Breaking News
June 24, 2018 - Dying cancer cells make remaining glioblastoma cells more aggressive and therapy-resistant
June 24, 2018 - Researchers discover new type of cell that hinders formation of fat cells
June 24, 2018 - Scientists develop unique program to predict a form of Parkinson’s disease
June 24, 2018 - Adult Obesity Prevalence Varies With Level of Urbanization
June 24, 2018 - Picking an exercise boot camp
June 24, 2018 - Researchers outline a connection between subplate neurons and brain disorders
June 24, 2018 - Four cups of coffee a day shown to protect heart muscle
June 24, 2018 - ‘Antifreeze’ molecules may hold key to better treatments for brain injuries
June 24, 2018 - Opening onsite health clinics for workers can cut health care costs
June 24, 2018 - Glooko to demonstrate new version of diabetes management mobile application at ADA meeting
June 24, 2018 - Florida Teen First Human Case of Another Mosquito-Borne Virus
June 24, 2018 - Blood type O patients may have higher risk of death from severe trauma
June 24, 2018 - New studies on molecular and cellular proteomics
June 24, 2018 - Algorithm predicts dangerous low blood pressure during surgery
June 24, 2018 - Herpes may play role in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s
June 24, 2018 - Inaccurate measurement of sodium intake may account for paradoxical results, study suggests
June 24, 2018 - Aquinnah Pharmaceuticals wins NINDS grant to advance novel therapies for ALS
June 24, 2018 - Study upends conventional view of opioid mechanism of action
June 24, 2018 - Floppy eyelids may be sign of sleep apnea, study finds
June 23, 2018 - Researchers highlight new nurse training model to address shortage of primary care
June 23, 2018 - New Olympus cellSens 2.1 speeds up image analysis
June 23, 2018 - Attitudes Among Obese Are Not Aligned With Healthy Living
June 23, 2018 - Early birds less prone to depression
June 23, 2018 - Scientists use novel approach to uncover how brain networks interact to make word-choice decisions
June 23, 2018 - Researchers discover shared genetic basis for psychiatric disorders
June 23, 2018 - Study shows fat cells increase in size and number upon exposure to fracking chemicals
June 23, 2018 - Water-limited landscapes can facilitate disease transmission
June 23, 2018 - Exercise May Ease Inflammation Tied to Obesity
June 23, 2018 - Is it their own fault?! How people judge the exclusion of others
June 23, 2018 - Researchers use advanced technology to identify proteomes of Th17 and iTreg cells
June 23, 2018 - Researchers develop low-cost plastic sensors to monitor wide range of health conditions
June 23, 2018 - Lipid-scrambling DNA enzyme outperforms naturally occurring counterpart, say researchers
June 23, 2018 - Apps for children should emphasize parent and child choice, researchers say
June 23, 2018 - Teenage girls report higher degree of daytime sleepiness than boys
June 23, 2018 - Protein Data Bank at Rutgers impacts research, education and drug discovery
June 23, 2018 - Study unravels new piece of information in the Huntington’s disease puzzle
June 23, 2018 - Scientists develop new device to test cancer drug combinations quickly and cheaply
June 23, 2018 - Neural Analytics wins CE Mark for NeuralBot System
June 23, 2018 - Infant omega-3 supplementation tied to decreased waist size
June 23, 2018 - Massive analysis of genomes reveals insights into genetic overlap among psychiatric diseases
June 23, 2018 - New therapeutic approach may delay neurodegeneration in rare genetic disease
June 23, 2018 - Broken shuttle protein may hinder learning in patients with brain disorders
