Toxic Exposures Due to Chemical Pollution have Severe Long Term Effect

Toxic Exposures Due to Chemical Pollution have Severe Long Term Effect

Chemicals — both natural and man-made — are everywhere in our environment. People are exposed to so many chemicals and combinations of chemicals that it's nearly impossible to pinpoint one chemical that could have caused an individual's cancer. It's even more daunting when you factor in the nonchemical causes of cancer, such as family history and lifestyle choices.

A number of concerns have come to light about environmental health and hazardous waste pollution in the Border States. In particular,hazardous pollutants from 3,000 border industries (maquiladoras), intensified pesticide usage, as well as wastes from mines and metal processing have had demonstrable health impacts. A lack of trained human capital to plan, implement, and maintain environmental infrastructure has been identified as a major obstacle for Mexico in its effort to face the growing environmental and public health challenges.

Air pollution is a serious public health threat and contributes to the development of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, and other serious illnesses.Fortunately, exposure to this pollutant can be easily prevented, by adopting comprehensive clean indoor air policies – policies that guarantee workers, diners, bar patrons, and all members of a community or state protection of the air they breathe.The link between secondhand smoke and disease is well known, and the connection to cardiovascular-related disability and death is also clear.

If the air you breathe at work contains an excessive amount of dust, fumes, smoke, gases, vapors or mists, you may be at risk for a lung disease. Workers who smoke are at a much greater risk of lung disease if they are exposed to substances in the workplace that can cause lung disease. Poor ventilation, closed-in working areas and heat increase the risk of disease.A person with heart disease already has narrow, partially blocked vessels. Breathing air pollution and then experiencing an additional narrowing could be too much for the body to handle.

The importance of the rising incidence or "epidemic" of breast cancer in the 1980s and 1990s is a good example. Was it due to an environmental cause (e.g., pollution or pesticides), or as seems increasingly likely, was it due to a combination of an aging population, earlier detection by mammography, and lifestyle-related choices (having fewer children later in life, for instance, or breast-feeding for briefer periods or not at all)? Rachel Carson, the mother of the environmental movement, who won many battles in her campaign against environmental pollution, lost her battle with breast cancer. But was she more susceptible because of pollution by chemical companies or because of her own choice to remain childless?

In a study of cancer myths, 40 percent of people agreed that city air pollution was a bigger risk for lung cancer than was smoking. Pollution certainly may contribute to some cases of lung cancer, but not anywhere near the number caused by smoking. Yet the idea that chemicals in the environment are a major cause of cancer persists.

Contamination of human milk is widespread and is the consequence of decades of inadequately controlled pollution of the environment by toxic chemicals. The finding of toxic chemicals in breast milk raises important issues for pediatric practice, for the practice of public health, and for the environmental health research community. This is the case for children living in contaminated areas, for example we have found higher levels of dioxin in milk samples of women exposed to biomass combustion or in women living in chemical areas; furthermore, we found high levels of DDT and its metabolites in samples of women living in malarious areas where this insecticide was used. In malarious areas, children have higher levels of DDT in blood than adults.

A study indicate that current levels of air pollution have chronic, adverse effects on lung development in children from the age of 10 to 18 years, leading to clinically significant deficits as children reach adulthood.It is known that chemicals cause many human diseases. Some of the chemicals that have been documented to be dangerous to human exposure include:

tobacco smoke - the major cause of lung cancer
asbestos - causes mesothelioma, an unusual tumor of the linings of the chest and abdominal cavity, lung cancer, asbestosis, and an increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer
kepone - causes sterility in men and neurological disorders
dibromochloropropane - causes sterility in men

Fetuses and babies are more vulnerable than previously thought to chemical pollutants that can cause disease or disability, even in tiny doses that do not harm adults, about 200 scientists said .

The researchers urged tighter controls on toxic chemicals, some of them used in making plastics or pesticides, saying that there was a risk of disruptions at key stages of growth that could lead to brain damage, malformation or cancers.

"Fetal life and early infancy are periods of remarkable susceptibility to environmental hazards," toxicologists, biologists, pediatricians and other experts from around the world said after talks in the North Atlantic Faroe Islands.

"Toxic exposures to chemical pollutants during these windows of increased susceptibility can cause disease and disability in infants, children, and across the entire span of adult life," they said in a final statement .

