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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Chronic Fatique And Virus

For a little time now there has been the proposition that the cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome could be a particular virus. There is now some doubt about this after further research.

My view is that CFS is a complex condition with complex causes. If the body or brain has vulnerabilities either genetic or from past events or contamination then there could be a number of ways in which the immune system then reacts when either an illness or other event or events occur.

In this case a nasty virus infection does not “cause”, it simply allows the pre-conditions to exist for something else to impact. Sometimes perhaps only mild or temporary but in some cases more severely.

Yahoo News 20 December 2010

Study finds contamination in virus link to fatigue

A virus previously thought to be linked to a baffling condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome is not the cause of the disease, scientists said on Monday after their study found previous research was contaminated in the lab.

Researchers from University College London, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Oxford University said cell samples from patients in earlier studies were contaminated with the virus, known as XMRV, which is found in the DNA of mice.

This suggests the patients were not infected with XMRV and it could not have triggered their illness, the scientists said.

The finding, published in the journal Retrovirology, is the latest to contradict a U.S. study from 2009 which suggested a link between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) when the virus was found in the blood of 68 out of 101 CFS patients.

The XMRV virus has also been identified in samples from certain prostate cancer patients.

"Our conclusion is quite simple: XMRV is not the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome," said Greg Towers, of UCL, who worked on the latest study. "All our evidence shows that the sequences from the virus genome in cell culture have contaminated human chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer samples."

CFS is a debilitating condition of disabling physical and mental fatigue that does not improve with rest. It also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and affects around 17 million people worldwide.

There is no cure for CFS and scientists don't know what causes it, but many sufferers say they think their illness started after a viral infection.


Towers said it was vital to understand that this latest research did not suggest chronic fatigue syndrome is not caused by a virus of some sort. "We cannot answer that yet," he said. "But we know it is not this virus causing it."

The 2009 U.S. study that found a link had prompted hopes that CFS patients might benefit from a range of drugs designed to fight AIDS, cancer and inflammation.

But in January 2010, British researchers found no evidence of XMRV in 186 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, and two separate studies published in February also failed to identify the virus in groups of ME patients.

Towers' team said their study found that the XMRV found in the studies that linked it to CFS was from contamination by a laboratory cell line or mouse DNA.

The sequences from the contaminated cell line and chronic fatigue patient samples were very similar, they said, and this is contrary to what scientists would expect from a virus if it were spreading in humans.

Tim Peto, a consultant in infectious diseases at Oxford University who was not involved in the research, said Monday's findings meant "it now seems really very, very unlikely that XMRV is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome."

"It came as a great surprise when XMRV was first suggested as being linked to chronic fatigue syndrome," he said in an emailed statement.

"There have now been a number of attempts which have failed to find the retrovirus in other samples, and this research suggests that in fact XMRV is probably a contamination from mouse DNA."

(Editing by Alison Williams)


Given the battering the human body now has to take both from the risk of more infections by the sheer scale of modern human interaction and from a wide range of substances and chemicals increasingly powerful and unavoidable then increases in the numbers suffering severe illnesses will increase.

CFS is one of the consequences.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Hypocrisy Of Addiction

On the TV today has been a lot of discussion about the legalisation of classified drugs and the ways and means of dealing with those addicted. Much of this has turned on the issues of health, spending and nature of the trade.

The costs to health and well being as well as the personal effects on the individuals were stressed by all sides to the debate. The extent of the damage they can do are a key argument.

One strong view was put forward that in recent years the introduction of a wider range of synthetic substances both within older types as variants and newer ones not yet made illegal because they are newly devised have made the problems worse.

This is because they are far stronger, more pervasive and more potent in their addictive properties and in the nature of the damage they do to people.

Can anyone think of other substances pushed heavily for profit by ruthless commercial operators that also seriously damage health, can be addictive, that seem to be beyond the scope of any control and are now found everywhere?

Is it possible that there are more people more seriously affected and costing more to the NHS by these substances than those who use classified drugs and their allied substances?

Why is it that one bundle of damaging chemicals can incur the wrath the State and all the powers that be and medical advisers when the other is totally ignored?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Blood On The Brain

The web site Nanowerk that covers the science of Nanotechnology and its applications featured an article dated 8 December 2010 titled “Can Nanoparticles End Up In The Brain?” dealing with the issues arising from the Blood Brain Barrier and the effects of new drugs.

It is a long and complicated article and the link is given below. Also I have copied the Conclusions. It is about drugs and the treatment of diseases with more targeted and complex substances.

But this technology is not being applied only to closely monitored and regulated drugs. It is being used in a range of unregulated, untested and powerful commercial products that are designed to impact on the brain. Moreover there is limited or no research in many jurisdictions.

If the professionals in this field using it in highly controlled and examined testing and functions have so little knowledge about the risks just how much do the global consumer product companies know?

What notice of this is being taken by the relevant authorities or research in the UK? The answer to that is a simple one. None whatsoever.


Artificially manufactured particles can be applied to help overcome natural physiological barriers such as the blood-brain barrier. This phenomenon can be used to intentionally transport drugs to parts of the organism where they are needed, for example the brain.

Research is currently being conducted to determine whether nanoparticles are able to reach the brain by other mechanisms such as along the olfactory nerve. It also remains poorly known whether nanoparticles unintentionally pass the blood-brain barrier and cause potential damage.

The few available studies on the risks of nanoparticles that have entered the central nervous system are controversial. This prevents drawing definitive conclusions about the health effects of unintentional exposure of the brain to nanoparticles

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Life As We Don't Know It

The BBC have just had a run of three programmes dealing with modern multi-billion pound industries each with ranges of products forming brands within global super companies.

Through the extent and reach of their marketing and publicity and because of the way retailing has developed in both the developed and less developed world their message is now in every home, almost every media outlet and every retailer.

The programmes were about bottled water, breakfast cereals and yoghurt. The second of these have been around now for over a century in various forms but the other two as mass produced products for mass markets rather less. The many modern yoghurt brands have existed for only about forty years.

The strange thing about all of these is that the essential element in marketing them is the notion of health. Bottled water is because the tap water or local supplies are unsafe. This will be true in some places but rarely in the developed world. With cereals it will depend on the processing.

Yoghurt has been with us for thousands of years as a basic nutrition derived from milk that takes advantage of any surplus and as a versatile element in diet. In its manufactured form it has gone well beyond that and is something else altogether.

But the breakfast cereals are another matter. In the late 1960’s Robert Chote claimed that the cardboard packaging was actually more nutritious than the processed cereal. Since then all sorts of extras, mostly synthetic have been added to avoid that sort of complaint.

Then there is the sugar and recently not just ordinary sweetening but a range of artificial ones and others based on corn syrup. These are claimed to be addictive and raises the question whether this is accidental or intentional. The “healthy” yoghurts are also full of sweetening agents and other additives.

For those of us obliged to study content in detail and research them because of medical issues it is often scary to see what is what and the potential effects. Also there are the issues of what happens when you combine all this elements together in one strong package. Who knows? And who is researching?

Luckily there are some jurisdictions where there are independent and other interests who are able to chose what to look and to publish the results. It is largely from these that we learn much of what we know. This is not the case with the UK however.

Between the grip of the major companies on the politicians and the civil servants, the way research funds are allocated, on a basis that demands added value, means that very few in the UK are looking at adverse effects or causes of illness and reactions. The emphasis is on new more powerful products or medical treatments.

This means that any questioning or complaining is left to others. In the UK this means they are open to legal defamation proceedings that even if they win will ruin them. This puts a lock on the work of not only individuals but research institutes and universities. Nobody can afford to take on the big boys.

There are a lot more products and other companies selling goods on a similar basis. These often have health claims. There are all those claiming to get rid of smells. What they do get rid of is the human sense of small and the capacity of the brain to deal with it.

