Recent Articles

People exposed to weedkiller chemical have cancer biomarkers in urine – study

New research by top US government scientists has found that people exposed to the widely used weedkilling chemical glyphosate have biomarkers in their urine linked to the development of cancer and other diseases.

The study, published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, measured glyphosate levels in the urine of farmers and other study participants and determined that high levels of the pesticide were associated with signs of a reaction in the body called oxidative stress, a condition that causes damage to DNA.

Oxidative stress is considered by health experts as a key characteristic of carcinogens.

The authors of the paper – 10 scientists with the National Institutes of Health and two from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – concluded that their study “contributes to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans”.

They also noted that “accumulating evidence supports the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of hematologic cancers”, such as lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia.

“Oxidative stress is not something you want to have,” said Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. “This study increases our understanding that glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer.”

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EPA unveils new proposed air pollution standard; some say it falls short

US officials said Friday that they are moving to strengthen a key air quality standard, acknowledging a wealth of scientific evidence that demonstrates the dire health dangers posed by air pollution – and the lack of adequate protection provided by current US standards.

Promising “transformative” change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan announced an agency proposal that would tighten the current air quality standard for what is commonly referred to as PM2.5, defined as fine particulate matter that is less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers (mm) in diameter.

The agency proposal falls woefully short of recommendations by the World Health Organization, and some critics expressed disappointment in the effort. But other observers applauded the move. 

“All decreases are good and will have health benefits,” said Scott Weichenthal, a researcher at McGill University in Canada who specializes in evaluating environmental risk factors for chronic diseases. “Larger decreases are better but there are practical realities that the EPA has to consider, and this is a move in the right direction.” 

People are exposed to these harmful fine particles, known simply as soot, through a variety of common sources, including industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust and wildfire smoke. Soot exposure is known to contribute to a range of health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The fine particulate matter can penetrate a person’s lungs and move into the blood stream, impacting other organs. Lower-income communities and people of color are seen at particular risk.

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