First-ever quantitative data about the toll of BPA exposure

From Health Affairs:

The risks of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) have been well-known for some time. While exposure to BPA in the United States affects an estimated 92.6 percent of Americans over the age of five, there are gaps in the knowledge of the health consequences of BPA exposure. A new study, Further Limiting Bisphenol A In Food Uses Could Provide Health And Economic Benefits, presents the first estimate of the potential disease burden and costs associated with ongoing exposure to BPA. It found that $2.98 billion in annual costs are attributable to BPA-associated childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease. Of the $2.98 billion, the study identified $1.49 billion in childhood obesity costs, the first environmentally attributable costs of child obesity to be documented.

The study modeled the potential health and economic benefits associated with replacing BPA in all food uses by quantifying childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease attributable to BPA exposure in the United States in the year 2008. The data used were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2003-2008 as well as other sources. Its analysis methodology followed the approach developed by the Institute of Medicine in assessing the “fractional contribution” of the environment to the causation of illness in the United States. “This analysis suggests that regulatory action to reduce BPA exposure could produce net benefits to society,” concludes the author. “From an economic perspective, it might make sense for the Food and Drug Administration to require that an additive free of obesogenic and cardiovascular risks be substituted for BPA. However, pre-market testing of potential substitutes is needed to prevent the use of another synthetic chemical instead of BPA that may lead to the same or worse health consequences.”

Read the article here.

New from the National Academies Press: Including Health in Global Frameworks for Development, Wealth, and Climate Change

From the NAP:

Including Health in Global Frameworks for Development, Wealth, and Climate Change is the summary of a three-part public webinar convened by the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine and its  collaborative on Global Environmental Health and Sustainable Development. Presenters and participants discussed the role of health in measuring a country’s wealth (going beyond gross domestic product), health scenario communication, and international health goals and indicators. The workshop focused on fostering discussion across academic, government, business, and civil society sectors to make use of existing data and information that can be adapted to track progress of global sustainable development and human health. This report examines frameworks for global development goals and connections to health indicators, the role for health in the context of novel sustainable economic frameworks that go beyond gross domestic product, and scenarios to project climate change impacts.

Read, download, or by the workshop summary here.

Chemical informatio​n and the Jan 2014 West Virginia Elk River chemical release

From TOXNET:

You may be aware from multiple news sources that little information was available about 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol at the time of the spill in West Virginia’s Elk River earlier this month. Since the spill, government and private sector scientists have contributed to collecting and verifying information about the chemical. As a result, there is now a page on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website about the chemical and the methodology used by CDC to develop its recommendations.

There is also a new record in the NLM Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for the chemical 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, which has a Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) of 34885-03-5. Other terms for the spilled substance are “MCHM” or “crude MCHM” or “4-Methylcyclohexane methanol.”

Please note that in some social media and early news reports, the chemical was MISIDENTIFIED as Methylcyclohexanol (CASRN: 25639-42-3). This is NOT the correct chemical. In chemical incidents, it is unusual for little online information to be available about a substance. Chemicals can often be readily identified using online resources such as TOXNET and WISER. In the absence of published information, local and state officials request consultation with local, state, federal and industry experts. Typically, following such an incident there is immediate, ongoing, extensive consultation and communication among responders and experts to determine appropriate actions. When planning for providing health information following chemical incidents, it is critical for institutions and government agencies to know who to contact in uncommon situations as well as knowing the authoritative published sources of chemical information.

Sources

E-cigarette poisonings & more in the new edition of Public Health Law News

From the CDC’s Office for State, Tribal, Local, & Territorial Support:

The new edition of Public Health Law News reprints an article from USA Today on the rise in reports of poisonings in children by e-cigarettes.

Other stories include reports from the states on changes in public health laws and an interview with Chester Antone, Councilman of the Tohono O’odham Nation Legislature.

Read the complete newsletter here.

Food and Nutrition Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight

New from the National Academies Press:

Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight is the summary of a workshop convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention in June 2013 to examine income, race, and ethnicity, and how these factors intersect with childhood obesity and its prevention. Registered participants, along with viewers of a simultaneous webcast of the workshop, heard a series of presentations by researchers, policy makers, advocates, and other stakeholders focused on health disparities associated with income, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics and on how these factors intersect with obesity and its prevention. The workshop featured invited presentations and discussions concerning physical activity, healthy food access, food marketing and messaging, and the roles of employers, health care professionals, and schools.

