EDF Health

New study links PFAS exposure and body weight regulation

Ryan O’Connell is a High Meadows Fellow

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), sometimes referred to by the broader term “PFCs” (perfluorinated chemicals), are a large class of chemicals used to make products water- or grease-resistant. They can be found in everything from nonstick cookware and clothing to food packaging and adhesives. While PFAS have useful commercial and industrial applications, these chemicals also persist in the environment and in people, and a number of them have been shown to be very toxic.

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Podcast: Hurricane Harvey's Toxic Aftermath

In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains brought unprecedented flooding to Houston and large portions of the southeast coast of Texas. The storm destroyed homes and businesses, prompted numerous rescues, and left Texans to piece their lives back together. Harvey also led to substantial releases of toxic chemicals into communities.

The Houston area is home to hundreds of chemical plants and refineries. While highly visible incidents, like the explosions at the Arkema chemical plant, dominated news coverage, toxic chemical releases from plants occurred throughout the region.

In this episode of our podcast, we spoke with EDF’s own Dr. Elena Craft, who helped spearhead efforts to monitor these releases in real-time. Elena talks about her experiences on the ground, the inadequacies of many chemical plant risk management plans, and what it all means moving forward.

 

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Posted in Climate change, Extreme Weather / Tagged | Read 1 Response

Podcast: How space travel affects human health

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave Earth?

Floating around the International Space Station and exploring new worlds may sound exciting, but space travel also poses a unique set of pretty intense health effects. Changes in gravitational force and radiation can cause physical harm to the body, while being in a small, isolated environment can take a toll on mental wellbeing. And that’s just the start of it!

Since the inception of our national and international space programs, researchers have been studying the myriad effects of spaceflight on health in hopes of developing better countermeasures as we venture farther into space.

In this episode of our podcast, we talked with Dr. Allie Anderson at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Anderson describes “puffy face bird leg” syndrome (yes, that’s a thing) among other health impacts of space travel and what hot topics are keeping folks in space medicine busy.

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Podcast: What a changing climate means for human health

Climate change poses clear threats to the environment and global ecosystems, but it also presents risks to human health. Evidence suggests that droughts, heat waves, and extreme weather events will become more severe as our planet continues to warm. These effects of climate change can directly harm people by exacerbating medical conditions such as respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease. They can also indirectly impact health as they cause food and water shortages that affect the most vulnerable among us. Our changing climate represents a challenge for public health throughout the world.

In this episode of our podcast, we spoke with Dr. Jay Lemery and Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, both physicians at the University of Colorado, about what climate change means for our health and patient care, and what the path to a healthy future looks like.

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Posted in Climate change, Medicine, Public Health / Tagged | Comments are closed

Podcast: How an ongoing collaboration can inform us about the quality of the air we breathe

Unraveling the relationship between air quality and human health has been a critically important task for protecting public health. Traditional stationary air monitors have played a central role in tracking toxic air pollutants and ensuring levels remain below legal standards, but the data they generate cannot be used to create fine-scale maps of air quality over local areas.

An ongoing, multi-group project initiated by Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach aims to fill this information gap by deploying Google Street View cars equipped with air quality monitors to amass one of the largest sets of mobile air pollution measurements ever assembled.

In this episode of our podcast, we talked with one of our project partners, Dr. Joshua Apte, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, about the first round of data collection, which took place in West Oakland, California. Dr. Apte walked us through the initial findings and shared his thoughts on what they mean for public health, as well as for local communities that may be disproportionately affected by air pollution.

 

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Posted in Air Pollution, Health Policy, Health Science / Tagged | Read 2 Responses

Podcast: You Make Me Sick! Black lung disease

Black lung disease has burdened coal miners and mining communities for generations. By the late 1960s, improvements in medicine, mining conditions, and federal regulation had led to greater coal worker protection and a subsequent decline in cases of black lung disease. However, in the last two decades, doctors have noticed an alarming trend: black lung disease is on the rise, especially among young miners.

In this episode of our podcast, we spoke with Dr. Edward Petsonk, a pulmonologist and professor at West Virginia University, about his 20 years of research on black lung disease. He unraveled how the disease develops and explained how changes in mining practices may be responsible for its uptick in recent years. Dr. Petsonk also shared the effects that this illness has on miners, their families, and mining communities across the country.

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Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Worker Safety / Tagged | Comments are closed