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Journal: International journal of environmental research and public health


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder in which a significant number of the children experience a developmental regression characterized by a loss of previously acquired skills and abilities. Typically reported are losses of verbal, nonverbal, and social abilities. Several recent studies suggest that children diagnosed with an ASD have abnormal sulfation chemistry, limited thiol availability, and decreased glutathione (GSH) reserve capacity, resulting in a compromised oxidation/reduction (redox) and detoxification capacity. Research indicates that the availability of thiols, particularly GSH, can influence the effects of thimerosal ™ and other mercury (Hg) compounds. TM is an organomercurial compound (49.55% Hg by weight) that has been, and continues to be, used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, particularly in developing countries. Thiol-modulating mechanisms affecting the cytotoxicity of TM have been identified. Importantly, the emergence of ASD symptoms post-6 months of age temporally follows the administration of many childhood vaccines. The purpose of the present critical review is provide mechanistic insight regarding how limited thiol availability, abnormal sulfation chemistry, and decreased GSH reserve capacity in children with an ASD could make them more susceptible to the toxic effects of TM routinely administered as part of mandated childhood immunization schedules.

Concepts: Disulfide bond, Thiol, Glutathione, Thiols, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Autism, Cysteine


The current chronic kidney disease epidemic, the major health issue in the rice paddy farming areas in Sri Lanka has been the subject of many scientific and political debates over the last decade. Although there is no agreement among scientists about the etiology of the disease, a majority of them has concluded that this is a toxic nephropathy. None of the hypotheses put forward so far could explain coherently the totality of clinical, biochemical, histopathological findings, and the unique geographical distribution of the disease and its appearance in the mid-1990s. A strong association between the consumption of hard water and the occurrence of this special kidney disease has been observed, but the relationship has not been explained consistently. Here, we have hypothesized the association of using glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the disease endemic area and its unique metal chelating properties. The possible role played by glyphosate-metal complexes in this epidemic has not been given any serious consideration by investigators for the last two decades. Furthermore, it may explain similar kidney disease epidemics observed in Andra Pradesh (India) and Central America. Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals.

Concepts: Sri Lanka, Chronic kidney disease, Infectious disease, Theory, Epidemiology, Kidney, Epidemic, Scientific method


Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children’s bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required.

Concepts: Social relation, Developmental psychology, Child, Educational psychology, Behavior, Adolescence, Psychology, Sociology


E-cigarettes are the most popular method of quitting smoking in England and most are purchased in specialist vape shops. This qualitative study explores how the vape shop environment is experienced by quitters to support smoking abstinence. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to elicit experiences of e-cigarette use, including experiences of vape shops, in 40 people who had used e-cigarettes in a quit attempt. Observations of six shops in a range of locations were also undertaken. Interview and observation data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis and triangulated. At an individual level, smoking abstinence was supported through shop assistants' attempts to understand customers' smoking preferences in order to: (i) tailor advice about the most appropriate product; and (ii) offer an ongoing point of contact for practical help. At an interpersonal level, shops offered opportunity to socialise and reinforce a vaping identity, although the environment was perceived as intimidating for some (e.g., new and female users). At a structural level, shops ensured easy access to products perceived to be good value by customers and had adapted to legislative changes. Vape shops can provide effective behavioural support to quitters to maintain smoking abstinence. Health professionals could capitalise on this through partnership working with shops, to ensure best outcomes for clients wanting to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

Concepts: Natural environment, Electronic cigarette, Scientific method, Environment, Tobacco, Psychology, Smoking, Nicotine


The objective of our study was to measure the impact of transportation-related noise and total environmental noise on sleep disturbance for the residents of Montreal, Canada. A telephone-based survey on noise-related sleep disturbance among 4336 persons aged 18 years and over was conducted. LNight for each study participant was estimated using a land use regression (LUR) model. Distance of the respondent’s residence to the nearest transportation noise source was also used as an indicator of noise exposure. The proportion of the population whose sleep was disturbed by outdoor environmental noise in the past 4 weeks was 12.4%. The proportion of those affected by road traffic, airplane and railway noise was 4.2%, 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively. We observed an increased prevalence in sleep disturbance for those exposed to both rail and road noise when compared for those exposed to road only. We did not observe an increased prevalence in sleep disturbance for those that were both exposed to road and planes when compared to those exposed to road or planes only. We developed regression models to assess the marginal proportion of sleep disturbance as a function of estimated LNight and distance to transportation noise sources. In our models, sleep disturbance increased with proximity to transportation noise sources (railway, airplane and road traffic) and with increasing LNight values. Our study provides a quantitative estimate of the association between total environmental noise levels estimated using an LUR model and sleep disturbance from transportation noise.

Concepts: Scientific method, Transport, Linear regression, Statistics, Noise pollution, Road, Regression analysis, Rail transport


Stress in the work place has a detrimental effect on people’s health. Sufficient recovery is necessary to counteract severe chronic negative load reactions. Previous research has shown that vacationing for at least seven consecutive days provided an efficient recovery strategy. Yet, thus far, the effects of short vacations and the mode of vacation (whether at home or in a new environment) have rarely been studied. We investigated the immediate and long-term effects of a short vacation (four nights) on well-being and perceived stress and whether the mode of vacation impacted on these results. Data was obtained from 40 middle managers (67.5% men and 32.5% women). The intervention group (n = 20) spent a short vacation in a hotel outside their usual environment. The control group (n = 20) spent their vacation at home. Results indicated that one single short-term vacation, independent of the mode, has large, positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain, and well-being. Strain levels decreased to a greater extent in the intervention group compared to the control group. The effects can still be detected at 30 days (recovery) and 45 days (well-being and strain) post-vacation. Encouraging middle management employees to take short vacations seems to be an efficient health promotion strategy; environmental effects seem to play a minor role.

