A study led by John D. Spengler at Harvard School of Public Health showed that gas stoves can leak toxic methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the home. Some of these air pollutants are well known to cause disease. The study also found that these air toxins can leak undetected because the levels cannot be perceived by odor.
We have commented on this study in the press, such as in the article by Kaitlin Vogel published in Parade: “This study is well done and confirms previous studies showing that chemicals that are known to be toxic leak from gas stoves,” says Dr. Luz Claudio, MD, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Not only are some of these chemicals contributors to climate change, like methane, but they can also affect human health directly. The finding that volatile organic compounds leak significantly from gas stoves is concerning, as exposure to them has been linked to diseases such as cancer, mainly in occupational settings.” In terms of the level of concern, it is hard to say how worried a particular person “should” be because it is difficult to determine the level of risk from exposure to gas stove fumes for a particular person or family, Dr. Claudio explains.
It is important to note that these chemical exposures were nearly eight times higher in the winter months than during the summer. This may be due to people ventilating their homes by opening windows more in the summer than in the winter.
“As a professional in this area, I believe that whenever possible, we should use the precautionary principle to reduce our exposures to environmental pollutants that can be harmful to our health,” says Dr. Claudio. “If replacing the stove is not immediately possible, increasing ventilation can help reduce exposure to these chemicals in the home.”
As we come to this year's winter, consider how you may be able to ventilate your kitchen area during the winter by at least opening a window while you are cooking whenever possible. This can help in reducing the accumulation of these dangerous chemicals in your home.
A recent study by Consumer Reports has revealed concerning levels of heavy metals, specifically lead and cadmium, in a wide range of chocolate products. This includes not only dark chocolate but also milk chocolate, cocoa powders, brownie mixes, and chocolate chips from both large and smaller brands available at major retailers.
The research tested 48 products and found detectable amounts of lead and cadmium in each. James Rogers, PhD, from Consumer Reports, highlighted that 16 of these products exceeded their levels of concern for these heavy metals, sometimes by more than twice the limit. However, safer options were identified in each category.
In California, where regulations are often stricter, the maximum daily allowable doses are 0.5 micrograms for lead and 4.1 micrograms for cadmium. The study found that five out of seven dark chocolate bars exceeded these limits. In contrast, all tested milk chocolate bars were within safe levels, as were most chocolate chips and cocoa powders. However, several hot cocoa mixes and brownie mixes did exceed the safe limits for heavy metals.
Cadmium and lead, naturally found in the earth's crust, can end up in chocolate through the soil where cacao beans grow or from environmental contamination during processing. These metals pose health risks, including kidney damage and developmental problems in children.
Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine, advises moderation in chocolate consumption and maintaining a balanced diet. She emphasizes the importance of a varied diet including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Nutritionist Toby Amidor, RD, also notes that while heavy metals are present in chocolate, they are also found in other foods, yet those foods remain recommended for a healthy diet. They agree different sources of potentially-toxic heavy metals may add up to an increased risk for consumers.
by Lisa Rapaport for Everyday Health
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in products like pesticides, nonstick cookware, and fire retardants used on clothes and upholstery can interfere with the immune system. Now a small study suggests that exposure to these pollutants may also increase the risk of celiac disease in young people.
In a new study, Dr. Leo Trasande and colleagues at NYU found that children and young adults with high blood levels of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) — a chemical used in pesticides — may be twice as likely to develop celiac disease as their peers who haven’t had much exposure to this pollutant, according to a study published in May 2020 in Environmental Research.
For the study, researchers tested for toxic chemicals in blood samples from 30 children and young adults ranging in age from 3 to 21 years old who had recently been diagnosed with celiac disease. They also ran blood tests for 60 young people who didn’t have celiac disease but were similar in age, gender, and race to the participants with this diagnosis.
The current study is the first to make a connection between exposure to chemicals in the environment and celiac disease, says Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“There was previous evidence to suggest that these chemicals can disrupt the immune system, either directly or by way of affecting hormones that help modulate it, and could produce autoimmune reactions such as those seen in diseases like celiac,” says Dr. Claudio, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Thus, it was conceivable that exposure to these types of chemicals could play a role in risk of celiac disease.”