June 23, 2018 - Study finds increase in daily cannabis use among American adults
June 23, 2018 - Researchers create electronic skin that brings back real sense of touch to prosthetic limbs
June 23, 2018 - FIRS: Guidance Offered for Protecting Youth From E-Cigarettes
June 23, 2018 - Scientists unravel molecular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease
June 23, 2018 - When the Heart Stops, Drugs Often to Blame
June 23, 2018 - Scientists show that a key Parkinson’s biomarker can be identified in the retina
June 23, 2018 - Study finds factors underlying current rise in radicalization among European youth
June 23, 2018 - New study finds higher heart disease risk in bisexual men
June 23, 2018 - Coconut oil diet increases vitality, lifespan of fruit flies with peroxisomal disorder
June 23, 2018 - Jumping genes or transposons and their role in the genetic code
June 23, 2018 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Therapeutics
June 23, 2018 - Abnormal lipid metabolism in fat cells predicts future weight gain and diabetes in women
June 23, 2018 - Alcohol problems linked to sex without condom use among black gay men
June 23, 2018 - DNA patterns in circulating blood cells can help identify spastic cerebral palsy
June 23, 2018 - Unsubstantiated health claims widespread within weight loss industry
June 23, 2018 - FDA grants marketing authorization for use of two catheter-based devices in hemodialysis patients
June 23, 2018 - An ingrown toenail not the same as a bypass
June 23, 2018 - Study suggests proteinuria lowering as important target in managing pediatric CKD
June 23, 2018 - Dynamic model helps make predictions about gut microbiome
June 23, 2018 - Research consortium wins £2.9 million to help tackle antibacterial resistance in Thailand
June 23, 2018 - Schizophrenia patients account for over 1 in 10 suicide deaths, study shows
June 23, 2018 - Overdose risk increases five-fold with concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use
June 23, 2018 - FDA Alert: Kratom (mitragyna speciosa) powder products by Gaia Ethnobotanical: Recall
June 23, 2018 - Study highlights inadequate effort of health care insurers to combat opioid epidemic
June 23, 2018 - CDC chief asks for, and gets, cut to his record $375K pay
June 22, 2018 - Novel cellular pathway may clarify how arterial inflammation develops into atherosclerosis
June 22, 2018 - Pioneering exercise program improves physical, mental health of elderly people living in care homes
June 22, 2018 - Rutgers Cancer Institute educates childhood cancer survivors about late effects of treatment
June 22, 2018 - Study tests accuracy of device designed to detect heart dysfunction in childhood cancer survivors
June 22, 2018 - Study links annual haze with increased hospitalizations for respiratory problems
June 22, 2018 - Robotic surgery appears to be as effective as open surgery in treating bladder cancer
June 22, 2018 - Many Drugs Made Available Via FDA Expanded Access Programs
June 22, 2018 - Normal eye dominance is not necessary for restoring visual acuity in amblyopia
June 22, 2018 - Parent-Child Interaction Therapy can reduce depression rates in children
June 22, 2018 - Study provides insights into how components of different cells in the brain are altered
June 22, 2018 - Research does not confirm antidiabetic action of natural fatty acid derivatives
June 22, 2018 - Oxidative stress can be used against tumors to treat cancer
June 22, 2018 - Simple, cost-effective test may help improve early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment
Pilot study raises concerns about exposure of pregnant women to benzene in British Columbia

