The Scholastic Consequences of Chicago’s Lead Paint Problem

By Aarian Marshall, http://www.citylab.com/

dutchboypaintIt’s killed some children slowly. It’s sent others into convulsions. But in Chicago, in the first decade of this century, a new study finds, the effects of childhood lead poisoning were more subtle—though perhaps equally as devastating. Research published in April by Environmental Health finds that even limited lead exposure in childhood is linked with dramatically lower third-grade test scores, in math as well as reading.

The researchers, mostly Chicago-based public health scientists, looked at a particularly large sample size of Chicago children—58,650—born in the Windy City between 1994 and 1998. First, they used a database of these children’s medical records, with a particular focus on the lead levels in their blood. Then the researchers compared those blood levels with those same students’ performances on third-grade standardized tests, taken in Chicago public schools between 2003 and 2006.

Even after adjusting for poverty, race, gender, and the education levels of each child’s mother, a strong link between lead in the blood and academic performance emerged: The presence of just 5 to 9 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL, the standard measure for blood-lead levels) elevated the risk of failing math and reading standard tests by 32 percent. The researchers estimated that a full 13 percent of failing test numbers in reading and 14.8 percent of failing test numbers in math were due to the effects of lead. This is particularly notable because the Centers for Disease Control only recently halved the bolo levels required for medical intervention in children—from 10 μg/dL prior to 2012, to 5 μg/dL today.

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How did housing inspectors repeatedly miss mold that disabled tenants say existed for years?

By Barnett Wright, http://www.al.com/

MoldceilingFor years, federal, state and local housing officials conducted inspections at a housing development for disabled and elderly residents in Tarrant. Repeatedly their reports made no mention of mold – even though one former resident says he had experienced problems with mold there since 2005.

But now – after media reports of dissension between two housing boards responsible for safety issues at the development — mold has been found in more than two dozen units in the Spring Gardens apartments.

A series of inspections – some annually — had turned up no traces of mold. Read more

‘Groundbreaking’ cure for deadly asbestos-related cancer could be near

By Eric Gaillard, Reuters.com

Reuters-Eric Gaillard

Reuters / Eric Gaillard

A Kiwi professor has developed a new treatment that has already saved one man’s life and could possibly help thousands more defeat mesothelioma – an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The disease results in death shortly after diagnosis.

ADRI researchers teamed up with a Sydney-based biotech company, EnGenelC, to use a “futuristic new drug delivery system that relies on nanotechnology and guiding antibodies.” Using animal models, human mesothelioma tumors have been treated with antibody-guided minicells containing microRNA mimics – a combination dubbed TargomiRs.

“We have found an amazing inhibition of tumor growth. The results were far in excess of what have been seen with other experimental therapies in this model, and we are very excited about it,” ADRI senior researcher Dr Reid said.
Putting the microRNA inside nanocells was pretty much like using a Trojan horse, Dr Reid told ABC Australia.

“A nanocell is a delivery vehicle. You can package basically anything in there that you like, so a chemotherapy drug — or in our case a mini-gene — and then it’s injected into the body.” Read more

A Surprising Source of Lead Poisoning: India’s Idols

By Thuppil Venkatesh, http://blogs.wsj.com/

Lead is ubiquitous in modern day life in India.

GaneshA serious threat to health, the metal can be found in the paint on idols and some yellow school buses as well as in battery backups packs and cheap toys. A large proportion of the paints manufactured in India are lead-based.

The annual immersion of painted idols in rivers and lakes across the country raises lead levels of the water and certain types of piping can add lead to the tap water. Even some traditional medicines contain the toxic heavy metal.

When electronics are discarded recklessly, lead can seep into the soil and contaminate ground water in residential areas.

But lead poisoning, particularly among children during growth and development, is preventable.

India only outlawed leaded petrol in March 2000 and since then, the country has moved a little way toward protecting its citizens from exposure to the metal.

Before blood-lead level testing facilities were introduced, many poisoning cases were missed. Now at least, the problem can be identified. Read more

Kittens rescued from asbestos filled abandoned home

By Lauren Pullen, http://globalnews.ca/

kittensIt’s a dangerous place to call home, but a pregnant cat in Oliver chose the roof of a dilapidated, asbestos filled house as the birthing place for her litter of kittens.

Sparrow the one-eyed cat gave birth to her kittens in April. She refused to bring them down from the roof and spent the next ten weeks bringing them food and caring for the young critters. But when a neighbour found out the home was set to be demolished in the coming weeks, she jumped into action to save the animals, calling local non-profit rescue group AlleyCATS Alliance.

With the dangers faced going into the home, the rescue group knew it couldn’t save the cats alone, and called on crews from Total Restoration in Penticton to help. Read more

Brain Fog, Weight Gain, Fatigue — the Sneaky Symptoms of Household Mold

By Yahoo Health Editors, https://www.yahoo.com

moldsymptomsWhen you hear the word mold, chances are you think of the fuzzy stuff growing on the leftovers in your fridge, or the shower scum that develops on your bathroom tile when you’ve slacked on cleaning. But the truth is, some mold isn’t just an icky sign of neglect — it can be toxic, even deadly.