To read the full news articles with links to the original research, click below.
by Lisa Rapaport for Reuters
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 Bob Curley for Healthline
Too many toxins are finding their way into food for young children, a new report says.
Tests of baby food sold in the United States revealed that 95 percent contain one or more toxic chemicals, including lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium.
And 1 in 4 of the 168 baby foods tested contained all four heavy metals, according to the report from the group Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF).
Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, told Healthline that she prepared her own baby food when her daughter was an infant, using steamed and pureed organic fruit and vegetables.
“One of the important things for parents to remember is that you may not know all of the ingredients (intentional or unintentional) that may go into baby food and juices marketed for children, even if you read the label,” said Claudio, who also writes about science issues. “These products can have high levels of sodium, preservatives, artificial colors, pesticides, and other contaminants or additives.”
Here are the takeaways of the article:
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.
In this article, my book was described as follows:
This workbook was designed to get scientists writing their research articles and publishing in peer-reviewed journals. With this workbook, scientists will actually write as they read. Each easy-to-read chapter teaches what you need to know to succeed in writing research papers. At the end of each chapter, there is a summary of the important points for future reference. For each skill you learn in each chapter, the workbook has fill-in exercises that will lead scientists to write a draft of your research article. By the end of the book, you will have completed your scientific article. No other book guides you through the process of writing and publishing scientific papers in such a clear, practical and doable manner. It is like having a mentor dedicated to helping you publish fast. This book will be your reference guide for years to come as you advance from student to independent researcher to professor. The fill-in forms can be downloaded at www.drluzclaudio.com for personal use or as part of a teaching curriculum. This book was written by a very successful woman scientist for scientists.
Here is the complete list of books recommended for women in science:
#1 Health Tips, Myths And Tricks: A Physician’s Advice
#2 Snake Oil is Alive and Well By Morton E. Tavel
#3 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
#4 The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by One Minute Journals
#5 How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper by Dr. Luz Claudio
#6 The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson
#7 The Feminist Financial Handbook by Brynne Conroy
by Lisa Rapaport for Reuters
A new study published by Dr. Andres Cardenas and colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley showed that PFAS contribute to diabetes development and that these effects can be reduced by healthy diet and exercise interventions.
PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of chemicals that are often used to make objects stain resistant, non-stick or water resistant, among other uses. In their study, Cardenas and coworkers tested almost 1000 people who did not have diabetes for their exposure to these chemicals and followed them over time. They found that the participants' blood levels of several of these types of chemicals increased. Diabetes risk factors had increased in those participants who had high levels of exposure to these chemicals and also had not participated in diet and exercise programs. The study found that diet and exercise intervention reduced the risk of diabetes by 28%. Interestingly, each doubling of PFA levels in the blood of participants was associated with a 17% increase risk of developing diabetes complications, regardless of whether they participated in the diet and exercise intervention.
Commenting on this study, I was quoted as follows:
--The findings build on previous research linking PFASs and PFOA to diabetes, said Luz Claudio, an environmental medicine and public health researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“It is very hard to avoid exposure to PFAs because they are in so many products and in some water supplies,” Claudio, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
Nonstick cookware, however, is one source of PFA exposure that’s easily avoided by using alternatives like ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron, Claudio advised.--
by Sarah Szczypinski for the Washington Post
For most of us, the topic of puberty doesn’t evoke fond childhood memories. The word alone — puberty — conjures the need to stockpile zit cream and blare grunge music.
Maybe that’s just me.
As tough as the tween and teen years were, watching your kids experience them can be just as challenging, especially when it comes to the awkward topic of hygiene. That first whiff of change means bigger things are on the horizon, and approaching the next phase with a plan will make things easier for everyone. I asked some experienced parents for advice.
Prepare kids early
Adolescence arrives earlier than you might think. The average age of menstruation for girls is 12, according to Mayo Clinic research, and boys begin showing signs of puberty as early as 10, according to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first conversation can be a struggle. “Convincing tweens that they smell bad is a big challenge for most parents,” says Deborah Gilboa, a doctor and mother of four boys. “That’s because the child’s brain makes that kiddo ignore their own smell in order to pay attention to what’s happening nearby. So when a tween says, ‘I don’t smell anything!’ they are telling the absolute truth.”
by Joe Thompson for Parentology
A new study by Dr. Liping Pan, MD, MPH of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the CDC showed that childhood obesity rates have plateaued or even dropped in the last 9 years. They revealed that though obesity rates among low-income families were on the upswing between 2000 and 2010, they’ve dropped for preschoolers since then. That is some of the best news we have heard in a while.
