Archive | Carcinogens

Hexavalent Chromium Carcinogen Found in Tap Water of Most Cities

Hexavalent chromium, the cancer-causing chemical at the center of the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich,” was found present in the tap water of 31 of 35 cities tested in a recent survey.

The findings, released Monday by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, are the first study of hexavalent chromium to be made public.

Researchers with the advocacy group have released the study at a time when the Environmental Protection Agency is debating whether to set a cap on the “probable carcinogen”‘s levels in tap water, the Washington Post reports.

Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president of research, says the toxin has been linked to stomach cancer and leukemia along with other health problems, CBS News reported Monday.

Hexavelent chromium, also known as chromium-6, originates as refuse from steel and pulp mills as well as metal-plating and leather-tanning facilities, EWG said in a statement. It can also contaminate tap water through erosion of natural deposits.

The carcinogen first came into the public eye in 1993, when Erin Brockovich famously sued Pacific Gas & Electric for polluting the drinking water of Hinkley, Calif. The lawsuit eventually yielded $333 million in damages.

Today, the highest levels of chromium-6 can be found in Norman, Okla.; Honolulu; and Riverside, Calif., EWG claimed.

“Every single day, pregnant mothers in Norman, Oklahoma, school children in Madison, Wisconsin, and many other Americans are drinking water laced with this cancer-causing chemical,” EWG senior scientist Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D said in the statement. “If the EPA required local water utilities to test for hexavalent chromium, the public would at least know if it was present in their local water. Without mandatory tests and a safe legal limit that all utilities must meet, many of us will continue to swallow some quantity of this carcinogen every day.”

With regulations on the water supply possibly in the works, what can consumers do to reduce their intake of the toxin?

“With levels this high, it’s critically important that people begin to think about filtering their water,” Houlihan told CBS News. Unfortunately, inexpensive carbon filters commonly found in filtration pitchers and faucet attachments don’t do much to remove chromium-6. Reverse osmosis filtration systems should do the trick, but they can cause hundreds of dollars.

There are no legal restrictions for hexavalent chromium in bottled water, so plastic water bottles may not be a safe option either.

“It is sometimes difficult to understand why I still have to warn the public about the presence of hexavalent chromium in drinking water 23 years after my colleagues and I first sounded the alarm,” Brockovich said in EWG’s statement. “This report underscores, in fairly stark terms, the health risks that millions of Americans still face because of water contamination.”

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Drinking Water, Groundwater, Springs & Aquifers, Policies, Water, Oceans, & Ice0 Comments

China 'e-waste' Recycling Said Hazardous

CORVALLIS, Ore., Aug. 26 (UPI) — Much of the world’s electronic waste ends up in China for recycling, an activity creating significant health and environmental hazards, researchers say.

Scientists from China and Oregon State University have identified toxic elements in the emissions from cottage-industry recycling workshops in southern China that use low-tech methods to separate reusable electronic components from circuit boards, a university release said Thursday.

Their study was conducted in Shantou City, population 150,000, in southern China’s Guangdong province.

They collected samples as workers were removing the electronic components by heating the circuit boards over grills on stoves burning coal briquettes.

In this “roasting process,” researchers found numerous organic chemicals, heavy metals, flame retardants and persistent organic pollutants being emitted into the air via the smoke.

“The most immediate problem is the health of the workers and the people who live in the city,” Bernd R.T. Simoneit, OSU professor and one of the authors of the study, said. “But this may also be contributing to global contamination. For example, previous studies have found carcinogens in wind-carried dust from Asia.

“The next step is to see to what extent this is harming the environment and creating a health hazard for both the workers, and people living in the path of the emissions,” Simoneit said. “Some of these chemical compounds may be carcinogens; others may be just as harmful because they can act as ‘environmental disruptors’ and may affect body processes from reproduction to endocrine function.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Coal, Electronic Waste, Other, Recycling0 Comments

Gulf Tar Balls, Dispersants a Worry

KINGSTON, R.I., June 26 (UPI) — A Rhode Island biomedical scientist said he is worried about the health effects of the Gulf of Mexico tar balls and oil dispersants.

