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Scented Products Emit a Bouquet of VOCs

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If I had asked people what they wanted,
they would have said faster horses.
Henry Ford (1863–1947)
A 16
v o l u m e 119
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January 2011
Environmental Health Perspectives
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Scented Products
Emit a Bouquet
of VOCs
A survey of selected scented consumer goods
showed the products emitted more than
100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs),
including some that are classified as toxic
or hazardous by federal laws.
1
Even prod-
ucts advertised as “green,” “natural,” or
“organic” emitted as many hazardous chem-
icals as standard ones.
Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil
and environmental engineering and public
affairs at the University
of Washington, Seattle,
and colleagues used gas
chromatography–mass
spectrometry to analyze
VOCs given off by the
products. They tested
25 air fresheners, laun-
dry detergents, fabric
softeners, dryer sheets,
dis infectants, dish deter-
gents, all-purpose clean-
ers, soaps, hand sanitizers,
lotions, deodorants, and
shampoos. Many of the
products tested are top
sellers in their category.
A single fragrance in
a product can contain a
mixture of hundreds of
chemicals, some of which
(e.g., limonene, a citrus
scent) react with ozone
in ambient air to form
dangerous secondary pol-
lutants, including formal-
dehyde.
2
The researchers
detected 133 different
VOCs. Most commonly
detected were limonene,
α- and β-pinene (pine
scents), and ethanol and
acetone (often used as
carriers for fragrance
chemicals).
1
Steinemann and colleagues found the
average number of VOCs emitted was 17.
1
Each product emitted 18 toxic or hazard-
ous chemicals, and close to half (44%)
generated at least 1 of 24 carcinogenic haz-
ardous air pollutants, such as acetaldehyde,
1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, or methylene
chloride.
1
These hazardous air pollutants
have no safe exposure level, according to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
3
Of the 133 VOCs detected, only ethanol
was listed on any label (for 2 products),
and only ethanol and 2-butoxyethanol were
listed on any Material Safety Data Sheet (for
5 products and 1 product, respectively).
1
The Consumer Product Safet y Commis-
sion, which regulates cleaning supplies, air
fresheners, and laundry products, currently
does not require manufacturers to disclose
any ingredients on the label, including
fragrances in these products.
4
The same is
true for fragrances in personal care items,
which are overseen by
the Food and Drug
Administration.
5
The
Household Product
Labeling Act, cur-
rently under review in
the U.S. Senate, would
require manufactur-
ers to label consumer
products with all
ingredients, including
fragrance mixtures.
6
“Disclosing all ingre-
dients could be a first
step to understanding
potential toxicity and
health effects,” says
Steinemann.
Although the
authors did not seek
to assess whether use
of any of the products
studied would be asso-
ciated with any risk,
1
Steinemann says she
receives hundreds of
letters, phone calls,
and e-mails from
people who report a
variety of respiratory,
dermatological, and
neurological prob-
lems they attribute
to scented products:
“Children have seizures after exposure to
dryer sheets, and adults pass out around
air fresheners, she says.
7
Steinemann and
colleague Stanley M. Caress have written
elsewhere that 19% of respondents across
two U.S. telephone surveys reported health
problems they attributed to air fresheners,
and nearly 11% reported irritation they
attributed to scented laundry products
vented outdoors.
8
“It’s important to take people’s com-
plaints seriously,says Steinemann, because
“these human experiences are helping to
inform science. One of her next projects
will focus on biomarkers of exposure and
effect to better understand how fragranced
products may cause a range of adverse health
effects. “The ultimate goal is to improve
public health, Steinemann says. For now,
she recommends cleaning with basic sup-
plies like vinegar and baking soda.
Steinemanns study “strongly suggests
that we need to find unscented alternatives
for cleaning our homes, laundry, and our-
selves,” says Claudia Miller, an allergist and
immunologist at the University of Texas
Health Science Center at San Antonio. An
expert in chemical sensitivity, or toxicant-
induced loss of tolerance, Miller created
the Quick Environmental Exposure and
Sensitivity Inventory,
9
a screening tool for
chemical intolerance. According to Miller,
products intended to keep homes smelling
fresh can set people up for a lifetime of
chemically induced illness, and repeated
exposure to small amounts of household
chemicals can trigger symptoms to previ-
ously tolerated chemicals.
10
“The best smell
is no smell,Miller says.
Carol Potera, based in Montana, has written for EHP since
1996. She also writes for Microbe, Genetic Engineering News,
and the American Journal of Nursing.
REFERENCES
1. Steinemann AC, et al. Fragranced consumer products:
chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environ Impact Assess
Rev [in press]; doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002.
2. Walser ML, et al. Photochemical aging of secondary organic
aerosol particles generated from the oxidation of d-limonene.
J Phys Chem A 111(10):1907–1913 (2007); PMID:17311364.
3. EPA. Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment, EPA/630/P-
03/001F, Mar 2005. Available: http://tinyurl.com/2cu4qzv
[accessed 8 Dec 2010].
4. Consumer Product Safety Act, Pubic Law 92-573, 86 Stat.
1207 (1972). Available: http://tinyurl.com/32b4duc [accessed
8 Dec 2010].
5 FDA. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 701. Cosmetic
Labeling, §701.2–§701.9. Washington, DC:U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (2001). Available: http://tinyurl.com/3224kko
[accessed 8 Dec 2010].
6. Govtrack.us [database]. Household Product Labeling Act of
2009, S. 1697. Available: http://tinyurl.com/yb5nkbv [accessed
8 Dec 2010].
7. Exposure Assessment, Feedback from the Public [website].
Seattle, WA:University of Washington, College of Engineering,
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Available:
http://tinyurl.com/2uh9gan [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
8. Caress SM, Steinemann AC. Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity
in the American population. J Environ Health 71(7):46–50
(2009).
