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.

Microplastics are reservoirs for microbial communities. Scientists are finding that microbes associated with microplastics tend to have biocidal-, metal-, and antibiotic-resistant genes. This “plastiome” could perpetuate harmful antibiotic resistant genes in microbes in the environment. Scientists assess microbial communities on plastics in two rivers near Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract: Aquatic microplastics (MPs) act as reservoirs for microbial communities, fostering the formation of a mobile resistome encompassing diverse antibiotic (ARGs) and biocide/metal resistance genes (BMRGs), and mobile genetic elements (MGEs). This collective genetic repertoire, referred to as the “plastiome,” can potentially perpetuate environmental antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Our study examining two Japanese rivers near Tokyo revealed that waterborne MPs are primarily composed of polyethylene and polypropylene fibers and sheets of diverse origin. Clinically important genera like Exiguobacterium and Eubacterium were notably enriched on MPs. Metagenomic analysis uncovered a 3.46-fold higher enrichment of ARGs on MPs than those in water, with multidrug resistance genes (MDRGs) and BMRGs prevailing, particularly within MPs. Specific ARG and BMRG subtypes linked to resistance to vancomycin, beta-lactams, biocides, arsenic, and mercury showed selective enrichment on MPs. Network analysis revealed intense associations between host genera with ARGs, BMRGs, and MGEs on MPs, emphasizing their role in coselection. In contrast, river water exhibited weaker associations. This study underscores the complex interactions shaping the mobile plastiome in aquatic environments and emphasizes the global imperative for research to comprehend and effectively control AMR within the One Health framework.

While evidence of microplastics and nanoplastics in the human body is well-established and growing, research that can help us understand the actual effects of these plastic particles on our health is just getting underway. Much more research is needed to understand the full range of consequences of plastic particles in our bodies and their impacts on our health.

One of the first studies attempting to understand such impacts assessed potential links between the presence of microplastics in carotid artery plaques of patients undergoing heart surgery and heart disease. Scientists found polyethylene (PE) particles in the hearts of more than 58% of the 257 patients studied and followed up with. More than 12% of patients had polyvinyl chloride (PVC) particles in their arterial plaques. The patients with microplastics detected in their plaques also showed signs of inflammation in their bodies, and were much more likely to go on to experience heart attack, stroke, and death from any cause compared to patients without evidence of microplastics traveling to their hearts.

Background: Microplastics and nanoplastics (MNPs) are emerging as a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease in preclinical studies. Direct evidence that this risk extends to humans is lacking.

Researchers have detected microplastics in blood clots found in medical patients’ brains, coronary arteries, and deep veins. Plastic types found included polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), and polyamide 66 (or Nylon, commonly used to make clothing). What’s more, patients with microplastics present in their blood clots showed higher levels of D-dimer, a type of protein the body makes when blood clots form and break down.

Background: Microplastic (MP) pollution has emerged as a significant environmental concern worldwide. While extensive research has focused on their presence in marine organisms and ecosystems, their potential impact on human health, particularly on the circulatory system, remains understudied. This project aimed to identify and quantify the mass concentrations, polymer types, and physical properties of MPs in human thrombi surgically retrieved from both arterial and venous systems at three anatomically distinct sites, namely, cerebral arteries in the brain, coronary arteries in the heart, and deep veins in the lower extremities. Furthermore, this study aimed to investigate the potential association between the levels of MPs and disease severity.https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(24)00153-1/fulltext

In an effort for industries to mitigate their contributions to climate change, the U.S. federal government has funded the development of a expensive and controversial technology to make doing so economically viable. But how viable, and safe, is this technology really?

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) has gathered evidence to comprehensively educate both the public and decision-makers about the risks associated with this technology, known as Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCS). With CCS, corporations emitting carbon dioxide capture, transport, and inject carbon underground, to store or use for industrial purposes. However, there are many risks associated with CCS that far outweigh the perceived benefits.

EIP has collected data on existing and proposed carbon dioxide pipelines in the USA, as well as information on abandoned oil and gas wells, and risk of carbon dioxide leaks. Its map overlays this information with community-level data, such as population, indications of tribal lands and other demographic information, and more.

It’s known plastic harms humans and other living beings, but do you known that these substances also affect Earth’s system as a whole? Due to mass-production and inadequate regulation of plastic and synthetic materials, Earth has entered a high-risk zone where irreversible change is likely.

Urgent action is in need to reduce production and toxicity of synthetic chemicals and plastics to bring the plant back into a safe and more balanced state. The health of Earth’s systems are critical to human survival, and a collapse of just one can have crippling effects across the planet.

Scientist have developed and evaluated a system marking nine planetary boundaries to act as a benchmark that the planet is safe and functioning stably. This NRDC brief discusses how plastic and chemical production and pollution stress the Earth’s planetary boundaries in serious and severe ways.