Bongsup Cho, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, said the saturated hydrocarbons found in crude oil — methane, hexane and octane — evaporate quickly once in the ocean when exposed to sunlight and heat because of their low boiling points.

“These are the chemicals that can cause the respiratory problems in people involved in cleanup operations, but they are not the ones necessarily known as carcinogens,” Cho said in a statement.

However, the tar balls and thick ooze washing up on beaches and into marshes cause more worry, Cho said.

“The tar balls contain the non-volatile, benzene-like, heavily unsaturated hydrocarbons with high boiling points,” Cho said. “That’s where there are a lot of toxins, such as benzoapyrene. This is a known human carcinogen, and it is used as a biomarker to detect human exposure to toxins.”

Cho said another worry is the orange sheen seen on the surface of the gulf water — the result of a chemical reaction involving the sun, crude oil and oil dispersants.

“Nobody knows what’s in that color and how toxic the chemicals are,” Cho said. “Companies keep the chemical makeup of the dispersants secret.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other0 Comments

U.S. Cigarettes Highest in Carcinogens

ATLANTA, June 1 (UPI) — Some U.S. cigarette brands expose people to higher amounts of cancer-causing tobacco-specific nitrosamines than some foreign cigarettes, officials said.

The study involved 126 people from Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States who smoked cigarette brands popular in each country.

The chemicals from the cigarette butts collected from each smoker over a 24-hour period were analyzed. In addition, urine samples were taken from the study participants.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, found a correlation between the amount of one tobacco-specific nitrosamines — a carcinogen — that enters the mouth and the amount of its breakdown product that appears in the urine.

“We know that cigarettes from around the world vary in their ingredients and the way they are produced,” Dr. Jim Pirkle, deputy director for science at CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, division of laboratory sciences, said in a statement.

“All of these cigarettes contain harmful levels of carcinogens, but these findings show that amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines differ from country to country and U.S. brands are the highest in the study.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other0 Comments

New Model for Oral Cancer/tobacco Research

NEW YORK, May 14 (UPI) — A carcinogen in tobacco smoke is being used in oral cancer research to provide a more relevant model to understand the disease, U.S. researchers say.

Joseph Guttenplan of the the New York City College of Dentistry and Dr. Karam El-Bayoumy of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine say smoking is understood to be one of the leading causes of oral cancer, but research on oral cancer in has been limited to using synthetic carcinogens manufactured especially for cancer research, instead of examining the carcinogens that occur in tobacco smoke.

The researchers injected low, medium and high doses of dibenzo(a,l)pyrene, a carcinogen in tobacco, into the mouths of 104 mice. After 38 weeks, one group of the mice developed excessive numbers of mutations in their oral tissue and within one year, 31 percent of a second group of mice displayed large tumors in their mouths.

“As a result of this study, we now have a model that is significantly better than past models which relied on synthetic carcinogens,” Guttenplan says in a statement. “We plan to use this new model in future studies to examine potential agents for cancer prevention.”

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Other, Smoking0 Comments

UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Doctor: Panel overstated cancer risks

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — A new government report on chemicals in the environment may divert attention from larger cancer causes such as smoking, The American Cancer Society said.

The report published Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel is “unbalanced” in its implication that pollution is a major cause of cancer, said Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist with the ACS.

“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Thun told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

The government’s 240-page report said the proportion of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure has been “grossly underestimated.”

While the panel said it cannot quantify the cancer risk from chemicals because most of the 80,000 chemicals in use have not been tested for safety. But the ACS says only about 6 percent of cancers comes from chemical exposure.

The panel urged President Obama to strengthen research and regulation and warned consumers to limit exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers and excessive sun. Children are at the greatest risk, it said.

Carcinogens and other toxins in food, water and air “needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives,” the panel said.

Computer pioneer Max Palevsky dead at 85

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., May 7 (UPI) — Computer pioneer Max Palevsky, a founder of Intel, died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the age of 85, his assistant said.

