Tag Archives: Virginia Institute of Technology

Virginia Tech study: Common household chemicals lead to birth defects in mice, research finds

18 Jun

Moi wrote in Common household chemicals link to drop in child IQ:

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. Science Daily reported in Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ:
Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home–di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)–had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.
DnBP and DiBP are found in a wide variety of consumer products, from dryer sheets to vinyl fabrics to personal care products like lipstick, hairspray, and nail polish, even some soaps. Since 2009, several phthalates have been banned from children’s toys and other childcare articles in the United States. However, no steps have been taken to protect the developing fetus by alerting pregnant women to potential exposures. In the U.S., phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on products in which they are used.
Researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low-income communities. They assessed the women’s exposure to four phthalates–DnBP, DiBP, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, and diethyl phthalate–in the third trimester of pregnancy by measuring levels of the chemicals’ metabolites in urine. Children were given IQ tests at age 7.
Children of mothers exposed during pregnancy to the highest 25 percent of concentrations of DnBP and DiBP had IQs 6.6 and 7.6 points lower, respectively, than children of mothers exposed to the lowest 25 percent of concentrations after controlling for factors like maternal IQ, maternal education, and quality of the home environment that are known to influence child IQ scores. The association was also seen for specific aspects of IQ, such as perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The researchers found no associations between the other two phthalates and child IQ.
The range of phthalate metabolite exposures measured in the mothers was not unusual: it was within what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed in a national sample.
“Pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children,” says lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.
“The magnitude of these IQ differences is troubling,” says senior author Robin Whyatt, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School. “A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential.”
PSYBLOG lists common household items in 8 Household Items Newly Found to Lower Children’s IQ Significantly:
Avoiding phthalates
While it is impossible to avoid phthalates completely, they are found in these common products, amongst others:
• Hairspray.
• Plastic containers used for microwaving food.
• Lipstick.
• Air fresheners.
• Dryer sheets.
• Nail polish.
• Some soaps.
• Recycled plastics labelled 3,6 or 7.
http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/12/8-household-items-newly-found-to-lower-childrens-iq-significantly.php:

A Virginia Tech study involving mice is confirming this study.

Science Daily reported in Common household chemicals lead to birth defects in mice, research finds:

A new study at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech has found a connection between common household chemicals and birth defects.
Known as quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats,” the chemicals are often used as disinfectants and preservatives in household and personal products such as cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, and eye drops. The research demonstrated a link between quats and neural tube birth defects in both mice and rats.
“These chemicals are regularly used in the home, hospital, public spaces, and swimming pools,” said Terry Hrubec, associate professor of anatomy at the VCOM-Virginia campus and research assistant professor in the veterinary college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “Most people are exposed on a regular basis.”
Hrubec investigated the effect of two commonly used quats: alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. These are often listed on ingredient lists as ADBAC and DDAC, respectively, and are valued for their antimicrobial and antistatic properties, as well as their ability to lower surface tension. Hrubec found that exposure to these chemicals resulted in neural tube birth defects — the same birth defect as spina bifida and anencephaly in humans.
“Birth defects were seen when both males and females were exposed, as well as when only one parent was exposed,” said Hrubec, who is first author on the study and holds both a doctor of veterinary medicine degree and Ph.D. from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. “The fact that birth defects could be seen when only the father was exposed means that we need to expand our scope of prenatal care to include the father.”
Hrubec found that mice and rats did not even need to be dosed with the chemicals to see the effect. Her research shows that simply using quat-based cleaners in the same room as the mice was enough to cause birth defects. “We also observed increased birth defects in rodents for two generations after stopping exposure,” Hrubec added…..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170617073635.htm

Citation:

ommon household chemicals lead to birth defects in mice, research finds
Date: June 17, 2017
Source: Virginia Tech
Summary:
A connection between common household chemicals and birth defects has been uncovered by new research.