Concepts: Necessary and sufficient condition, Effect, Control, Middle management, Environment, Effectiveness, Management, Randomized controlled trial


Standing desks have proven to be effective and viable solutions to combat sedentary behavior among children during the school day in studies around the world. However, little is known regarding the potential of such interventions on cognitive outcomes in children over time. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the neurocognitive benefits, i.e., improvements in executive functioning and working memory, of stand-biased desks and explore any associated changes in frontal brain function. 34 freshman high school students were recruited for neurocognitive testing at two time points during the school year: (1) in the fall semester and (2) in the spring semester (after 27.57 (1.63) weeks of continued exposure). Executive function and working memory was evaluated using a computerized neurocognitive test battery, and brain activation patterns of the prefrontal cortex were obtained using functional near infrared spectroscopy. Continued utilization of the stand-biased desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities. Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed. These findings provide the first preliminary evidence on the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks, which to date have focused largely on energy expenditure. Findings obtained here can drive future research with larger samples and multiple schools, with comparison groups that may in turn implicate the importance of stand-biased desks, as simple environmental changes in classrooms, on enhancing children’s cognitive functioning that drive their cognitive development and impact educational outcomes.

Concepts: Working memory, Psychology, Brain, Academic term, Executive functions, Infrared, High school, Cognition


Dog walking is a popular everyday physical activity. Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, but some rarely walk with their dog. The strength of the dog-owner relationship is known to be correlated with dog walking, and this qualitative study investigates why. Twenty-six interviews were combined with autoethnography of dog walking experiences. Dog walking was constructed as “for the dog”, however, owners represented their dog’s needs in a way which aligned with their own. Central to the construction of need was perceptions of dog personality and behaviour. Owners reported deriving positive outcomes from dog walking, most notably, feelings of “happiness”, but these were “contingent” on the perception that their dogs were enjoying the experience. Owner physical activity and social interaction were secondary bonuses but rarely motivating. Perceptions and beliefs of owners about dog walking were continually negotiated, depending on how the needs of the owner and dog were constructed at that time. Complex social interactions with the “significant other” of a pet can strongly motivate human health behaviour. Potential interventions to promote dog walking need to account for this complexity and the effect of the dog-owner relationship on owner mental wellbeing.

Concepts: Mind, Understanding, Sociology, Motivation, Social relation, Walking, Behavior, Psychology


The widespread, intentional and increasingly frequent chemical emplacement in the troposphere has gone unidentified and unremarked in the scientific literature for years. The author presents evidence that toxic coal combustion fly ash is the most likely aerosolized particulate sprayed by tanker-jets for geoengineering, weather-modification and climate-modification purposes and describes some of the multifold consequences on public health. Two methods are employed: (1) Comparison of 8 elements analyzed in rainwater, leached from aerosolized particulates, with corresponding elements leached into water from coal fly ash in published laboratory experiments, and (2) Comparison of 14 elements analyzed in dust collected outdoors on a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter with corresponding elements analyzed in un-leached coal fly ash material. The results show: (1) the assemblage of elements in rainwater and in the corresponding experimental leachate are essentially identical. At a 99% confidence interval, they have identical means (T-test) and identical variances (F-test); and (2) the assemblage of elements in the HEPA dust and in the corresponding average un-leached coal fly ash are likewise essentially identical. The consequences on public health are profound, including exposure to a variety of toxic heavy metals, radioactive elements, and neurologically-implicated chemically mobile aluminum released by body moisture in situ after inhalation or through transdermal induction.

Concepts: Global dimming, Pozzolana, Air pollution, Experiment, Fly ash, Chemistry, Particulate, Coal


Concern has been expressed about the use of e-cigarettes among young people. Our study reported e-cigarette and tobacco cigarette ever and regular use among 11-16 year olds across the UK. Data came from five large scale surveys with different designs and sampling strategies conducted between 2015 and 2017: The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey; the Schools Health Research Network Wales survey; two Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Smokefree Great Britain-Youth Surveys; and the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey. Cumulatively these surveys collected data from over 60,000 young people. For 2015/16 data for 11-16 year olds: ever smoking ranged from 11% to 20%; regular (at least weekly) smoking between 1% and 4%; ever use of e-cigarettes 7% to 18%; regular (at least weekly) use 1% to 3%; among never smokers, ever e-cigarette use ranged from 4% to 10% with regular use between 0.1% and 0.5%; among regular smokers, ever e-cigarette use ranged from 67% to 92% and regular use 7% to 38%. ASH surveys showed a rise in the prevalence of ever use of e-cigarettes from 7% (2016) to 11% (2017) but prevalence of regular use did not change remaining at 1%. In summary, surveys across the UK show a consistent pattern: most e-cigarette experimentation does not turn into regular use, and levels of regular use in young people who have never smoked remain very low.

Concepts: Youth, 2016, Smoking, Tobacco, Electronic cigarette, Nicotine, Cigarette, United Kingdom