Hazardous wastes in eastern and central Europe: technology and health effects.
Issues of hazardous waste management are major concerns in the countries of eastern and central Europe. A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-supported conference was held in Prague, Czech Republic, as a part of a continuing effort to provide information and promote discussion among the countries of eastern and central Europe on issues related to hazardous wastes. The focus was on incineration as a means of disposal of hazardous wastes, with discussions on both engineering methods for safe incineration, and possible human health effects from incineration by-products. Representatives from government agencies, academic institutions, and local industries from 14 countries in the region participated along with a few U.S. and western European experts in this field. A series of 12 country reports documented national issues relating to the environment, with a focus on use of incineration for hazardous waste disposal. A particularly valuable contribution was made by junior scientists from the region, who described results of environmental issues in their countries. (+info)
Trading trash: why the U.S. won't sign on to the Basel convention.
Environmentalists worry that hazardous wastes produced in industrialized nations are being dumped in cash-starved developing countries--the countries with the least political or economic clout to resist and the fewest resources for managing these toxic imports. Imported waste can pose a serious threat to the health of human populations and ecosystems if not managed appropriately. In 1989, the international community initiated efforts to reduce the flow of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries to developing countries by drafting a treaty known as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Wastes and their Disposal. The convention's mission is to strictly regulate the international transfer of hazardous wastes and to ensure that wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Although the United States supports the convention in theory, it remains the only industrialized country within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development yet to ratify it. However, legislation drafted by the Clinton administration that is soon to go before the 106th Congress could make the United States a party to the convention. (+info)
Self reported health of people in an area contaminated by chromium waste: interview study.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the self reported health of a group of individuals living in an area contaminated by chromium (chromium group) with a group living in an uncontaminated area (control group), and to assess the effects of perception of risk from exposure to chromium on health. DESIGN: Cross sectional study using the SF-36 validated quality of life questionnaire. Further questions were added to examine the relations between perceptions about living on or near land contaminated with chromium and the effects on self reported health. SETTING: An area contaminated with chromium (Cambuslang, Carmyle, and Rutherglen) and a control area (Barrmulloch and Pollok). PARTICIPANTS: Residents of an area containing chromium landfill and residents of an uncontaminated control area. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Scores on SF-36. RESULTS: Little difference was found in health scores between the two groups, and only for general health was there a significantly higher score in the chromium group. Health scores for the chromium group were significantly worse across all dimensions for those who believed that chromium adversely affected health. Most of the chromium group (68%) would prefer money to be spent on improving amenities rather than on chromium remediation. CONCLUSIONS: Similar self reported health among residents of the chromium and control groups indicates that there is no evidence of harm to health from exposure to chromium in this setting. Noticeably lower scores in participants who believed chromium to be harmful to health point to the potential importance of perception and possible anxiety. Given the overall greater desire for better amenities rather than remedial action, policy makers and planners should discuss with residents how best to spend resources before instigating expensive cleaning up programmes. (+info)
Health effects of residence near hazardous waste landfill sites: a review of epidemiologic literature.
This review evaluates current epidemiologic literature on health effects in relation to residence near landfill sites. Increases in risk of adverse health effects (low birth weight, birth defects, certain types of cancers) have been reported near individual landfill sites and in some multisite studies, and although biases and confounding factors cannot be excluded as explanations for these findings, they may indicate real risks associated with residence near certain landfill sites. A general weakness in the reviewed studies is the lack of direct exposure measurement. An increased prevalence of self-reported health symptoms such as fatigue, sleepiness, and headaches among residents near waste sites has consistently been reported in more than 10 of the reviewed papers. It is difficult to conclude whether these symptoms are an effect of direct toxicologic action of chemicals present in waste sites, an effect of stress and fears related to the waste site, or an effect of reporting bias. Although a substantial number of studies have been conducted, risks to health from landfill sites are hard to quantify. There is insufficient exposure information and effects of low-level environmental exposure in the general population are by their nature difficult to establish. More interdisciplinary research can improve levels of knowledge on risks to human health of waste disposal in landfill sites. Research needs include epidemiologic and toxicologic studies on individual chemicals and chemical mixtures, well-designed single- and multisite landfill studies, development of biomarkers, and research on risk perception and sociologic determinants of ill health. (+info)
Socioeconomic inequalities in risk of congenital anomaly.
AIMS: To investigate socioeconomic inequalities in the risk of congenital anomalies, focusing on risk of specific anomaly subgroups. METHODS: A total of 858 cases of congenital anomaly and 1764 non-malformed control births were collected between 1986 and 1993 from four UK congenital malformation registers, for the purposes of a European multicentre case control study on congenital anomaly risk near hazardous waste landfill sites. As a measure of socioeconomic status, cases and controls were given a value for the area level Carstairs deprivation index, by linking the postcode of residence at birth to census enumeration districts (areas of approximately 150 households). RESULTS: Risk of non-chromosomal anomalies increased with increasing socioeconomic deprivation. The risk in the most deprived quintile of the deprivation index was 40% higher than in the most affluent quintile. Some malformation subgroups also showed increasing risk with increasing deprivation: all cardiac defects, malformations of the cardiac septa, malformations of the digestive system, and multiple malformations. No evidence for socioeconomic variation was found for other non-chromosomal malformation groups, including neural tube defects and oral clefts. A decreasing risk with increasing deprivation found for all chromosomal malformations and Down's syndrome in unadjusted analyses, occurred mainly as a result of differences in the maternal age distribution between social classes. CONCLUSION: Our data, although based on limited numbers of cases and geographical coverage, suggest that more deprived populations have a higher risk of congenital anomalies of non-chromosomal origin and some specific anomalies. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and to explore their aetiological implications. (+info)
Health complaints and immunological markers of exposure to bioaerosols among biowaste collectors and compost workers.
OBJECTIVES: In a cross sectional study, work related health complaints and diseases of 58 compost workers and 53 biowaste collectors were investigated and compared with 40 control subjects. Levels of specific IgG antibodies to moulds and bacteria were measured as immunological markers of exposure to bioaerosols. METHODS: With a standardised protocol, the participants of the study were interviewed for work related symptoms, conditions of exposure to bioaerosols at their workplaces, exposure to bioaerosols from other sources, atopic diseases, and smoking habits. They were clinically examined by physicians specialised in occupational medicine. Also, concentrations of specific IgG antibodies against antigens of moulds and actinomycetes occurring regularly at these workplaces were measured and compared with the health complaints of the workers. RESULTS: Compost workers had significantly more symptoms and diseases of the airways (p=0.003) and the skin (p=0.02) than the control subjects. Health complaints of biowaste collectors did not differ significantly from those of the control group. Subjects with atopic diseases were underrepresented in the compost workers (p=0.003). Significantly increased antibody concentrations against fungi and actinomycetes were measured in workers at composting plants. The concentrations in biowaste collectors did not differ significantly from those in the control subjects. A significant association between the diseases and increased antibody concentrations were found in the compost workers. CONCLUSION: The high exposure to bioaerosols of compost workers is significantly associated with a higher frequency of health complaints and diseases as well as higher concentrations of specific antibodies against moulds and actinomycetes. A healthy worker effect is indicated by the underrepresentation of atopic diseases among the compost workers compared with biowaste collectors and the control group. (+info)
Childhood cancers, birthplaces, incinerators and landfill sites.
BACKGROUND: In all, 70 municipal incinerators, 307 hospital incinerators and 460 toxic-waste landfill sites in Great Britain were examined for evidence of effluents causing childhood cancers. Municipal incinerators had previously shown significant excesses of adult cancers within 7.5 and 3.0 km. The relative risks for adults had been marginal and an analysis of childhood cancers seemed to offer a more sensitive approach. METHODS: A newly developed technique of analysis compares distances from suspect sources to the birth addresses and to the death addresses of cancer-children who had moved house. A localized hazard, effective at only one of these times, must be preferentially associated with the corresponding address. This creates an asymmetry of migrations towards or away from age-restricted effective sources. RESULTS: The child-cancer/leukaemia data showed no systematic migration-asymmetries around toxic-waste landfill sites; but showed highly significant excesses of migrations away from birthplaces close to municipal incinerators. Relative risks within 5.0 km of these sites were about 2:1. Hospital incinerators gave analogous results. The ratios greatly exceed findings around 'non-combustion' urban sites. CONCLUSIONS: Because of their locations, the specific effects of the municipal incinerators could not be separated clearly from those of adjacent industrial sources of combustion-effluents. Both were probably carcinogenic. Landfill waste sites showed no such effect. (+info)
Developmental and tissue-specific expression of AHR1, AHR2, and ARNT2 in dioxin-sensitive and -resistant populations of the marine fish Fundulus heteroclitus.
Fundulus heteroclitus is a well-characterized marine fish model for studying aryl hydrocarbon toxicity. The F. heteroclitus population in New Bedford Harbor (NBH), a Superfund site in southeastern Massachusetts, exhibits heritable resistance to the toxic effects of planar halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs), including 2,3,7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). To investigate the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) signal transduction pathway in PHAH resistance, we measured the relative levels of AHR1, AHR2, and ARNT2 mRNA in whole embryos at different developmental stages and in dissected tissues of adults, comparing expression of these genes in NBH fish with fish from a reference site (Scorton Creek, MA [SC]). Expression of both AHR1 and AHR2 mRNA increased during development, achieving maximum levels prior to hatching. Maximal embryonic expression of AHR1 was delayed relative to AHR2. Whole NBH and SC embryos exhibited no discernable differences in expression of these genes. As we have previously observed, adult SC fish expressed AHR2 and ARNT2 mRNA in all tissues examined, while AHR1 was expressed predominantly in brain, heart, and gonads. In contrast, AHR1 mRNA was widely expressed in NBH fish, appearing with unusual abundance in gill, gut, kidney, liver, and spleen. This AHR1 expression pattern was not observed in the lab-reared progeny of NBH fish, demonstrating that constitutive AHR1 expression in gill, gut, kidney, liver, and spleen is not a heritable phenotype. Furthermore, widespread AHR1 expression was not induced in reference-site fish by TCDD or PCB mixtures, suggesting that aberrant AHR1 expression is not simply a normal physiological response of contaminant exposure. These results identify ubiquitous AHR1 expression as an attribute unique to feral NBH F. heteroclitus, and they represent a first step in determining the regulatory mechanisms underlying this expression pattern and its possible role in TCDD resistance. (+info)