Palevsky died Wednesday of heart failure at home, Angela Kaye said.

Palevsky used his fortune from computers to support Democratic presidential candidates and to amass an important collection of American Arts and Crafts furniture, which he donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In 1961, Palevsky left Packard Bell to form Scientific Data Systems, a builder of small and medium-size business computers purchased in 1969 by Xerox for $1 billion. Palevsky used some of his 10 percent share of the $1 billion to start Intel, which became the world’s largest producer of computer chips.

Palevsky used his money to back Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern for president and in 1970 rescued a foundering Rolling Stone magazine by buying a significant block of its stock, The New York Times reported Friday.

Despite his interest in computers, Palevsky did not own a computer or even a cellphone, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008.

Palevsky said he was skeptical of “the hypnotic quality of computer games, the substitution of a Google search for genuine inquiry, (and) the instant messaging that has replaced social discourse.”

Palevsky, who was born in Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in math and philosophy from the University of Chicago and did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA.

He is survived by a sister, Helen Futterman of Los Angeles; a daughter, Madeleine Moskowitz of Los Angeles; four sons: Nicholas of Bangkok, Alexander and Jonathan, both of Los Angeles, and Matthew of Brooklyn; and four grandchildren.

Freshway lettuce recalled in 23 states

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — Freshway Foods is recalling products with romaine lettuce linked to an outbreak of 19 cases of E. coli in Michigan, Ohio and New York, authorities said.

Twelve people have been hospitalized, including three with life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a release Thursday.

The recall affects Freshway shredded romaine lettuce with a use-by date of May 12 or earlier sold under the Freshway or Imperial Sysco brands for use at supermarket salad bars and delis. Bulk, prepackaged romaine or bagged salad mixes containing romaine purchased in supermarkets were not included in the recall.

Ohio-based Freshway agreed to voluntarily recall the lettuce from 23 states after the New York Public Health Laboratory reported finding E. coli in an unopened bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce, the FDA said.

Freshway, in a release Thursday, advised consumers not to eat “grab and go” salads sold at in-store salad bars and delis at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh stores. Romaine purchased from those bars and delis should be thrown away, the FDA said.

The recalled products were sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Consumers with questions were urged to call Freshway Foods at 1-888-361-7106 or go to the Freshway Web site at www.freshwayfoods.com1.

Extra coating aids bacterial spores

NEW YORK, May 7 (UPI) — Bacterial spores that cause botulism, tetanus and anthrax may have an extra coating of protection that help them survive, scientists in New York said.

The new findings offer insight into why bacterial spores are the most resistant organisms, researchers at New York University said in a release Thursday.

Microbiologists studied the spores of Bacillus subtilis, a non-pathogenic bacterium that shares many of the same structural features of spore-forming pathogens, such as botulism, tetanus and anthrax.

An electron microscope confirmed B. subtilis carried an outermost layer, which the researchers named the “spore crust.”

While it has yet to be confirmed, it’s possible the spore crust is a common feature of all spore-forming bacteria, including the harmful pathogens, the microbiologists wrote in a recent issue of the journal Current Biology.

The study was conducted by researchers at New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, Loyola University’s Medical Center, and Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Art, Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other, Philosophy, Smoking0 Comments

Doctor: Panel Overstated Cancer Risks

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — A government report on chemicals in the environment may divert attention from larger cancer causes such as smoking, The American Cancer Society said.

The report published Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel is “unbalanced” in its implication that pollution is a major cause of cancer, said Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist with the cancer society.

“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Thun told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

The government’s 240-page report said the proportion of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure has been “grossly underestimated.”

The panel said it cannot quantify the cancer risk from chemicals because most of the 80,000 chemicals in use have not been tested for safety. But the society says only about 6 percent of cancers comes from chemical exposure.

The panel urged President Barack Obama to strengthen research and regulation and warned consumers to limit exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers and excessive sun. Children are at the greatest risk, it said.

Carcinogens and other toxins in food, water and air “needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation’s productivity and devastate American lives,” the panel said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other, Smoking0 Comments

Doctor: Panel Overstated Cancer Risks

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — A new government report on chemicals in the environment may divert attention from larger cancer causes such as smoking, The American Cancer Society said.