9. Miller CS, Prihoda TJ. The Environmental Exposure and
Sensitivity Inventory (EESI): a standardized approach for
measuring chemical intolerances for research and clinical
applications. Toxicol Ind Health 15(3-4):370–385 (1999);
doi:10.1177/074 8233799 0150 0311.
10 Miller CS. The compelling anomaly of chemical intolerance.
Ann N Y Acad Sci 933:1–23 (2001); PMID:12000012.
Forum
News
|
Forum
fragrance
figures
1
133 unique VOCs
identified among
25 products
24 of these are
classified as toxic
or hazardous
under at least one
federal law
ONLY
1 of the
133 was listed on
any label
ONLY
2 of the
133 were
listed on any
MSDS
NANOMATERIALS
Examining
Nanotech’s Clean
Energy Promises
Among the many touted benefits of nanotech-
nology, one of the most alluring is the possi-
bility that it will help reduce reliance on fossil
fuels. Researchers and industry analysts foresee
lighter and more efficient vehicles and wind
turbines, solar panels that capture more of the
sun’s energy, smaller and longer-lasting batter-
ies, better insulation, and smarter lighting, to
name a few nanotechnology prospects, some
already on the market. But a new report from
the conservation group Friends of the Earth
(FOE) criticizes the vision of a clean-energy
revolution brought about by engineered nano-
materials as so much greenwash and claims the
young technology’s carbon, environmental,
and human-health footprints are likely to
eclipse any energy savings.
1
Engineered nanomaterials are a relatively
new class of manufactured materials with at
least one dimension between 1 and 100 nm.
The larger ones are about one-eightieth
the size of a red blood cell. At such small
scales, the ratio of surface area to volume is
huge, giving the material novel properties.
Nanomaterials in an array of shapes and
chemistries are being applied to medicine,
consumer products, environmental remedia-
tion, the energy industry, and more.
The FOE report focuses in part on the
enormous amounts of energy needed to
produce many nanomaterials. For instance,
one life-cycle analysis calculated that car-
bon nano tubes, which are widely used to
strengthen and lighten manufactured goods,
require 2–100 times more energy to produce
than aluminum, a notorious energy hog.
2
But
some critics of the report question whether the
energy it takes to produce nanomaterials tor-
pedoes their overall benefit. In a statement, Jay
West, senior director of the Nanotechnology
Panel at the American Chemistry Council,
said, “[w]hile some nanomaterials may be
energy-intensive to produce, such energy
expenditures may be more than offset by the
energy savings they make possible. (Requests
for comment on the report were declined by
the U.S. Department of Energy.)
The FOE report also challenges whether
nanotechnology will be able to deliver energy
savings promised in a long list of applications
quickly enough to make a difference. For
instance, it cites several studies showing
solar panels made with nanomaterials trail
conventional silicon panels in efficiency and
durability, and says there’s not a moment to
spare waiting for nanotechnology to catch
up. “With climate change we don’t really
have that much time to ameliorate the situa-
tion,” says Ian Illuminato, one of the reports
authors. Moreover, the FOE report warns
that petrochemical companies are investing
heavily in nanotechnology in the hope it
could double the amount of oil that can be
extracted from known oil and gas reserves.
It also points out that the manufacturing
process for many nanomaterials relies on
high inputs of water and solvents and gener-
ates hazardous by-products and a great deal
of waste.
Yet David Rejeski, director of the Project
on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the
Woodrow Wilson International Center for
Scholars, says, “Compared with the develop-
ment times of other technologies, nano is not
particularly slow and may even be faster. You
could say that it has been moving at a pace
that will make it unlikely to offer large-scale
solutions to the climate challenge within the
next five to ten years. But in ten to twenty
years, nano will likely play a much larger role
in terms of energy solutions.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is
that cost is a big reason for pursuing nano-
technology in the solar industry. Currently
traditional silicon-based solar cells generate
energy at a price of about $1.50–2.00 per
watt.
3
In order for solar to capture a sub-
stantial share of the energy market, how-
ever, the cost must go down significantly,
and silicon-based panels have little hope of
keeping up, says Ashok Sood, president and
CEO of Magnolia Solar, a startup company
developing nanostructure-based solar cells.
He says his company’s business model relies
on analyses and experimental data showing
that such solar cells can meet or beat the
efficiency of silicon-based cells, bringing the
price per watt down to under $1.00. “Have
they been demonstrated? Partially. Is the
potential there? Yes. That’s what this is all
about,he says. “If I can do under one dollar
a watt, I have a winner.
There also is general agreement that
much more information is needed about
the potential human health effects of nano-
materials. The limited evidence to date gives
some researchers pause. For example, several
mouse studies have shown that carbon nano-
tubes injected into the abdominal cavity (a
surrogate for human mesothelial exposure)
or instilled into the trachea behave much
like asbestos.
4,5
Another study showed that
nanoscale titanium dioxide administered sub-
cutaneously to pregnant mice caused nerve
damage in their offspring.
6
FOE has been calling for a moratorium on
the commercialization of products containing
nanomaterials for the past five years, pending
regulation to protect against potential threats
to public health and the environment. “We
need sound regulation, but unfortunately
science and new technology always pose
regulatory challenges that our agencies just
arent prepared for. But at the same time,
weve got thousands of products [already] on
the market,says Illuminato.
