Environmental Contaminant Exposures and Preterm Birth: A Comprehensive Review
Preterm birth is a significant public health concern, as it is associated with high risk of infant mortality, various morbidities in both the neonatal period and later in life, and a significant societal economic burden. As many cases are of unknown etiology, identification of the contribution of environmental contaminant exposures is a priority in the study of preterm birth. This is a comprehensive review of all known studies published from 1992 through August 2012 linking maternal exposure to environmental chemicals during pregnancy with preterm birth. Using PubMed searches, studies were identified that examined associations between preterm birth and exposure to five categories of environmental toxicants, including persistent organic pollutants, drinking-water contaminants, atmospheric pollutants, metals and metalloids, and other environmental contaminants. Individual studies were summarized and specific suggestions were made for future work in regard to exposure and outcome assessment methods as well as study design, with the recommendation of focusing on potential mediating toxicological mechanisms. In conclusion, no consistent evidence was found for positive associations between individual chemical exposures and preterm birth. By identifying limitations and addressing the gaps that may have impeded the ability to identify true associations thus far, this review can guide future epidemiologic studies of environmental exposures and preterm birth.
Available from: Darryl B. Hood
- "For example, preterm birth and infant mortality are adverse health outcomes that have links to environmental exposures. As reported in Ferguson et al., 2013 , there are suggestive associations of environmental contamination/exposures that may impact preterm birth outcomes. The heightened concern from environmental contamination and its effect on the fetus is reasonable because of the potential for long-term exposure and the ability of certain contaminants to cross the placental barrier . "
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ABSTRACT: A public participatory geographical information systems (PPGIS) demographic, environmental, socioeconomic, health status portal was developed for the Stambaugh-Elwood (SE) community in Columbus, OH. We hypothesized that soil at SE residences would have metal concentrations above natural background levels. Three aims were developed that allowed testing of this hypothesis. Aim 1 focused on establishing partnerships between academia, state agencies and communities to assist in the development of a community voice. Aim 2 was to design and conduct soil sampling for residents of the SE community. Aim 3 was to utilize our interactive, customized portal as a risk communication tool by allowing residents to educate themselves as to the potential risks from industrial sources in close proximity to their community. Multiple comparisons of means were used to determine differences in soil element concentration by sampling location at p < 0.05. The results demonstrated that eight metals (As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Mo, Se, Tl, Zn) occurred at statistically-significantly greater levels than natural background levels, but most were below risk-based residential soil screening levels. Results were conveyed to residents via an educational, risk-communication informational card. This study demonstrates that community-led coalitions in collaboration with academic teams and state agencies can effectively address environmental concerns.
Available from: PubMed Central
- "Substances classified in category 2 include 5 mutagenic substances (M), 11 substances impairing fertility (RF), and 6 substances with developmental toxicity (RE). Lead and second-hand tobacco smoke only are classified in category 1 of substances causing developmental toxicity (RE), since evidence of an association between exposure to these agents and the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight is consistent [70-72]. The most common industrial uses of mutagenic and reprotoxic substances are related to the manufacture and/or use of adhesives, resins, additives, coatings, pigments, inks, polymers, papers, organic solvents, pesticides and woods and textiles. "
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Work-related health inequalities are determined to some extent by an unequal exposure to chemical and biological risk factors of disease. Although their potential economic burden in the European Union (EU-25) might be substantial, comprehensive reviews focusing on the distribution of these risks across occupational groups are limited. Thus, the main objective of this review is to provide a synopsis of the exposure to chemical and biological hazards across occupational groups. In addition, main industrial applications of hazardous substances are identified and some epidemiological evidence is discussed regarding societal costs and incidence rates of work-related diseases.
Available lists of carcinogens, sensitisers, mutagens, reprotoxic substances and biological hazards were consulted. For each work-related hazard the main industrial application was identified in order to assess which ISCO occupational groups may be associated with direct exposure. Where available, information on annual tonnage production, risk assessment of the substances and pathogens, and other relevant data were collected and reported.
Altogether 308 chemical and biological hazards were identified which may account to at least 693 direct exposures. These hazards concentrate on the following major occupational groups: technicians (ISCO 3), operators (ISCO 8), agricultural workers (ISCO 6) and workers in elementary occupations (ISCO 9). Common industrial applications associated with increased exposure rates relate among others to: (1) production or application of pigments, resins, cutting fluids, adhesives, pesticides and cleaning products, (2) production of rubber, plastics, textiles, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and (3) in agriculture, metallurgy and food processing industry, Societal costs of the unequal distribution of chemical and biological hazards across occupations depend on the corresponding work-related diseases and may range from 2900 EUR to 126000 EUR per case/year.
Risk of exposure to chemical and biological risks and work-related disease incidence are highly concentrated on four occupational groups. The unequal burden of exposure across occupations is an important contributing factor leading to health inequalities in society. The bulk of societal costs, however, are actually being borne by the workers themselves. There is an urgent need of taking into account the health impact of production processes and services on workers’ health.
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ABSTRACT: Biomarkers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were measured in both maternal and umbilical cord blood from 35 pregnant Hispanic women living in Brownsville, TX. Gas chromatography with an electron capture detector (GC/ECD) was used to analyze for 22 PCB analytes. Results indicated that both pregnant mothers and their fetuses were exposed to a variety of PCB at relatively low levels (≤0.2 ng/ml), and that concentrations in maternal and cord blood were similar. Concentrations of total PCB (sum or all PCB congeners) averaged more than 2.5 ng/ml, with highest values exceeding 3 ng/ml. Although health implications are uncertain, reports in the literature of PCB-related health effects raise concerns about possible future health consequences, especially obesity and diabetes, in this potentially vulnerable population.
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