What is truly weird is that in the economic data it is all this stuff that is said to represent the “cost of living” and very little of the basic and/or natural foods and substances our great grandparents used.

Humanity has existed, often thrived and grown for many thousands of generations without it. Yet now the populations of the developed world and others believe and have been persuaded that life would be impossible without it.

The irony is that it might not the possible at all if we continue to use it in the form it is now supplied to us.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Flights And Fancies

It is the season to be jolly, or something. We are more or less confined to barracks gazing out at the snow and slush that is due to turn to black ice as soon as the light goes down.

Just as well we are not galloping about going to a lot of different places for one thing or another. In recent years there has been a lot less of that because of the chemical issues we have, increasingly those of fragrances.

Being at home now means staying clean.

The term “ambient air pollution” is much in use and there is a lot of it about. It is scary how far it can travel. One USA West Coast blogger found that in tests on the air in her locality there was one chemical that could only have come from China.

So here are a couple of things to think about.

The first is that the advert’s on the TV for the Christmas shopping season have a huge number selling scents of different kinds.

Take all those Alpha males who are risking becoming Omega in their ability to reproduce by their choice of the deodorant to plaster themselves with.

Then add the females seeking to attract by using products that remove them from gene pool.

On the other hand you might like to take a trip to somewhere sunny or exciting to be out in about. After a fun time at the airport you will be packed into a box for up to 18 to 24 hours in most cases with air flow systems that do not use fresh air.

Try this one, from which the poster above comes:

Now what happens when you put the two together?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Anti Bacterial As Anti Personnel

The story below has appeared in several sources and this one is a summary but does give the picture.

I have been going on about Triclosan for a little time partly because I get nasty reactions I do not like and also because of the extent of the adverse possibilities.

One is that as it is used in mouth things, if you are taking an antibiotic to say stop an infection it either impedes or disrupts the antibiotic. Used in the context of hospitals as a means of controlling infection it has meant that it is likely that people on the necessary antibiotics have been badly affected.


Toothpaste chemical 'that can leave unborn babies brain damaged'
Daily Mail, 1st November 2010 By Pat Hagan
A chemical in toothpastes and soaps has been linked with brain damage to babies in the womb.

Scientists fear pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of the chemical, called triclosan, may be putting their babies at risk. Alarming new findings suggest triclosan may disrupt the flow of blood to the uterus, starving a baby’s brain of the oxygen it needs to develop properly.

Last night researchers involved in the study called for urgent investigations into the dangers to unborn babies. Professor Margaret James of the University of Florida said: ‘We know it’s a problem. But we just don’t know how much of a problem.’

Triclosan is a powerful anti-bacterial that was developed nearly 50 years ago.
It is now commonly used in everything from toothpastes, deodorants and handwashes to washing-up liquid, anti-bacterial chopping boards and even some toys.

However, it has been dogged by concerns over its safety and earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. announced it was carrying out a major review on its safety.

In the latest study, tests on sheep showed it interferes with an enzyme that allows the hormone oestrogen to circulate in the womb. Oestrogen helps to keep open the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to the foetus. If there is too little, this artery narrows and oxygen supplies are depleted.

In the UK, the chemical’s use is covered by the EU Cosmetics Directive, which says it is safe to use but only in small doses. The maximum content allowed in any product is 0.3 per cent.

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has phased out the use of triclosan in its Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpaste and Corsodyl mouthwash. It is still used in brands such as Colgate Total.

Elizabeth Salter-Green, director of the ChemTrust, which lobbies for responsible use of man-made chemicals, urged pregnant women to avoid triclosan. Still used: Triclosan can be found in products such as Colgate Total Toothpaste

‘They should absolutely avoid anything with triclosan listed in its ingredients,’ she said. ‘We don’t all need to be using anti-bacterial soaps if we wash our hands properly. ‘It has been on our radar for many years and I’m not surprised at these latest findings.’

But a spokesman for the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association said the study in sheep did not prove the same effects would be seen in humans.
She added: ‘Much research on human and environmental safety has been done on triclosan over the years.

‘To date, it has been shown to be safe. ‘Our industry’s number one priority is consumer safety and we work with the regulatory authorities to ensure that all new research is taken into consideration. ‘In 2009, the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety, an independent body of experts reporting to the EU Commission, confirmed the safety of triclosan as a cosmetic ingredient, as commonly used, at a limit of 0.3 per cent.’


The “safe” limit is safe only in certain contexts. Where people are MCS or vulnerable to anaphylaxis then it is unsafe below that figure and it can build up in the tissues.

Whilst one small shot of scotch may be one thing, one when the effects of the previous several are still in the system can be quite different.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cleaning The Air

From Environmental Health News in the USA is a long, but easy and welcome reading item of key interest.


Household cleaners will be reformulated to clean up California smog
Kitchen cleaners, glass sprays and other household cleaning products will be reformulated to reduce smog-forming compounds under a new regulation adopted

It's the equivalent of removing half a million cars from California roads and will cost manufacturers about $50 million. The new, cleaner products, numbering about 2,000, are likely to be offered nationally.

By Marla ConeEditor in ChiefEnvironmental Health News

About 2,000 household cleaning products will be reformulated to reduce smog-forming compounds under a new regulation adopted Thursday in California.

The rule will trigger a new, mandatory wave of “green” products, including window cleaners, general purpose cleaning sprays, degreasers, oven cleaners, metal polishes, furniture sprays, heavy-duty hand soaps and spot removers.

Household cleaners, which contain highly reactive solvents known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a substantial source of smog. The new standards will reduce emissions by nearly 7 tons per day, which is the equivalent of removing half a million cars from California’s roads.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said the new rule, adopted unanimously by the board, will require companies to sell cleaners “that are effective but safe for the environment.”

Manufacturers will spend an estimated $50 million to comply with the requirements, which will be phased in over the next three years, according to an air board report. The cost to consumers will range from “no cost or negligible” for glass cleaners to 44 cents for a heavy-duty hand-cleaning soap, according to a board report.

At a hearing in Sacramento on Thursday, manufacturers of the products told the board that they support the new limits even though they will be difficult to achieve.

They are “very aggressive” and will require “very serious and costly reformulation challenges,” said Joe Yost of the Consumer Specialty Products Assn., a trade group that represents companies that manufacture the products. Still, he told the board, “we support most of the VOC limits.”

The state rule is expected to prompt nationwide reformulation of household cleaning products, since companies say it’s often more cost-effective to redesign all products than produce a separate set for California.

Many household cleaners already comply with the new restrictions, which limit the amount of VOCs in the products based on their category. For example, 69 percent of today's general purpose cleaners meet the new limit. For some products, however, it's a bigger challenge; only 10 percent of glass cleaners and furniture cleaners currently have low enough VOC content to comply.

Since the 1970s, California, facing a severe smog problem, has adopted the world’s most aggressive emission standards for a variety of sources, including cars, trucks, consumer products, paints and factories.

Most of the cleaning products already have faced two other rounds of regulation from the California air board over the past 20 years. The earlier rules already have eliminated nearly half of the VOC emissions from California’s consumer products. But they still emit 245 tons per day, or 12 percent of all the VOCs in the state’s air.

California, along with many other states, faces a federal mandate to reduce ozone, the main ingredient of smog, which aggravates asthma, reduces lung function and has other serious health effects.

Carla Takemoto, manager of the air board’s technical evaluation section, said manufacturers are expected to shift to surfactants to replace the VOCs. Found in soaps and shampoos, surfactants are compounds that reduce surface tension when mixed with water, allowing water to do much of the cleaning without strong solvents.

They are large molecules, so they have low volatility and don’t contribute to smog, she said.

“We expect to see increased use of surfactant technologies, which we think is a very viable option,” Takemoto said. “Surfactants tend to be more expensive chemicals than some of the other solvents. But because you use such a small amount of them, it’s still pretty cost-effective to use them.”

