July 13th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
Hidden in perfumes, scented lotions, food packaging and even synthetic leathers are a type of chemical called phthalates. Most people in the United States are exposed to phthalates, and levels tend to be higher in women than men.
A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives examines whether there is a connection between phthalates and diabetes in women. Researchers did find an association but did not prove that the chemicals cause diabetes.
Researchers found that the risk of having diabetes was twice as high in women with the highest levels of certain phthalates, compared with women with the lowest levels. Looking at the data a different way, there would be about 40 extra diabetes cases per 1,000 women when women with high levels are compared to women with low levels.
June 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, the Natural Resources Defense Council has released its annual beach quality report and it’s not pretty.
According to NRDC, a large number of U.S. seashores continue to suffer from storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can cause swimmers to become very ill.
The report, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, looks at 2011 data collected from test results taken at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide. It examines the pollution factors that affect these U.S. vacation spots and calls for public efforts to clean up.
The report found that last year the nation’s beach waters continued to be affected by serious contamination and pollutants from human and animal waste. As a result, America’s beaches had the third-highest number of closings or advisories in the report’s history, with the second-highest number occurring just the year before. Progress, according to the report, is not being made.
June 26th, 2012
10:01 AM ET
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators are not using the best available science in their assessment of bisphenol-A's (BPA) safety, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Endocrine Society.
"Testing needs to include models of developmental exposure during critical life periods when organisms may be most vulnerable to even very low-dose exposure," says the world's largest group of researchers and clinicians who study how hormones function.
For a typical poison, a higher dose correlates directly with greater toxicity, but endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA may be counter-intuitively more potent at lower levels, and during "windows of vulnerability" such as pregnancy, explains a 2009 scientific statement by the Endocrine Society.
That poses a problem for regulatory agencies' screening tests, which are based on traditional toxicology and do not detect the low-dose effects of chemicals on the endocrine system, said Frederick vom Saal, who co-authored the Endocrine Society's new statement.
June 20th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.
Introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in February, the resolution was a challenge to the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
But Inhofe said the bill was specifically designed to kill the coal industry and the good paying jobs it provides. He led the charge to repeal the protections and vowed to keep fighting what he called the Obama administration's "damaging regulatory regime."
June 19th, 2012
07:11 AM ET
Apples and celery are still agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report. The report names the fruits and vegetables ranking highest in pesticide residue.
Cucumbers were added to the 2012 Dirty Dozen, while Kale and collard greens were moved from the list to join green beans in a new “Plus” category.
The category was created this year to highlight crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but are still commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system.
Also included on the Dirty Dozen list are:
June 14th, 2012
07:15 AM ET
Lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill over an EPA rule to reduce air pollution from the nation's power plants.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency approved the controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (or MATS; also known as MACT), the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
The new standards set work practices that include an annual performance test program for new and existing electric generating units. This would include an inspection, adjustments, maintenance and repairs.
"Utility MACT is specifically designed to kill coal as well as all the good paying jobs that come with it," Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "The vote on my resolution will likely be the one and only opportunity to stop President Obama's war on coal - this is the one chance for my colleagues to show their constituents who they really stand with."
May 22nd, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Several years after dust from the World Trade Center twin towers found its way into thousands of homes and nearly every crevice in lower Manhattan, area residents still suffered health problems, according to a new study.
People living in homes damaged after 2001's Trade Center attacks were more likely to report respiratory illness or disease years later, when compared with people whose homes were not damaged, according to a recent analysis of World Trade Center Health Registry data.
May 3rd, 2012
12:01 AM ET
Planting season is here. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, a new study is raising a red flag about some of the products you might be using.
Researchers for the Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental group tested nearly 200 common garden products and found two-thirds of them contained significant levels of one or more toxic chemicals they ranked of "high concern." The data was published on the website HealthyStuff.org.
April 30th, 2012
06:38 PM ET
Chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide, may be subtly influencing brain development in children, according to a new study. The brain abnormalities, found among a very small population of school-aged children, may have occurred while they developed in utero.
What is troubling, according to scientists, is that relatively low levels of chlorpyrifos appear to have caused the cascade of brain changes.
"It's out there and we do not know what the longer term impact is of lower levels," said Virginia Rauh, professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and the study's lead author. "But it does seem to be associated with cognitive damage and structural changes in brain."
April 6th, 2012
07:46 PM ET
Is there "Arsenic in Our Chicken?" That's the title of a recent article by New York times columnist Nicholas Kristof that has caused an online feeding frenzy, so to speak.
The answer is yes - sort of. The claim of arsenic appears largely based on a study co-authored by Keeve E. Nachman in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The study found levels of arsenic in feather meal, which is made from chicken feathers and used as feed for poultry, hogs and fish, among other things.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.