Rejeski believes its too early to dismiss
nanotechnology, especially when there is
a research effort devoted to greening the
manufacturing process. People are going to
get smarter, he says. No company wants
to use lots of energy and lots of toxic chemi-
cals to make nanomaterials. But developing
environmentally benign processes could take
ten or twenty years and much more invest-
ment.In fact, about the same time the FOE
report was released, researchers based at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology pub-
lished a new method for producing carbon
nanotubes in the laboratory that they say
cuts energy requirements in half and reduces
harmful by-products by 90% or more.
7
However, the FOE report notes that even if
tenfold decreases in energy use are eventually
achieved, carbon nanomaterials will still be
much more energy-intensive to produce than
aluminum or steel.
1
Bhavik Bakshi of The Ohio State
University in Columbus and TERI University
in New Delhi, several of whose life-cycle
analyses of carbon nanofibers are cited in the
FOE report,
believes governments and the
nanotechnology industry must quickly and
significantly increase investments in greening
up both manufacturing and products to avoid
repeating mistakes made with earlier innova-
tions, like asbestos and the insecticide DDT.
Historically, enthusiasm for the immediate
benefits of new technologies has overshadowed
consideration of potential problems until they
appear years later, says Bakshi, adding, “The
bar needs to be set a lot higher when it comes
to adopting nanoproducts.
Rebecca Kessler, based in Providence, RI, writes about science
and the environment for various publications. She is a member
of the National Association of Science Writers and the Society
of Environmental Journalists.
REFERENCES
1. FOE. Nanotechnology, Climate and Energy: Over-Heated Promises
and Hot Air? Washington, DC:Friends of the Earth (2010).
Available: http://tinyurl.com/2dm3cym [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
2. Kushnir D, Sanden BA. Energy requirements of carbon
nanoparticle production. J Industr Ecol 12(3):360–375 (2008); doi:
10.1111/j.1530 -9290. 20 08.0 0057.x .
3. Solarbuzz. Solar Module Retail Price Highlights: December 2010.
San Francisco, CA:Solarbuzz (2010). Available: http://tinyurl.com/
ydletja [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
4. Poland CA, et al. Carbon nanotubes introduced into the
abdominal cavity of mice show asbestos-like pathogenicity
in a pilot study. Nature Nanotechnol 3(7):423–428 (2008);
doi:10.103 8/nnan o. 20 08.111.
5. Sanchez V, et al. Biopersistence and potential adverse health
impacts of fibrous nanomaterials: what have we learned from
asbestos? Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
1(5):511–529 (2009); doi:10.1002/wnan.41.
6. Takeda K, et al. Nanoparticles transferred from pregnant mice to
their offspring can damage the genital and cranial nerve systems.
J Health Sci 55(1):95–102 (2009); doi:10.1248/jhs.55.95.
7. Plata D, et al. Multiple alkynes react with ethylene to enhance
carbon nanotube synthesis, suggesting a polymerization-like
formation mechanism. ACS Nano [in press]; doi: 10.1021/
nn101842g.
Environmental Health Perspectives
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January 2011
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Forum
Forum
Left to right: Jiang Hongyan/Shutterstock; Sean McBride/iStockphoto
Report Finds Estimates of Gulf
Coast Exposure to Carcinogens Off
The Natural Resources Defense Council
reports the FDA underestimated seafood
consumption by Gulf Coast residents
in developing their June 2010 protocol
for determining safe seafood levels of
toxic PAHs following the BP Deepwater
Horizon oil spill.
1
The FDA used national
consumption data, rather than region-
specific information and also did not
take into account the dietary patterns
of subpopulations including children
and the region’s large Vietnamese-
American population. Gulf Coast shrimp
consumption rates were found to range
from 3.6 to 12.1 times higher than the
FDA estimates.
Federal Bedbug Summit in
February
On 1–2 February 2011 the Federal Bed
Bug Workgroup will sponsor the second
national bedbug summit in Washington,
DC.
2
The meeting will be open to the
public and accessible via a webinar. The
workgroup will review the current bedbug
problem and seeks to identify and prioritize
actions to manage and control these
increasingly prevalent and resistant pests.
Coal Tar Sealant a Significant
Lake Pollutant
USGS researchers used a chemical mass-
balance model to show that coal tar
pavement sealants were the chief source
of PAHs flowing into 40 U.S. urban lakes.
3
Surface water concentrations of PAHs,
which are a probable human carcinogen
The Beat
|
by Erin E. Dooley
A 18
v o l u m e 119
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January 2011
Environmental Health Perspectives
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
Tobacco Bio-oil Kills
Agricultural Pests
Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable
death and disease in the United States,
1
but tobacco has potentially
beneficial uses as well as deadly ones. Gardeners have long known
that homemade mixtures of tobacco and water can kill insect pests.
But these homemade brews kill desirable insects, too, and could
poison animals that ingest them. Now researchers at the University
of Western Ontario are finding new ways to turn tobacco into a
more selective eco-friendly pest control agent.
2
A team led by chemical engineer Cedric Briens heated finely
ground tobacco leaves to 50C in a vacuum, a process called
pyrolysis, then collected the condensate. (Since publishing the
paper, the team has found they can use the entire plant—leaves
and stalks—which makes it easier and cheaper to harvest the
tobacco.) The bio-oil was tested against the Colorado potato beetle
(Leptinotarsa decemlineata), 11 fungi, and 4 bacteria, all of which
are agricultural pests.
The bio-oil blocked the growth of the bacteria Streptomyces
scabies and Clavibacter michiganensis and the fungus Pythium
ultimum. S. scabies causes a common potato scab disease that
makes potatoes unmarketable, C. michiganensis kills young plants
and deforms fruits, especially tomatoes, and P. ultimum kills
seedlings of eggplant, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
The bio-oil also killed 100% of Colorado potato beetles, a
resistant pest that can destroy potato crops. The other organisms
were unaffected.