For some products, however, surfactants don’t work well. A representative of Stoner Inc., which manufactures a product called Invisible Glass, said surfactants leave streaks and haze on windows
Meeting the new standards “will not be easy,” but the company supported them, saying they “reflect the state of technology for years to come.” Yost of the industry group said the most challenging limits will be for spray floor cleaners that are used with special, lightweight mops and the heavy-duty hand cleaners.

The companies are struggling to make a spray floor cleaner that can meet the standards without leaving slippery residue left by surfactants, he said.

In the new rule, the board banned alkyphenol surfactants as substitutes for the smog-causing compounds because they are estrogen-like substances that can harm aquatic life when discharged into waterways. Alkyphenols are used in some detergents.

In their staff report, air board officials also expressed concern that some manufacturers of glass and floor cleaners and other products may switch to glycol ethers, which are exempt from the rule. A health study published last month linked glycol ethers to asthma and allergies in children.

But Takemoto said glycol ethers probably won’t be used much because they aren’t very effective cleaners and they evaporate slowly, which leaves a residue. She said the air board will watch over industry to monitor glycol ethers.

"If use were to increase we would again evaluate whether mitigation measures would be necessary," said air board spokesman Dimitri Stanich.

State officials decades ago decided to exempt glycol ethers from state smog rules because they have low volatility and don't contribute much to smog. On the other hand, air-quality officials in the Los Angeles region don't exempt them.

As a result, glycol ethers are limited in paints, which are regulated by the Los Angeles board, but not in household cleaners.

Environmental groups said they will work with the air board next year in an attempt to regulate glycol ethers.

Generally, the groups welcomed the smog-reducing restrictions, saying it will have the added benefit of improving indoor air.

“Precedent-setting regulations such as these will supply consumers with the safer products that they deserve and demand,” said Luis Cabrales, deputy director of campaigns at the Coalition for Clean Air.

“Although consumers may have difficulty drawing a connection between household cleaning products and smog…the cumulative use of these products by more than 39 million Californians results in significant emissions,” he said.

Pedro Guzman, a car washer in Los Angeles, told the board on Thursday that he has experienced skin rashes and respiratory problems from his use of window and metal cleaners six days a week. He said he supports the rules because they mean he will face fewer health risks and have a cleaner environment.

The California board must still eliminate more emissions from consumer products by the end of 2013 under its state air plan, which is enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. New rules targeting a minimum of four more tons per day are expected to be proposed next year.


As for the UK, if only………..

Friday, 26 November 2010

Phones, Tattoos & Piercing

Some or parts of this article from Science News may be picked up in other media but the full text is interesting. My personal interest lies in the last section.

All I can add is that whilst studies and articles like this have to deal with matters separately in reality there is likely to be complex interactions.

This will arise from the way the body is attempting to deal with a series of invasive elements. When this occurs at the same time as other stresses and often either infections or virus problems the effects will be enhanced.

The result in some cases will be long term consequences of one sort or another.


Science News

Hold the Phone: Prolonged Cell Use Can Trigger Allergic Reaction, as Can Body Piercing, Tattoos and Cosmetics (from ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2010)

Chatting endlessly on your cell phone can lead to an allergic reaction to the nickel in your phone, according to allergists at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix, Nov. 11-16.

From cosmetics to jewelry, body piercings to tattoos, allergies can lurk in unlikely places, allergists say.

"Increased use of cell phones with unlimited usage plans has led to more prolonged exposure to the nickel in phones," said allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, ACAAI Fellow. "Patients come in with dry, itchy patches on their cheeks, jaw lines and ears and have no idea what is causing their allergic reaction."

Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, and affects up to 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men. Contact with objects containing nickel, such as keys, coins and paper clips are generally brief, so the nickel allergy may not occur on the area of contact.

However, even in these brief encounters, nickel can be transferred from fingers to the face and cause eyelid irritation. The risk is increased by frequent, prolonged exposure to nickel-containing objects, such as cell phones, jewelry, watches, and eyeglass frames.

"Allergists are seeing increasing numbers of nickel allergy among patients," said Dr. Fonacier. "Some researchers suggest that there should be more nickel regulation in the U.S. like there is in some European countries."

Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and sometimes oozing and scarring. Avoidance of direct skin contact is the best solution.

For cell phones, try using a plastic film cover, a wireless ear piece, or switching to a phone that does not contain metal on surfaces that contact the skin, suggests Dr. Fonacier. However, identifying the allergen and avoiding it is the only long term solution.

Body Piercings & Tattoos

You can also have an allergic reaction to your body art (piercing and tattoos). Twenty-four percent of people 18 to 50 years old have tattoos and 14 percent have body piercings.

"Allergic reactions from tattoos come mainly from the pigments used to color the dye," said Dr. Fonacier. "The issue with body piercing goes back to the increasing prevalence of nickel allergies.

Some researchers suggest we delay introduction of ear piercing until children are older than 10 years."


"It's well known that our everyday cosmetic products contain many substances that cause allergies," said Dr. Fonacier. "Although the cosmetic industry is one of the largest in the world, it is not highly regulated in the U.S.

The average person uses 12 personal products a day. Those 12 products may contain up to 168 chemicals, many of which can be an irritant or a substance that causes an allergic reaction."

Nearly 22 percent of everyone patch tested for allergies react to chemicals in cosmetics, according to Dr. Fonacier. Fragrance and preservatives contained in cosmetics cause the most allergic reactions.

Common allergy symptoms from cosmetics include: redness, itching, crusting, swelling, blistering, dryness, scaliness and thickening of the skin.

Those who suspect they have allergies to cosmetics, tattoos or nickel should be tested by an allergist, a doctor who is an expert in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


I was going to joke about not using the cell phone in the shower but it would not be in good taste.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Expecting A Delivery?

The two links below were sent by a contact and it does not need much more to be said about their meaning and the implications. Clearly the more chemically based products and strong substances you use the greater the potential effect.

But I repeat my view concerning how much worse it is all getting. The products are stronger, have more impact, are more pervasive, carry greater distances and have become almost impossible to avoid in just getting about.

Even if a mother to be was making every effort to contain her personal use the odds against avoidance or contamination are huge. In my view the content of these perfume/fragrances may be worse in effect on the embryos than tobacco and even alcohol.

Should one of the health priorities be a full toxicological check with follow up advice and support for mothers in the early stage of pregnancy?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Brain Games

Checking out my mail listings, I came across this one from 2009. I may have made use of it before and sent it on to others. Also it came from a contact.

The article is a summary of a complex research paper. The basic premise is that MCS is a brain (neurological) issue that is chemical in effect. Chemicals may impact on the brain in various ways.

They may enter the bloodstream by one means or another. They may come through the skin, despite the protestations of cosmetic and personal product makers. They may come via the lungs, in that humans breath.

Breathing in humans is something else heavily discounted by makers except for those of fragrances.

They need breathing humans to sell their stuff. But the makers insist that the sense of smell in breathing cannot impact adversely on the brain or if it does only in a way that conveys either pleasure or the release of the urge to mate.

Or something.


Pro Health Library

Brain dysfunction in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009

by Ramon Orriols, et al. - October 13, 2009

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic acquired disorder of unknown pathogenesis.

