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 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.--
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.
This article provides 5 ways to encourage your household to recycle. In it, I was quoted as: “Make it easy to recycle by having a designated space for recycling.” Also:
54 Health and Wellness Experts Reveal the Single Most Important Tip for Living a Healthy Lifestyle by John Sichel for Delimmune
"A large portion of diseases is preventable. This is not a widespread concept, partly because the health-care system is really a “disease-care” system, where the emphasis is on managing disease once people have it, not on preventing disease. The environment plays a significant part in health and disease. The World Health Organization estimated that globally, a quarter of disease in adults and more than a third of children’s diseases are caused by environmental factors. For example, 20% of lower respiratory infections are attributed to indoor and outdoor air pollution."
So, make environmental health part of your healthier lifestyle resolutions.
If your new look for the new year includes straightening your hair, be aware that some chemical straighteners can damage your hair and potentially also your health. "Finally, no conversation about chemical straighteners would be complete without mentioning the F-word: formaldehyde. Keratin hair straighteners or Brazilian blowout products are always a concern among experts because they contain formaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical ingredient, says Dr. Luz Claudio, Tenured Professor of Department of Preventive Medicine."
Some Plastic Teething Toys May Have Hormone - Altering Chemicals By Lisa Rapaport/ Reuters Health, The Daily Republic
Kevin Germanier, Swiss Designer Building a Movement for Sustainable Fashion from the Bottom Up. By Christie Moffat, Glammonitor.com
Fancy a cigarette? From rat poison to nail polish remover, this list of ingredients might make you think twice about lighting up. By Emma Inness, Dailymail.com
Chemicals and Ingredient List Confirm How Dangerous Smoking Really Is. By Admin Doja, Planehealth.com
What Is In A Cigarette? Chemicals and Ingredient List Confirm How Dangerous Smoking Really Is. By Justin Caba, Medicaldaily.com
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