Tag Archives: Environmental health

The 7 Germiest Public Places

It is possible for a person to touch about 30 things in one minute from daily and normal activities.

This heightens the chance of contracting and spreading germs to and from all these objects if in a public setting. But there are ways to avoid being infected by knowing the more obscure places germs hide other than door knobs, light switches, and bathroom surfaces. Here are 3 out of 7 listed by ABC News:

Restaurant menus…..
Studies from the Journal of Medical Virology reports germs like the cold and flu viruses can survive for up to 18 hours on a hard surface. When dining in a public place, be conscious to not let the menu touch your flatware and wash your hands after you return it.

Lemon wedges
The Journal of Environmental Health discovered 70 percent of restaurants had contaminated bar fruit with microorganisms like E. coli, fecal bacteria, and other disease causing microbes. By opting out of the garnish for your beverage is a good way to prevent ingestion.

Condiment dispenser
Many people do not wash their hands before eating and they can spread their germs to bottles at the condiment stand. When grabbing for the ketchup, a paper napkin is not sufficient due to the abilities for microorganisms being able to pass through.

Restroom door handles
Don’t think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you’re a germ-phobe–but you’ll never see them again, and you’re the one who won’t get sick.

Soap dispensers
About 25% of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that’s exactly what a recent study found. “Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up,” says Charles Gerba, PhD. “And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there’s a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria.” Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds–and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use that, too.

Grocery carts
The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you’re wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones.

Airplane bathrooms
When Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It’s not surprising, then, that you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research. To protect yourself, try taking green tea supplements. In a 2007 study from the University of Florida, people who took a 450-milligram green tea supplement twice a day for 3 months had one-third fewer days of cold symptoms. The supplement brand used in the study was Immune Guard ($30 for 60 pills; immune-guard.us).

Doctor’s office
A doctor’s office is not the place to be if you’re trying to avoid germs. These tips can help limit your exposure.
1. Take your own books and magazines (and kid’s toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you).

2. Also pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content.

3. In the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.

Source: ABCNews February 20, 2011

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Mercury Cancels Brain Benefits of Fish Oil

A long-term dietary study untangles the effects on brain development of two well-known but contrary exposures – beneficial oil and toxic methyl mercury – that accompany a fish-rich diet.

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Prenatal mercury exposure from a mother’s fish-rich diet can reduce the beneficial effects fish oil has on brain development, report an international group of researchers. The babies exposed in the womb to higher methyl mercury levels scored lower on skills tests as infants and toddlers than those exposed to lower levels of the pollutant.

Of five nutrients tested, only the benefits of the fish oil DHA were affected by the mercury. The extent to which methyl mercury interferes with fish oil’s brain benefits is uncertain.

Environmental Health News reports:

“The beneficial effects of eating fish during pregnancy on a baby’s brain development are relatively well accepted. However, some fish can contain high levels of mercury ... Government agency advisories suggest women of childbearing years eat fish with low mercury levels as well as limit consumption of fish that contain high levels.”


Resources:

Environmental Health News January 3, 2011
Environmental Research October 18, 2010

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Toomuch Use of Cell Phone May Cause Brain Cancer


An epidemiologist and toxicologist who is an expert in environmental health has found evidence linking cell phone usage to an increased rate of certain kinds of brain tumors in young people who were heavy cell phone users.


In her book, Disconnect, Dr. Devra Davis talks about how she found evidence of studies, some decades old, showing that the radio-frequency radiation used by cell phones could have biological effects — enough to damage DNA and potentially contribute to brain tumors.

As reported by Time, Davis also found that many of the studies debunking a link between cell phone usage and adverse events were mostly funded by the industry. According to Time:

“She found that other countries—like France and Israel—had already acted, discouraging the use of cell phones by children and even putting warning signs on handsets. …

“This is about the most important and unrecognized public health issues of our time,” says Davis. “We could avert a global catastrophe if we act.”

“Davis also said that industry resistance would make regulation “harder and harder,” but that the good news is “simply using a wired headset should significantly cut down on radiation exposure to the brain, although Davis recommends that children—whose thinner skulls can absorb higher levels of radiation—avoid using phones altogether.”

Source: Time.com September 27, 2010

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Babies Born During Pollen Season More Likely to Wheeze

 

Newborns born during the high pollen and mould seasons, linked with the presence of allergens, are more likely to develop early symptoms  of asthma, suggests a new study.
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University of California, Berkeley (UC-B) researchers found that such children born in the high mould season, coinciding with the last quarter of the year, have three times the odds of developing wheezing, often an early sign of asthma, compared with those born at other times of the year.

The study may help shed light on why such babies appear to have a higher risk of eventually developing asthma than children born in the summer.

A 2008 study of birth and medical records found that babies born in autumn are at greater risk of later developing childhood asthma.

That study suggested an influence from early exposure to respiratory viruses, which is more common during the peak of cold and flu season.

“In our study, we took a different tack to understand the link between month of birth and asthma by considering ambient concentrations of fungal spores and pollen, which follow distinct seasonal patterns,” said Kim Harley, associate director at UC-B Centre for Children’s Environmental Health Research and co-author of the study.

The researchers examined 514 children born in 1999 and 2000 in California’s Salinas Valley, a region with mild, rainy winters and dry summers.

They identified 27 spore and 48 pollen groups in the study, recording the average daily concentrations for the groups that accounted for more than 3% of the total during the first three months of life for each child in the study.

The researchers found that babies born in autumn and winter have triple the odds of developing early wheezing, often a precursor to asthma, by 24 months of age, said an UC-B release.

The results were reported online in Thorax.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Magnet Therapy Helps to Remove Lead From Blood

South Korean scientists may have found a way to remove dangerous heavy metals such as lead from blood by using specially designed  magnetic receptors.

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The receptors bind strongly to lead ions and can be easily removed, along with their lead cargo, using magnets, they wrote in an article in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a leading chemistry journal.

“Detoxification could theoretically work like haemodialysis: the blood is diverted out of the body and into a special chamber containing the biocompatible magnetic particles,” they wrote. “By using magnetic fields, the charged magnetic particles could be fished out. The purified blood is then reintroduced to the patient.”

Lead is a dangerous heavy metal and is especially toxic to children. Safe and effective detoxification processes are especially important.

The South Korean team, lead by Jong Hwa Jung at the Gyeongsang National University‘s department of chemistry, managed to remove 96% of lead ions from blood samples using these magnetic particles.

Exposure to lead in developed countries is mostly a result of occupational hazards, from lead used in paint and gasoline. Outside of occupational hazards, children sometimes fall victim to lead poisoning. A child who swallows large amounts of lead may develop anaemia, muscle weakness and brain damage. Where poisoning occurs, it is usually gradual, with small amounts of the metal accumulating over a long period of time.

Sources: The Times Of India

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