New Science

Collection Synopses
Folder 2014
Folder 2013
Folder 2012
A home for new science articles for 2012
Folder 2011
A home for new science articles for 2011
Synopsis Obesity and bigger waist size is linked to moderate levels of a widely used chemical.
In a new study, scientists have found that higher levels of phthalates in people are associated with larger weight and waist circumferences in both men and women.
Synopsis Amount of flame retardants found in house dust reflects types of products used.
A new study shows for the first time that the amount of toxic flame retardants found in residential dust is strongly associated with the presence and use of household consumer products, such as furniture and televisions.
Synopsis Pollution lowers birds' ability to deal with stress.
Tree swallows that live in areas polluted with PCBs and dioxins are less able to deal with stress when compared with birds living in less polluted areas.
Synopsis Pesticides impair salmons' sense of smell.
Salmon cannot smell properly after swimming in waters containing a mix of pesticides, a problem that may be contributing to the global decline of ocean fish populations.
Synopsis Low amounts of soy during pregnancy lead to obesity in mice.
Mice exposed to low levels of soy proteins before and shortly after birth were obese as adults and had reproductive changes that differed between the sexes.
Synopsis Pesticide exposure during pregnancy increases chances of reproductive disorders in sons.
Pregnant women exposed to pesticides at work have an increased risk of having sons with abnormal reproductive development, including undescended testicles, smaller testicles and shorter penises.
Synopsis Coffee kills and maims viruses in cells.
Japanese scientists find that coffee extracts can stop the spread of the viral infections herpes and poliovirus among cells. Since coffee is one of the world's most popular beverages, its role in the dietary prevention of disease is of widespread interest.
Synopsis Boys exposed to a mix of banned chemicals while in the womb have a higher risk of testes birth defects.
Baby boys exposed to common pollutants during pregnancy are at greater risk of being born with testicular defects. Boys exposed to the highest mixture levels of PCBs and DDT were three times as likely to be born with undescended testicles. This defect is on the rise in the industrialized world and is related to male infertility.
Synopsis Pregnant mice breathing polluted air give birth to small, underweight pups.
Breathing polluted air before and during pregnancy alters mouse fetal development by affecting the size and circulation patterns of the placenta. The new findings from an ongoing study in Sao Paulo, Brazil may answer the mystery of why women living in this and other very polluted cities are at risk of giving birth to lower weight babies.
Synopsis Lower IQs found in 9-year-olds whose mothers were exposed to PCBs while pregnant.
Higher levels of PCBs during pregnancy are associated with lower IQ scores for their pre-teen children. The results support previous studies that also show the long-lived chemical affects a child's mental ability.
Synopsis Elevated PCB levels in cord blood are associated with lower thyroid hormones in babies.
For the first time, researchers show that babies born naturally have lower than normal thyroid hormone levels when higher levels of PCBs are found in cord blood. Previous studies that did not account for the method of delivery may have underestimated, or even missed, the association between PCB and PBDE levels and reduced thyroid hormone levels.
Synopsis Are bacteria in shopping malls a beacon for disease outbreaks?
A new method to monitor indoor air for harmful bacteria can help prevent major disease outbreaks.
Synopsis Exposure of female rats to a common fungicide causes prostate inflammation in male offspring later in life.
Vinclozolin, a commonly used fungicide, causes prostate inflammation after puberty in 100% of males exposed in the womb, long after the fungicide was no longer detectable.
Synopsis Herbicide impairs how rats care for newborns.
Mother rats exposed to low doses of the widely used herbicide 2,4-D provided less care for their newborn pups. The impaired maternal behavior was linked to brain chemical changes and decreased blood levels of the important reproductive hormone prolactin. This animal study is one of a handful examining how an environmental pollutant can alter the way a mother cares for her offspring.
Synopsis E-waste chemicals change workers DNA
Gene damage that can lead to cancer and premature aging is found in Chinese factory workers who take apart electronic waste and are continually exposed to very high levels of dangerous chemicals. This is one of the first studies to identify the high chemical exposures and health hazards associated with E-waste recycling.