The aim of this study was to ascertain whether MCS patients present brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and psychometric scale changes after a chemical challenge.This procedure was performed with chemical products at non-toxic concentrations in 8 patients diagnosed with MCS and in their healthy controls.• In comparison to controls, cases presented basal brain SPECT hypoperfusion [decreased blood flow] in small cortical areas of the right parietal and both temporal and fronto-orbital lobes.• After chemical challenge, cases showed hypoperfusion in the olfactory, right and left hippocampus, right parahippocampus, right amygdala, right thalamus, right and left Rolandic and right temporal cortex regions.• By contrast, controls showed hyperperfusion in the cingulus, right parahippocampus, left thalamus and some cortex regions.• The clustered deactivation pattern in cases was stronger than in controls (p=0.012) and the clustered activation pattern in controls was higher than in cases (p=0.012).• In comparison to controls, cases presented poorer quality of life and neurocognitive function at baseline, and neurocognitive worsening after chemical exposure.Chemical exposure caused neurocognitive impairment, and SPECT brain dysfunction particularly in odor-processing areas, thereby suggesting a neurogenic [nervous system] origin of MCS.Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009. PMID: 19801154, by Orriols R, Costa R, Cuberas G, Jacas C, Castell J, Sunyer J. Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Universitari Vall d' Hebron, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; CIBER Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Spain. [E-mail:]


The increased power of many products in the last few years and with more to come must mean many more people will be affected. Any who are already affected will have more problems.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Headbanging For Head Bangers

It has been argued to me for some time now that a possible reason for the radical increase in teenage and younger heavy drinking is in the nature and marketing of many “soft” or “energy” drinks. Today these are complex products intended to have a major impact of those who consume them.

The case is that if a youngster becomes used to quantities of these it is only a short step to the mixer alcoholic drinks now common. As often these are based on spirits then the result is often high and increasing levels of intake.

The argument does not simply apply, however, to alcohol. There are many other synthetic products now on the market designed to have high impact on the brain.

Note these words, “risk”, “dependence”, “masks the feeling” and “impairment”.


Energy drink use may lead to alcohol dependence.

E! Science News
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 in Health & Medicine

Energy drinks are commonly consumed by teens and college students A new study shows that energy drink consumption is strongly associated with increased risks for heavy drinking and alcohol dependence

These results call for more scrutiny regarding the possible negative health effects of energy drinks and public education about the risks of consuming energy drinks with alcohol

A hallmark of college life is staying up late to study for an exam the following morning, and many students stay awake by consuming an energy drink. Also increasing in popularity is the practice of mixing alcohol with energy drinks.

But these drinks are highly caffeinated and can lead to other problems, in addition to losing sleep. Unfortunately, the contents of energy drinks are not regulated.

New research indicates that individuals who have a high frequency of energy drink consumption (52 or more times within a year) were at a statistically significant higher risk for alcohol dependence and episodes of heavy drinking.

The results will be published in the February 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

Amelia M. Arria, the lead author of the study, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and a Senior Scientist at the Treatment Research Institute, said that prior research has highlighted the dangers of combining energy drinks with alcohol
"We were able to examine if energy drink use was still associated with alcohol dependence, after controlling for risk-taking characteristics. The relationship persisted and the use of energy drinks was found to be associated with an increase in the risk of alcohol dependence."

The study utilized data from more than 1,000 students enrolled at a public university who were asked about their consumption of energy drinks and their alcohol drinking behaviors within the past 12 months.

The researchers found that individuals who consumed energy drinks at a high frequency were more likely to get drunk at an earlier age, drink more per drinking session, and were more likely to develop alcohol dependence compared to both non-users of energy drinks and the low-frequency users.

The results of this study confirm and extend earlier research about the risks of energy drink consumption. A major concern is that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to "wide-awake drunkenness," where caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness but does not decrease actual alcohol-related impairment.

As a result, the individual feels less drunk than they really are, which could lead them to consume even more alcohol or engage in risky activities like drunk driving.

"Caffeine does not antagonize or cancel out the impairment associated with drunkenness, it merely disguises the more obvious markers of that impairment," says Kathleen Miller, a research scientist from the Research Institute on

Addictions at the University at Buffalo. According to her, the next steps in this research include identifying links between energy drinks and other forms of substance abuse, as well assessing the overall prevalence of energy drink use by adolescents and young adults.

"Also needed is research that directly assesses students' reported reasons for mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

Anecdotal reports suggest that part of this phenomenon may be driven by the perpetuation of myths (e.g., mixing alcohol and caffeine reduces drunkenness, prevents hangovers, or fools a breathalyzer test) that could be debunked through further education."

Arria agrees, adding that further research and regulations are needed to curb this disturbing trend.

"The fact that there is no regulation on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks or no requirements related to the labeling of contents or possible health risks is concerning."


This is about what can happen in the brain. It not simply psychology or drives, it is chemical effects on a highly complex biological system.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Imitation Is The Greatest Form Of Flattery

The item below is very difficult and needs a great deal of thought. It is extracts from the full article. What it tells us is that the science of applying nanotechnology to medicine and the delivery of drugs is well on the way to mimicking the way a virus works in affecting the human body.

Clearly, if this can be done for a medicine intended to assist the body, it can be done with substances designed for another purpose. The difference is that for the most part, medicines are regulated, are obliged to be tested and there is supervision and examination of the effects.

As we know there is a vast range of household and personal products that do not have any of these safeguards and are produced almost regardless of the costs to health in both the short and long term.


Virus-Inspired Design Principles of Nanoparticle-Based Bioagents

Hongyan Yuan, Changjin Huang, Sulin Zhang*
Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America


The highly effectiveness and robustness of receptor-mediated viral invasion of living cells shed lights on the biomimetic design of nanoparticle(NP)-based therapeutics.

Through thermodynamic analysis, we elucidate that the mechanisms governing both the endocytic time of a single NP and the cellular uptake can be unified into a general energy-balance framework of NP-membrane adhesion and membrane deformation.

Yet the NP-membrane adhesion strength is a globally variable quantity that effectively regulates the NP uptake rate. Our analysis shows that the uptake rate interrelatedly depends on the particle size and ligand density, in contrast to the widely reported size effect.

Our model predicts that the optimal radius of NPs for maximal uptake rate falls in the range of 25–30 nm, and optimally several tens of ligands should be coated onto NPs.

These findings are supported by both recent experiments and typical viral structures, and serve as fundamental principles for the rational design of NP-based nanomedicine.

In this article, we aim to establish guiding principles for the biomimetic design of NPs with high uptake rate, one of the key parameters that assess the efficacy of NP-based therapeutics.

Noting that correlating the biophysical parameters of NPs with the uptake rate may analytically be complex, we circumvent the difficulty by separately deriving the endocytic time of a single NP and the equilibrium cellular uptake when immersing the cell in a solution with dispersed NPs.

The endocytic time and cellular uptake together indicate the uptake rate. From thermodynamic analyses, we reveal that particle size and ligand density interrelatedly govern the uptake rate. The interrelated effects can be interpreted from a general framework of energy balance between NP-membrane adhesion and membrane deformation.

The interrelation suggests that tailoring only one design parameter may not be effective to achieve high uptake rate. We construct a phase diagram of the uptake rate in the space of particle size and ligand density, which may serve as a design map for NP-based therapeutics. Finally, we extend our discussions by including the effects of other relevant biophysical parameters.


Through thermodynamic analyses, we revealed that the endocytic time of a single NP and the cellular uptake when immersing the cell into a solution with dispersed NPs are governed by the unified framework of energy balance between adhesion and membrane deformation.

We established phase diagrams in the space of particle size and ligand density for both the endocytic time and the cellular uptake. We identified from the phase diagrams the lower (upper) bounds below (beyond) which the endocytic time goes to infinite or the cellular uptake vanishes.

We further revealed that the mechanisms governing the lower and upper bounds of the endocytic time and the cellular uptake are the same: the lower bounds correspond to the enthalpic limit of the NP-membrane adhesion strength, while the upper bounds to the entropic limit.

The computed endocytic time and the cellular uptake allow us to define the uptake rate. It should be mentioned that the uptake rate defined here is different from what is typically measured in experiments [13] since the complex dynamics of receptor binding and debonding with NPs is not fully taken into account.

However, it may still serve as an important index to assess the uptake efficacy of NP-based therapeutics. The optimal size at which the uptake rate maximizes agrees with experimental data [8], [13], [14], [18]. Our model also predicts that, optimally several tens of ligands should be coated onto the NP surface in order to achieve high uptake rate.