The IOM 2012 report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention acknowledged that a variety of characteristics linked historically to social exclusion or discrimination, including race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, and immigrant status, can thereby affect opportunities for physical activity, healthy eating, health care, work, and education. In many parts of the United States, certain racial and ethnic groups and low-income individuals and families live, learn, work, and play in places that lack health-promoting resources such as parks, recreational facilities, high-quality grocery stores, and walkable streets. These same neighborhoods may have characteristics such as heavy traffic or other unsafe conditions that discourage people from walking or being physically active outdoors. The combination of unhealthy social and environmental risk factors, including limited access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, can contribute to increased levels of chronic stress among community members, which have been linked to increased levels of sedentary activity and increased calorie consumption. Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight focuses on the key obesity prevention goals and recommendations outlined in Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention through the lens of health equity. This report explores critical aspects of obesity prevention, while discussing potential future research, policy, and action that could lead to equity in opportunities to achieve a healthy weight.

Click here to order a copy or download a free PDF.

Using information disclosure to achieve policy goals: Toxics release inventory & shale gas fracking

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has announced a panel discussion “Using Information Disclosure to Achieve Policy Goals: How Experience with the Toxics Release Inventory Can Inform Action on Shale Gas Fracking.”

The federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is the premier national example of a non-regulatory environmental policy, and it illustrates well both the potential and limitations of using information disclosure to achieve policy goals. The TRI was adopted in 1986 as an amendment to the federal Superfund law, and since 1988 we have had annual reports on the release of over 650 toxic chemicals by some 20,000 industrial facilities around the nation. By most accounts, the disclosure of this information has had a remarkable impact on environmental performance of industry, with over a 60 percent decrease over time in the release of toxic chemicals by those facilities governed by the law. However, in our book Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance (MIT Press 2011, written with Mark Stephan and Troy D. Abel), we found that facility performance varied widely, with some facilities significantly decreasing their release of chemicals and also the risk associated with chemical releases while others moved in the opposite direction. We sought to learn more about the potential for reliance on information disclosure as a policy strategy and also its limitations. This presentation summarizes the findings of Coming Clean, and applies the lessons of the TRI program to the emerging concern over natural gas fracking. How might the disclosure of information about use of chemicals during the fracking process and their health and environmental risks alert the public and policymakers to important aspects of the process and guide development of local, state, and federal policy on fracking? What is the best way to design such an information disclosure policy so that it can succeed in educating the public about those risks while not imposing excessive or unreasonable burdens on industry?

  • Date:  4 December 2013
  • Time:  10-11:30am
  • Location:  Annenberg Auditorium, 1120 Weill Hall
  • Panelists:   Michael E. Kraft, Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Author of Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance; Christopher Borick, Director, Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion
  • Moderator:  Barry Rabe, Director, Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)

For more information, visit the CLOSUP web site.

Sports-Related Concussions in Youth

New from the National Academies Press:

In the past decade, few subjects at the intersection of medicine and sports have generated as much public interest as sports-related concussions – especially among youth. Despite growing awareness of sports-related concussions and campaigns to educate athletes, coaches, physicians, and parents of young athletes about concussion recognition and management, confusion and controversy persist in many areas. Currently, diagnosis is based primarily on the symptoms reported by the individual rather than on objective diagnostic markers, and there is little empirical evidence for the optimal degree and duration of physical rest needed to promote recovery or the best timing and approach for returning to full physical activity.

Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture reviews the science of sports-related concussions in youth from elementary school through young adulthood, as well as in military personnel and their dependents. This report recommends actions that can be taken by a range of audiences – including research funding agencies, legislatures, state and school superintendents and athletic directors, military organizations, and equipment manufacturers, as well as youth who participate in sports and their parents – to improve what is known about concussions and to reduce their occurrence. Sports-Related Concussions in Youth finds that while some studies provide useful information, much remains unknown about the extent of concussions in youth; how to diagnose, manage, and prevent concussions; and the short- and long-term consequences of concussions as well as repetitive head impacts that do not result in concussion symptoms.

For more information & to read the free PDF, go to the NAP website.

Video from this year’s Risk Science Symposium with Mark Lynas now available

The Risk Science Center has announced that the video of this year’s Bernstein Symposium is available online.  If you weren’t able to attend, it was a fascinating lecture and panel discussion: Why Is It Hard to Pivot Based on Science?

Mark Lynas, an author, journalist, environmental activist, and Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University, presented the lecture, then joined a panel for a lively discussion.

Find the link on the Risk Science Center web site.