Post category: pesticides
Atrazine: Latest science & policy analysis on a hormone-disrupting herbicide
Guest Post by Stacy Malkan
Atrazine is the second most widely used weed killer in the United States. Yet a significant body of scientific research suggests the herbicide harms the normal functioning of the endocrine system. In humans, atrazine has been linked to irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal birth weight and unexplained infertility. Animal studies have shown that atrazine may affect reproductive function in mammals, including estrous cycles, sperm motility, testosterone levels, and prolactin, luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormone levels. In amphibians and various fish, atrazine has been shown to damage reproductive organs and systems. . . .
Use of the herbicide glyphosate has increased significantly over the past 20 years. With this increased exposure comes increased risk of human health effects. . . .
Ana Maria Mora, MD, PhD is passionate about sharing what she has learned through her work in environmental public health with everyone. While she spends half of her time in Northern California studying the effects of early-life exposure to pesticides in children living in the Salinas Valley, she spends a lot of her time on research projects that impact the health of people in the country she where she was born and that she calls home, Costa Rica.
While there is attention being given to the field of environmental health here in the U.S., she notes “that in Costa Rica, we’re always behind on research on environmental health topics. There are a lot of epidemiologists and exposure scientists in the US, but in Costa Rica we are very few [epidemiologists and exposure experts]; and the problem that we face is that some people refuse to believe that findings from studies conducted outside of our country can be applicable to our population.” . . .
Cynthia Curl, PhD, MS knows about pesticides. In fact, it has been a topic of research for her for the last 15 years. While much of her work now compares levels of pesticide exposures among consumers of organic versus conventional produce, that isn’t initially where her research began.
“I didn’t start out studying diet or organic food, I really started out looking at pesticide exposures among farm workers and their families. I was working with the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, whose mission is…to improve farm worker health. [But,] we had this unexpected finding where we had some kids in Seattle with higher exposures [to pesticides] than kids in farming communities out in Eastern Washington, and it took us a while to even come up with some ideas about why this may be. Ultimately, I started to suspect that it was diet just because of their differences in socioeconomic status and differences in dietary patterns that their parents reported,” Dr. Curl shares. . . .
This report from the NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Centers highlights some of the important contributions the centers have made toward reducing the burden of environmentally induced or exacerbated diseases placed on children. The report provides examples of success in the community and in support of public health. It is organized in three section:
- Health outcomes, presenting scientific findings from the Children’s Centers on diseases that sometimes affect children
- Environmental exposures, presenting research findings on chemicals and pollutants children are commonly exposed to through air, water and food.
- Hallmark features, highlighting the unique features that have facilitated the work of the Children’s Centers and advancements in the field.
Operating through epigenetic mechanisms, environmental exposures can get under our skin and affect our health. As new research comes forward shedding light on how the environment affects our epigenome, translating these findings to the broader public has been challenging. The University of Washington EDGE Center created a short animated video teaching the concept of epigenetics and how everyday exposures can alter gene expression and thus affect our health. View the video today. . . .