Though findings do suggest that obesity rates are highest among low-income children, additional research found that children’s meal options at fast food and sit-down restaurants may contribute to childhood obesity.
“We compared the nutritional value of kids’ menus to [adult menus] in [select] establishments and found that most of the meals offered to children did not comply with the US Dietary requirements,” said Dr. Luz Claudio, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine who conducted the study. She explained to Parentology that, according to the study’s findings, the majority of meal options for children had fat, sodium and saturated fat contents that exceeded daily meal recommendations. They were also low in fiber.
“Based on those studies,” Claudio says, “I recommend that families avoid eating out with children. When they do, they may choose to share an adult entree with their child or share a side dish such as a vegetable or salad. These habits will not only save them money but also be a more nutritionally-balanced option for the children and serve as a teachable moment [in which] healthy choices can be discussed.”
By Lisa Rapaport for Reuters
Women exposed to triclosan, a chemical often found in soaps and hand sanitizers, may be more likely to develop osteoporosis than women who don’t have this exposure, a new study suggests.
Triclosan has been widely used for years as an antimicrobial agent in consumer goods and personal care products including soaps, hand sanitizers, toothpaste and mouthwash, researchers note in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
While the exact effect of the chemical on human health isn’t clear, some previous research suggests that triclosan may interfere with thyroid and reproductive hormones.
Triclosan has also been shown to impact bone health in animals, but less is known about the potential for this chemical to contribute to weak, brittle bones in people, said Yingjun Li of Hangzhou Medical College School of Public Health in China.
For the current study, Li and colleagues examined data on 1,848 women in the U.S. and found that those with the highest levels of triclosan in their urine were two and a half times as likely to have osteoporosis as women with the lowest triclosan levels.
“Triclosan exposure may be a risk factor for lower bone mineral density and osteoporosis,” Li said by email. “The evidence was stronger in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women.”
In women, reduced estrogen production during menopause and afterward can slow production of new bone tissues. Over time, this process increases their risk of osteoporosis.
About 30 percent of postmenopausal women in the U.S. have osteoporosis, and four in 10 of them will experience a bone fracture, the authors note.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how triclosan might directly cause osteoporosis.
But it’s possible that triclosan exposure could trigger changes in the production of thyroid hormones and estrogen that interrupt normal skeletal development and maintenance of healthy bones as women age, Li said.
“Triclosan could lead to lower bone mineral density and increased prevalence of osteoporosis,” Li said.
Even though more research is needed to prove whether triclosan directly causes osteoporosis, it still makes sense to avoid using products that contain the chemical, said Luz Claudio, an environmental medicine and public health researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
“Luckily, triclosan is rapidly excreted from the body after exposure, so in theory, it should be possible to reduce the amount of it we have on our bodies by avoiding continuous exposure,” Claudio, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
“People who are concerned can avoid products that contain triclosan by reading the labels,” Claudio advised.
Washing with regular soap and water, for example, can help fight germs just as well as using antibacterial cleaning products and avoid exposure to triclosan, Claudio said.
But consumers do need to read the labels because triclosan is in a lot of cosmetics and personal care items that aren’t necessarily marketed as antibacterial products.
“If a product contains triclosan, this should be listed on the label,” Claudio said.
By Emma Sarran Webster for Teen Vogue
Some students start school knowing exactly what they want to "be when they grow up". But for the majority, it can be a hard decision-making process with little useful guidance.
For this article, I was interviewed for one of ten tips that can help students make this important choice. I was quoted as:
"Should I go to grad school?" is one of those questions that students ask me, often. Many of them ask this question while they are ALREADY in graduate school! This tells me that much more needs to be done to help students make these important decisions about their education. This is especially important at this time, when the student loan debt in the US has been described as a "$1.5 Trillion crisis".