Journal Reference:
1. Terry C. Hrubec, Vanessa E. Melin, Caroline S. Shea, Elizabeth E. Ferguson, Craig Garofola, Claire M. Repine, Tyler W. Chapman, Hiral R. Patel, Reza M. Razvi, Jesse E. Sugrue, Haritha Potineni, Geraldine Magnin-Bissel, Patricia A. Hunt. Ambient and dosed exposure to quaternary ammonium disinfectants causes neural tube defects in rodents. Birth Defects Research, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/bdr2.1064

Here is the press release from Virginia Tech:

Public Release: 16-Jun-2017
Research finds common household chemicals lead to birth defects in mice
A new study at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech has found a connection between common household chemicals and birth defects.
A new study at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech has found a connection between common household chemicals and birth defects.
Known as quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats,” the chemicals are often used as disinfectants and preservatives in household and personal products such as cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, and eye drops. The research demonstrated a link between quats and neural tube birth defects in both mice and rats.
“These chemicals are regularly used in the home, hospital, public spaces, and swimming pools,” said Terry Hrubec, associate professor of anatomy at the VCOM-Virginia campus and research assistant professor in the veterinary college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “Most people are exposed on a regular basis.”
Hrubec investigated the effect of two commonly used quats: alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. These are often listed on ingredient lists as ADBAC and DDAC, respectively, and are valued for their antimicrobial and antistatic properties, as well as their ability to lower surface tension. Hrubec found that exposure to these chemicals resulted in neural tube birth defects — the same birth defect as spina bifida and anencephaly in humans.
“Birth defects were seen when both males and females were exposed, as well as when only one parent was exposed,” said Hrubec, who is first author on the study and holds both a doctor of veterinary medicine degree and Ph.D. from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. “The fact that birth defects could be seen when only the father was exposed means that we need to expand our scope of prenatal care to include the father.”
Hrubec found that mice and rats did not even need to be dosed with the chemicals to see the effect. Her research shows that simply using quat-based cleaners in the same room as the mice was enough to cause birth defects. “We also observed increased birth defects in rodents for two generations after stopping exposure,” Hrubec added.
An earlier study in Hrubec’s laboratory found that these chemicals led to reproductive declines in mice. Follow-up research found that quats were decreasing sperm counts in males and ovulation in females. The research raises the possibility of quats contributing to human infertility, which has been on the rise in recent decades.
“We are asked all of the time, ‘You see your results in mice. How do you know that it’s toxic in humans?'” Hrubec said. “Our research on mice and rats shows that these chemicals affect the embryonic development of these animals. Since rodent research is the gold standard in the biomedical sciences, this raises a big red flag that these chemicals may be toxic to humans as well.”
Quaternary ammonium compounds were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s before the standardization of toxicity studies. Chemical manufacturers conducted some toxicity studies on the compounds during this period, but they were never published. Today, the chemicals are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Hrubec noted that an epidemiological study could determine whether people who have a high rate of exposure, such as healthcare workers or restaurant servers, have a more difficult time becoming pregnant or have a greater likelihood of having children with neural tube birth defects, but no such study has been conducted to date.
###
In addition to VCOM and the veterinary college, the study received funding from the Passport Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that sponsors research on product safety.
The paper, “Ambient and Dosed Exposure to Quaternary Ammonium Disinfectants Causes Neural Tube Defects in Rodents,” was published in the June 15 issue of Birth Defects Research and is available online.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Saundra Young of CNN wrote about toxic chemicals in ‘Putting the next generation of brains in danger.’

