Ecological Integrity of Streams Related to Human Cancer Mortality Rates

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.
EcoHealth (Impact Factor: 2.45). 04/2010; 7(1):91-104. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-010-0297-y
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Assessments of ecological integrity have become commonplace for biological conservation, but their role for public health analysis remains largely unexplored. We tested the prediction that the ecological integrity of streams would provide an indicator of human cancer mortality rates in West Virginia, USA. We characterized ecological integrity using an index of benthic macroinvertebrate community structure (West Virginia Stream Condition Index, SCI) and quantified human cancer mortality rates using county-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regression and spatial analyses revealed significant associations between ecological integrity and public health. SCI was negatively related to age-adjusted total cancer mortality per 100,000 people. Respiratory, digestive, urinary, and breast cancer rates increased with ecological disintegrity, but genital and oral cancer rates did not. Smoking, poverty, and urbanization were significantly related to total cancer mortality, but did not explain the observed relationships between ecological integrity and cancer. Coal mining was significantly associated with ecological disintegrity and higher cancer mortality. Spatial analyses also revealed cancer clusters that corresponded to areas of high coal mining intensity. Our results demonstrated significant relationships between ecological integrity and human cancer mortality in West Virginia, and suggested important effects of coal mining on ecological communities and public health. Assessments of ecological integrity therefore may contribute not only to monitoring goals for aquatic life, but also may provide valuable insights for human health and safety.

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Available from: Nathaniel (Than) P Hitt, Sep 29, 2015
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    • "This approach takes advantage of the complementary strengths of field surveys, analytical chemistry, and in-laboratory analysis of the toxicity of field-collected samples [4]. Field surveys of the environmental effects of MTR/VF on stream ecology and benthic invertebrate communities are emerging [5-7], and surface mining has also been linked to negative impacts on human health [8,9]. Analytical chemistry approaches have documented high levels of inorganic solutes in waters and sediments downstream from MTR/VF sites [3,5,10,11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mountaintop removal-valley fill coal mining has been associated with a variety of impacts on ecosystem and human health, in particular reductions in the biodiversity of receiving streams. However, effluents emerging from valley fills contain a complex mixture of chemicals including metals, metalloids, and salts, and it is not clear which of these are the most important drivers of toxicity. We found that streamwater and sediment samples collected from mine-impacted streams of the Upper Mud River in West Virginia inhibited the growth of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Next, we took advantage of genetic and transgenic tools available in this model organism to test the hypotheses that the toxicity could be attributed to metals, selenium, oxidative stress, or osmotic stress. Our results indicate that in general, the toxicity of streamwater to C. elegans was attributable to osmotic stress, while the toxicity of sediments resulted mostly from metals or metalloids.
    PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e75329. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0075329 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "In European countries, there were an estimated 0.91 million new cases of digestive system cancers (436,000 CRC and 149,000 GC) and 0.59 million deaths from these health care problems in 2008 [3]. In the majority of developing countries, the upward trends of mortality rates for digestive system cancers also have been observed [4], [5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in genes involved in the metabolism of folate and methyl groups have been implicated with risk of digestive system cancer. Methionine synthase (MTR) plays a central role in folate metabolism, thereby affecting DNA methylation. The association between A2756G polymorphism (rs1805087) in MTR and digestive system cancer susceptibility was inconsistent in previous studies. To investigate this inconsistency, we performed this meta-analysis. Databases including Pubmed, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) were searched to find relevant studies. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to assess the strength of association. Potential sources of heterogeneity were also assessed by subgroup analysis and meta-regression. A total of 29 articles with 15,368 patients and 23,959 controls were included. We found no association between MTR A2756G polymorphism and digestive system cancer in overall population (G allele: OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.98-1.09, P = 0.25; dominant model: OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.97-1.10, P = 0.33; recessive model: OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.89-1.17, P = 0.79). In the stratified analyses according to cancer type, sample size and genotyping method, no evidence of any gene-disease association was obtained in almost all genetic models. However, marginal significant associations were found for East Asians and hospital-based studies. This meta-analysis suggests that there is no significant association between the MTR A2756G polymorphism and digestive system cancer risk.
    PLoS ONE 04/2013; 8(4):e61511. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0061511 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Despite these prospects, the definition of ecological integrity, as adopted by Parks Canada and Ontario Parks, including what exactly constitutes " acceptable rates of change " and species " characteristic of a natural region " , should be modified to account for climate change impacts (Scott and Lemieux, 2005). On the social front, recent studies have demonstrated significant relationships between ecological integrity and human health (e.g., Hitt and Hendryx, 2010), and assessments of ecological integrity therefore may contribute not only to monitoring goals for terrestrial , marine, and freshwater ecosystems in protected areas, but also may provide valuable insights for human health and safety. While assessments of ecological integrity have become commonplace for biological conservation, their role in climate change and public health analysis in a protected areas context remains largely unexplored in Canada. "
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    ABSTRACT: Given the known and potential impacts of climate change on ecosystem composition, structure, and function, some recent studies question the efficacy and relevancy of current protected area policies and management objectives. For example, in a rapidly changing climate is it practical to continue to identify and protect ‘representative’ samples of the natural heritage estate? This paper examines a number of climate-related issues that now confront agencies and organizations responsible for the protection of natural heritage areas, including the roles of protected areas, representation targets, ecological integrity, protected area design, management techniques, research and monitoring needs, and agency capacity to respond. Potential avenues for adaptation are proposed in light of these issues. The development and implementation of a cross-jurisdictional landscape-scale strategic conservation framework focused on protecting, connecting, and restoring ecosystems will be fundamental to enhancing ecological resilience to climate change. We conclude that even though climate change presents unprecedented and significant challenges, the protected area contribution to ecosystem function and human health and well-being will remain an essential and worthwhile investment in the 21st century.Highlights► Climate change has significant implications for the efficacy of protected areas policies and management objectives. ► Protected areas management should focus on protecting, connecting, and restoring ecosystems. ► Contemporary planning and management initiatives provide a hedge against uncertainty. ► Protected areas should more effectively embed broader societal sustainability goals. ► Institutional and financial resources will be required to efficiently and effectively adapt to climate change impacts. ► Communicating climate change to the Canadian public remains a fundamental challenge to protected areas agencies.
    Land Use Policy 10/2011; 28(4):928-941. DOI:10.1016/j.landusepol.2011.03.008 · 3.13 Impact Factor
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