In some cases, damage to genes "may also be passed on to subsequent generations," the scientists said at the talks, partly sponsored by the U.N.'s World Health Organization.

"We are beginning to understand that there are some very sensitive processes that have to happen at a particular time and in a particular sequence," said Philippe Grandjean, scientific chair of the meeting who works at the University of Southern Denmark and the Harvard School of Public Health.


"If they don't, you don't get a second chance," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "The child will be stuck with a brain, lungs or an immune system that are not optimal."

He said that scientists have long known that smoking while pregnant or exposure to lead, for instance, can damage a fetus and that recent research is broadening the list of hazards.

"Some of these effects may appear subtle -- a few IQ point losses. But if you add several exposures and several such effects then it can be very serious for the individual and so for society," he said.

The statement said, for instance, that "low-level developmental exposure to a plastics ingredient, Bisphenol A, can result in increased susceptibility to breast cancer or prostate cancer."

"Prenatal exposure to vinclozoline, a common fungicide, also promotes later development of cancer," it said. Among other hazards, it listed the banned pesticide DDT which is still in use in some African nations to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Governments in rich nations, including the United States and the European Union, say Bisphenol A is safe in low levels used in plastics. And EU farm ministers last year, for instance, approved use of vinclozoline under tight conditions.

The scientists noted that 16th century Swiss medical expert Paracelsus said that any substance -- ranging from water to fruit -- can be toxic in large doses and came up with the medical saying that "the dose makes the poison".

"For exposures sustained during early development, the most important issue is that 'the timing makes the poison'," the scientists said.

They urged tighter restrictions to protect the very young, even when the evidence was not conclusive.

"Prevention should not await detailed evidence on individual hazards to be produced, because the delays in decision-making would then lead to propagation of toxic exposures and their long-term consequences," it said.

The pollutants which make the air dirty can easily damage fragile lung tissues. Now, recent scientific studies indicate people who are at risk for heart attacks should also be concerned.Studies over the last 20 years have shown a consistant relationship between the amount of air pollution and the number of heart attacks occurring at any given time. Researchers studying what happens to the human body after breathing high levels of small particle air pollution.

Researchers estimate that cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) in the environment cause fewer than 5 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.Most cancers take years to develop, making it difficult to determine if a chemical exposure today will cause cancer in the future. Tumors usually develop for 15 to 20 years before they become evident. Blood and lymph cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, usually take five to 10 years to develop.

Prolonged exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution is a factor in reducing overall life expectancy by a few years.
Short-term exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution is associated with the increased risk of death due to a cardiovascular event.Hospital admissions for several cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are increased in response to higher concentrations of particle pollution.

Some substances can cause you to have upper respiratory irritation or irritation of your nose and/or throat and cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and scratchy throat.Breathing in substances at work can also cause you to have bronchitis, flu-like symptoms, asthma or emphysema.Over 90% of skin cancers occur on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation. This is considered the primary cause of all skin cancers.

You may have occupational asthma, a lung condition caused by inhaling workplace fumes, gases or dust. In developed countries, it's the most common work-related lung disease. Occupational asthma can develop if you never had asthma before or had childhood asthma that later cleared. It can also worsen any pre-existing asthma.

Other risks include older age, genetic predisposition (skin cancers are more common in those who have light-colored skin, blue or green eyes, and blond or red hair), chemical pollution, and overexposure to x-rays or other forms of radiation. Exposure to arsenic, which may be present in some herbicides, is another risk for development of skin cancers.

The molecular epidemiologic studies suggest biologic mechanism for the effect of air pollution on birth outcomes.Air pollution by exposure to carcinogenic PAHs (c-PAHs) also increased the frequency of micronuclei in the children peripheral
lymphocytes. Polymorphisms of metabolic genotypes (GSTM1, GSTP1, GSTT1, EPHX3, EPHX4, CYP1A1 Ile/Val and CYP1A1-MspI) affected birth weight as well as the category low birth weight (<2500 g) + prematurity (< 37 weeks).

A gene mutation for a molecule that helps the body ward off free radicals almost doubles the risk of developing atherosclerotic heart or brain vessel disease, according to a study.Free radicals are made in the body, but they can also come from cigarette smoke, alcohol intake, particulate air pollution, UV-rays from sunlight and some medicines.


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