Environmental Exposures and Pediatric Cardiology

In a scientific statement, the American Heart Association lays out its concerns about the adverse health consequences caused by exposures to environmental toxicants and pollutants, and cardiovascular diseases in young people. The article provides evidence that connects climate change and congenital heart disease, airborne pollution and Kawasaki disease, blood lead and blood pressure, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and cardiometabolic risk factors, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and other sources of pollution to adverse childhood health effects, especially relating to heart health.

Scientists find that interlocking and dismantling popular plastic toy building bricks generate microplastics and nanoplastics. These plastic fragments may pose a health risk to children who play with the bricks.

Abstract: Microplastics and nanoplastics have become noteworthy contaminants, affecting not only outdoor ecosystems but also making a notable impact within indoor environments. The release of microplastics and nanoplastics from commonly used plastic items remains a concern, and the characterisation of these contaminants is still challenging. This study focused on evaluating the microplastics and nanoplastics produced from plastic building bricks. Using Raman spectroscopy and correlation analysis, the plastic material used to manufacture building blocks was determined to be either acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (correlation value of 0.77) or polycarbonate (correlation value of 0.96). A principal component analysis (PCA) algorithm was optimised for improved detection of the debris particles released. Some challenges in microplastic analysis, such as the interference from the colourants in the building block materials, was explored and discussed. Combining Raman results with scanning electron microscopy – energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, we found the scratches on the building blocks to be a significant source of contamination, estimated several thousand microplastics and several hundred thousand nanoplastics were generated per mm2 following simulated play activities. The potential exposure to microplastics and nanoplastics during play poses risks associated with the ingestion and inhalation of these minute plastic particles.

Scientists review pregnant peoples’ exposure to chemicals and the effects on their health, finding that pregnancy can heighten a person’s susceptibility to environmental chemicals and health risks.

Abstract: Pregnancy is a unique period when biological changes can increase sensitivity to chemical exposures. Pregnant women are exposed to multiple environmental chemicals via air, food, water, and consumer products, including flame retardants, plasticizers, and pesticides. Lead exposure increases risk of pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders, although women’s health risks are poorly characterized for most chemicals. Research on prenatal exposures has focused on fetal outcomes and less on maternal outcomes. We reviewed epidemiologic literature on chemical exposures during pregnancy and three maternal outcomes: preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and breast cancer. We found that pregnancy can heighten susceptibility to environmental chemicals and women’s health risks, although variations in study design and exposure assessment limited study comparability. Future research should include pregnancy as a critical period for women’s health. Incorporating biomarkers of exposure and effect, deliberate timing and method of measurement, and consistent adjustment of potential confounders would strengthen research on the exposome and women’s health.

Plastics’ hormone-disrupting chemicals contribute substantially to disease and associated social costs in the United States, accounting for $250 billion in 2018 alone, or 1.22% of the gross domestic product. The costs of plastic pollution will continue to accumulate as long as exposures continue at current levels. Researchers stress that actions through the Global Plastics Treaty and other policy initiatives will reduce these costs in proportion to the actual reductions in chemical exposures achieved.

Consumer Reports tested popular fast foods and supermarket staples for chemicals commonly found in plastics called bisphenols and phthalates, which can be harmful to your health. Here’s what they found—and how to stay safer.

Scientists find a “disturbing increase” in microplastics found in human placentas over the 15 year period from 2006 to 2021. They also observed hormone-disrupting and health-harming phthalates and bisphenol plastic-additive chemicals in the samples.

  • -In 2006, 6 of the 10 placentas contained microplastics.
  • -In 2013, microplastics were found in 9 of the 10 placentas.
  • -In 2021, researchers found microplastics in all 10 placentas.”

Abstract: Microplastics are created for commercial use, are shed from textiles, or result from the breakdown of larger plastic items. Recent reports have shown that microplastics accumulate in human tissues and may have adverse health consequences. Currently, there are no standardized environmental monitoring systems to track microplastic accumulation within human tissues. Using Raman spectroscopy, we investigated the temporal exposures to plastic pollution in Hawaiʻi and noted a significant increase in the accumulation of microplastics in discarded placentas over the past 15 years, with changes in the size and chemical composition of the polymers. These findings provide a rare insight into the vulnerability and sensitivity of Pacific Island residents to plastic pollution and illustrate how discarded human tissues can be used as an innovative environmental plastic pollution monitoring system.