Dave Asprey — the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur behind “The Bulletproof Executive” blog and Bulletproof Radio podcast — has released a new documentary calledMoldy, which explores the hidden health dangers associated with mold toxicity. (A screening of the film is available for free now until June 14, and can then be purchased through the documentary’s website as a DVD or digital download).

The documentary is personal to Asprey who suffered from mold toxicity. He says it’s a problem that potentially impacts hundreds of millions of people — even if they don’t know that’s what is making them sick.  Read more

Lead fishing tackle ingested by fish is killing loons and other birds

By Samantha Stark, http://www.dl-online.com/

leadtackleLead’s widespread use has resulted in worldwide environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems.

Lead is an extremely toxic element that, over the years, has been removed from water pipes, gasoline, paint and other sources due to extensive health issues in humans, animals and the environment. Yet toxic lead is still entering the food chain through widespread use of lead fishing tackle.

Thousands of cranes, ducks, swans, loons, geese and other waterfowl ingest lead fishing tackle that was lost in lakes and rivers each year, often resulting in deadly consequences.

“All it takes is one small lead jig to kill a loon,” said Phil Votruba, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) watershed project manager. “It doesn’t take much.” Read more

Jury awards Oklahoma man $6 million in asbestos lawsuit

By Richard Mize, http://newsok.com/

michealGalierA Moore man who sued more than a dozen companies for what he described as decades of negligent workplace exposure to asbestos prevailed against two of them for a judgment of $6 million in a jury trial in Oklahoma County District Court.

Michael D. Galier, 51, filed the product liability lawsuit in 2012 after he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. A jury found for him in his claims against Murco Wall Products of Fort Worth, Texas, and Welco Manufacturing Co. of North Kansas City, Mo.

The jury found a third defendant, Red Devil Inc. in Tulsa, not liable. Judge Bryan C. Dixon dismissed Oklahoma City’s M-D Building Products Inc., formerly Macklanburg-Duncan, from the suit last year but did not bar Galier from filing another suit on the same claims.

Jurors awarded no punitive damages in the case, which was decided May 18.

Galier, who owns and maintains rent houses, referred questions to attorney Jessica Dean of the Dallas law firm Dean Omar Branham.

Dean said asbestos lawsuits rarely go to a verdict. Her response to the success of this rare case?

“Grateful,” Dean said. “The jury was thoughtful and attentive in a case that lasted over two weeks. The company lawyers had more lawyers and resources and argued everything to muddy the issues. We focused on the central issue: Mike worked in home construction for years where these companies supplied asbestos products and did so when they were fully aware that those using the products and their families were at real risk of dying from cancer.” Read more

How Germs Might Shape the Future of Architecture

By Vicky Gan, http://www.citylab.com/

We know that buildings can make us sick. Take, for example, cases of lead poisoning, mold exposure, or the aptly named Sick Building Syndrome. But cabiobuildingn they also make us healthier? Scientists are trying to answer that very question, starting with detailed studies of the microbes that populate our homes and offices. The end goal? Using this information to design structures constructed with bodies in mind.

This is a big shift in how we’ve previously conceptualized microbial life. We’ve long treated bacteria as the enemy. But it turns out that few of the germs we’re constantly trying to kill with hand sanitizer actually cause disease—and the more bacteria we have on the whole, the better. In fact, our habit of ultrasterilization appears to be hurting us. A number of recent studies have lent credence to the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which attributes the uptick in autoimmune and allergic diseases, including eczema and asthma, to a lack of early childhood exposure to germs. Read more

Pet allergies are big business

By Darcy Reynolds, http://www.columbusceo.com/

allergydogIt’s that dreaded season. Allergens are bountiful and wreaking havoc on our eyes, noses and throats. But the allergy suffering isn’t exclusive to humans. The misery many of us have to deal with can extend to our very best friends; our beloved household pets.

Allergic symptoms in dogs and cats can translate into frustration, misery and big business. If you have spent time in the company of a favorite canine and witnessed persistent licking and paw chewing along with incessant scratching, red skin and “hot spots” plus itchy ears and runny eyes, you are likely watching the effect of allergies in action. Cats, too, present allergies in a similar manner along signs such as hair loss, scabs or open sores, excessive scratching and discharge in the ears.

In both people and pets, an allergy is a state of hypersensitivity in which exposure to an allergen induces the body’s immune system to overreact. Gwendolen Lorch, DVM and assistant professor of dermatology at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, believes cases of pet allergies are trending upward, particularly in the Midwest. “Puppies that are bred and raised in Arizona may never present themselves with an allergy. But for areas like Ohio, an average vet practice may treat pet allergies and related ailments in 30-40 percent of all appointments booked,” Lorch says. Read more

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