Pilot study raises concerns about exposure of pregnant women to benzene in British Columbia

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Université de Montréal research reveals that 29 pregnant women living near natural-gas hydraulic fracturing sites had a median concentration of a benzene biomarker in their urine that was 3.5 times higher than that found in women from the general Canadian population.

Peace River Valley, in northeastern British Columbia, has become known in recent years as a place of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas – “fracking,” as it’s commonly called. What are the health impacts related to living near fracking sites where contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, are released? To try to answer that question, élyse Caron-Beaudoin, a postdoctoral researcher at the Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute, studied a group of pregnant women who live in the area. Her results were published this week in Environment International.

High concentrations of muconic acid – a degradation product of benzene (a volatile, toxic and carcinogenic compound) – were detected in the urine of 29 pregnant women who participated in the pilot study. Their median concentration of muconic acid was approximately 3.5 times higher in these women than in the general Canadian population.

In five of the 29 participants, the concentration of muconic acid surpassed the biological exposure index (BEI), a measure developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) to protect the health of people in the workplace. Caron-Beaudoin informed the five women of the results and communicated with their attending physicians. Guidelines of acceptable amounts of muconic acid in urine exist only for the workplace; there are none for the general population.

Not beyond a reasonable doubt

“Although the levels of muconic acid found in the participants’ urine cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were exposed to high levels of benzene, these results do clearly demonstrate the importance of exploring human exposure to environmental contaminants in natural-gas (fracking) regions,” said Marc-André Verner, the lead researcher on the study. Verner is a professor at Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health and specializes in toxicological risk assessment.

“Muconic acid is also a degradation product of sorbic acid, which is often used as a preservative in the food industry,” said Caron-Beaudoin. “However, we believe that diet alone is unlikely to explain the concentrations we found in our participants. A more extensive study needs to be conducted with additional measures – to test the air and drinking water, for example – to confirm or refute the results of our pilot study.”

Health hazards of benzene include birth defects

The health impacts of benzene are well-documented. “High exposure to benzene during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, an increased risk of childhood leukemia and a greater incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida,” said Caron-Beaudoin. “We were therefore very concerned when we discovered high levels of muconic acid in the urine of pregnant women.

It should be noted that there are multiple routes of exposure to benzene, including inhaling cigarette smoke, filling your car’s gas tank, driving, and drinking benzene-contaminated water.

“Many reports have been written on the contamination of air and water by volatile organic compounds near natural-gas well sites,” said Verner, who is also a researcher at the Public Health Research Institute. “Northeastern British Columbia is a region that supports the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Despite the fact that many chemicals used or emitted by this industry are toxic to humans, no biological monitoring programs have been implemented in the region.”

Indigenous people at the root of the study

Why did Quebec researchers lead a study exploring a public-health issue that mainly concerns people in Western Canada? Good question, Caron-Beaudoin replied. “At a conference, Professor Verner and I learned that certain indigenous communities, including the West Moberly First Nations, were concerned about the contaminants released by the many natural-gas sites on their territory, and about how this was affecting people’s health. They were looking for researchers to conduct a formal impact study. We expressed our interest, but were very surprised that this kind of study had never been carried out before.”

Among the pilot study’s 29 participants, 14 were indigenous. Results revealed that the median concentration of muconic acid in the urine of these 14 women was 2.3 times higher than in non-indigenous participants, and six times higher than in women from the general Canadian population. However, it is important to note that the different levels found in indigenous and non-indigenous participants was not statistically significant, possibly due to the small number of women involved. A study with a larger sample size would be necessary to verify if this difference is significant.

‘Environmental racism’ – a new concept

Nonetheless, these results raise the issue of “environmental racism,” a concept that is being increasingly explored by public-health researchers. Environmental racism refers to intentional or unintentional discrimination in the development and implementation of environmental policy, which disproportionately favors the installation of facilities that are potentially harmful to human health in areas populated by cultural minorities and in low-income communities.

For example, a study done in 2016 in Texas (Johnston et al., 2016*) revealed that wells used to dispose of wastewater coming from hydraulic fracturing sites were disproportionately permitted near communities with higher proportions of people of colour. “Environmental injustice is a major concern, particularly in indigenous communities where health inequalities are already an issue,” said Verner.

A large-scale study now needed

What’s next? Caron-Beaudoin and Verner have applied for funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to conduct a major study of 100 pregnant women, using the same research methodology as in their pilot study. The study will involve doing an analysis not only of benzene biomarkers and other volatile organic compounds, but also of certain heavy metals in urine and hair samples. An environmental analysis of the participants’ exposure to contaminants in the air and water will also be conducted. The data will then be modeled by Verner to estimate the fetal concentrations of these compounds, and thus more adequately measure the effects this type of exposure has on fetal development.

A second study led by Caron-Beaudoin will examine the medical data of approximately 6,000 babies born in the region over the past 10 years. “The goal is to assess the overall health of the babies (birth weight, pre-term births, head circumference and the prevalence of certain congenital birth defects) in relation to their proximity to natural-gas well sites and the number of active wells in their environment,” the researcher said.

Source:

http://nouvelles.umontreal.ca/en/article/2017/11/13/exposure-to-benzene-during-pregnancy-a-pilot-study-raises-concerns-in-british-columbia/

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles