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Journal: Environmental health and toxicology


Potential environmental risks caused by chemicals that could be released from a recycled plastic product were assessed using a screening risk assessment procedure for chemicals in recycled products.

Concepts: Assessment, Probabilistic risk assessment, Environmentalism, Risk assessment, Risk management, Risk


The committee of the United Nations for the Evaluation of Radiation Effects UNSCEAR as well as the International Commission on Radiological Protection ICRP up to now have derived a very low risk for hereditary diseases in humans from experiments in mice. They claim that there are no human data to refer to, and missing effects in the acute exposed Japanese A-bomb survivors are erroneously generalized to situations of chronic exposure. We made a compilation of findings about early deaths, congenital malformations, Downs syndrome, cancer and other effects, which were observed in humans after the exposure of parents. A few pointers are available from occupationally exposed groups, and much information can be drawn from studies in populations exposed by Chernobyl fallout and from the descendants of liquidators. Nearly all types of hereditary defects were found, which are to be expected ac-cording to our general knowledge of mechanism. We show that the official risk estimates are much too low.

Concepts: Congenital, Congenital disorder, Disease, Radiation poisoning, Radiation, Nuclear weapon, Cancer, United Nations


Several epidemiological studies have reported an association between environmental pollution and various health conditions in individuals residing in industrial complexes. To evaluate the effects of pollution from industrial complex on human health, we performed a pooled analysis of environmental epidemiologic monitoring data for residents living near national industrial complexes in Korea. The respiratory and allergic symptoms and the prevalence of acute and chronic diseases, including cancer, were used as the outcome variables for health effects. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to analyze the relationship between exposure to pollution from industrial complexes and health conditions. After adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, occupational exposure, level of education, and body mass index, the residents near the industrial complexes were found to have more respiratory symptoms, such as cough (OR = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.06-1.31) and sputum production (OR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.03-1.24), and symptoms of atopic dermatitis (OR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.01-1.21). Among residents of the industrial complexes, the prevalence of acute eye disorders was approximately 40% higher (OR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.04-1.84) and the prevalence of lung and uterine cancer was 3.45 times and 1.88 times higher, respectively, than those among residents of the control area. This study showed that residents living in the vicinity of industrial complexes have a high risk of acute and chronic diseases including respiratory and allergic conditions. These results can be used as basic objective data for developing health management measures for individuals residing near industrial complexes.

Concepts: Toxicology, Medicine, Allergy, Regression analysis, Disease, Logistic regression, Asthma, Epidemiology


Radon, the primary constituent of natural radiation, is the second leading environmental cause of lung cancer after smoking. To confirm a relationship between indoor radon exposure and lung cancer, estimating cumulative levels of exposure to indoor radon for an individual or population is necessary. This study sought to develop a model for estimate indoor radon concentrations in Korea. Especially, our model and method may have wider application to other residences, not to specific site, and can be used in situations where actual measurements for input variables are lacking.

Concepts: Cancer staging, Background radiation, Mathematics, Tobacco smoking, Ionizing radiation, Cancer, Lung cancer, Radon


The purpose of this study is to introduce the establishment process, policy target, and projects for “Chungnam’s master plan on environmental health policy (2017-2020)” as the local government’s role in addressing local environmental health challenges. We first analyzed existing studies and social issues on the media related to “Chungnam’s master plan” to understand Chungnam’s environmental health status and discussed domestic and international policy trends and related plans. An environmental health perception questionnaire survey and a Delphi expert questionnaire survey were conducted among provincial residents to collect various actors' opinions on Chungnam’s environmental health issues and policy. An expert advisory panel was launched, and a residents' voice workshop and cities-and-guns-policy-suggestion workshop were held. The vision of Chungnam’s environmental health policy is minimizing environmental hazards. We finally selected “Pleasant environment, healthy people, happy Chungnam” to represent the will to shape a pleasant environment and prevent and manage health damages for a happy Chungnam. We selected five strategies based on status analysis and a review of domestic and international policy trends and related plans and identified 2 targets (policy objectives) to accomplish the strategies. The strategies to achieve the first target, “Leader in environmental health policy: Chungnam,” include “Empowering active provincial capabilities,” “Setting up province-specific systems for environmental health surveys and research,” and “Preventing and managing newly emerging pollutants.” The strategies for the second target, “Everyone is healthy: Chungnam,” include “Relieving health inequalities among vulnerable regions and residents” and “Enlarging the resident-friendly environmental health policy.” We developed 29 projects in total, according to these strategies. The establishment of “Chungnam’s master plan” is highly valuable; we developed it through discussion involving diverse actors to address environmental health challenges together. It is necessary to continue to strengthen participation, communication, and cooperation among actors to develop an environmental health policy model for the future.

Concepts: Population health, Government, Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Target Corporation, Health, Plan


This study utilized the Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model to simulate the spatial distribution of benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) concentrations in Ulsan metropolitan region (UMR), where large national industrial complexes (IC) are located. Through controlling the pollutant emissions in major IC, this study has performed a quantitative analysis on the influence of pollutant emissions from the IC on the BTX concentrations in surrounding urban areas. The seasonal modeling results indicated that the average BTX concentrations were high around the petrochemical complexes, with higher concentrations in the surrounding urban areas during the summer. The results of the emission control modeling in major IC showed that approximately 40% of the annual average BTX concentrations of nearby urban grids were directly influenced by pollutant emissions from the IC. While all three of the BTX pollutants showed similar seasonal differences, their contributions were highest during July. Daily contributions differed significantly throughout the modeling period, with some values reaching a maximum of 80% during July; overall, when the urban areas were located downwind of the IC, the contributions rose. Moreover, this study compared the differences in BTX contributions at each measurement point within the IC and urban areas, which indicated that the influence of the IC emissions decreased significantly with distance. The spatial distribution and the direct influence of the IC on the BTX concentrations in the UMR identified through this study could be used for basic data in environmental epidemiological studies.

