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Selection of international news - 3

PRAHA/WORLD - 15 December 2013

Vinyl Flooring Exposes Kids to Harmful Substances

Large areas of vinyl flooring in daycares and schools appear to expose children to a group of compounds called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, scientists are reporting. Phthalates, which increase both the flexibility and durability of PVC, are key ingredients in PVC materials used in vinyl flooring and a wide range of other products, including toys, food packaging, medical devices and even pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and soaps. Scientists tested the flooring materials in 50 public and private daycares and kindergartens in Seoul, South Korea, to test for PVC. They also collected dust samples from various surfaces in the buildings and analyzed them. “This is the first study to verify the sources of phthalates with an XRF analyzer and to evaluate the relationship between phthalate concentrations and PVC-verified materials,” the scientists state.

You can read the full article in English here.

BPA in Dialysis Machine Components May Be Toxic to Patients' Cells

Levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in components of dialysis machines may be toxic to the immune cells circulating in kidney failure patients' blood, according to a new study. The hormone disruptor BPA is found in various components of dialysis machines -- or dialyzers -- that filter kidney failure patients' blood. Researchers led by Mauro Neri (San Bortolo Hospital, in Italy) analyzed the amount of BPA released by three different types of dialyzers and the effects of the released BPA on immune cells found in the blood. The investigators circulated 600 mL of cell culture media for 4 hours through the (Nipro Elisio 17H, BBraun Diacap, and Nipro Elisio 170H dialyzers. Elisio 17H released less BPA than the other dialyzers. Also, the viability was higher, while necrosis and cell death were lower in immune cells incubated in media circulated through this type of dialyzer. "Use of alternative polymers for dialyzers' components may reduce BPA elution during dialysis. However, more experiments are needed to confirm these results," the investigators wrote.

You can read the full article in English here.

 Arctic Ecosystems May Be Most at Risk from Mercury Pollution

New research from Queen’s University has shown that mercury biomagnification rates in aquatic ecosystems in the Arctic are higher than those in warmer climates.  “High Arctic ecosystems are already affected by global changes. When contaminants from human activity end up in the Arctic, they tend to stay there,” said Mr. Lavoie in a release. “Mercury will always biomagnify, but we’ve found that depending on the latitude, the degree of biomagnification will vary.” “Our study indicates that fragile arctic ecosystems may be more at risk from mercury pollution than ecosystems in other parts of the world,” says Mr. Lavoie. “In addition, arctic food webs may be slower to respond to current efforts to reduce mercury pollution. Our study highlights the need for consistent data collection and collaboration to monitor mercury in food webs across the globe.”

You can read the full article in English here

Climate Change May Magnify Toxic Chemical Dangers

A draft summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report on the impacts of global warming leaked into the blogosphere lately. The draft highlights concerns ranging from melting sea ice to diminishing crop yields to health dangers from hunger and heat waves. What it does not address, however, is the added possibility that climate change could magnify the havoc wrought by long-lasting and pervasive toxic chemicals. A new study Monday found evidence that children exposed in the womb to two organochlorine pesticides, hexachlorobenzene and PCBs, were more likely to develop asthma. A separate new study hinted at a health risk that could be tied to the hormone-disrupting potential of the chemicals. Legacy organochlorines pesticides mirex and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane were more commonly found in the blood of study participants with endometriosis than those without the condition. "Climate change is going to mobilize these POPs, so they are more likely to be encountered in our lives," said Michele La Merrill, an environmental toxicologist at the University of California Davis. "Since many of these chemicals are stored in animal fat," she added, "regardless of whether or not you're talking about climate change, one of the best things to do is to eat lower on the food chain."

You can read the full article in English here.