I was recently interviewed by Ilana Kowarski for an article on U.S. News and World Report about the differences between college and graduate school. In it, I was quoted as follows:
"Luz Claudio, a tenured professor with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, says graduate school typically requires an abundance of motivation and personal accountability, since students are frequently asked to work independently."I tell college students that one of the keys to success in graduate school is self-discipline," Claudio wrote in an email. "There's generally no 'homework,' quizzes and few exams. Students need to learn how to learn class materials without such close guidance from a teacher. However, most graduate programs have a long-term project that students must complete, such as a research paper. These require a different kind of relationship with a teacher. For these, the teacher becomes more like a mentor and the student is more like an apprentice."
Other educators in different fields from educational institutions from across the United States were also cited in the article. One, for example, was Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California. He said: "Too often, college students or people who only have had a college experience somehow think that graduate school is going to be more of the same, and it's not,".
Many of my students aim to get into medical school. I hope that they also want to succeed in becoming caring, inquisitive, and knowledgeable doctors. One common question they ask is: What GPA do I need to get into medical school?
In an article for US News and World Report, reporter Ilana Kowarski interviewed me and others about this question. In general, most other experts included in the article and I agree that students should aim for a GPA of at least 3.5. In fact, for my NIH-funded internship programs, I am not even allowed to take students with GPAs below 3.0.
In the article, I was quoted as follows:
"Dr. Luz Claudio, a tenured professor with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the author of "How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide," warns that signing up for easy A college classes isn't the best strategy for improving your odds of admission. "I see that students sometimes take relatively easy courses to raise their overall GPA, but if their science grades are still low, this may not help them enter med school," she wrote in an email.
"Another thing that students wanting to go to medical school may consider is doing medical research internships, especially if those lead to publication in good peer-reviewed research journals," Claudio says. "Published papers coupled with spectacular letters of recommendations and excellent MCAT scores can sometimes propel a student who is on the borderline to get into medical school."
To read the full article published on October 2, 2018, please click below.
Last school year, I reviewed over 600 applications from students to my training programs. Over SIX HUNDRED, for 16 research internship positions that I had available!
One of the most important skills that we look for in students is STATISTICS. Students who are proficient in statistics can apply those skills to almost any kind of internship project, from community-based research, to cell biology.
In an article titled Six Classes and Certifications That Can Help You Get a Raise, by Joanna Hughes for MasterStudies.com. I was quoted as follows:
"We already addressed how actuary certification can be a major career booster for actuaries. But the study of statistics has general -- and lucrative -- applications, as well.
Professor of preventive medicine Luz Claudio told Monster.com, “I know it may sound boring to some, but statistics can be applied in so many fields: biomedical research, business, economics, social sciences and computer sciences. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, but you are proficient in statistics, you can get a job in almost any field until you find a path that better suits your passions.”
So, if you are a student starting a new semester in the fall, think about taking courses in statistics. Talk to your advisers and mentors about how statistics may fit your curriculum of study. You will find that this knowledge will open many doors for you.
Click to download the CHECKLIST FOR MEETING WITH A MENTOR and other free resources for students.
Dr. Luz Claudio is a Tenured Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and the author of How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide, the Spanish edition: Cómo Escribir y Publicar un Artículo Científico: La Guía Paso a Paso, and the New Notebook for Seminars and Lectures.These books and free resources can be found on Amazon and at www.DrLuzClaudio.com.
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect those of her employer or colleagues.
I have previously written about how food packaging, particularly plastic packaging, can affect environmental health. Solutions to this problem have been scarce, meanwhile, vast expanses of plastic waste are growing in the oceans. More recently, it has been discovered that plastic materials do not decompose, instead, they breakdown into tiny pieces called microplastics. In time, these microplastics are slowly turning the oceans into a toxic soup.
Chemicals contained in plastics may affect human health, especially in children. This is why it was so gratifying to see a 12-year-old girl's invention to help identify and visualize microplastics in the ocean. This young scientist, Anna Du, has entered her device to compete in the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Scientist Challenge. I commented on her invention for an article published in AccuWeather.com:
“I’m extremely impressed by her innovation and initiative to help solve the problem of plastics in the ocean, especially the issue of microplastics,” said children’s environmental health scientist Dr. Luz Claudio.
“We know that exposure to chemicals in plastics can affect human health, especially in children, and I’m glad to see that children can come up with solutions to the problems that we have created,” Claudio said.