Nicotine, a key toxin in tobacco, has known insecticidal
properties on its own. But even after removing nicotine from the
bio-oil, it still potently killed these few pests.
2
The authors say the
active components probably include a mixture of phenols with
known pesticidal properties working synergistically. They analyzed
the bio-oil using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and note
that some of the constituents defy detection. It’s possible new
pesticidal molecules are being formed in the high heat conditions
of pyrolysis. “We do know that no single molecule is effective, and
we seem to have discovered a natural cocktail,” Briens says.
The probable mixture of active chemicals suggests agricultural
pests may not readily develop resistance to the bio-oil. Control of
the Colorado potato beetle is especially challenging because the
beetle is notorious for its ability to adapt rapidly to new pesticides
that are applied.
3
“Insecticides that work now will be obsolete in a
few years, and we’ll need new insecticides,Briens says.
The ability of the bio-oil to target certain agricultural pests
could be an asset for future commercialization, because it could
spare desirable insects such as honeybees. Some pesticide manu-
facturers are watching the bio-oil work, but they want to know
the active molecules before becoming involved. Then the active
components of the bio-oil will require toxicity testing to assess
their impact on the environment.
Briens’ studyis a logical and efficient approach to identify a use-
ful by-product of tobacco plants, creating a value-added pesticidal
fraction,says Joel Coats, a professor of entomology and toxicology
at Iowa State University in Ames. “The possibility of discovering a
novel pesticidal molecule makes the project very worthwhile.
Carol Potera, based in Montana, has written for EHP since 1996. She also writes for Microbe,
Genetic Engineering News, and the American Journal of Nursing.
REFERENCES
1. Dube SR, et al. Vital signs: current cigarette smoking among adults aged ≥ 18 years—United States, 2009.
MMWR 59(35):1135–1140 (2010). Available: http://tinyurl.com/2v3eszr [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
2. Booker CJ, et al. Experimental investigations into the insecticidal, fungicidal, and bactericidal properties
of pyrolysis bio-oil from tobacco leaves using a fluidized bed pilot plant. Ind Eng Chem Res 49(20):10074
10079 (2010); doi:10.1021/ie100329z.
3. Insecticide Resistance in Colorado Potato Beetles [website]. Orono, ME:University of Maine Cooperative
Extension (updated 19 Feb 2010). Available: http://tinyurl.com/34mbkd2 [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
Gulf Coast residents eat an
average of two shrimp meals
per week, twice the FDA
estimate.
Lakes in cities where coal tar
sealant is most commonly
used had far higher PAH
levels than other lakes.
Forum
and are toxic to fish and other aquatic life,
have been increasing in recent decades.
Being able to determine the source of these
PAHs will help in the design better ways to
manage them. Some U.S. municipalities
have already banned coal tar sealants.
Ford Cottons to Recycling
Ford Motor Company recently announced
its 2012 Ford Focus models will use carpet
backing and soundproofing materials
made from recycled cotton denim.
4
Cotton
production can have a large environmental
footprint, and clothing and other textiles
represent about 4% of municipal solid
waste.
5
Each car will use an amount of
postconsumer cotton equal to the amount
in two pair of jeans.
4
Greenwashing Update
“Greenwashing is the term for ads and
labels that promise more environmental
benefit than they deliver.
6
The third
in a series of reports by TerraChoice
Environmental Marketing finds that
marketers are getting better at
substantiating claims of “greenness”
about their products.
7
The number of
self-described green products tallied on
shelves increased 73% between 2009 and
2010, with 4.5% of such products making
credible claims. In 2007, only 1% of the
claims made by surveyed products could be
verified. One area where marketing claims
have skyrocketed is in products claiming
they have no bisphenol A (up 577%
over 2009) or no phthalates (up 2,550%
over 2009).
REFERENCES
1. NRDC. Gulf Coast Seafood Consumption Survey.
Washington, DC:Natural Resources Defense Council
(2010). Available: http://tinyurl.com/24b3mhx [accessed
10 Dec 2010].
2. EPA. Second National Bed Bug Summit [website].
Washington, DC:U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (updated 9 Dec 2010). Available: http://tinyurl.
com/23sfmd8 [accessed 10 Dec 2010].
3. Van Metre PC, Mahler BJ. Contribution of PAHs from
coal–tar pavement sealcoat and other sources to 40
U.S. lakes. Sci Total Environ 409(2):334–344 (2010);
doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.08.014.
4. Ford Motor Company. A perfect fit: recycled clothing
finds a new home inside next-generation Ford Focus
[press release]. 30 Nov 2010. Dearborn, MI:Ford
Motor Company. Available: http://tinyurl.com/34ffp67
[accessed 10 Dec 2010].
5. Claudio L. Waste couture: environmental impact of the
clothing industry. Environ Health Perspect 115(9):A449
A454; doi:10.1289/ehp.115-a449.
6. Dahl R. Greenwashing: do you know what you’re
buying? Environ Health Perspect 118(6):A246A252
(2010); doi:10.1289/ehp.118-a246.
7. TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. The Sins of
Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition. London,
UK:TerraChoice Environmental Marketing (2010). Available:
http://tinyurl.com/2d89tx8 [accessed 10 Dec 2010].
Environmental Health Perspectives
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January 2011
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Janine Lamontagne/iStockphoto
CHILDREN’S HEALTH
School Siting: EPA Says
Location Matters
Fifty-three million U.S. children and 6 million employees spend much
of the day in a public or private school.