Synopsis Chemicals in plastics impair development of sperm producing cells in babies.
Scientists have found a chemical in plastics called MEHP that impairs the development of the reproductive organs of boys when they are exposed in the womb. The chemical, a phthalate, directly harms the development of cells that make sperm.
Synopsis More testing needed to ensure safety of nanotechnology.
Scientists believe more information about how nanomaterials act in living things is needed to ensure that new consumer products made with the smallest of particles do not lead to unwanted health and environmental consequences. A new way to test nanomaterials suggests that the toxicity of each type is determined by very different factors.
Synopsis Bisphenol A stops formation of brain cell connections in monkeys
For the first time, scientists have demonstrated experimentally a strong effect of low doses of bisphenol A on monkeys, raising new concerns about possible effects on people. After a month of continuous low-dose exposure, the ability of the monkeys brains to form key connections was eliminated. The study suggests that BPA exposure may be related to human brain disorders and diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and mood disorders.
Synopsis PCBs affect learning by stunting brain nerve development.
In a unique study, researchers show that exposure to PCBs in rats interferes with learning by stopping the brain from forming complex nerve networks essential for memory and intellect. In essence, the exposure prevented nerves in the rats' brains from changing as a result of experience. This effect could underpin some of the impacts that PCBs have on children's ability to learn.
Synopsis Sex (hormones) on the beach: Ubiquitous compounds found in sunscreens mimic female hormones and block male hormones.
Chemicals used in sunscreens, cosmetics, and other consumer products to protect against harmful UV sunlight can mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen and interfere with the male hormone testosterone. The effects can be detected at levels found in human blood after applying sunscreen.
Synopsis Smaller babies from PCBs?
Danish mothers who ate fish during pregnancy had higher PCB levels in their blood and smaller babies. This finding clouds advice to pregnant women about the benefits of eating fish.
Synopsis Moms and their babies share phthalate contamination.
A study of US moms and their babies found that phthalates measured in their urine were similar and correlated, suggesting the chemical exposure is coming from common household and food sources.
Synopsis Depressed by pesticides.
A study of farmers finds that high pesticide use over a lifetime is associated with clinical depression.
Synopsis Coffee drinking during pregnancy may affect son's sex hormone levels.
Adult men may have lower testosterone levels if their mother drank large amounts of coffee during pregnancy.
Synopsis Garlic protects against more than just vampires.
Certain foods may protect against reproductive damage caused by environmental pollutants, as shown in this study that found rats fed a diet rich in onions and garlic before and during their exposure to the metal cadmium had fewer and less severe negative effects on their testes and sperm.
Synopsis Phthalates worsen skin allergies in newborn mice exposed through their mothers.
Newborn male mice exposed to a common phthalate plasticizer (DEHP) through their mothers developed more severe allergic skin reactions to allergens than unexposed mice.
Synopsis Insights from the fruit fly on human susceptibility to arsenic poisoning.
Some people are much more sensitive to arsenic poisoning than others. In this new study, researchers used fruit flies to discover the gene that may be responsible for these differences. It The gene they discovered produces an enzyme called glutathione synthetase which is important for detoxifying arsenic.
Synopsis Nonylphenol kills special reproductive cells in male rats by changing the cell's outside membrane.
In this new study, researchers have learned that the environmental pollutant nonylphenol causes its toxic effects in male testis cells by penetrating the protective cell membrane, altering the membrane's characteristics and disrupting the cell's delicate internal environment.
Synopsis Local children perform better on tests after coal-burning power plant closes.
A new study in China shows that brain development in children improved after a local coal-fired power plant was shut down. The improvements are probably due to lower exposure to contaminants found in the plant emissions.
Synopsis Researchers find key to differences in dioxin sensitivity.
If all birds in the Great Lakes basin were chickens, dioxins would kill them all. Dioxin-like compounds are toxic to most vertebrates, but significant differences in sensitivity exist among species. Scientists are beginning to understand the genetic variations that contribute to these differences.