Comment on a Research Study that Suggests a Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
Several research studies have looked into whether a diet rich in antioxidants and other nutrients can help mitigate the health effects of exposure to pollutants in the environment. One such study from the lab of Dr. George Thurston, a professor of environmental health at New York University, was recently presented at the American Thoracic Society Conference in San Diego. Results suggested that having a dietary pattern resembling a Mediterranean diet could reduce adverse heart and lung effects caused by exposure to air pollution.
I was asked to comment on this preliminary work for the website Everyday Health. In the article, I was quoted as follows:
“Some air pollutants are thought to affect health through a mechanism called oxidative stress,” says Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, who was not involved in the research.
“Therefore, it is possible that people who consume more antioxidants in their diet may be better protected from the effects of exposure to such air pollutants,” Dr. Claudio adds.
After tidying up your home for spring cleaning, you might think of ways to clean up everything in your home, including the air. Some people think that one way to do that might be by having houseplants inside the home. It makes sense. Plants produce oxygen as they also capture carbon from the air. Could they also filter other pollutants from the air, especially inside the home?
I was recently interviewed about this question for an article in Time magazine. In it, I was quoted as follows:
“There are no definitive studies to show that having indoor plants can significantly increase the air quality in the home to improve health in a measurable way,” says Luz Claudio, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Claudio has reviewed the research on the air-quality benefits of indoor plants. She says there’s no question that plants are capable of removing volatile chemical toxins from the air “under laboratory conditions.” But in the real world—in your home, say, or in your office space—the notion that incorporating a few plants can purify your air doesn’t have much hard science to back it up."
“As a mother, I understand that our children live in a plastic world and are surrounded by potentially hazardous chemicals,” Claudio said. “I think that if parents become aware of the issues, they will come up with alternatives to protect their children.” To read the article on Reuters News, click the link.
We can do more to empower children in understanding nature and their own role in the environment. In this article published in Reader's Digest, we give 41 quick and easy ways to help children make a connection between what they do, the choices they make and the environment. Most of these actions take less than 5 minutes but can bring awareness and good habits to children, as they will one day inherit this Earth. Read the full article for great ideas to involve children in Earth Day Every Day.
How to crush your first job interview: Got your first job interview lined up? Don’t worry, you got this. We’re here to help. by Jon Simmons for Monster
In this article, we give advice on how to prepare for a job interview.
“My advice is to at least Google the person who will interview you, the institution, their work, the market. Find some information in advance,” says Dr. Luz Claudio, who directs the Division of International Health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
In addition to advising undergraduate and graduate students on interviewing, Dr. Claudio interviews about 70 applicants per year and he’s reviewed more than 400 resumes.
“When the person asks: ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ take out your notes and ask some specific questions about what they do. This shows your interest,” she says. “It shows that you did some homework and preparation prior to the interview and that you took initiative in searching for additional information.”
A clean home doesn't always equal a healthy home: Cleaning products can be loaded with dangerous chemicals. Read this before you spring clean this year. In the article, several experts identify potential environmental exposures that can occur during home cleaning and give alternatives on how to reduce exposures. In the article, I am quoted as follows:
Luz Claudio, PhD, professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has done a lot of research work on children's asthma, and she's particularly concerned about spray cleaners. "Some of these products contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be asthma triggers, such as ethanolamine and ammonium compounds," she says. She adds that simple vinegar and water in a spray bottle work just as well as any chemical combo purchased in a store.
Click the button to read the full article in Reader's Digest.
Public School Review: Why Students and Schools Benefit from Foreign Language Programs. Foreign language skills are critically important for opening the door of possibility to have a great learning experience in another country.
Luz Claudio, PhD, professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, sought to understand participation of minorities in medical research in a study of parents of New York City children.
Claudio said. “Our conclusion was that minorities would participate in medical research if asked by their trusted physician, particularly if that physician is also a minority.”
Getting into Medical School is Becoming Harder by Ilana Kowarski, U.S. News & World Report, Oct 31, 2017
Admission rates for medical school are falling. Medical schools are receiving more applications. This is partly because most students send applications to more than a dozen medical schools.
I tell students that research internships can help their applications.
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