Selected category: Health Science

Pollution is responsible for 9 million deaths globally: Two-thirds are due to air pollution

Dr. Ananya Roy is a Health Scientist

Over the last few weeks as forest fires engulfed large areas of California, air quality in the Bay area plummeted. Doctors and pediatricians were on high alert to deal with the health impacts felt most acutely by children and the elderly. Pediatrician’s offices had phone messages that said “If you are concerned about air pollution and calling to make an appointment for your child’s asthma please dial …” and advised citizens to use face masks and air purifiers and stay indoors. News outlets compared air pollution levels there to winter days in Beijing or New Delhi where air pollution is a more consistent threat. These fires drive home the reality of the effect of pollution on health.

Time and time again pollution related news from across the country and globe have made headlines, ranging from lead and PFOAS in water Flint and Hoosick Falls, benzene in Houston, to the “Airpocalypse” in Beijing and New Delhi. Though these articles highlight the disastrous effects of pollution from major pollution and weather events, the constant and ongoing silent impact of air pollution on the lives of children and communities remains underappreciated.

GAHP, The Lancet Report

Today, the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), Pure Earth, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with additional coordination and input from United Nations Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Bank, and others provide the first comprehensive global analysis of the health and economic impacts from all forms of pollution (air, water, soil, occupational). My colleague Elena Craft and I were contributors to this report.

The analysis carried out through the Global Burden of Disease framework estimated that pollution across air, water, soil, and occupational exposures costs the global economy $4.6 trillion per year, approximately 6.2% of global GDP, and resulted in 9 million deaths in 2015. This is equivalent to 16% of all deaths worldwide. Three times more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined; and fifteen times more than all wars and other forms of violence.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Health Policy| Tagged , | Read 1 Response

More than 50 public health scientists sign letter opposing Dourson’s nomination for EPA's toxics office

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Today a letter was submitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee signed by more than 50 public health scientists from dozens of universities voicing their strong opposition to the nomination of Michael Dourson to lead the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).

The scientists' letter states, in part:

Granting Dr. Dourson the responsibility of overseeing EPA OCSPP would threaten the agency’s ability to credibly and effectively address harmful chemical exposures.  Dr. Dourson has built a career of abusing science to mischaracterize real-world chemical risks and in doing so has jeopardized public health, including the health of those most vulnerable among us like pregnant women and children.

The letter comes in advance of a vote on his nomination by the Senate Committee, currently scheduled for this Wednesday at 10am EDT.  If he is voted out of committee, a majority vote of the full Senate would then be required for his nomination to be confirmed.

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

No end to chemicals for which the Trump nominee to head EPA’s toxics office has conflicts of interest

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[My colleague Ryan O’Connell assisted in the research described in this post.]

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

In a series of earlier posts to this blog, we have described and documented numerous conflicts of interests that Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s nominee to head EPA’s toxics office, would bring to the job if he is confirmed.

(A vote on his nomination by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is currently scheduled for this Wednesday at 10am EDT.  If he is voted out of committee, a majority vote of the full Senate would then be required for his nomination to be confirmed.)

Dourson has worked on dozens of toxic chemicals under payment from dozens of companies.  Two consistent patterns emerge when his reviews are examined:  The process he typically uses to conduct his reviews is riddled with conflicts of interest.  And his reviews typically result in him recommending “safe” levels for the chemicals that are weaker, often much weaker, than the established standards in place at the time of his reviews.

If confirmed, Dourson would oversee most of the chemicals and companies he has worked on and with.  The chemicals include numerous pesticides coming up for review shortly under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as three chemicals that are among the first 10 EPA is now considering under the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

To further gauge the impact Dourson could have if confirmed, we have looked a bit farther down the road.  TSCA requires EPA to be conducting risk evaluations on at least 20 chemicals by December 2019.  At least half of those chemicals are to be drawn from EPA’s so-called Work Plan for Chemical Assessments.

Using information available on the website of Dourson’s company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), as well as his published papers, we compared the list of chemicals he/TERA have worked on to those on the EPA Work Plan.  We found that 22 chemicals overlap.  We then examined each chemical Dourson or TERA worked on to determine whether Dourson or TERA was paid for their work by their manufacturers or industrial users of those chemicals.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Read 1 Response

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.

 

Want more? Subscribe and listen on iTunes or Google Play, or check out Podbean to listen via desktop!

Also posted in Air Pollution, Health Policy| Tagged | Read 2 Responses

Proof in pudding: EPA toxics nominee Dourson has consistently recommended “safe” levels for chemicals that would weaken health protections

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Earlier this week the New York Times ran an article on the Trump Administration’s nominee to run the EPA toxics office, Michael Dourson.  The article detailed Dourson’s longstanding ties to the chemical industry, citing examples of work he did on specific chemicals paid for by the companies that make or use them.

What is remarkable about Dourson’s work in light of his nomination is not just his conflicts, but the fact that his paid work consistently has led to him recommend “safe” levels of his clients’ chemicals that were less health-protective than government standards or guidelines prevailing at the time.  The Times article referred to an analysis by EDF in discussing the example of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.  Chlorpyrifos is one of 10 chemicals included in EDF’s analysis, which is provided in this post.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

Modus operandi: How EPA toxics nominee Dourson carries out his work for the chemical industry

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

I’ve now examined dozens of papers and reports that EPA toxics nominee Michael Dourson and his firm, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), have published on chemicals over the past 15-20 years.  A remarkably consistent pattern of how Dourson conducts his paid work for the chemical and pesticide industries emerges from this examination.  I’ll use one example below to illustrate, but most or all of the steps I’ll describe have been followed over and over again.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed
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