1
Pollution problems in these
settings are so widespread that the Congress mandated in the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007 that the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) develop model guidelines for choosing health-
ier sites for new schools. On 17 November 2010, the agency released a
draft of its new voluntary guidelines.
1,2
About 1,900 new schools were built in the 2008–2009 school year,
according to the EPA, continuing a relatively similar construction trend
since 2002
3
and bringing the total number of public and private schools
to about 135,000.
1
The number of existing schools in settings that could
be harmful to children is unknown, says Peter Grevatt, director of the
EPA Office of Childrens Health Protection.
The guidelines are designed mainly for use in siting new primary
and secondary (K–12) schools, but the principles behind the guidelines
could be adapted for many other existing and new settings where chil-
dren spend long periods. They cover a wide range of topics, including
toxicity on the school site and from nearby properties; other health-
related issues such as bicycle and pedestrian access to increase student
exercise; maximizing community use of the school; and minimizing
disruption of relatively undisturbed environments.
Jason Hartke, vice president of national policy for the U.S. Green
Building Council, is generally pleased with the congressional mandate
and EPAs actions so far. “There is a strong need for EPA guidelines,” he
says. “This is another really important tool in the toolbox” for creating
healthier schools.
Stephen Lester, science director for the Center for Health,
Environment & Justice, also is generally supportive: There’s a lot
of good information in these guidelines. But he says they offer too
much wiggle room for allowing schools to be built on toxic sites,
such as Superfund properties. He’d rather see language that sanctions
such decisions only as a very last resort. That’s important, he says,
because school districts never have enough money for monitoring and
maintenance,” even if the original planning, design, and engineering for
mitigating toxicity problems were deemed acceptable. He also would
prefer a no-exceptions guideline that directs use of the more-protective
cleanup standard for residential use for all school sites.
4
A broader concern is that many school districts may choose to
ignore the voluntary guidelines. Interest in environmental health issues
is very spotty, Lester says, especially when so many other issues
including site availability, zoning, and cost—are high priorities. Even
in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design) voluntary certification process for schools,
5
toxicity issues account for only 10 of the 110 optional points.
6
The public can comment on the draft guidelines until 18 February
2011. A final version is scheduled for release in late 2011.
Bob Weinhold, MA, has covered environmental health issues for numerous outlets since 1996.
He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. EPA. School Siting Guidelines [website]. Washington, DC:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Available:
http://tinyurl.com/2euxzcn [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
2. The EPA can’t set mandatory regulations for siting schools, since local jurisdictions typically have that authority,
but federal, state, and tribal governments can intercede when possible violations of various laws are involved.
3. Abramson P. School Planning and Management, 15th Annual School Construction Report (Feb 2010).
Dayton, OH:Peter Li Education Group. Available: http://tinyurl.com/23en8cd [accessed 8 Dec 2010].
4. A residential cleanup standard is more protective than a commercial cleanup standard in part because it
assumes children will spend more time on the property.
5. U.S. Green Building Council. LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations Rating
System. Washington, DC:U.S. Green Building Council (updated 2010). Available: http://tinyurl.com/239wyxk
[accessed 8 Dec 2010].
6. The LEED baseline criteria stipulate that old landfill sites should be completely avoided and that
contamination from other former uses should be cleaned up to meet the most stringent appropriate
standard. One point is available for siting a school on a remediated brownfield site, which critics such as
Lester say should be done only as a last resort. Nine points are available for reducing vehicle use to lessen
emissions or increase student exercise via bicycling or walking. Eight points are available for meeting other
site criteria addressed by the EPA guidelines, such as utilizing existing roads and utilities, avoiding 100-year
floodplains, protecting or restoring habitat, and encouraging joint community use of school facilities.
A survey of green product
claims found 4.5% to be
bona fide, up from 1%
in 2007.
... The pathologies triggered by them can manifest in any form such as neuropathies (depression, autism), neoplasms (breast cancer, prostate cancer), endocrinopathies (gynacomastia), organ damage (hepatotoxicity), among others. A survey found that the scented consumer goods emit more than hundred toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as limonene, aand b-pinene, ethanol, acetone etc. [57]. Such fragrance products severely degrade indoor air quality [70]. ...
... With the help of unscrupulous advertisements and sponsored research reports, they keep luring naive and unaware consumers. A survey reports that the products advertised as organic, natural, green, eco-friendly also emit an array of hazardous chemicals [57]. It is appalling that even if people know the threats, they continue using these toxins, resonating the ''death wish" concept discussed in the popular TV series ''Mad men". ...
Article
In the past few decades, synthetic fragrance compounds have become ubiquitous components of personal care and household cleaning products. Overwhelming consumerism trends have led to the excess usage of these chemicals. It has been observed that this fragrance-laden unhealthy lifestyle runs parallel with the unprecedented rates of diabetes, cancer, neural ailments, teratogenicity, and transgender instances. The link between fragrances as and the multiplicity of pathogens remained latent for decades. However, now this health hazard and its role in homeostasis breakdown is getting attention. The adverse effects of the fragrance constituents as phthalates, paraben, glutaraldehyde, hydroperoxides, oil of turpentine, metals, nitro musks, and essential oils, among others, are being identified. The endocrine-immune-neural axis perturbation pathways of these chemicals are being proven. Despite the revelations of cause-effect nexus, a majority of the vulnerable populations are unaware and unmotivated to avoid these ‘slow poisons’. Hence, the researchers need to further validate the toxicity of fragrance compounds, and raise awareness towards the health risks. In this regard, a number of pathologies triggered by fragrance exposure, yet proven only scantily have been hypothesized. Analysis of the health issues from multiple facets, including the pivotal ‘stressors – extracellular acidosis – aromatase upregulation – estrogen hyperproduction – inflammation’ link has been proposed. Fragrance compounds share configurational similarity with carcinogenic environmental hydrocarbons and they provoke the expression of cytochrome group monooxygenase enzyme aromatase. This enzyme aromatizes androgens to form estrogen, the powerful signaling hormone, which underlies the majority of morbidities. This holistic review with a repertoire of preliminary evidences and robust hypotheses is expected to usher in deserving extent of research on this pervasive health risk.
