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.

While it may not be feasible for new parents to move away from industrial or urban areas, breastfeeding is generally an option for many families. Strengthening one aspect of a child’s environment can help offset risks from another area over which we have little control.

cover of the reportChemicals in Car Seats

The Ecology Center published research on toxic chemicals in children’s car seats, finding hazardous flame retardants in nearly three-quarters of the seats they tested. The brands and items are identified and rated in the report, available at no cost on the website.

Exercise & Exposures

Two items this week highlight the complexity that can be found in exercising for health. The first article, from The Guardian, lays out concerns over some chemicals used in sportswear, primarily dyes, solvents, and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which make items water-, grease- and stain-proof: Sweat it out: could your sportswear be toxic? The article states that sportswear presents a particular problem because sweat and friction can prompt more rapid absorption of toxics into the body. Exercising is also frequently marked by more rapid and deeper breathing, which has raised the issue of the wisdom of exercising in polluted areas, such as near busy highways. A large study published in Environmental Health Perspectives concludes that over the long-term, exposure to air pollution while exercising did not seem to reduce the beneficial health effects of physical activity on mortality risk. The researchers did not actually measure pollution while people exercised, however—they estimated air pollution from people’s addresses. Thus this study holds true only to the degree that people exercised close to home.

BPA Isn’t Going Away

Environmental Health News summarizes a study that challenges manufacturer’s assumption that our bodies break down the endocrine-disrupting chemical BPA into a harmless form. The study found that our livers metabolize BPA into BPA-Glucuronide, which had the unfortunate effect of increasing lipid accumulation in both mouse and human cells. In short, the cells became fat cells when exposed to the BPA metabolite. BPA-Glucuronide is eventually excreted from the body, and the doses used in the study were much, much higher than what is typically found in our bodies. Lipid accumulation is also only one of the concerns regarding BPA, so many pieces of the puzzle of the effects of BPA on our health remain to be added.

cover of the reportEnvironmental Working Group published a survey of 252 canned-goods brands, finding that more than 44 percent use BPA-lined cans for some or all of their products. The lists of brands and their BPA status is listed on the website for all to access.


This post is part of a regular series that summarizes and highlights recent Your Health items and trends. Readers can follow CHE’s Your Health news feed or subscribe via RSS.

While individual actions to safeguard or improve health are important, we cannot individually address broad issues regarding pollutants, food supply, access to health care, poverty, climate change, infectious diseases and other issues that impact the health of individuals and communities. Join CHE to strengthen the science dialogue on environmental factors impacting human health and to facilitate collaborative, prevention-oriented efforts to address environmental health concerns.

Bringing attention to specific resources and findings does not mean CHE endorses or validates them. We highlight the emerging science and its implications for Your Health, knowing that thinking will continue to evolve as new studies are published.

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