These findings are supported both by the experimental data and the typical viral structures. The interrelated dependence of the uptake rate on the particle size and ligand density predicted by our analysis invites well-controlled experiments for further validation.

We further discussed the effects of other relevant biophysical parameters on the uptake rate, including the receptor density, the relative energy scale of ligand-receptor binding energy and membrane bending rigidity, membrane tension, and the bulk density of NPs. All the effects can be coherently interpreted by the variation of the enthalpic and entropic adhesion strength.

The phase diagram of the uptake rate in the space of particle size and ligand density thus serves as a design map that guides the rational designs of NP-based bioagents for biosensing [38], [39], bioimaging [40], [41], and drug delivery [42], [43].


Brilliant work, but only in the right hands for the right purpose.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Power And Particles To The People

Another article below on the subject of ultrafine particles. Because of recent efforts in sampling air pollution and analyzing the content coupled with new means of examining the results we know that air pollution of the past may have been worse than we thought.

This might account for many of the increasing health issues of one sort or another across the generations, in particular those involving respiratory and neural conditions. Also, ultrafine particles are nothing new, it seems they have been with us for some time.

So what happens if you add unlimited quantities of other ultrafine particles in domestic or public environments that are derived from strong synthetic chemicals and designed to impact, adhere, carry distances and last indefinitely?


EScience News and Physorg
Friday 5th November 2010

Aerosol particles form in nighttime plumes from coal-fired power plants

Many studies show how daytime emissions from coal-fired power plants lead to ultrafine particles, linked to climate and health issues. But few studies watch what happens at night, when conditions favor different reactions.

Now, thanks to a team of scientists led by Dr. Rahul Zaveri of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, we know pollutant gases given off at night, which remain concentrated in the atmosphere, can react with naturally occurring compounds to form troubling aerosols.

These ultrafine aerosols are a major component of haze and contribute to health problems, such as chronic bronchitis, and are enough of a concern that the Environmental Protection Agency regulates their concentrations. These pollution particles are also implicated in climate change issues at regional and global scales.

The present work will lead to better computer models for air pollution, which do not currently take into account the nighttime birth and growth of ultrafine particles.
The team of scientists performed 17 research flights using the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Gulfstream-1 aircraft during the 2002 New England Air Quality Study field campaign.

During the day, regional surveys were performed in the southern New England and Mid-Atlantic states. The nighttime data were gathered over the Boston urban area and in the Salem Harbor power plant plume. Repeated aircraft sampling in the power plant plume was guided by a constant-altitude Mylar balloon (filled with helium and air) that was released near the power plant at sunset.

The balloon was equipped with small, light-weight instruments to measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and ozone. The balloon also carried a GPS transmitter to allow the scientists onboard the aircraft to locate its position as it floated downwind through the course of a night.

On the evening of July 30, 2002, the team tracked the Salem Harbor power plant plume with the help of the balloon for a period of 7 hours over a distance of 170 miles, from Boston to about 85 miles south of Martha's Vineyard.

The specialized instruments onboard the aircraft sampled the plume for aerosol particle size distribution and composition as well as concentrations of pollutant gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

In analyzing this data, a multi-year task, the team found that at night, the concentrated power plant exhaust creeps atop the temperature inversion in the air where the atmosphere is relatively calm, allowing time for different kinds of chemical reactions that might not occur during the day.

In the absence of photooxidation, ultrafine sulfate particles form from the small amounts of sulfuric acid that is often directly emitted from the power plant. Additional aerosol mass composed of organosulfate and organonitrate chemicals can then form via nitrogen oxide-initiated oxidation of VOCs from natural vegetation (e.g., isoprene) in the presence of highly acidic ultrafine particles.

Further laboratory, field, and modeling studies are needed to fully understand the complex nighttime aerosol chemistry in the atmosphere, and how the nocturnal pollution contributes to poor air quality, health problems, and climate change.

More information: Zaveri RA, et al. 2010. "Nighttime chemical evolution of aerosol and trace gases in a power plant plume: Implications for secondary organic nitrate and organosulfate aerosol formation, NO3 radical chemistry, and N2O5 heterogeneous hydrolysis." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 115: D12304. DOI:10.1029/2009JD013250


Just how much stuff is out there in the air?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Feeling Tired?

This morning we are feeling very tired, despite a good nights rest. Yesterday we were out, but it was not a heavy day and it all went quite well.

Up to a point.

What we did get was a heavy hit from perfumes/deodorants. For over two years now we have been doing a rigorous analysis of where the fatigue is coming from and why. This developed from ongoing rigorous checking out of all things because of my anaphylaxis to a particular chemical in common use.

It was further developed after a nasty winter virus left my wife with gluten reaction. She had already had some food intolerances for a time and also had reacted to hair colourings. We have never used fabric conditioners and have had problems with some detergents.

So yesterday we started off fresh and feeling fine. During the course of the day we do not eat or drink anything we have not carried. This is plain filtered water and foods made up and home and carefully sourced. We even know the farms where the meat comes from.

It is all balanced between protein and other stuff. No alcohol, no caffeine, no manufactured energy bars or drinks, no processed foods, no carbo heavy stuff designed to give you a kick and then leave you flat wanting more.

The travel is planned to avoid people as far as possible and the trains and stations picked also to minimise any contamination both in timing, location and facilities.

The journey there goes well and also the journey back is no problem. It is the kind of day we have done very often in the past. All the people we are in contact with are pleasant and good to be with. There is no incidental stress, no rushing and no worry. The waiting areas are open, spacious, and uncrowded.

The problem is in the auditorium. There is a young male nearby with a killer deodorant and unluckily one or two others with perfumes all too likely derived from unreliable sources and with synthetic musks banned in other countries. It is not good. It is not a long do so we manage to get through to the end.

But we have taken a heavy hit, enough to put us up to a Scale 3 Reaction in a scale of five with my wife’s verging on four. All the reaction boxes are being ticked. By the time we are home we are aching all over and very very tired. It can only be the air pollution in the auditorium that did it.

The problem not is how long the fatigue will last. The train journey back was fine, no trouble apart from the train overshooting a platform, the conductor losing his whistle and the train announcement being the wrong way round. It gave us all a laugh.

Now to see how long recovery will take. This morning we are better but there is not much in the tank. A couple of clear days may see us OK.

The serious about this kind of fatigue effect is the progressive effect. Because a little while back we had a run of events, six within two weeks, that all had the potential for the same problems. Same kind of journeys, same place, same pattern. Then, with all the same precautions we managed to avoid any heavy hit.

We did have reduced contamination because the air pollution in the auditorium is unavoidable although sometimes much lower than others. Even this began to give us problems because the recovery period between events was not enough to clear the effects of even relatively minor pollution and contamination.

By the time the run of events was over the progressive fatigue was taking its toll. This was despite the rigour described being applied over the whole period to all our eating, drinking and activities. We were whacked out by the pollution.

It took some days of careful management of the way we went about things to gain recovery to the point when we were feeling back to normal and fully functioning, given our age, again.

But what would it have been like if we were not retired and able to manage our lives? If we were not able or did not know how to manage our eating, drinking, cleaning and general routines to avoid pollution and contamination?

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who know exactly what I mean.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Knock On Effects

The article below is interesting for its general implications. If it is accepted that ‘flu can have secondary effects then do other virus infections do the same? It is claimed that some medical issues often follow such an infection.

If one infection can lead to others of differing types because of the complexity of the human body and invading entities then why is not possible for chemical and allied reactions to be the consequence of other conditions?


H1N1 Flu Linked to Serious Bacterial Infections in Children

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2010)

The H1N1 influenza pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the number of children with a serious "secondary" bacterial infection called empyema in children, suggests a study in the October issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

"Cases similar to those described here are likely to continue until the pandemic is over and thus represent an opportunity for prevention," the researchers write, led by Dr. Krow Ampofo of University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City.

