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Concept: Soil contamination


Dust and surfaces are important sources of lead and pesticide exposure in young children. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate if third-hand smoke (THS) pollutants accumulate on the hands of children who live in environments where tobacco is used and if hand nicotine levels are associated with second-hand smoke (SHS), as measured by salivary cotinine.

Concepts: Soil contamination, Tobacco industry, Asthma, Lung cancer, Tobacco smoking, Smoking, Nicotine, Tobacco


Environmental pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs, heavy metals, and organochlorine pesticides are a global threat to food safety. In particular, the aquatic biota can bioaccumulate many of these contaminants potentially making seafood of concern for chronic exposure to humans.

Concepts: Environment, Marine pollution, Pollution, Salmon, Salmo, Atlantic salmon, Soil contamination, Toxicology


Aerosolized microorganisms may play an important role in climate change, disease transmission, water and soil contaminants, and geographic migration of microbes. While it is known that bioaerosols are generated when bubbles break on the surface of water containing microbes, it is largely unclear how viable soil-based microbes are transferred to the atmosphere. Here we report a previously unknown mechanism by which rain disperses soil bacteria into the air. Bubbles, tens of micrometres in size, formed inside the raindrops disperse micro-droplets containing soil bacteria during raindrop impingement. A single raindrop can transfer 0.01% of bacteria on the soil surface and the bacteria can survive more than one hour after the aerosol generation process. This work further reveals that bacteria transfer by rain is highly dependent on the regional soil profile and climate conditions.

Concepts: Aerosol, Atmosphere, Soil contamination, Archaea, Water, Precipitation, Microorganism, Climate


Relatively few studies are available on realistic cumulative risk assessments for dietary pesticide exposure. Despite available studies showing low risk, public concern remains. A method to estimate realistic residue levels based on information from spraying journals and supervised residue trials was described in a previous publication. The present article proposes a new method to estimate average residue levels in imported foods based on residue monitoring data and knowledge about agronomic practices. The two methods were used in combination to estimate average pesticide residue levels in 47 commodities on the Danish market. The chronic consumer exposure was estimated in six Danish diets. The Hazard Index (HI) method was used to assess consumer risk. Despite the conservative (cautious) risk assessment approach, low HI values where obtained. The HI was 16% for adults and 44% for children, combining the risk of all pesticides in the diet.

Concepts: Soil contamination, Pesticides, Risk, Pesticide residue, Assessment, Evaluation, Risk assessment, Pesticide


The causes of declines in bees and other pollinators remains an on-going debate. While recent attention has focussed upon pesticides, other environmental pollutants have largely been ignored. Aluminium is the most significant environmental contaminant of recent times and we speculated that it could be a factor in pollinator decline. Herein we have measured the content of aluminium in bumblebee pupae taken from naturally foraging colonies in the UK. Individual pupae were acid-digested in a microwave oven and their aluminium content determined using transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. Pupae were heavily contaminated with aluminium giving values between 13.4 and 193.4 μg/g dry wt. and a mean (SD) value of 51.0 (33.0) μg/g dry wt. for the 72 pupae tested. Mean aluminium content was shown to be a significant negative predictor of average pupal weight in colonies. While no other statistically significant relationships were found relating aluminium to bee or colony health, the actual content of aluminium in pupae are extremely high and demonstrate significant exposure to aluminium. Bees rely heavily on cognitive function and aluminium is a known neurotoxin with links, for example, to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The significant contamination of bumblebee pupae by aluminium raises the intriguing spectre of cognitive dysfunction playing a role in their population decline.