... There is worldwide awareness on respiratory diseases, sinus problems and allergies caused by air pollution. Now we have evidence that this can also occur in indoor environments [1][2][3]. The skin and hair form the first barrier exposed to pollution. ...
... Today we spend 90% of our time in closed buildings with artificially controlled air environments. Cooling & Heating systems also release VOCs [1,2]. The compounds are carried and recirculated in closed environments finally getting deposited over the scalp and hair causing irritation and hair loss [3]. ...
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Young patients recently shifted to metro cities are presenting with prickling in the scalp, itching, dandruff, oily scalp and pain in the hair roots. Various studies have identified this as ‘Sensitive Scalp Syndrome’ resulting from exposure to increasing levels of air pollution including particulate matter, dust, smoke, nickel, lead and arsenic, sulfur dioxide nitrogen dioxide, ammonia and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which settle on the scalp and hair. Indoor air conditioned environments cause volatile organic compounds (VOC) released from various sources to settle on the scalp. The pollutants migrate into the dermis, transepidermally and through the hair follicle conduit, leading to oxidative stress and hair loss. We have used antioxidants, regular hair wash, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) shampoo, and application of coconut oil to provide protection the hair and counter the effects of pollution. In this review, we have evaluated the causes, clinical presentation, mechanism of hair loss due to pollution and discussed the the management of hair loss due to air pollution (HDP). Hair loss due to pollution can coexist with or mimic androgenic alopecia. It requires careful history and trichoscopic evaluation to identify and advice a planned hair care program. Patients uniformly show an encouraging response within 6 - 8 weeks of following the hair care regimen.
... They may result in both physiological and psychological effects (Warrenburg, 2005). Nowadays there is a concern that some ingredients may threaten human health and/or the environment (Klaschka and Kolossa-Gehring, 2007;Lignell et al., 2008;Potera, 2011). ...
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Six green (certified with EU Ecolabel), six nongreen household detergents, and two products for professional cleaning were examined for fragrance compounds by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The examined detergents are products from multinational companies and best sellers in the Greek market. Only one fragrance ingredient was found in the products for professional applications compared with the 35 in the nongreen products and the 23 ingredients found in green products. Seven ingredients were the same between green and nongreen products. Fragrances are important for marketing purposes but may threaten human health and the environment.
... These fungal species can produce mixtures composed of alcohols, aldehydes, acids, ethers, esters, ketones, terpenes, thiols and their derivatives. They are responsible for the characteristic moldy odors [4]. ...
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Water leaks were noticed from a chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) drainpipe system used in a cafeteria only 3 months after the commissioning of the building. The drainpipe was used to recover food waste using various systems installed directly in the kitchen. The leak was caused by the presence of numerous cracks in some of the elbows from the drainpipe system. Scanning electron microscopy showed the presence of mud cracking, which is generally associated with environmental stress cracking. Chemical analyses revealed the presence of incompatible products with the CPVC, coming from the chemical transformations in the composting process and from excess cement used to assemble the various sections of the drainpipe system.
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Aim To determine whether environmental house calls that improved indoor air quality (IAQ) is effective in reducing symptoms of chemical intolerance (CI). Background Prevalence of CI is increasing worldwide. Those affected typically report symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, ‘brain fog’, and gastrointestinal problems – common primary care complaints. Substantial evidence suggests that improving IAQ may be helpful in reducing symptoms associated with CI. Methods Primary care clinic patients were invited to participate in a series of structured environmental house calls (EHCs). To qualify, participants were assessed for CI with the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory. Those with CI volunteered to allow the EHC team to visit their homes to collect air samples for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Initial and post-intervention IAQ sampling was analyzed by an independent lab to determine VOC levels (ng/L). The team discussed indoor air exposures, their health effects, and provided guidance for reducing exposures. Findings Homes where recommendations were followed showed the greatest improvements in IAQ. The improvements were based upon decreased airborne VOCs associated with reduced use of cleaning chemicals, personal care products, and fragrances, and reduction in the index patients’ symptoms. Symptom improvement generally was not reported among those whose homes showed no VOC improvement. Conclusion Improvements in both IAQ and patients’ symptoms occur when families implement an action plan developed and shared with them by a trained EHC team. Indoor air problems simply are not part of most doctors’ differential diagnoses, despite relatively high prevalence rates of CI in primary care clinics. Our three-question screening questionnaire – the BREESI – can help physicians identify which patients should complete the QEESI. After identifying patients with CI, the practitioner can help by counseling them regarding their home exposures to VOCs. The future of clinical medicine could include environmental house calls as standard of practice for susceptible patients.
Chapter
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) occur in air as volatile or semivolatile compounds in the gas phase or attached to particulate matter. They include industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls), products of combustion (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), pesticides, herbicides alkyl phenols, components of plastics (phthalates, bisphenol A), components of consumer goods (parabens, triclosan, organobromine flame retardants, fluorosurfactants, fragrance compounds), and some metals. This chapter discusses the sources of EDCs in air, measurements of levels of EDCs in outdoor and indoor air, and the contribution of EDCs in air to overall human body burdens and to human endocrine health.