They emphasize the importance of keeping children up to date with recommended influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, and prompt antiviral drug treatment for patients who develop influenza signs and symptoms.

H1N1 Linked to Increased Rate of Empyema in Children

The researchers analyzed data on children diagnosed with empyema at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City from 2004 to 2009. Empyema is an infection involving the pleural tissues surrounding the lungs, most often occurring as a complication of pneumonia. Empyema is a serious condition, frequently requiring a chest tube or surgery to drain infected fluid from the chest.

During the last three months of the study period -- the spring and summer of 2009 -- there was a severe outbreak of H1N1 influenza in Utah. During this time, 604 children were diagnosed with H1N1 infection. Of these, 117 were hospitalized -- a rate of 19 percent.

From May through June, 2009, there was a significant rise in the number of children with empyema, compared to previous years. Twenty-one cases were diagnosed -- nearly double the average of 10.8 cases during the same time of year in 2004 to 2008.

Cases of empyema peaked in June, 2009, when 12 cases are diagnosed. This compared to an average of 3.5 children with empyema per month in June of other years. (In a typical year, most cases of empyema occur during the winter months, when seasonal influenza and other respiratory diseases are at their peak.)

All of the children diagnosed with empyema during from May to June, 2009, had a "flu-like illness" before hospitalization. Most children with confirmed influenza were infected with H1N1. The most common bacterial causes of empyema were strep bacteria, including pneumococcal bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae).

In patients with influenza, pneumonia and other secondary bacterial infections can occur. Empyema is an uncommon but serious complication of pneumonia.

Data on 2009 H1N1 pandemic in the United States suggest that secondary bacterial infections contribute to many deaths in patients with H1N1. With proper treatment for empyema, there were no deaths among the children in the Utah study.

The study can't prove any cause-and-effect relationship between H1N1 and the increase in children with empyema. However, the reported "temporal association" suggests that doctors should be alert for pneumonia, empyema, and other secondary bacterial infections in children with H1N1.

Young children (along with older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions) are a high-risk group for serious complications of H1N1 influenza.

"There is an urgent need to better understand bacterial complications of pandemic influenza," Dr. Ampofo and colleagues write. "In the interim, influenza vaccines, antiviral agents, and pneumococcal vaccines should be used to prevent cases of secondary bacterial pneumonia whenever possible."


I have seen one theory that a number of deaths during the Spanish Flu’ epidemic of 1918-19 may have occurred because of heavy dosages of aspirin. At that time aspirin in high dosages was not thought to have serious consequences but now we do know.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Your Place Or Mine?

This article needs no comment, it says it all.


Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals - October 26, 2010

The sweet smell of fresh laundry may contain a sour note. Widely used fragranced products, including those that claim to be "green", give off many chemicals that are not listed on the label, including some that are classified as toxic.

A study led by the University of Washington discovered that 25 commonly used scented products emit an average of 17 chemicals each. Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law.

Only one emitted compound was listed on a product label, and only two were publicly disclosed anywhere. The article is published online today in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

"We analyzed best-selling products, and about half of them made some claim about being green, organic or natural," said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs.

"Surprisingly, the green products' emissions of hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products."

More than a third of the products emitted at least one chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and for which the EPA sets no safe exposure level.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose any ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products, all of which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Neither these nor personal care products, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are required to list ingredients used in fragrances, even though a single "fragrance" in a product can be a mixture of up to several hundred ingredients, Steinemann said.

So Steinemann and colleagues have used chemical sleuthing to discover what is emitted by the scented products commonly used in homes, public spaces and workplaces.

The study analyzed air fresheners including sprays, solids and oils; laundry products including detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets; personal care products such as soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorant and shampoos; and cleaning products including disinfectants, all-purpose sprays and dish detergent.

All were widely used brands, with more than half being the top-selling product in its category. Researchers placed a sample of each product in a closed glass container at room temperature and then analyzed the surrounding air for volatile organic compounds, small molecules that evaporate off a product's surface.

They detected chemical concentrations ranging from 100 micrograms per cubic meter (the minimum value reported) to more than 1.6 million micrograms per cubic meter.

The most common emissions included limonene, a compound with a citrus scent; alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, compounds with a pine scent; ethanol; and acetone, a solvent found in nail polish remover.

All products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous. Eleven products emitted at least one probable carcinogen according to the EPA. These included acetaldehyde, 1.4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride.

The only chemical listed on any product label was ethanol, and the only additional substance listed on a chemical safety report, known as a material safety data sheet, was 2-butoxyethanol.

"The products emitted more than 420 chemicals, collectively, but virtually none of them were disclosed to consumers, anywhere," Steinemann said.

Because product formulations are confidential, it was impossible to determine whether a chemical came from the product base, the fragrance added to the product, or both.

Tables included with the article list all chemicals emitted by each product and the associated concentrations, although they do not disclose the products' brand names.

"We don't want to give people the impression that if we reported on product 'A' and they buy product 'B,' that they're safe," Steinemann said. "We found potentially hazardous chemicals in all of the fragranced products we tested."

The study establishes the presence of various chemicals but makes no claims about the possible health effects.

Two national surveys published by Steinemann and a colleague in 2009 found that about 20 percent of the population reported adverse health effects from air fresheners, and about 10 percent complained of adverse effects from laundry products vented to the outdoors.

Among asthmatics, such complaints were roughly twice as common.

The Household Product Labeling Act, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to list ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry supplies and other consumer products.

Steinemann says she is interested in fragrance mixtures, which are included in the proposed labeling act, because of the potential for unwanted exposure, or what she calls "secondhand scents."

As for what consumers who want to avoid such chemicals should do in the meantime, Steinemann suggests using simpler options such as cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, opening windows for ventilation and using products without any fragrance.

"In the past two years, I've received more than 1,000 e-mails, messages, and telephone calls from people saying: 'Thank you for doing this research, these products are making me sick, and now I can start to understand why,'" Steinemann said.

More information: More information on volatile organic compounds is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
( … iaq/voc.html)
and the National Library of Medicine (

Provided by University of Washington (news : web)


Could someone please persuade GP’s to avoid poisoning their waiting rooms?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

London used to be called “The Smoke” for very good reasons. In that time the air was usually polluted and dirty. There were times, too often, when it was filthy and all pervading. Almost all the old smoke is long gone but the air is now as bad.

You will know the reasons for that. What is different is that the old smoke and dirt could be washed out and with care clothes restored to cleanliness and without the staleness nastiness of the time.

As for the locomotive in the picture, I knew it well and its class. They were almost part of my upbringing, the old Midland Compounds this one coming out of St. Pancras Station.

We have been up and down to London on a run of events for one reason or another. However we now have to maintain a complete changed of clothing for such visits. On our return they have to be bagged and then washed and keep totally apart from any other clothing.

The reason is the nature of the chemical pollution, notably “fragrances”. We do not use any products with them, personal or household. The contamination is derived entirely from other surfaces they might come into contact with, for example seating, or from the air around.

The stink on them cannot be washed out fully. As we go on using them, despite the washing in non fragranced organic products, it seems to increase visit on visit. Then we have to dump perfectly wearable clothing because it has become so bad.

When we complain about this, we are told airily to “avoid” the problem. We might be able to in a complete vacuum, but there are slight technical problems with that. The only other way would be to stagger about in the full array of protective clothing and face masks with high power filtration systems.

There is a worse and even more worrying effect. It is that if the visits made are close to each other then the progressive effect of the reactions on health worsens.

The nastiest, undoubtedly, is the creeping fatigue that is progressive. After our recent run of visits it has taken days of rigorous control to come round to any sort of normality. Paradoxically, the exercise we take to assist this is more demanding physically than the business of the visits we make.

So the fatigue does not arise from increased activity, mental or physical.

Just how many people, I wonder, are being worse and worse affected in this day without being able to identify or to understand what is happening to them.

