In the News: Air Pollution Linked to Increased Risk of Autoimmune DiseasesAir contaminated by traffic fumes, dust, soot, and smoke may make you more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, a new study suggests.
By Lisa Rapaport
March 17, 2022
Car exhaust and other airborne contaminants have long been connected to heart and lung ailments, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, an immune system disorder that causes chronic swelling and joint pain. Our own studies have shown the relationship with indicators of cognitive deficiencies in children.
In a study I reviewed, researchers from the University of Verona, Italy, reviewed medical records of over 81,000 elderly Italians treated by over 3,500 clinicians. They looked at the association between particulate of less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can come from burning gasoline, oil, and wood. Particulate matter (PM) is also a term used to describe dust from construction, agriculture, landfills and wildfires.
They found that 12% of the patients had an autoimmune illness during the research and that pollution exposure enhanced the likelihood of this diagnosis. Each extra 10 mcg/m3 of average PM10 was related with a 7% increased risk of autoimmune illness.
The study revealed that in the study area the average yearly PM2.5 and PM10 exposure levels were 16 and 25 mcg/m3, respectively. The WHO recommends 25 mcg/m3 for PM2.5 and 20 mcg/m3 for PM10.
The study found that those with autoimmune illnesses had a 12-13% increased chance of being diagnosed with these diseases if they were exposed to levels higher than the WHO's guidelines.
The study shows that air pollution can contribute to autoimmune illnesses, says Luz Claudio, PhD, preventive medicine and public health professor at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine. In addition to the lungs, Dr. Claudio adds air pollution affects numerous other organs as well.
People can't escape filthy air, but they can lobby for stronger environmental standards, Claudio adds. They can also urge for greater monitoring of local air quality.
“Having a strong surveillance system in high pollution locations is quite important, especially for vulnerable individuals,” Claudio explains. “On polluted days, individuals should avoid outdoor activities.”
Two-thirds of liquid lipsticks, two-thirds of foundations, and three-fourths of waterproof mascaras contained high levels of fluorine, one of these chemicals.
In addition, another in-depth look of 29 products found that 28 of the products in which PFAS were identified did not disclose the chemicals on their product labels.
The findings were published as a group of senators introduced a bill to ban the use of PFAS in personal care products.
Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetic products, the agency does not evaluate or approve the ingredients for safety.
In addition, the FDATrusted Source technically requires cosmetic companies to disclose all ingredients used in their products. However, many loopholes have allowed companies to not disclose all of the ingredients included on the product labels.
In the United States, “Cosmetics and personal care products are not closely regulated to ensure that they do not contain toxic chemicals,” said Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
To read the full article, click HERE.
Although nothing is the same after the pandemic, including summer internships for students, cancellations are lower than expected as many programs move online. But some question the value of a virtual job experience.
"At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, internship offerings have been expanded by reallocating travel and housing funding. Professor Luz Claudio directs several medical and research internship programs funded by the National Institutes of Health. This year, the International Exchange Program for Minority Students received 400 applications for 10 positions, she said.
“There were a lot of really good applicants in that pool,” Claudio said. “I want to get more interns, not less.” Her internships are pivotal for students because they are paid, can provide required credits and allow publication of journal articles, which pave the way to graduate programs."
Mothers who use beauty products containing chemicals known as parabens during pregnancy may be more likely to have overweight daughters, a small study suggests.
Babies tended to be heavier at birth, and more likely to become overweight by age 8, when mothers used makeup, lotions and other common beauty products containing parabens while pregnant, the study found. One of these chemicals, butylparaben, was associated with excess weight only in girls.
Even so, it makes sense for pregnant women to check product labels and steer clear of beauty items containing parabens, said Luz Claudio, an environmental health researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.
“The significance of this finding cannot be underestimated because girls and women typically used more personal care products and cosmetics containing parabens than do boys and men,” Claudio said. “Thus, this effect of early exposure to parabens in females could potentially continue to increase as they grow and use even more of these products, potentially affecting the next generation of girls.”
Read the full article at: Reuters, WebMD, Medscape
Read the original research paper from Nature
By Melaina Juntti for Yahoo!
Along with greening up our living rooms and workspaces, houseplants have been shown to elevate mood, sharpen mental focus, and even boost productivity. Plants are also hyped as being all-natural indoor air purifiers, cleaning the air and sucking up airborne toxins that make us sneeze, wheeze, and develop cancer — well, that’s what an infamous 1989 NASA study led us to believe, anyway.