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Seventy-one percent of US households purchase air care products. Air care products span a diverse range of forms, including scented aerosol sprays, pump sprays, diffusers, gels, candles, and plug-ins. These products are used to eliminate indoor malodors and to provide pleasant scent experiences. The use of air care products can lead to significant benefits as studies have shown that indoor malodor can cause adverse effects, negatively impacting quality of life, hygiene, and the monetary value of homes and cars, while disproportionately affecting lower income populations. Additionally, studies have also shown that scent can have positive benefits related to mood, stress reduction, and memory enhancement among others. Despite the positive benefits associated with air care products, negative consumer perceptions regarding the safety of air care products can be a barrier to their use. During the inaugural Air Care Summit, held on 18 May 2018 in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, multidisciplinary experts including industry stakeholders, academics, and scientific and medical experts were invited to share and assess the existing data related to air care products, focusing on ingredient and product safety and the benefits of malodor removal and scent. At the Summit’s completion, a panel of independent experts representing the fields of pulmonary medicine, medical and clinical toxicology, pediatric toxicology, basic science toxicology, occupational dermatology and experimental psychology convened to review the data presented, identify potential knowledge gaps, and suggest future research directions to further assess the safety and benefits of air care products.
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Philippa D Darbre School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK Abstract: Over recent years, many environmental pollutant chemicals have been shown to possess the ability to interfere in the functioning of the endocrine system and have been termed endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These compounds exist in air as volatile or semi-volatile compounds in the gas phase or attached to particulate matter. They include components of plastics (phthalates, bisphenol A), components of consumer goods (parabens, triclosan, alkylphenols, fragrance compounds, organobromine flame retardants, fluorosurfactants), industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls), products of combustion (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/furans, polyaromatic hydrocarbons), pesticides, herbicides, and some metals. This review summarizes current knowledge concerning the sources of EDCs in air, measurements of levels of EDCs in air, and the potential for adverse effects of EDCs in air on human endocrine health. Keywords: air pollution, endocrine disruptors, particulate matter
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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in females. The deteriorating environment, and lifestyle flaws are raising the frequency of this cancer. Existing therapies are not universally-effective, and they cause side effects, relapses, and high mortality rate. Alternative medications may be milder, but are less effective or are inadequate for a complex disease like the breast cancer. So, it requires the understanding that drugs are not the solution of this cancer, but prevention is the sustainable solution. In the past decades, an enormous quantum of insights on this disease has been obtained. A lifestyle based on the template of estrogenic compounds and, the resultant endocrine disruption, and acidosis, is elevating aromatase level, promoting the deleterious forms of estrogen, and inducing epithelial proliferation. This review provids a holistic account of breast cancer as a inflammatory endocrinopathy, and how it can be curbed by discipline, and awareness.
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Nanomaterials are being used increasingly for commercial purposes, yet little is known about the potential health hazards such materials may pose to consumers and workers. Here we show that nano-sized titanium dioxide (TiO 2), which is used widely as a photo-catalyst and in consumer products, administered subcutaneously to preg-nant mice is transferred to the offspring and affects the genital and cranial nerve systems of the male offspring. Nanoparticles identified as TiO 2 by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were found in testis and brain of exposed 6-week-old male mice. In the offspring of TiO 2 -injected mice, various functional and pathologic disorders, such as reduced daily sperm production and numerous caspase-3 (a biomarker of apoptosis) positive cells in the olfactory bulb of the brain, were observed. Our findings suggest the need for great caution to handle the nanomaterials for workers and consumers.
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Fragranced consumer products are pervasive in society. Relatively little is known about the composition of these products, due to lack of prior study, complexity of formulations, and limitations and protections on ingredient disclosure in the U.S. We investigated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 25 common fragranced consumer products—laundry products, personal care products, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners—using headspace analysis with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Our analysis found 133 different VOCs emitted from the 25 products, with an average of 17 VOCs per product. Of these 133 VOCs, 24 are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these compounds. For “green” products, emissions of these compounds were not significantly different from the other products. Of all VOCs identified across the products, only 1 was listed on any product label, and only 2 were listed on any material safety data sheet (MSDS). While virtually none of the chemicals identified were listed, this nonetheless accords with U.S. regulations, which do not require disclosure of all ingredients in a consumer product, or of any ingredients in a mixture called “fragrance.” Because the analysis focused on compounds emitted and listed, rather than exposures and effects, it makes no claims regarding possible risks from product use. Results of this study contribute to understanding emissions from common products, and their links with labeling and legislation.
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Carbon nanotubes have distinctive characteristics, but their needle-like fibre shape has been compared to asbestos, raising concerns that widespread use of carbon nanotubes may lead to mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Here we show that exposing the mesothelial lining of the body cavity of mice, as a surrogate for the mesothelial lining of the chest cavity, to long multiwalled carbon nanotubes results in asbestos-like, length-dependent, pathogenic behaviour. This includes inflammation and the formation of lesions known as granulomas. This is of considerable importance, because research and business communities continue to invest heavily in carbon nanotubes for a wide range of products under the assumption that they are no more hazardous than graphite. Our results suggest the need for further research and great caution before introducing such products into the market if long-term harm is to be avoided.
