EDF Health

Selected tag(s): inhalation

Won’t we ever stop playing whack-a-mole with “regrettable chemical substitutions”?

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

In recent days, two compelling cases have surfaced of so-called “regrettable substitutions” – industry responding to concerns about the use of one dangerous chemical by replacing it with another that is less well-studied, or at least not currently in the crosshairs.

Case 1:  Chinese manufacturers of children’s jewelry, responding to concerns and restrictions on the use of lead in such products produced for export to the U.S., have replaced it with cadmium, a known human carcinogen and developmental toxicant that, if anything is even more toxic to kids than lead – but is not subject to any restrictions in such kids’ products.

Case 2:  American food product manufacturers, responding to concerns about the devastating effects on the lungs of workers exposed to diacetyl – an artificial butter flavoring used in many products, most notably microwave popcorn – have begun to replace it with closely related chemicals likely to break down into diacetyl or otherwise have similar effects.

Are we destined forever to play this dangerous variant on the game of whack-a-mole, or can something be done? Read More »

Posted in Health Science / Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Read 2 Responses

Study raises big questions about worker protection in nanotech labs

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

When it comes to chemical exposures, workers are on the front line.  Workers are usually the most likely to be exposed to harmful levels of chemicals, because they are the ones producing, processing, handling, sampling and measuring, transferring and transporting chemicals in larger and more concentrated quantities.

Throughout history, workers have been the canaries in the coal mines; the first to exhibit the health effects of hazardous chemical exposures, from scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps, to mesothelioma in shipyard and construction workers to liver cancer in vinyl chloride workers.

For these reasons, EDF has argued that workers handling or otherwise likely to be exposed to nanomaterials must be protected from harm (see our earlier posts here, here and here).  Now, a new government study published in the respected journal Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that certain comfortable assumptions about nanomaterial laboratory safety may be downright wrong. Read More »

Posted in Health Science, Nanotechnology / Also tagged , , | Comments are closed

Superficial science in new nano sunscreen report

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

I hate to say it, but Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, and the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) have done a disservice to good science and policy with their new superficial report Manufactured Nanomaterials and Sunscreens: Top Reasons for PrecautionRead More »

Posted in Nanotechnology / Also tagged , | Read 3 Responses

Hiding a toxic nanomaterial’s identity: TSCA’s disappearing act

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

In earlier posts (here and here), I discussed a notice EPA had received in July of 2008 from BASF reporting toxic effects at very low doses of a carbon nanotube (CNT) observed in a 90-day rat inhalation study.  In that notice, BASF had declared the specific identity of its CNT to be confidential business information, hence denying that information to the public.  Now, in a setting more to its liking, it appears the company has decided to reveal the identity after all. Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Nanotechnology, Regulation / Also tagged , , , , | Read 1 Response

MWCNT toxicity: Another dot to asbestos is connected

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

Some months ago, my colleague John Balbus posted here about studies finding that when multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are injected into the abdominal cavities of mice, they induce inflammation and mesothelioma-like reactions similar to those caused by asbestos.  He appropriately cautioned that – among other critical questions – these studies had not demonstrated that inhaled MWCNTs could actually move out of the lung and into the tissues where asbestos gives rise to its effects.  Well, that particular dot now appears to have been connected. Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science / Also tagged , | Read 3 Responses

Nano’s Rapid Transit System

John BalbusCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

In 2004, Gunter Oberdorster and colleagues demonstrated that upon inhalation, ultrafine particles, the dimensions of which are measured in nanometers, can move from the nasal passages of rodents to the brain via a specialized nerve called the olfactory bulb.  The evolutionary purpose of the olfactory bulb is to relay information about odors directly and rapidly from the nose to the brain.

The extent to which rapid transit via the olfactory bulb is a significant potential route of exposure to engineered nanomaterials is still an open question.  But two new papers add support for the relevance of this intriguing exposure pathway, raising important questions regarding the safety of inhaled nanoparticles.

Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science / Also tagged , | Read 3 Responses