The reality: Potted plants don’t work like living HVAC devices, neutralizing nasty chemicals to help us breathe easy. It would be awesome if that were true, but experts today say it’s simply a myth. Despite what old research implied, houseplants have very little if any impact on indoor air quality.
According to Luz Claudio, Ph.D., an environmental medicine and public health scientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, common houseplants can indeed draw certain VOCs out of the air — but the degree to which they do so is negligible. “The amount that houseplants may reduce chemicals in a real-world environment is likely not enough to have a noticeable impact on human health,” she says.
by Carmen Jacob for Upjourney
People in all kinds of careers would benefit from having mentors. But it can be difficult to ask someone if they can be your mentor because it can be intimidating, you don't know who to ask, or you don't know how to ask.
In this article, 27 experts in various industries, including science, business, and finance, give tips and recommendations on how to ask someone to be your mentor. My advice was:
Be prepared to answer some questions
I’ve had students ask me to be their mentor just because someone else told them that it would be a good idea. Whether the person who recommended me was another student or even the person’s academic adviser, the potential mentee must be prepared to answer the question – Why?
Your answer should include why you are seeking a mentor at this time? Are you moving to a different department and need advice about that? Is there a particular reason why you are seeking me specifically as a mentor?
Answering the question -Why?- will help clarify the goals of the mentorship.
What kind of advice you are looking for?
Do you need advice on career advancement? Are you looking for someone to help you with a particular research methodology? Are you looking for someone to take a look at your resume to see if you are ready for a promotion?
The more specific you can be in the “What?” the more prepared you will be to know whether you are getting what you need from the mentoring relationship.
Think of how the mentoring relationship will progress
Will you meet in person, by phone, online? Will you check-in once a month or as needed? Will you meet at the office, for a coffee? The How of the mentoring process should be negotiated and should be open to change depending on need.
However, some programs require that students meet with their mentors regularly; therefore, I need to know that in advance, to determine whether I can serve the mentee in the way they need."
So, think about these three questions, the WHY you want this person to be your mentor; the WHAT you want this person to mentor you on and what would be the expected outcomes; and the HOW you want them to mentor you.
Advice from the other 26 experts included:
Previous blog posts on this topic can be found HERE.
By Jessica Sager for Parade
Someone gave me a T-shirt that says “#GirlBoss” on it. It's cute, but I never wear it. All I knew is that it’s a trendy hashtag on Twitter. But what does it mean really to be a girl who is a boss?
I was recently asked this questions for an interview, so I had to come up with something. Now that I've had time to reflect, to me, it means being in control of yourself. To be able to decide to do something, then actually do it. And to feel the fear, but not be afraid. Being a GirlBoss is to be the boss of you, before being the boss of anyone else.
In this interview, 12 influential Latinas were asked to offer tips to other Latina women about becoming a GirlBoss. Here is my response:
“If you speak Spanish and English, let it be known. Add it as an important skill in your resume. Step up to translate in your workplace when a Spanish-speaking client needs assistance. Offer to lead outreach to Latinx communities at your organization. Be the go-to person at your industry for everything Latinx. Realize that your language and your culture ARE part of your unique skills that make you a valuable employee or girl boss. Flaunt it and others will start to see the value in your dual language and culture.”
To read the responses of the other 11 influential Latinas, click the button below.
By Kelly Bryant for Reader's Digest
Our previous research has shown that exposure to contaminants in outdoor and indoor air can affect respiratory health, especially in children. This is important because diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and other conditions are very common and affect many families.
We have also previously written about how children show exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from personal care products and other sources. Recently, I was interviewed by Kelly Bryant for an article in Reader's Digest. The article lists 14 ways in which toxins "sneak" into our homes in ways that may be unexpected or surprising for many people. I was quoted in the article as follows:
It feels good to put dry-cleaned clothing back in your closet, crisp and pressed for your next outing. But the process which made them look brand new could carry some trouble. “Perchloroethylene is a chemical used in dry cleaning,” says Luz Claudio, PhD, professor of environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York. “Although it’s not known how much of it may be released in the home when you bring dry-cleaned clothes in plastic bags, it may be best to open the bags and aerate them outdoors before bringing inside.”
The other 13 sneaky ways toxins may be entering your house, according to the article, are:
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.