It is all too likely that some time soon if the wrong conditions arise there will be a widespread health set of issues which nobody in authority will be prepared to recognise or address.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Air Pollution Natures Way

The article below I found interesting and not just because I like checking up on what volcanoes are doing. This is about air pollution created by nature. The eruption is creating calls for research, assessment and measure for prevention because of the severe effects caused by air pollution.


Mounting Research Shows Increased Health Risks from Volcanic Air Pollution

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010)

Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's big island has been erupting on its east rift since 1983.

But, in March 2008, an additional eruption vent opened at the volcano's summit, resulting in about triple the amount of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) emissions drifting to the local community of Ka'u, raising health concerns over the risks associated with exposure to "vog," as the islanders refer to this volcanic air pollution.

A University of Nevada, Reno researcher seized the opportunity to build upon her previous research of health risks associated with exposure to vog.

Bernadette Longo, assistant professor at the University's Orvis School of Nursing, embarked on a study to compare local health clinic records for the 14 weeks prior to the March 2008 eruption on the summit, to the health clinic records March through June 2008, when the volcano's SO2 emissions tripled.

Her team's research, published in an article in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health last month, found that the clinic saw three times as many headaches and twice as many severe sore throats after the increase in volcanic emissions.

In addition, there was a 56 percent increase in cough, and a six-fold increase in the odds of having acute airway problems -- more serious respiratory problems usually requiring immediate breathing treatments or transfer to the nearest hospital for emergency care.

"The results suggest that children and adolescents are likely to be the most sensitive to SO2 exposure, which is especially concerning," Longo said. "Children tend to be mouth-breathers. When we breathe through our noses, our noses act as filters, removing about 85 percent of the harmful substances before they can reach our respiratory system and lungs," she explained.

"But, when children breathe mostly through their mouths, they don't get the benefit of the nose's filtering system."

Longo said that in addition to children, the elderly, smokers and those with existing conditions such as asthma and emphysema are also especially at risk. She has been conducting research on vog for eight years and has identified those exposed to Kilauea's vog are at greater risk of developing acute bronchitis than those not exposed to vog.

Longo also conducted studies published earlier this year in a Family and Community Health article, showing that a large percentage of the SO2 was penetrating indoors, into the Ka'u schools and hospital, especially when air conditioning wasn't installed or in use and windows were left open.

As a result, the area's schools have installed air conditioners and the hospital's ventilation system has been improved, with more improvements planned as funding becomes available.

This past summer, Longo worked with local health-care agencies and emergency-room doctors to help provide education to the community about using air conditioners if they have them, closing windows and avoiding outdoor activity during the times of heaviest exposure, 7 p.m. to 10 a.m., each day.

"It is fairly safe for schoolchildren and residents to exercise, go fishing or play outside in the afternoons, when the trade winds keep the vog out of the area," Longo said. "If people take the necessary precautions, they can lower the health risks posed by the vog, and ultimately, that is the purpose of our research," she said.

Collaborating on the most recent study with Longo was her Nevada colleague, Wei Yang, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics; Dr. Joshua B. Green from the Ka'u Hospital and Rural Health Care Clinic; and advanced practice nurses Frederick and Vickie Crosby, from the Ocean View Family Health Clinic.

Dr. Green, also a Hawaii State Senator, said that as a result of the studies, they've been able to get more doctors and nurses into the area to provide care. He says he will continue to use the research findings to garner additional support to study the effects of vog and minimize its health impacts on the island's population.

"The research has spurred quite a lot of conversation at the Department of Health, and there was a special task force created in the House of Representatives to study it," he said. "This research will help some of those recommendations to be implemented.

It's very important that we have scientific assessment of the effects of the vog. We need to continue this work in the years to come to see what the long-term effects are on our people."


Is there any other form of extensive air pollution that comes to mind?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Blocking HIghs

Before the Clean Air Acts of 1955 and later, given the air pollution then in urban areas the weather conditions could have a critical effect on health. A long “blocking high” which meant light or little wind, fog and often persistent low cloud could give air that was literally filthy in the age of coal.

Everything could be covered in soot and other particles. Keeping clean was difficult, the smell was pervasive and the fatigue induced debilitating to the many people who had lung or other problems. As the days wore on it simply became worse and worse.

It was in December 1952 that for a few days “The Great Smog” almost reduced London to a standstill when the air was thick with filth. I was there a couple of weeks afterwards and it still stank and many people were almost shell shocked.

The authorities moved quickly to fiddle the figures, reducing the period when deaths could be attributed to the illness contracted at that time. Had it been left then the figures of deaths given would have been much greater. What is not known is how many people were seriously damaged but survived some years or how many people had their live shortened in later life by the long term effects.

It is my view that we are now coming closer to something like this with the air pollution now evident. As I know from frequent visits in London nowadays the air is often quite bad. The problem is that the measures for this are related to a limited number of particles, notably traffic and industrial.

What is being missed is the gathering amount of other substances from persons and the use of many devices in most buildings outputting forms of gas and particles. The many air conditioning systems pump out heat and bad air. Also the huge increase in the number of food outlets add to the problem.

Yet much of this pollution is more dangerous because it cannot be washed out. The chemical content of personal products and air fresheners is made to be far longer lasting and designed to carry distances. Worse still it adheres and transfers easily from one surface to another.

In global terms it does not take much of a change in weather patterns to move systems about from year to year or over periods of several years. In the South East corner of England, possibly with many of the most polluted urban areas we have had a number of blocking highs this summer.

This may have delighted the manic heat seeking weather forecasters but it has been bad news for those who prefer the clean fresh wind and wet air from the lows.

I wonder if we might have a winter with a number of periods of blocking highs. If so what will be their consequences? Not only will there be bad air pollution but more heat output will worsen the problems.

There is a potential health disaster here in the making, remember 1952.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

More On Silver

This came from the Nanowerk web site and deals with silver particles. These are now routinely put into many products, including fabrics, as antibacterial. The words to consider are impact, transformation, complex, chemical and physical properties. If it difficult to understand what is happening in the sewage and water then what is going on in the body and brain. Silver is only one small item in a host of others.


Researchers identify silver nanoparticles in sewage sludge of wastewater treatment plants.

By Michael Berger 2010 copyright Nanowerk.

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Silver nanoparticles are one of the most extensively used type of nanoparticles in consumer products due to the unique antibacterial activity of silver. There have been raising environmental concerns over their adverse ecological effects, along with ionic silver potentially released from the particles (see for instance: "Toxicity of silver nanoparticles increases during storage").

"To predict the environmental impact of engineered silver nanoparticles, their characterization from environmental matrices should be pursued, yet no field-scale studies are available to date" Bojeong Kim, a research associate at The Center for NanoBioEarth at Virginia Tech's Department of Geosciences, tells Nanowerk.

"In addition, analyses examining the sizes, morphologies, elemental compositions, degrees of crystallinity and atomic structures, coatings, and aggregation states of nanosized silver particles in the environment are rare, limiting our ability to conduct a sound risk assessment. Absence of such information may be due to technical difficulties of retrieving trace levels of the silver nanoparticles from very complex heterogeneous systems."

Kim is first author of a recent research paper in Environmental Science & Technology ("Discovery and Characterization of Silver Sulfide Nanoparticles in Final Sewage Sludge Products") that was motivated by the fact that silver nanoparticles in consumer products are likely being released during and/or after the product's lifetime.

The silver nanoparticles will likely get into wastewater streams and subsequently enter wastewater treatment plants. During wastewater treatment processes, silver nanoparticles may be incorporated into the sewage sludge matrix and concentrated over time.