Concepts: Soil contamination, Pollination syndrome, Statistics, Pollination, Pollinator, Bumblebee, Pollinator decline, Bee


It is notable that the adoption of GM glyphosate-tolerant crops increases glyphosate use but reduces non-glyphosate herbicide use; and adoption of GM insect-resistant crops significantly reduces insecticide use. While the health hazard of pesticide use has been well documented, little literature evaluates the health effects of different pesticides related to GM crops in an integrated framework. This study aims to associate the uses of different pesticides related to GM crops with the blood chemistry panel and peripheral nerve conduction of Chinese farmers. Pesticides used by farmers were recorded and classified as glyphosate, non-glyphosate herbicides, chemical lepidopteran insecticides, biological lepidopteran insecticides, non-lepidopteran insecticides and fungicides. The multivariate regression results show that none of the examined 35 health indicators was associated with glyphosate use, while the use of non-glyphosate herbicides was likely to induce renal dysfunction and decrease of serum folic acid. The use of chemical lepidopteran insecticides might be associated with hepatic dysfunction, serum glucose elevation, inflammation and even severe nerve damage. In this context, if GM crops are adopted, the alterations in pesticide use may benefit farmer health in China and globe, which has positive implications for the development of GM crops.

Concepts: Soil contamination, Glyphosate, Pesticide application, DDT, Index of pesticide articles, Herbicide, Pesticide, Insecticide


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) are neurodevelopmental toxicants, but few studies have examined associations with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Concepts: Pesticide, Autism spectrum, Soil contamination, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, Autism, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated biphenyl


A large variety of micro-organic (MO) compounds is used in huge quantities for a range of purposes (e.g. manufacturing, food production, healthcare) and is now being frequently detected in the aquatic environment. Interest in the occurrence of MO contaminants in the terrestrial and aquatic environments continues to grow, as well as in their environmental fate and potential toxicity. However, the contamination of groundwater resources by MOs has a limited evidence base compared to other freshwater resources. Of particular concern are newly ‘emerging contaminants’ such as pharmaceuticals and lifestyle compounds, particularly those with potential endocrine disrupting properties. While groundwater often has a high degree of protection from pollution due to physical, chemical and biological attenuation processes in the subsurface compared to surface aquatic environments, trace concentrations of a large range of compounds are still detected in groundwater and in some cases may persist for decades due to the long residence times of groundwater systems. This study provides the first national-scale assessment of micro-organic compounds in groundwater in England and Wales. A large set of monitoring data was analysed to determine the relative occurrence and detected concentrations of different groups of compounds and to determine relationships with land-use, aquifer type and groundwater vulnerability. MOs detected including emerging compounds such as caffeine, DEET, bisphenol A, anti-microbial agents and pharmaceuticals as well as a range of legacy contaminants including chlorinated solvents and THMs, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides and other industrial compounds. There are clear differences in MOs between land-use types, particularly for urban-industrial and natural land-use. Temporal trends of MO occurrence are assessed but establishing long-term trends is not yet possible.

Concepts: Soil contamination, England, Water pollution, Endocrine disruptor, Environment, Chemistry, Petroleum, Water


The quality of diets in rodent feeding trials is crucial. We describe the contamination with environmental pollutants of 13 laboratory rodent diets from 5 continents. Measurements were performed using accredited methodologies. All diets were contaminated with pesticides (1-6 out of 262 measured), heavy metals (2-3 out of 4, mostly lead and cadmium), PCDD/Fs (1-13 out of 17) and PCBs (5-15 out of 18). Out of 22 GMOs tested for, Roundup-tolerant GMOs were the most frequently detected, constituting up to 48% of the diet. The main pesticide detected was Roundup, with residues of glyphosate and AMPA in 9 of the 13 diets, up to 370 ppb. The levels correlated with the amount of Roundup-tolerant GMOs. Toxic effects of these pollutants on liver, neurodevelopment, and reproduction are documented. The sum of the hazard quotients of the pollutants in the diets (an estimator of risk with a threshold of 1) varied from 15.8 to 40.5. Thus the chronic consumption of these diets can be considered at risk. Efforts toward safer diets will improve the reliability of toxicity tests in biomedical research and regulatory toxicology.

Concepts: Neurotoxicity, Environment, Heavy metal music, Pollution, Toxicity, Poison, Soil contamination, Toxicology


One method for rejuvenating land polluted with anthropogenic contaminants is through phytoremediation, the reclamation of land through the cultivation of specific crops. The capacity for phytoremediation crops, such as Salix spp., to tolerate and even flourish in contaminated soils relies on a highly complex and predominantly cryptic interacting community of microbial life.

Concepts: Soil, Biodiversity, Bacteria, Archaea, Soil contamination, Bioremediation, Landfill, Microorganism