The report published Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel is “unbalanced” in its implication that pollution is a major cause of cancer, said Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist with the ACS.

“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Thun told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

The government’s 240-page report said the proportion of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure has been “grossly underestimated.”

While the panel said it cannot quantify the cancer risk from chemicals because most of the 80,000 chemicals in use have not been tested for safety. But the ACS says only about 6 percent of cancers comes from chemical exposure.

The panel urged President Obama to strengthen research and regulation and warned consumers to limit exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers and excessive sun. Children are at the greatest risk, it said.

Carcinogens and other toxins in food, water and air “needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives,” the panel said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other, Smoking0 Comments

41 Percent of Americans Will Get Cancer

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) — While all Americans carry many foreign chemicals in their bodies, women often have higher levels of many toxins than men, U.S. researchers said.

A report for the President’s Cancer Panel, a three-person panel that reports to the U.S. president on the National Cancer Program, said approximately 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and about 21 percent will die from cancer, yet research on environmental causes of cancer has been limited by low priority and inadequate funding.

Since 2008, the panel received testimony from 45 invited experts and the findings are summarized in the report.

The report said all Americans carry many foreign chemicals in their bodies, but women often have higher levels of many toxics and hormone-disrupting substances than men.

Some of these chemicals are found in maternal blood, placental tissue and breast milk so chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation — prenatally and during breastfeeding, the report said.

“Some chemicals indirectly increase cancer risk by contributing to immune and endocrine dysfunction that can influence the effect of carcinogens,” the report said.

“Children of all ages are considerably more vulnerable than adults to increased cancer risk and other adverse effects from virtually all harmful environmental exposures.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Other0 Comments

Do BBQs Cause Cancer?

In the U.S., Memorial day is BBQ day, especially this year when gasoline prices make lots of folks prefer to stay home and have a cookout with friends instead of travelling somewhere. Get out that lighter fluid, squirt in on your mesquite charcoal briquettes, and fire up. Then grill those hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, or whatever and enjoy. BUT WAIT! Grilling or frying any meats creates chemicals that when ingested in really, really high doses causes cancer in laboratory rats. What to do? I lived in Texas for a few years, a state in which proper BBQ (which includes slow smoking of meats in addition to grilling (both producing carcinogens) is a religion. Now I live in California, where many people actually worry about carcinogens in grilled meats.

This post was inspired by an article in my local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, called “cue tips” http://www.sacbee.com/165/story/960506.html. The article gives advice about how to minimize exposure to these putative nasty chemicals when you grill. Unfortunately, if you follow their advice, the meat you cook will taste like cardboard! First they would have you use lean meats, trim off all fat, and flip the meat often. They would even have you microwave your steaks awhile before grilling. This is all supposed to reduce the amount of carcinogens formed. A dead Texan would be turning over in his grave reading the Bee article! You might as well cook the steak or burger in boiling water. They would even have you clean your grill with dish detergent!!!

The reason I must post this BBQ blasphemy is because these cautions are just another example of our national obsessive fear-mongering about anything that might be enjoyable. For more information, readers should read my essay from a few years back on Ecoworld entitled “Chemophobia” http://ecoworld.com/home/articles2.cfm?tid=366. Toward the end of the article I describe research I did on benzo-a-pyrene, a rat carcinogen formed during the frying of meats. Although the fear mongers will say otherwise, NOBODY will EVER get cancer simply from eating fried or grilled meats. I know of no epidemiology study that has compared cancer rates in people who eat lots of BBQ meats vs. those who perhaps eat their meat prepared otherwise (perhaps raw?). If anyone can show me one that purports to show that BBQers have an increased risk of some cancer, please send it to me for critique. For more about how “scientific” studies are abused, read “Studies Show” http://ecoworld.com/home/articles2.cfm?tid=458.

Posted in Carcinogens, Causes, Chemicals, Policy, Law, & Government, Smoking0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement