(1/991) Light on population health status.
A new approach to illustrating and analysing health status is presented which allows comparisons of various aspects of health in a population at different times and in different populations during given periods. Both quantitative and qualitative elements can be represented, the impact of interventions can be monitored, and the extent to which objectives are achieved can be assessed. The practical application of the approach is demonstrated with reference to the health profiles to Tunisia in 1966 and 1994. (+info)
(2/991) 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)
(3/991) Water pollution and human health in China.
China's extraordinary economic growth, industrialization, and urbanization, coupled with inadequate investment in basic water supply and treatment infrastructure, have resulted in widespread water pollution. In China today approximately 700 million people--over half the population--consume drinking water contaminated with levels of animal and human excreta that exceed maximum permissible levels by as much as 86% in rural areas and 28% in urban areas. By the year 2000, the volume of wastewater produced could double from 1990 levels to almost 78 billion tons. These are alarming trends with potentially serious consequences for human health. This paper reviews and analyzes recent Chinese reports on public health and water resources to shed light on what recent trends imply for China's environmental risk transition. This paper has two major conclusions. First, the critical deficits in basic water supply and sewage treatment infrastructure have increased the risk of exposure to infectious and parasitic disease and to a growing volume of industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and algal toxins. Second, the lack of coordination between environmental and public health objectives, a complex and fragmented system to manage water resources, and the general treatment of water as a common property resource mean that the water quality and quantity problems observed as well as the health threats identified are likely to become more acute. (+info)
(4/991) Impact of diet on lead in blood and urine in female adults and relevance to mobilization of lead from bone stores.
We measured high precision lead isotope ratios and lead concentrations in blood, urine, and environmental samples to assess the significance of diet as a contributing factor to blood and urine lead levels in a cohort of 23 migrant women and 5 Australian-born women. We evaluated possible correlations between levels of dietary lead intake and changes observed in blood and urine lead levels and isotopic composition during pregnancy and postpartum. Mean blood lead concentrations for both groups were approximately 3 microg/dl. The concentration of lead in the diet was 5.8 +/- 3 microg Pb/kg [geometric mean (GM) 5.2] and mean daily dietary intake was 8.5 microg/kg/day (GM 7.4), with a range of 2-39 microg/kg/day. Analysis of 6-day duplicate dietary samples for individual subjects commonly showed major spikes in lead concentration and isotopic composition that were not reflected by associated changes in either blood lead concentration or isotopic composition. Changes in blood lead levels and isotopic composition observed during and after pregnancy could not be solely explained by dietary lead. These data are consistent with earlier conclusions that, in cases where levels of environmental lead exposure and dietary lead intake are low, skeletal contribution is the dominant contributor to blood lead, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. (+info)
(5/991) High concentrations of heavy metals in neighborhoods near ore smelters in northern Mexico.
In developing countries, rapid industrialization without environmental controls has resulted in heavy metal contamination of communities. We hypothesized that residential neighborhoods located near ore industries in three northern Mexican cities would be heavily polluted with multiple contaminants (arsenic, cadmium, and lead) and that these sites would be point sources for the heavy metals. To evaluate these hypotheses, we obtained samples of roadside surface dust from residential neighborhoods within 2 m of metal smelters [Torreon (n = 19)] and Chihuahua (n = 19)] and a metal refinery [Monterrey (n = 23)]. Heavy metal concentrations in dust were mapped with respect to distance from the industrial sites. Correlation between dust metal concentration and distance was estimated with least-squares regression using log-transformed data. Median dust arsenic, cadmium, and lead concentrations were 32, 10, and 277 microg/g, respectively, in Chihuahua; 42, 2, and 467 microg/g, respectively, in Monterrey, and 113, 112, and 2,448 microg/g, respectively, in Torreon. Dust concentrations of all heavy metals were significantly higher around the active smelter in Torreon, where more than 90% of samples exceeded Superfund cleanup goals. At all sites, dust concentrations were inversely related to distance from the industrial source, implicating these industries as the likely source of the contamination. We concluded that residential neighborhoods around metal smelting and refining sites in these three cities are contaminated by heavy metals at concentrations likely to pose a health threat to people living nearby. Evaluations of human exposure near these sites should be conducted. Because multiple heavy metal pollutants may exist near smelter sites, researchers should avoid attributing toxicity to one heavy metal unless others have been measured and shown not to coexist. (+info)
(6/991) Animals as sentinels of human health hazards of environmental chemicals.
A workshop titled "Using Sentinel Species Data to Address the Potential Human Health Effects of Chemicals in the Environment," sponsored by the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, the National Center for Environmental Assessment of the EPA, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, was held to consider the use of sentinel and surrogate animal species data for evaluating the potential human health effects of chemicals in the environment. The workshop took a broad view of the sentinel species concept, and included mammalian and nonmammalian species, companion animals, food animals, fish, amphibians, and other wildlife. Sentinel species data included observations of wild animals in field situations as well as experimental animal data. Workshop participants identified potential applications for sentinel species data derived from monitoring programs or serendipitous observations and explored the potential use of such information in human health hazard and risk assessments and for evaluating causes or mechanisms of effect. Although it is unlikely that sentinel species data will be used as the sole determinative factor in evaluating human health concerns, such data can be useful as for additional weight of evidence in a risk assessment, for providing early warning of situations requiring further study, or for monitoring the course of remedial activities. Attention was given to the factors impeding the application of sentinel species approaches and their acceptance in the scientific and regulatory communities. Workshop participants identified a number of critical research needs and opportunities for interagency collaboration that could help advance the use of sentinel species approaches. (+info)
(7/991) Double exposure. Environmental tobacco smoke.
One study after another is finding strong associations between a variety of human illness and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). A 1986 report by the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that ETS is a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers. Other reports have documented causal associations between ETS and lower respiratory tract infections, middle ear disease and exacerbation of asthma in children, heart disease, retardation of fetal growth, sudden infant death syndrome, and nasal sinus cancer. However, the findings from many of these studies remain controversial. A number of scientists remain skeptical about the association between ETS and serious illness in nonsmokers, charging that scientific journals either fail to publish pro-tobacco findings and meta-analyses or disregard those that are published. They also claim that many epidemiological studies declare causal associations based on marginal odds ratios. (+info)
(8/991) Potential effects of gas hydrate on human welfare.
For almost 30 years. serious interest has been directed toward natural gas hydrate, a crystalline solid composed of water and methane, as a potential (i) energy resource, (ii) factor in global climate change, and (iii) submarine geohazard. Although each of these issues can affect human welfare, only (iii) is considered to be of immediate importance. Assessments of gas hydrate as an energy resource have often been overly optimistic, based in part on its very high methane content and on its worldwide occurrence in continental margins. Although these attributes are attractive, geologic settings, reservoir properties, and phase-equilibria considerations diminish the energy resource potential of natural gas hydrate. The possible role of gas hydrate in global climate change has been often overstated. Although methane is a "greenhouse" gas in the atmosphere, much methane from dissociated gas hydrate may never reach the atmosphere, but rather may be converted to carbon dioxide and sequestered by the hydrosphere/biosphere before reaching the atmosphere. Thus, methane from gas hydrate may have little opportunity to affect global climate change. However, submarine geohazards (such as sediment instabilities and slope failures on local and regional scales, leading to debris flows, slumps, slides, and possible tsunamis) caused by gas-hydrate dissociation are of immediate and increasing importance as humankind moves to exploit seabed resources in ever-deepening waters of coastal oceans. The vulnerability of gas hydrate to temperature and sea level changes enhances the instability of deep-water oceanic sediments, and thus human activities and installations in this setting can be affected. (+info)