"Therefore, we looked for the presence of silver nanoparticles in sewage sludge materials that were collected from a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plant located in a metropolitan area of the Midwest region of the US" explains Kim. "We successfully identified and characterized the silver nanoparticles that were present in the sewage sludge materials using analytical high-resolution TEM."
This analytical high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM) study by the Virginia Tech researc field-scale nanoparticle-level information of silver sulfide (Ag2S) that was present in the final stage sewage sludge materials. They also developed and refined a sampling and TEM-sample preparation protocol for this type of very complex, heterogeneous environmental material. hers, led by Michael Hochella, provides for the first time

"Certain types of metal-based nanoparticles can transform once they are released into different environments, possessing completely different properties than those of the mother – or original – material" says Kim. "This is certainly true for the case of silver. The type and source of silver that enter the wastewater plant can vary, but they are likely to form silver sulfide in the presence of reduced sulfur under anaerobic conditions in the plant.

Therefore, the potential transformation processes and their products need to take into consideration to predict the environmental fate and entire life cycle of engineered nanoparticles."

In recent risk assessment studies, not only for silver but also other engineered nanomaterials, sewage treatment plants are considered to be key intermediate stations that control the most prominent flows of nanoparticle between anthropogenic and natural environments (see for instance: "Discovery may help manage nanoparticle wastes from consumer products").

The Virginia Tech team points out that the speciation of silver nanoparticles collected in settled sewage sludges is also valuable information to wastewater treatment plant managers for operation planning and control.

This is because the inhibitory action of engineered silver nanoparticles on bacterial communities and biofilms has been well-documented, but once they undergo transformation processes, like forming silver sulfide complexes/precipitates with sulfide, their toxicity will differ.

While this current study provides for the first time nanoparticle-level information of the silver sulfide present in sewage sludge products, and further suggests the role of wastewater treatment processes on transformation of silver nanoparticles and ionic silver potentially released from them, future studies of size-dependent reactivity, particularly solubility, of silver sulfide nanoparticles will be useful in understanding the environmental fate, influence, and entire life cycle of engineered silver nanoparticles.

As Kim points out, "first of all, at a field scale, we still need detailed information regarding silver nanoparticles levels and speciation in wastewater streams, treated plant effluent, and receiving streams from the plant. Working with very complex environmental samples is always challenging, but such studies will be very useful in understanding the environmental fate, influence, and entire life cycle of engineered silver nanoparticles."

"Secondly, the presence of silver sulfide nanocrystals in sewage sludge materials is now identified, and it is necessary to investigate the time-dependent changes in their chemical and physical properties when they enter different environments later in their life. For example, this would be the case for using the sewage sludge materials containing silver sulfide on agricultural lands as a soil amendment."

"Finally, size-dependent reactivity, particularly solubility of silver sulfide, needs to be studied. silver sulfide is known to be one of the most insoluble minerals with extremely low water solubility. The size of silver sulfide shown in our study ranged from 5 to 20 nm. At the nanosize regime, its solubility may differ from that of bulk silver sulfide, but no one has studied this systematically, yet."


Remind me, where does sewage come from?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Scratching Itch

While any sensible progress in this field is welcomed, those affected by chemical contamination and medical practitioners should not be lulled into thinking that this is the answer to determining the full nature of any reaction.

There have been times when official bodies have accepted skin tests to be the sole determinant of an allergy or the effect of particular chemicals or complex product.


Better Animal-Free Test for Chemicals That Can Cause Contact Dermatitis
ScienceDaily (June 1, 2010)

Scientists are reporting development of a fast, simple, inexpensive method for determining whether chemicals in consumer products and workplaces may cause skin allergies in people, a method that does not involve use of animals.

Their study appears in ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.
Itai Chipinda and his colleagues note the existence of public sentiment against the use of animals to determine whether ingredients in consumer soaps, shampoos and other consumer products, and workplace chemicals, may cause skin sensitization and contact dermatitis.

Chemicals cause dermatitis by bonding to proteins in the skin, and then aggravating the immune system so that redness, irritation, itching, and other symptoms occur.

Existing chemical tests use substances like glutathione that mimic skin proteins and bond to allergy-causing ingredients. None, however, are suitable for use in detecting the critical early stages of skin sensitization, the scientists say.

Instead of glutathione, Chipinda and his team developed a test with nitrobenzenethiol as the skin protein surrogate. When used on 20 different chemicals known to cause skin irritation, the test produced positive results.

It produced negative results when used to test substances that usually do not produce skin sensitization.

"This simple, rapid and inexpensive absorbance-based method has great potential for use as a preliminary screening tool for skin allergens," the report states.


For myself whilst some products certainly affect the skin, others present a nasty hit in the lungs and other reactions. At present there is a reluctance to test for these or to seek a methodology for analyzing the full scope of effects.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Flowers Of The Field

If safety, the environment and health are critical factors in the application of nanotechnology to pesticides then why are they not in the use of fine particles in household, personal care and beauty products?


New approaches needed to gauge safety of nanotech-based pesticides
Published: esciencenews dot com Monday, October 4, 2010
12:33 in Physics & Chemistry

Nanotechnology is about to emerge in the world of pesticides and pest control, and a range of new approaches are needed to understand the implications for public health, ensure that this is done safely, maximize the potential benefits and prevent possible risks, researchers say in a new report.

In a study published today in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, scientists from Oregon State University and the European Union outline six regulatory and educational issues that should be considered whenever nanoparticles are going to be used in pesticides.

"If we do it right, it should be possible to design nanoparticles with safety as a primary consideration, so they can help create pesticides that work better or are actually safer," said Stacey Harper, an assistant professor of nanotoxicology at Oregon State University.

Harper is a national leader in the safety and environmental impacts of this science that deals with particles so extraordinarily small they can have novel and useful characteristics.

"Unlike some other applications of nanotechnology, which are further along in development, applications for pesticides are in their infancy," Harper said. "There are risks and a lot of uncertainties, however, so we need to understand exactly what's going on, what a particular nanoparticle might do, and work to eliminate use of any that do pose dangers."

A program is already addressing that at OSU, as part of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

The positive aspect of nanotechnology use with pesticides, researchers say, is that it might allow better control and delivery of active ingredients, less environmental drift, formulations that will most effectively reach the desired pest, and perhaps better protection for agricultural workers.

"If you could use less pesticide and still accomplish the same goal, that's a concept worth pursuing," Harper said.

But researchers need to be equally realistic about the dangers, she said. OSU labs have tested more than 200 nanomaterials, and very few posed any toxic concerns – but a few did. In one biomedical application, where nanoparticles were being studied as a better way to deliver a cancer drug, six out of 40 evoked a toxic response, most of which was linked to a specific surface chemistry that scientists now know to avoid.

"The emergence of nanotechnology in the pesticide industry has already begun, this isn't just theoretical," said David Stone, an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.

"But pesticides are already one of the most rigorously tested and regulated class of compounds, so we should be able to modify the existing infrastructure."
One important concern, the researchers said, will be for manufacturers to disclose exactly what nanoparticles are involved in their products and what their characteristics are. Another issue is to ensure that compounds are tested in the same way humans would be exposed in the real world.

"You can't use oral ingestion of a pesticide by a laboratory rat and assume that will tell you what happens when a human inhales the same substance," Stone said. "Exposure of the respiratory tract to nanoparticles is one of our key concerns, and we have to test compounds that way."

Future regulations also need to acknowledge the additional level of uncertainty that will exist for nano-based pesticides with inadequate data, the scientists said in their report. Tests should be done using the commercial form of the pesticides, a health surveillance program should be initiated, and other public educational programs developed.

Special assessments may also need to be developed for nanoparticle exposure to sensitive populations, such as infants, the elderly, or fetal exposure. And new methodologies may be required to understand nanoparticle effects, which are different from most traditional chemical tests.

"These measures will require a coordinated effort between governmental, industry, academic and public entities to effectively deal with a revolutionary class of novel pesticides," the researchers concluded in their report.

Source: Oregon State University


Everything said here applies to all those products now being put on the market and already available in supermarkets and other outlets.