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Tobacco bio-oil, gases, and char were produced through pyrolysis of tobacco leaves using a fluidized bed pilot plant under varying temperature (350, 400, 450, 500, 550, and 600 °C) and residence time (5, 10, and 17 s) conditions. The optimized condition for the production of bio-oil was found to be at 500 °C at a vapor residence time of 5 s, giving a bio-oil yield of 43.4%. The Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) Leptinotarsa decemlineata L. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a destructive pest toward potato crops, and three microorganisms (Streptomyces scabies, Clavibacter michiganensis, and Pythium ultimum), all problematic in Canadian agriculture, were strongly affected by tobacco bio-oil generated at all pyrolysis temperatures. Nicotine-free fractions of the tobacco bio-oil were prepared through liquid−liquid extraction, and high mortality rates for the CPB and inhibited growth for the microorganisms were still observed. A potential pesticide from tobacco bio-oil adds value to the biomass as well as the pyrolysis process.
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In science, anomalies expose the limitations of existing paradigms and drive the search for new ones. In the late 1800s, physicians observed that certain illnesses spread from sick, feverish individuals to those contacting them, paving the way for the germ theory of disease. The germ theory served as a crude, but elegant formulation that explained dozens of seemingly unrelated illnesses affecting literally every organ system. Today, we are witnessing another medical anomaly—a unique pattern of illness involving chemically exposed groups in more than a dozen countries, who subsequently report multisystem symptoms and new-onset chemical, food, and drug intolerances. These intolerances may be the hallmark for a new disease process or paradigm, just as fever is a hallmark for infection. The fact that diverse demographic groups, sharing little in common except some initial chemical exposure event, develop these intolerances is a compelling anomaly pointing to a possible new theory of disease, one that has been referred to as “Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance” (“TILT”). TILT has the potential to explain certain cases of asthma, migraine headaches, and depression, as well as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and “Gulf War syndrome”. It appears to evolve in two stages: (1) initiation, characterized by a profound breakdown in prior, natural tolerance resulting from either acute or chronic exposure to chemicals (pesticides, solvents, indoor air contaminants, etc.), followed by (2) triggering of symptoms by small quantities of previously tolerated chemicals (traffic exhaust, fragrances, gasoline), foods, drugs, and food/drug combinations (alcohol, caffeine). While the underlying dynamic remains an enigma, observations indicating that affected individuals respond to structurally unrelated drugs and experience cravings and withdrawal-like symptoms, paralleling drug addiction, suggest that multiple neurotransmitter pathways may be involved.
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Contamination of urban lakes and streams by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has increased in the United States during the past 40 years. We evaluated sources of PAHs in post-1990 sediments in cores from 40 lakes in urban areas across the United States using a contaminant mass-balance receptor model and including as a potential source coal-tar-based (CT) sealcoat, a recently recognized source of urban PAH. Other PAH sources considered included several coal- and vehicle-related sources, wood combustion, and fuel-oil combustion. The four best modeling scenarios all indicate CT sealcoat is the largest PAH source when averaged across all 40 lakes, contributing about one-half of PAH in sediment, followed by vehicle-related sources and coal combustion. PAH concentrations in the lakes were highly correlated with PAH loading from CT sealcoat (Spearman's rho=0.98), and the mean proportional PAH profile for the 40 lakes was highly correlated with the PAH profile for dust from CT-sealed pavement (r=0.95). PAH concentrations and mass and fractional loading from CT sealcoat were significantly greater in the central and eastern United States than in the western United States, reflecting regional differences in use of different sealcoat product types. The model was used to calculate temporal trends in PAH source contributions during the last 40 to 100 years to eight of the 40 lakes. In seven of the lakes, CT sealcoat has been the largest source of PAHs since the 1960s, and in six of those lakes PAH trends are upward. Traffic is the largest source to the eighth lake, located in southern California where use of CT sealcoat is rare.
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In a United States where climate change legislation, concerns about foreign oil dependence, and mandatory curbside recycling are becoming the “new normal,” companies across a variety of sectors are seeing the benefit of promoting their “greenness” in advertisements. Many lay vague and dubious claims to environmental stewardship. Others are more specific but still raise questions about what their claims really mean. The term for ads and labels that promise more environmental benefit than they deliver is “greenwashing.” Today, some critics are asking whether the impact of greenwashing can go beyond a breach of marketing ethics—can greenwashing actually harm health?
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Human diseases associated with exposure to asbestos fibers include pleural fibrosis and plaques, pulmonary fibrosis (asbestosis), lung cancer, and diffuse malignant mesothelioma. The critical determinants of fiber bioactivity and toxicity include not only fiber dimensions, but also shape, surface reactivity, crystallinity, chemical composition, and presence of transition metals. Depending on their size and dimensions, inhaled fibers can penetrate the respiratory tract to the distal airways and into the alveolar spaces. Fibers can be cleared by several mechanisms, including the mucociliary escalator, engulfment, and removal by macrophages, or through splitting and chemical modification. Biopersistence of long asbestos fibers can lead to inflammation, granuloma formation, fibrosis, and cancer. Exposure to synthetic carbon nanomaterials, including carbon nanofibers and carbon nanotubes (CNTs), is considered a potential health hazard because of their physical similarities with asbestos fibers. Respiratory exposure to CNTs can produce an inflammatory response, diffuse interstitial fibrosis, and formation of fibrotic granulomas similar to that observed in asbestos-exposed animals and humans. Given the known cytotoxic and carcinogenic properties of asbestos fibers, toxicity of fibrous nanomaterials is a topic of intense study. The mechanisms of nanomaterial toxicity remain to be fully elucidated, but recent evidence suggests points of similarity with asbestos fibers, including a role for generation of reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress, and genotoxicity. Considering the rapid increase in production and use of fibrous nanomaterials, it is imperative to gain a thorough understanding of their biologic activity to avoid the human health catastrophe that has resulted from widespread use of asbestos fibers. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.