“A meta-analysis presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Sweden concludes that exposure to pesticides is associated with an increased risk of diabetes. Although diabetes is long-suspected as involving an interplay between genetics and environmental factors, emerging research is revealing that contaminants like pesticides may play an important role in the pathogenesis of the disease. These findings add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that pesticides play a key role in the development of a wide range of all-too-common diseases in the 21st century.”
Two new peer-reviewed studies published over the past few months are calling attention to the potential link between exposure to phthalates and diabetes, a disease that affects 25.8 million Americans or 8.3% of the US population. Over 90% of all phthalates are used to soften vinyl, such as vinyl school supplies and flooring.
The most recent study, led by researchers at Harvard, found phthalates linked to higher rates of diabetes in women. This comes at a time when the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes doubled from 1980 to 2010 in women.
They found that the diabetes rate was double for women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies, even after accounting for sociodemographic, behavioral, and dietary factors. Phthalates were also linked to higher blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, two common precursors of type 2 diabetes. In a story published by Environmental Health News, Richard Stahlhut, an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center who co-authored the study, noted:
“These findings are important clues, but it’s only a first step…It’s extremely likely that phthalates and other chemical contaminants will turn out to be a big part of the obesity and diabetes epidemic, but at this point we really don’t know how these chemicals are interacting with each other, or with the human body.”
The story notes that African Americans have a 19 percent chance of developing diabetes – a rate 77 percent higher than that of whites – and Hispanics have a 66 percent higher rate than whites. The story also notes that, “Poor women had up to 78 percent higher levels of BBP – the phthalate in vinyl flooring that was associated with a double rate of diabetes – than women living above poverty level.”
Another study published in April by the American Diabetes Association found that people with higher phthalates in their bodies had about twice the risk of diabetes as those with lower levels. Another study published last year also found a link between phthalate exposure and diabetes.
Dioxin and Diabetes
Phthalates aren’t the only vinyl chemicals that may be associated with diabetes.
The production and disposal of vinyl plastic, like the roofing and flooring in our children’s schools, is a major source of dioxin. A number of studies published over the years have linked dioxin exposure to diabetes.
For instance, author and scientist Pete Myers published a synopsis of a study a few years ago and stated that,
“A large new epidemiological study in Japan finds that even at background levels of exposure, people with higher levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are a significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes… Using a method to assess total exposure to this family of chemicals, they found that the people most exposed were over five times more likely to suffer from the health condition. Looking at some of the chemicals one-at-a-time, they found that some, by themselves, had an even stronger relationship, as high as 8 to 9 times more likely.”
This is of great cause for concern given how widespread this disease is. Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower- limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
Over time, I expect the evidence will only continue to mount linking dioxin and phthalates to these and numerous other health problems.
The question is: how much more do we need to know before we act?
(Falls Church, VA) Today the US EPA has finally released their major report on the noncancer health effects of dioxin, which for the past twenty seven years has been delayed due to interference from the chemical industry. Environmental and health groups across the country celebrated this important milestone.
“We applaud EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the Obama Administration for finalizing this important health report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “After twenty seven years of delays, I quite honestly never thought this report would ever see the light of day. Today the American people won a major victory against the chemical industry, who has been working behind closed doors for decades to hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin. The science is clear: dioxin is toxic to our children’s health and development. We strongly urge the EPA to now finish the job by finishing their review on dioxin and cancer, and to develop a comprehensive action plan to further reduce dioxin emissions and exposures. To start, the EPA should finalize the EPA’s proposed cleanup standards for dioxin at toxic sites, which have been languishing at the White House OMB since 2010. We call on the Obama Administration to dust off the prestigious National Academy of Sciences report on dioxin in food to explore innovative policies to reduce the levels of dioxin in the food supply.”
Dioxin is building up in our bodies as a result of the food we eat. According to EPA over 90% of human exposure to dioxin occurs through our diet. Dioxin is most prevalent in meat, fish, dairy, and other fatty foods.
EPA has been under enormous pressure by environmental health, environmental justice, labor, health-impacted, and Vietnam Veterans organizations to release the non-cancer health assessment in recent weeks and ever since President Obama entered office. In January a letter was delivered to EPA Administrator Jackson signed by over 2,000 organizations and individuals. Over the past month a broad coalition of organizations have written to EPA urging the agency to finalize this report. This includes the Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), Endometriosis Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Medical Association, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Vietnam Veterans of America, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Canadian Environmental Law Association, , Clean Water Action, Ecology Center, Edison Wetlands Association, Environmental Working Group, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Healthy Child Healthy World, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN), Ironbound Community Corporation, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the Lone Tree Council, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Science & Environmental Health Network, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Union of Concerned Scientists, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign, and Women’s Voices for the Earth.
