and to maintain uniform aerobic conditions. Overall, improved mass transfer coefficients, mixing efficiency and energy efficiency of the novel microbubble generation method could offer significant savings to the water treatment plants as well as reduction in the carbon footprint.