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  • Wild Things

    Whales are full of toxic chemicals

    European whales and dolphins may be at risk of extinction from the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a team of researchers recently reported in Scientific Reports. Concentrations of PCBs in killer whales and bottlenose and striped dolphins, they found, were high enough to cause health damage.

    PCBs have been banned in Europe, the United States and many other places for...

    01/19/2016 - 07:00 Animals, Oceans, Toxicology
  • News

    PCB levels still high in Europe’s killer whales, smaller dolphins

    Decades after Europe banned toxic PCBs, the region’s killer whales and three smaller dolphin species still carry high levels of the pollutants.

    “They’re still at concentrations we really need to worry about,” said veterinary specialist Paul D. Jepson of the Zoological Society of London at a news conference January 12.  

    PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were once industrial wonder...

    01/14/2016 - 09:00 Pollution, Toxicology, Animals
  • Feature

    Year in review: BPA alternatives aren't benign

    A popular alternative to bisphenol A isn’t as benign as people had thought, at least not in lab animals.

    After a growing body of research identified hormone-mimicking effects from BPA — a compound found in some plastics, dental sealants and cash register receipts — consumers began reaching for BPA-free products. But there is now evidence that at least one of the chemical substitutes...

    12/15/2015 - 06:30 Toxicology, Pollution
  • News

    Air pollutants enter body through skin

    For some toxic air pollutants, more can get into the body through the skin than via breathing, new human data indicate.

    The natural assumption is that inhalation is the primary route by which air pollutants invade the body. Each breath delivers those chemicals to the blood, which courses through the lungs’ tiniest airways. But the body’s biggest organ is the skin, and recent studies show...

    10/13/2015 - 07:00 Pollution, Toxicology
  • News

    Home fires, farm fumes are leading causes of air-pollution deaths

    There’s no doubt air pollution is a killer, causing more than 3 million deaths worldwide each year. But the top culprits behind the deadly air may come as a surprise.

    Particles from small-scale energy use, mainly household fires for cooking and heating, are the leading cause of air-pollution deaths in many areas of Asia, researchers report in the Sept. 17 Nature. But in the northeastern...

    09/16/2015 - 13:06 Pollution, Health, Toxicology
  • News

    Molting seals shed mercury along with fur

    After smoke stacks and industrial waste, researchers can add lounging seals to the list of mercury polluters.

    Hair from Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) is loaded with the toxic metal. And when shed, that hair can boost mercury levels in surrounding seawater by about 17 times, researchers report September 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    ...

    09/07/2015 - 15:00 Pollution, Toxicology, Oceans
  • News

    Latest BPA replacement seeps into people’s blood and urine

    Handling grocery receipts may cost extra — at least in terms of health risks, a new study suggests.

    Two chemicals in receipt paper that replace the toxic compound bisphenol A, or BPA, are just as capable of soaking into the human body as their predecessor, researchers report August 25 in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study marks the first time that one of the two compounds,...

    09/04/2015 - 12:53 Toxicology, Health
  • News

    Bacteria in flowers may boost honeybees’ healthy gut microbes

    Honeybees were into probiotics way before they were cool, a new study suggests.

    The hipster insects serve up beneficial bacteria that may help baby bees develop a healthy blend of gut microbes, researchers report online August 7 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Without those thriving gut communities, the critical pollinators may have trouble digesting their plant-based food....

    08/16/2015 - 07:00 Microbes, Animals, Toxicology
  • News

    Dust components may promote obesity

    Dust bunnies that breed under furniture may be bad news for waistlines, a new study suggests. But it’s far too early to add dusting to a weight loss plan, researchers caution.

    Components of indoor dust may signal human fat cells to grow and may alter metabolism, potentially contributing to weight problems, researchers report July 14 in Environmental Science & Technology.

    “What...

    08/03/2015 - 17:21 Toxicology, Pollution, Health
  • News

    Mystery toxins in tainted New Zealand honey nabbed

    In a sticky sting operation, researchers may have nabbed the last toxic members of a honey-tainting ring in New Zealand.

    Cloaked in sugars, two forms of tutin — a potent neurotoxin that can cause delirium and seizures — have been found lurking in poisoned honey, researchers report online May 21 in the Journal of Natural Products. The discovery of the incognito toxins helps to explain...

    06/01/2015 - 07:45 Toxicology, Chemistry