In January, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent EPA a letter urging the agency to finalize this dioxin assessment. In April, Rep. Markey and 72 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to release the report.
Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. Dioxin also causes a wide range of adverse non-cancer effects including reproductive, developmental, immunological, and endocrine effects in both animals and humans. Animal studies show that dioxin exposure is associated with endometriosis, decreased fertility, the inability to carry pregnancies to term, lowered testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, birth defects, and learning disabilities. In children, dioxin exposure has been associated with IQ deficits, delays in psychomotor and neurodevelopment, and altered behavior including hyperactivity. Studies in workers have found lowered testosterone levels, decreased testis size, and birth defects in offspring of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
Dioxin’s effects on the immune system of the developing organism appear to be among the most sensitive endpoints studied. Animal studies show decreased immune response and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. In human studies, dioxin was associated with immune system depression and alterations in immune status leading to increased infections. Dioxin can also disrupt the normal function of hormones—chemical messengers that the body uses for growth and regulation. Dioxin interferes with thyroid levels in infants and adults, alters glucose tolerance, and has been linked to diabetes.
In response to anticipated concerns about dioxin in food, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) has prepared these top six tips for reducing exposure to dioxin in food:
- Eat less animal fat — buy lean meats and poultry – and cut off the fat before cooking.
- Eat fat free dairy products – or as low as you can – for dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Fish is a healthy food choice – but fish are also affected, so avoid fatty fish (such as salmon) and cut the fat off before cooking and eating.
- Purchase food products that have been grain or grass fed. Farm animals fed food with animal products that includes other animal’s fat increases the amount of dioxin ingested by livestock and increases the amount of dioxin that is in the consumer meat product.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Breast feed your babies – breast milk is still the healthiest food for your baby.
According to EPA, dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010 nationally. Dioxin air releases increased by 10%. Some of the top U.S. companies that reported releasing dioxin into the environment in 2010 were Dow Chemical, Missouri Chemical Works, Gerdau Ameristeel, Lehigh Southwest Cement, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Temple-Inland, Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products, and Clean Harbors Aragonite. Three of these facilities make chemicals to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Municipal waste incinerators, medical waste incinerators, landfill fires, and backyard burn barrels are some of the other top sources of dioxin in America.
For a copy of EPA’s new dioxin health report, visit http://www.epa.gov/dioxin
For a fact-sheet on the hazards of dioxin, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/Documents/Dioxin%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
For frequently asked questions about dioxin in food, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Dioxin-and-Food.pdf
For a detailed history of dioxin delays, visit: http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/DioxinTimeframeFebruary2012.pdf
A new study found that treating and filling cavities could be toxic to your health. Dental sealants used by Dentists to treat cavities could expose children to the chemical BPA. BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical compound used in the creation of polycarbonate plastics. It can be found in many everyday items: hard-plastic water bottles (labeled 7 on the bottom), baby bottles, baby food jars, even the linings in canned foods and beverages. Bisphenol A is acutely toxic, and the toxins can leach from the plastic into liquids, especially when the containers are heated or scratched. BPA has been the subject of controversy in recent years due to a theory that high levels of BPA in the body can influence hormone levels and increase the risk of health problems.
Materials used in white fillings or as sealants, which prevent future decay, can break down into BPA after coming in contact with saliva, says co-author Abby Fleisch, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Overall, the benefits of dental sealants outweigh the potential risks of a brief BPA exposure, says co-author Burton Edelstein, president of the Children’s Dental Health Project, who continues to recommend the procedures. BPA generally passes out of the body quickly and doesn’t build up in tissue.
Well, it’s up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. Prevention is the key.
HOW TO REDUCE KIDS’ BPA EXPOSURE AT DENTIST’S
1. Avoid dental sealants or fillings during pregnancy when possible
2. Ask the dentist to use sealants made with a material called bis-GMA, rather than bis-DMA
3. Gargle with salt water for 30 seconds after sealant is placed, or ask dentist to rub the sealant with pumice on a cotton ball, to get rid of excess material that could leach BPA
If you want more details, read more at …http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/07/dental-sealants-expose-kids-to-small-amounts-of-bpa-study-says/
Dioxin is the most toxic man-made substance on earth…and you have some for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Dioxin is pervasive in fish, beef, milk, poultry, pork and eggs. Even infants get dioxin in breast milk.
Over 1,000 people have signed our dioxin letter to EPA. Will you join them? We plan to hand deliver the letter to EPA next week!
Dioxin is a known cause of cancer. Learning disabilities, birth defects, endometriosis, and diabetes have all been linked to dioxin exposure. Dioxin weakens the human immune system and decreases the level of the male hormone testosterone.
Dioxin impacts all of us. Almost every man, woman and child in the U.S. have measurable levels of dioxin in their bodies.
Can you sign our letter to EPA? We need your help now.
Yours for a toxic-free future,
Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator
Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)