Your Health the Week of June 22nd

Nancy Heppwritten by Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

Artificial Light and Sleep

Two articles this week address one of the most pervasive public health issues in developed countries: sleep deprivation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 labeled insufficient sleep a public health epidemic, citing its connection to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. Insufficient sleep is also linked to increased risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity and cancer as well as increased mortality.

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Your Health the Week of June 15th

Nancy Heppwritten by Nancy Hepp, MS Research and Communications Specialist

Green Space and Cognitive Development

An article in Pacific Standard this week reported on a study finding that green space at school, at home and on the commute is associated with greater working memory and attentiveness in school-age children. This finding is similar to one from last October showing that the amount of greenery around a school relates to higher math and English test scores. In both studies, detailed maps were used to assess green space—neither study looked at whether children actually get outdoors into the greenery. Continue reading

An Environmental Perspective of the American Diabetes Association’s 75th Scientific Sessions

written by Sarah Howard
Coordinator of the Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group

Sarah HowardOver 18,000 people from around the globe gathered in Boston June 5-9, 2015, for the American Diabetes Association’s premier annual scientific conference. Thanks to CHE, I was able to attend, and here summarize information I found on the development of diabetes—including environmental factors (especially chemicals), developmental origins, and the natural history of the disease.

Environmental chemicals

sign from the ADA meetingWhile there were not any sessions on environmental chemicals per se, I did find ten posters on this topic (see below for links to abstracts and online e-posters). The one that struck me most was by Su Hyun Park, who found an association between levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and beta cell dysfunction in 7-9 year old Korean children. Exposure to POPs, as well as to other chemicals, have been associated with beta cell dysfunction in other studies before, but there are few studies in humans, even fewer in children, and few at exposure levels found in the general population. (I told her I thought that hers was the most important poster of all 2373 of them and she laughed, but I stand by my opinion).

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Your Health the Week of June 8th

Nancy Heppwritten by Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

This week’s column focuses on issues that don’t generally get a lot of press: environment and aging, chemicals in our clothing, and noise.

EPA Fact Sheets on Environment and Aging

These fact sheets provide advice to either individuals or caregivers about environmental hazards including carbon monoxide poisoning, pest control, ultraviolet radiation, excessive heat, medications, vitamins and other supplements, and safe gardening. Various versions are available in several languages, in large-type and for persons of limited reading ability. The fact sheets can be downloaded for viewing or printing, or they can be ordered from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Chemicals in Clothing

image from the Ensia articleAn article from Ensia, written by Lizzie Grossman, takes an in-depth look at the problems of chemicals in clothing and initiatives to address concerns.

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Can We Be Both “Steward” and “Kin” to Better Protect Health?

written by Elise Miller, EdM

At a funder-organized meeting I attended some years ago, a woman native to Hawai’i spoke about the difference between stewardship and kinship when considering environmental concerns. She said, “In my community we do not see ourselves as stewards of what is around us. Instead we are kin.” That simple reframing spoke volumes about how different cultures define the relationship between humans and environment. The predominant Western perception is that people are essentially separate from the environment and thus we need to oversee it. We are the deciders in terms of how to use and interact with what is outside ourselves—what is nonhuman. Many native cultures, however, have long held that we are inextricably embedded in the environment, and the environment is embedded in us. We are kin, not overseers.

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Your Health the Week of June 1st

written by Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

Childhood Leukemia

Two studies this week connect childhood leukemia with the environment. Childhood leukemia and residential proximity to industrial and urban sites, from Environmental Research, shows an association between living near certain industries or urban areas and an increased risk of childhood leukemia. Industries working with glass and mineral fibers, organic solvents, galvanization and processing of metals, and surface treatment of metals were identified with the greatest increases in risk. The other study, from JAMA Pediatrics, found that breastfeeding a child for six months or more could prevent 14% or more of cases of childhood leukemia.

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