According to Young there are several types of chemicals which pose a danger:
The best example of this, he said, is cosmetics and phthalates. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products from cosmetics, perfume, hair spray, soap and shampoos to plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, miniblinds, food containers and plastic wrap.
You can also find them in plastic plumbing pipes, medical tubing and fluid bags, vinyl flooring and other building materials. They are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.
In Europe, cosmetics don’t contain phthalates, but here in the United States some do.
Phthalates previously were used in pacifiers, soft rattles and teethers. But in 1999, after a push from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American companies stopped using them in those products.
“We certainly have the capability, it’s a matter of political will,” Landrigan said. “We have tried in this country over the last decade to pass chemical safety legislation but the chemical industry and their supporters have successfully beat back the effort.”
However, the Food and Drug Administration said two of the most common phthalates, — dibutylphthalate, or DBP, used as a plasticizer in products such as nail polishes to reduce cracking by making them less brittle, and dimethylphthalate, or DMP used in hairsprays — are now rarely used in this country.
Diethylphthalate, or DEP, used in fragrances, is the only phthalate still used in cosmetics, the FDA said.
“It’s not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health,” according to the FDA’s website. “An expert panel convened from 1998 to 2000 by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institute for Environmental Safety and Health, concluded that reproductive risks from exposure to phthalates were minimal to negligible in most cases….” http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/14/health/chemicals-children-brains/

See, Helping to protect children from the harmful effects of chemicals http://www.who.int/ipcs/highlights/children_chemicals/en/

Children will have the most success in school, if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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Virginia Tech study: Does social media reduce corruption?

24 Apr

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace described by corruption in government is important:

Corruption is decried across cultures and throughout history. It has existed as long as government has; but, like other crimes, it has grown increasingly sophisticated over the last several decades, with devastating effects on the wellbeing and dignity of countless innocent citizens.
For starters, corruption cripples prospects for development. When, say, public-procurement fraud is rampant, or royalties for natural resources are stolen at the source, or the private sector is monopolized by a narrow network of cronies, populations are unable to realize their potential.
But corruption also has another, less-recognized impact. As citizens watch their leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the population, they become increasingly frustrated and angry – sentiments that can lead to civil unrest and violent conflict.
Many current international security crises are rooted in this dynamic. Indignation at the highhanded behavior of a corrupt police officer helped to drive a Tunisian fruit seller to set himself on fire in 2010, touching off revolutions across the Arab world. Protesters demanded that specific ministers be arrested and put on trial, and they called for the return of pilfered assets – demands that were rarely met…. http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/05/06/why-corruption-matters-pub-63527
See, Transparency International: http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016

Science Daily reported in Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption, researchers find:

A Virginia Tech College of Science economics researcher says the popular social media website Facebook — and its open sharing of information — is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
In new research recently published in the journal Information Economics and Policy, Sudipta Sarangi of the Virginia Tech Department of Economics said his cross-country analysis using data from more than 150 countries shows the more Facebook penetrates public usage, the higher the likelihood of government corruption meeting protest. In short, Sarangi said social media serves as peer of the press.
“This study underscores the importance of freedom on the internet that is under threat in many countries of the world,” Sarangi said, adding that social media is negatively correlated with corruption regardless of the status of the freedom of the press. In other words, Facebook likewise helps reduce and/or lessen corruption in governments where press freedom is low…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170422101714.htm

Open Data Charter wrote in Tackling Corruption Together: How Open Data Can Help Fight Corruption:

When information on government activities is limited, there are opportunities for the corrupt to take advantage of public resources for private gain. To build transparency, accountability and integrity in government, an international shift towards openness is vital. The core principles of the Open Data Charter provide governments with guidance to become ‘Open By Default’ and to ensure shared data is in line with best practices. Building on the principles of open data, new technologies, such as blockchain, present additional opportunities to enhance transparency.
The use of data, especially open data, in law enforcement is a recent development but has the potential to be of great impact. Many questions still need to be answered around the mechanisms in which data can be utilized by law enforcement for anti-corruption efforts, including how to effectively communicate what is done with the data. Open data can only be unlocked when citizens are confident that openness will not compromise their right to privacy and law enforcement must protect personal data while ensuring that privacy and security do not become arguments for opacity. As seen in the Panama Papers release, mechanisms such as bank secrecy laws have been being used as loopholes by companies and individuals to engage in tax evasion…. http://opendatacharter.net/tackling-corruption-together-open-data-can-help-fight-corruption/

Citation:

Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption, researchers find

Date: April 22, 2017
Source: Virginia Tech
Summary:
An economics researcher says the popular social media website – and its open sharing of information – is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
Journal Reference:
1. Chandan Kumar Jha, Sudipta Sarangi. Does social media reduce corruption? Information Economics and Policy, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2017.04.001

