Radon and lung cancer: a cost-effectiveness analysis.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined the cost-effectiveness of general and targeted strategies for residential radon testing and mitigation in the United States. METHODS: A decision-tree model was used to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis of preventing radon-associated deaths from lung cancer. RESULTS: For a radon threshold of 4 pCi/L, the estimated costs to prevent 1 lung cancer death are about $3 million (154 lung cancer deaths prevented), or $480,000 per life-year saved, based on universal radon screening and mitigation, and about $2 million (104 lung cancer deaths prevented), or $330,000 per life-year saved, if testing and mitigation are confined to geographic areas at high risk for radon exposure. For mitigation undertaken after a single screening test and after a second confirmatory test, the estimated costs are about $920,000 and $520,000, respectively, to prevent a lung cancer death with universal screening and $130,000 and $80,000 per life-year for high risk screening. The numbers of preventable lung cancer deaths are 811 and 527 for universal and targeted approaches, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest possible alternatives to current recommendations. (+info)
Chemical wastes, children's health, and the Superfund Basic Research Program.
Three to 4 million children and adolescents in the United States live within 1 mile of a federally designated Superfund hazardous waste disposal site and are at risk of exposure to chemical toxicants released from these sites into air, groundwater, surface water, and surrounding communities. Because of their patterns of exposure and their biological vulnerability, children are uniquely susceptible to health injury resulting from exposures to chemical toxicants in the environment. The Superfund Basic Research Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and directed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is extremely well positioned to organize multidisciplinary research that will assess patterns of children's exposures to hazardous chemicals from hazardous waste disposal sites; quantify children's vulnerability to environmental toxicants; assess causal associations between environmental exposures and pediatric disease; and elucidate the mechanisms of environmental disease in children at the cellular and molecular level. (+info)
Pesticides and inner-city children: exposures, risks, and prevention.
Six million children live in poverty in America's inner cities. These children are at high risk of exposure to pesticides that are used extensively in urban schools, homes, and day-care centers for control of roaches, rats, and other vermin. The organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos and certain pyrethroids are the registered pesticides most heavily applied in cities. Illegal street pesticides are also in use, including tres pasitos (a carbamate), tiza china, and methyl parathion. In New York State in 1997, the heaviest use of pesticides in all counties statewide was in the urban boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Children are highly vulnerable to pesticides. Because of their play close to the ground, their hand-to-mouth behavior, and their unique dietary patterns, children absorb more pesticides from their environment than adults. The long persistence of semivolatile pesticides such as chlorpyrifos on rugs, furniture, stuffed toys, and other absorbent surfaces within closed apartments further enhances urban children's exposures. Compounding these risks of heavy exposures are children's decreased ability to detoxify and excrete pesticides and the rapid growth, development, and differentiation of their vital organ systems. These developmental immaturities create early windows of great vulnerability. Recent experimental data suggest, for example, that chlorpyrifos may be a developmental neurotoxicant and that exposure in utero may cause biochemical and functional aberrations in fetal neurons as well as deficits in the number of neurons. Certain pyrethroids exert hormonal activity that may alter early neurologic and reproductive development. Assays currently used for assessment of the toxicity of pesticides are insensitive and cannot accurately predict effects to children exposed in utero or in early postnatal life. Protection of American children, and particularly of inner-city children, against the developmental hazards of pesticides requires a comprehensive strategy that monitors patterns of pesticide use on a continuing basis, assesses children's actual exposures to pesticides, uses state-of-the-art developmental toxicity testing, and establishes societal targets for reduction of pesticide use. (+info)
Chloroform: An EPA test case.
In March 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposal to raise the drinking water maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for chloroform, a suspected human carcinogen, from zero to 300 parts per billion. The proposal marked a departure from the agency's traditional reliance on linear dose-response models in performing risk assessment, and reflected the new thinking contained in the 1996 draft update to the agency's cancer risk assessment guidelines. The updated guidelines emphasize mechanisms of action and descriptions of the conditions under which carcinogenic hazards are likely to be expressed. (+info)
Emergency planning and the acute toxic potency of inhaled ammonia.
Ammonia is present in agriculture and commerce in many if not most communities. This report evaluates the toxic potency of ammonia, based on three types of data: anecdotal data, in some cases predating World War 1, reconstructions of contemporary industrial accidents, and animal bioassays. Standards and guidelines for human exposure have been driven largely by the anecdotal data, suggesting that ammonia at 5,000-10,000 parts per million, volume/volume (ppm-v), might be lethal within 5-10 min. However, contemporary accident reconstructions suggest that ammonia lethality requires higher concentrations. For example, 33,737 ppm-v was a 5-min zero-mortality value in a major ammonia release in 1973 in South Africa. Comparisons of secondary reports of ammonia lethality with original sources revealed discrepancies in contemporary sources, apparently resulting from failure to examine old documents or accurately translate foreign documents. The present investigation revealed that contemporary accident reconstructions yield ammonia lethality levels comparable to those in dozens of reports of animal bioassays, after adjustment of concentrations to human equivalent concentrations via U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) procedures. Ammonia levels potentially causing irreversible injury or impairing the ability of exposed people to escape from further exposure or from coincident perils similarly have been biased downwardly in contemporary sources. The EPA has identified ammonia as one of 366 extremely hazardous substances subject to community right-to-know provisions of the Superfund Act and emergency planning provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act defines emergency planning zones (EPZs) around industrial facilities exceeding a threshold quantity of ammonia on-site. This study suggests that EPZ areas around ammonia facilities can be reduced, thereby also reducing emergency planning costs, which will vary roughly with the EPZ radius squared. (+info)
Proposal to boost children's health.
In a bid to provide better protection for children's health, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) introduced the Children's Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), on 24 May 1999. CEPA is an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and seeks to protect children from exposures to hazardous substances such as toxic air pollutants and pesticides sprayed in schools. The act would also provide parents with the information necessary to make decisions about how to protect their children against such health threats. (+info)
Audit-privilege laws: the right to know nothing?
In theory, environmental audit-privilege laws grant immunity to companies that uncover environmental problems during self-audits and that take steps to correct them so that information gleaned from such audits cannot be used against the company in a lawsuit. Supporters of audit-privilege laws believe these laws encourage more audits and more disclosures of regulatory violations because of the greatly reduced chances that audit findings will result in penalties. Opponents argue that in actuality, the level of audit activity in states that have audit-privilege or immunity laws is no different from that in the states without them and that companies in states with the laws are no more likely to disclose violations than companies in states without them. In addition, some citizens' groups, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, continue to criticize the worst of the audit-privilege laws as measures that protect potential polluters. (+info)
Closer to a compromise on the direction of environmental research.
The Committee for the National Institute for the Environment (CNIE) was created in 1990 "to improve the scientific basis for making decisions on environmental issues," possibly through the establishment of a separate institute devoted to the environmental sciences. But while the goals proposed for the National Institute for the Environment were universally applauded, Congress was averse to adding a new agency to the federal bureaucracy. Recently, a compromise plan has been proposed that could expand the science base without having to create a new agency. On 29 July 1999, the National Science Board approved an interim report recommending an expanded program of environmental research and research planning, education, and scientific assessment with a funding target of an additional $1 billion over five years. The report stresses the importance of environmental research in formulating environmental protection programs and contains 12 recommendations intended to enhance and complement existing research activities in environmental sciences and engineering. If the National Science Foundation implements the recommendations in the report and if Congress appropriates funds for that purpose, the need for additional funding for new science activities identified by the CNIE should be satisfied. (+info)