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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


Yoga classes designed for women with premenstrual syndrome are available, but their efficacy is unclear. We investigated the effects of 12 weeks' yoga exercise (yoga intervention) on premenstrual symptoms in menstruating females in Taiwan. Sixty-four subjects completed the yoga intervention, and before and after the intervention filled out a structured self-report questionnaire about their demographics, personal lifestyle, menstrual status, baseline menstrual pain scores, premenstrual symptoms, and health-related quality of life. Of 64 subjects, 90.6% reported experiencing menstrual pain during menstruation. After the yoga intervention, subjects reported decreased use of analgesics during menstruation (p = 0.0290) and decreased moderate or severe effects of menstrual pain on work (p = 0.0011). The yoga exercise intervention was associated with the improvement of the scale of physical function (p = 0.0340) and bodily pain (p = 0.0087) of the SF-36, and significantly decreased abdominal swelling (p = 0.0011), breast tenderness (p = 0.0348), abdominal cramps (p = 0.0016), and cold sweats (p = 0.0143). Menstrual pain mitigation after yoga exercise correlated with improvement in six scales of the SF-36 (physical function, bodily pain, general health perception, vitality/energy, social function, mental health). Employers can educate female employees about the benefits of regular exercise such as yoga, which may decrease premenstrual distress and improve female employee health.

Concepts: Pain, Menorrhagia, Employment, Effectiveness, Premenstrual syndrome, Exercise, Menstruation, Menstrual cycle


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


Background: E-cigarette use is rising with the majority of vapers purchasing their e-cigarettes in vape shops. We investigated the smoking/vaping trajectories and quit-smoking success rates of smokers deciding to start vaping for the first time and buying their e-cigarette in brick-and-mortar vape shops in Flanders. Methods: Participants filled out questionnaires assessing smoking/vaping behaviour at three moments (intake, after three and six months) and smoking status was biochemically verified using eCO measurements. Results: Participants (n = 71) were regular smokers (MeCO-intake = 22 ppm), half of whom reported a motivation to quit smoking in the near future. Participants bought 3rd/4th generation e-cigarettes and e-liquid with a nicotine concentration averaging 7 mg/mL. A smoking reduction of 53% (17 cigarettes per day (CPD) at intake to 8 CPD after six months) was observed, whereas eCO decreased to 15 ppm. Eighteen percent of participants had quit smoking completely (eCO = 2 ppm), another 25% had at least halved CPD, whereas 57% had failed to reduce CPD by at least 50% (including 13% lost to follow-up). Quitters consumed more e-liquid than reducers and those who continued to smoke. Conclusions: Around one in five smoking customers buying their first e-cigarette in a brick-and-mortar vape shop had quit smoking completely after six months.


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


External regulation is an important mechanism to improve corporate behavior in emerging markets. China’s insurance governance regulation, which began to supervise and guide insurance corporate governance behavior in 2006, has experienced a complex process of reform. This study tested our hypotheses with a sample of 85 firms during 2010-2011, which was obtained by providing a questionnaire to all of China’s shareholding insurance companies. The empirical study results generally show that China’s insurance governance effectiveness has significantly improved through strict regulation. Insurance corporate governance can improve business acumen and risk-control ability, but no significant evidence was found to prove its influence on profitability, as a result of focusing less attention on governance than on management. State ownership is associated with higher corporate governance effectiveness than non-state ownership. Listed companies tend to outperform non-listed firms, and life insurance corporate governance is more effective than that of property insurers. This study not only contributes to the comprehensive understanding of corporate governance effectiveness but also to the literature by highlighting the effect of corporate governance regulation in China’s insurance industry and other emerging economies of the financial sector.

Concepts: Corporate governance, Real estate, Underwriting, Financial services, Business, Investment, Economics, Insurance


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


Greece is the country of “Xenios Zeus”, the Ancient Greek god of foreigners and hospitality; however, it is also the main point of entry to Europe. Since the beginning of 2014, 1,112,332 refugees crossed the borders of Greece. Overall, 33,677 children and adolescent refugees sought asylum in Greece from 2013 to 2017, while 57,042 refugees are currently being hosted. The rapid entry of refugees into Greece raised the critical issue of health policy. The Greek National Health Service (NHS) faces many challenges. Adequate economic and human support is essential if this situation is to be managed successfully. However, Greece still bears the burden of the economic downturn since 2009. In fact, the crisis led to shortages in crucial equipment, and unmet health needs for both locals and refugees. The NHS deals with traumatic experiences, as well as cultural and linguistic differences. Overcrowded reception centers and hotspots are highly demanding and are associated with severe disease burden. This highlights the importance of guidelines for medical screening, healthcare provision, and a well-managed transition to definitive medical facilities. Furthermore, non-governmental organizations make an essential contribution by ensuring appropriate support to refugee minors, especially when they experience poor access to the NHS.