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Environmental Factor, January 2015

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Papers of note — cadmium, phthalates, and PAHs

By Kelly Lenox

Epidemiological study shows cadmium exposure is strongly associated with shortened leukocyte teleomere length

Milken Institute School of Public Health - The George Washington University

In the largest study to date of exposure to metals and telomere length, researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, funded in part by NIEHS, have found a strong association between environmental exposures to cadmium and blood leukocyte telomere length. Telomeres are DNA protein structures that protect the ends of chromosomes, and their shortening is associated with cell aging.

Cadmium exposures may come from inhaling tobacco smoke, eating foods grown in soil high in cadmium, or occupational exposures. “While causality was not established, the study data is consistent with other findings of harmful effects of even low levels of cadmium on health,” said Kimberly McAllister, Ph.D., NIEHS health scientist administrator. Researchers also studied blood lead levels and found no relationship to telomere length.

Citation: Zota AR, Needham BL, Blackburn EH, Lin J, Park SK, Rehkopf DH, Epel ES. 2014. Associations of cadmium and lead exposure with leukocyte telomere length: findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2002. Am J Epidemiol; doi:10.1093/aje/kwu293 [Online 10 Dec. 2014].

Researchers find link between exposure during pregnancy to certain phthalates and a drop in a child’s IQ

Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health - Mailman School of Public Health - Columbia University

NIEHS-funded researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health are the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to two common phthalates and lowered IQ of 6 to 7 points in school-age children. “While much work remains to better understand the mechanisms, this study supports earlier work that points to mental and motor impacts of phthalate exposure on children,” said Kimberly Gray, Ph.D., NIEHS health scientist administrator.

Citation: Factor-Litvak P, Insel B, Calafat AM, Liu X, Perera F, Rauh VA, Whyatt RM. 2014. Persistent associations between maternal prenatal exposure to phthalates on child IQ at age 7 years. PLoS One 9(12):e114003.

Scientists develop new technology to track polyaromatic hydrocarbons in humans

Oregon State University

Researchers in the Oregon State University Superfund Research Program, supported in part by NIEHS, have developed a new application of accelerator mass spectrometry to track polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as they move through the human body, providing new opportunities to study these potential cancer-causing compounds. “Knowing how people metabolize PAHs may verify a number of animal and cell studies, as well as provide a better understanding of how PAHs work,” said Bill Suk, director of the NIEHS Superfund Research Program.

Citation: Madeen E, Corley RA, Crowell S, Turteltaub K, Ognibene T, Malfatti M, McQuistan TJ, Garrard M, Sudakin D, Williams DE. 2014. Human in vivo pharmacokinetics of [14C]Dibenzo[def,p]chrysene by accelerator mass spectrometry following oral microdosing. Chem Res Toxicol; doi:10.1021/tx5003996 [Online 10 Dec 2014].

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