Concepts: Ethylbenzene, Urban area, City, Metropolitan area, Soil contamination, Xylene, Toluene, Benzene


The role of infectious agents in the etiology of inflammatory diseases once believed to be non-infectious is increasingly being recognized. Many bacterial components in the indoor dust can evoke inflammatory lung diseases. Bacteria secrete nanometer-sized vesicles into the extracellular milieu, so-called extracellular vesicles (EVs). which are pathophysiologically related to inflammatory diseases. Microbiota compositions in the indoor dust revealed the presence of both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Escherichia coli is a model organism of gram-negative Enterobacteriaceae. The repeated inhalation of E. coli-derived EVs caused neutrophilic inflammation and emphysema in a dose-dependent manner. The emphysema induced by E. coli-derived EVs was partially eliminated by the absence of IFN-gamma or IL-17, suggesting that Th1 and/or Th17 cell responses are important in the emphysema development. Meanwhile, the repeated inhalation of Staphylococcus aureus-derived EVs did not induce emphysema, although they induced neutrophilic inflammation in the lung. In terms of microbial EV compositions in the indoor dust, genera Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, and Staphylococcus were dominant. As for the clinical significance of sensitization to EVs in the indoor dust, EV sensitization was closely associated with asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. These data indicate that biological ultrafine particles in the indoor dust, which are mainly composed of microbial EVs, are important in the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases associated with neutrophilic inflammation. Taken together, microbial EVs in the indoor dust are an important diagnostic and therapeutic target for the control of chronic lung diseases, such as asthma, COPD, and lung cancer.

Concepts: Microbiology, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Infection, Pneumonia, Immune system, Escherichia coli, Asthma, Bacteria


In this economic evaluation of environmental epidemiological monitoring projects, we analyzed the economic feasibility of these projects by determining the social cost and benefit of these projects and conducting a cost/benefit analysis. Here, the social cost was evaluated by converting annual budgets for these research and survey projects into present values. Meanwhile, the societal benefit of these projects was evaluated by using the contingent valuation method to estimate the willingness to pay of residents living in or near industrial complexes. In addition, the extent to which these projects reduced negative health effects (i.e., excess disease and premature death) was evaluated through expert surveys, and the analysis was conducted to reflect the unit of economic value, based on the cost of illness and benefit transfer method. The results were then used to calculate the benefit of these projects in terms of the decrease in negative health effects. For residents living near industrial complexes, the benefit/cost ratio was 1.44 in the analysis based on resident surveys and 5.17 in the analysis based on expert surveys. Thus, whichever method was used for the economic analysis, the economic feasibility of these projects was confirmed.

Concepts: Contingent valuation, Value, Cost-benefit analysis, Costs, Sociology


The objective of this study was to verify a change in the longitudinal trend of blood lead levels for the Korean population, before and after the regulation of leaded gasoline-which occurred between 1987 and 1993 in Korea. A total of 77 general Korean population blood lead level reports from between 1981 and 2014 were selected, and the results were summarized to have the variables of year, number of subjects,the subjects' range in age, sex and blood lead concentrations (arithmetic mean). The annual average lead levels for four major cities, i.e., Seoul, Busan, Daegu and Gwangju were collected from The Air Pollution Monitoring Database from 1991, and pilot studies from 1985 to 1990 before the national air quality monitoring system was launched in 1991. Furthermore, blood lead levels were visualized in a bubble plot in which the size of each bubble represented the sample size of each study, and the annual average concentrations in ambient air were depicted on line graphs. Blood lead levels in the Korean population tended to gradually increase from the early 1980s (approximately 15-20 ug/dL) until 1990-1992 (20-25 ug/dL). Blood lead levels then began to rapidly decrease until 2014 (<2 ug/dL). Similar patterns were observed for both adults (≥9 years) and younger children/adolescents. The same longitudinal trend was observed in annual average air lead concentration, which suggests a significant correlation between air lead concentration and blood lead concentration in the general population. The regulation of leaded gasoline has significantly contributed to the rapid change in blood lead concentrations. Consequently, the regulation of other sources of lead exposure should be considered to further decrease blood lead levels in the Korean population.

Concepts: Korea, Gasoline, Blood lead level, South Korea, Seoul, Arithmetic mean, Lead, Lead poisoning


The rapidly increasing annual global volume of e-waste, and of its inherently valuable fraction, has created an opportunity for individuals in Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana to make a living by using unconventional, uncontrolled, primitive and crude procedures to recycle and recover valuable metals from this waste. The current form of recycling procedures releases hazardous fractions, such as heavy metals, into the soil, posing a significant risk to the environment and human health. Using a handheld GPS, 132 soil samples based on 100 m grid intervals were collected and analysed for cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn). Using geostatistical techniques and sediment quality guidelines, this research seeks to assess the potential risk these heavy metals posed to the proposed Korle Ecological Restoration Zone by informal e-waste processing site in Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana. Analysis of heavy metals revealed concentrations exceeded the regulatory limits of both Dutch and Canadian soil quality and guidance values, and that the ecological risk posed by the heavy metals extended beyond the main burning and dismantling sites of the informal recyclers to the school, residential, recreational, clinic, farm and worship areas. The heavy metals Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn had normal distribution, spatial variability, and spatial autocorrelation. Further analysis revealed the decreasing order of toxicity, Hg > Cd > Pb > Cu> Zn > Cr, of contributing significantly to the potential ecological risk in the study area.

Concepts: Metal, Copper, Cadmium, Soil, Recycling, Heavy metal music, Lead, Zinc