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.

Garment manufacturing involves chemicals at every step of the production: during the dye and fabric production process; to make fabrics resistant to fire, odor, stains, water, wrinkles, insects or biodegradation; or to add decoration. Some of these chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phthalates, fluorinated compounds, and nanosilver, have shown adverse effects on health, from skin irritation to cancer. Because manufacturers are not required to list chemicals on clothing labels, it’s difficult or impossible for consumers to know what’s in or on items they purchase.

Evidence of harm from wearing treated fabrics is limited, but this is mostly because not much research has been done on consumer exposures to chemicals in fabrics. Studies of large-scale textile and clothing production do show health effects on people who work in and live near production facilities. There is also some evidence that chemicals can wash out of fabrics in the laundry.

Grossman describes voluntary and trade initiatives to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and watchdog efforts to oversee compliance.

Noise Pollution

In Noise pollution, a widely underestimated health hazard, noise is identified as a source of both mental and physical harm. The article provides an overview of research findings and warnings going back almost 45 years.

A separate article, published in CHE’s Your Health feed a couple of weeks ago, asked Could a noisy neighborhood make you fat? That article, from Philly.com, summarizes a new study from Sweden finding that “increased risk of a larger waist rose with the number of sources of noise someone was exposed to at the same time.” The study design does not allow the researchers to conclude that noise causes weight gain, even though the Philly.com headline implies that.

While the connection to weight is new and needs more investigation, there is an established and growing body of research showing that noise can contribute to elevated blood pressure, stress responses, learning problems, hearing problems, sleep problems and more. Noise deserves more attention as an environmental contributor to health issues.


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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