Here is the press release from Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech researchers: Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption
April 23, 2017
A Virginia Tech College of Science economics researcher says the popular social media website Facebook – and its open sharing of information – is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
In new research recently published in the journal Information Economics and Policy, Sudipta Sarangi of the Virginia Tech Department of Economics said his cross-country analysis using data from more than 150 countries shows the more Facebook penetrates public usage, the higher the likelihood of government corruption meeting protest. In short, Sarangi said social media serves as peer of the press.
“This study underscores the importance of freedom on the internet that is under threat in many countries of the world,” Sarangi said, adding that social media is negatively correlated with corruption regardless of the status of the freedom of the press. In other words, Facebook likewise helps reduce and/or lessen corruption in governments where press freedom is low.
“By showing that social media can negatively impact corruption, we provide yet another reason in favor of the freedom on the net,” he said.
The study took into account a number of control variables including other economic, democratic, and cultural factors, said Sarangi. It also comes on the heels of a volatile American election in which Facebook and other social media platforms were seen as culprits in the spread of “fake news,” especially tied to politics.
Sarangi began the study in 2012 while at Louisiana State University, with co-author Chandan Kumar Jha, now an assistant professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. At the time, Sarangi said social media was being used to organize anti-corruption protests in his and Jha’s home country of India. It also followed the 2011 rise of Arab Spring across the Middle East where large protests toppled governments.
“Our initial results were encouraging in that we found a significant, negative correlation between Facebook penetration and corruption across a small sample of countries,” Sarangi said.
Several qualitative studies have touched on the use of social media to oust corruption before, and many other studies have focused on internet or e-government and its impact on corruption. Sarangi said, however, that few quantitative studies have looked specifically looked at social media and its impact on corruption because country specific data is hard to acquire.
Sarangi and Jha’s study is the first of its kind to establish a link between social media and corruption across more than 150 countries, showing the complimentary role of social media along with the press in open countries, and its greater impact in countries that are oppressive. The study features a falsification test which checked whether the results would be true for a pre-Facebook era in the same countries.
Findings showed that this was not the case. Also considered were government-sanctioned social media platforms.
“Establishing causality is a difficult thing in the corruption literature, simply because corrupt governments might also control social media,” Sarangi said.
He added that much of the anti-corruption content posted on Facebook is user-created and shared individually, its audience growing with each share or repost.
In other words, Sarangi and Jha report that social media as an information and communication technology tool allows multi-way communication as opposed to traditional media such as TV and print media that allow for only one-way communication. The back and forth of communication is harder to control by government censors.
“Indeed, the role of social media and the internet in providing unbiased and independent news in several countries such as China, Russia, and Malaysia has widely been recognized by scholars,” added Sarangi.
“Social media provides cheap and quick means of sharing information and reaching a larger audience to organize public protests against the corrupt activities of government officials and politicians. It is therefore not a surprise that despotic governments favor controlling social media.”
Additionally, interaction in social media platforms typically is shared among friends and family, thus adding a personal connection and therefore more perceived credibility to shared information. Sarangi said individuals may feel compelled to act on such information to show solidarity with family or friends.
As of February 2017, Facebook was estimated to have 2 billion users worldwide, according to CNN. Among the countries studied by Sarangi and Jha: Denmark, the least corrupt; and Somalia, the most.
“As social media evolves to be an increasingly important part of our daily lives, it is important for continued research to help us understand how these tools are impacting our lives,” said Brandi Watkins, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, part of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Watkins was not involved in this study but researches the use of social media.
“Related to this study, it is important to look at how platforms like Facebook can be used to improve societal issues, especially in the area of corruption,” Watkins said. “This study highlights the need for information, whether from traditional media or social media, in reducing corruption.”
Contacts:
• Jordan Fifer
540-231-6997
• Steven Mackay
540-231-4787

Corruption costs the population ruled by a corrupt government economic growth, Rule of Law, safety and security and denied individual aspirations.

There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.
A. K. Antony

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