Synopsis Too much mercury or too little selenium? Fishing for answers.
Scientists show that comparing mercury and selenium levels in fish provides a more accurate way to assess mercury's toxic effects than reporting mercury alone, highlighting the need to consider both when eating fish. Mercury and selenium, an essential nutrient, act against each other.
Synopsis Nanomaterials found in consumer products damage cell DNA.
A new study finds that several nanomaterials, which are widely used in sunscreens and other consumer products, can damage the DNA of human lung cells. The results highlight the urgent need for proper testing of these small particles to understand the health risks associated with each type of material.
Synopsis Study tells where and who have the US's highest mercury levels.
Women's blood mercury levels are decreasing overall in the US, but differences still persist regionally, ethnically and economically. Women still are eating fish, but appear to be shifting to species that are less contaminated.
Synopsis Increasing thallium levels damage plant DNA.
Researchers report for the first time that an obscure, but increasingly common, highly toxic metal called thallium accumulates in plants and elevates harmful oxygen radicals that damage the plants' DNA. Humans are exposed to the metal by eating contaminated food crops. Small amounts can make people sick. Levels of the naturally-ocurring thallium are increasing as a result of its release from iron and zinc refineries.
Synopsis Athletes kick up hidden toxic chemicals from artificial turf.
Artificial turf contains several toxic chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), zinc, chromium and lead that in many cases, exceed safe health standard levels. Potential risks to children and adults using these areas should be evaluated since nearly 1,000 fields of artificial turf are installed every year in the US.
Synopsis Cattle show that ranchers have reason to worry.
Cattle living near two industrial plants in Texas have a kind of DNA damage that is linked to an increased risk of developing cancer, according to this study spurred by area residents and ranchers who were concerned about their own health and safety.
Synopsis Picturing the brain on lead.
A part of the brain that controls short-term memory and learning is smaller in workers who were exposed to lead while at work and had high levels in their blood. People who work with the heavy metal may develop subtle brain changes that could increase their risk of neurological disorders.
Synopsis Flame retardant creates hyperactive mice.
A commonly used flame retardant routinely found in people and house dust alters behavior and brain development in mice, causing hyperactivity and adjustment difficulties that worsened with age.
Synopsis Working with pesticides impacts women's fertility.
Women with potential exposure to pesticides at work or at home took longer to get pregnant than women without pesticide connections.
Synopsis Can where you live make you fat?
Americans interested in pursuing a healthy lifestyle should look closely at where they live. This new study finds that the nearer you live to unhealthy food stores, the more likely you are to be overweight. Lifestyle choices can lead to obesity, which is a growing epidemic in the United States.
Synopsis Chloramine water disinfection creates toxic compound.
A common disinfectant used by public water treatment plants creates a byproduct that is highly toxic to mammalian cells. How much is made depends upon details of how the plants process water. The amount produced can be reduced significantly by simple changes in the treatment process. Despite this, many plants continue to use methods that create more of the toxic chemical than necessary.
Synopsis Factory workers' DNA changes when they are at work.
Factory workers exposed to dust particles have measurable changes in key DNA chemistry on the days they work, but the health impacts are not known.
Synopsis Exposure to a PAH before birth or via breast milk can lead to cancer.
Prebirth and early life exposure to certain chemicals released from coal burning power plants may lead to cancer later in life, this mouse study finds.
Synopsis Stem cells show how nicotine affects early pregnancy.
Nicotine interferes with implantation and increases cell death in the very early stages of pregnancy that could lead to infertility and fetal loss, finds new research using human stem cells to uncover how and when things can go wrong in the womb after a chemical exposure.
Synopsis Nanoparticles kill and maim blood vessel cells found in the human brain.
A study using cells and rats shows that nanoparticles of aluminum oxide can kill and adversely change the special cells that line the blood vessels in the human brain. The rapid increase in production and use of these very, very small particles will inevitably increase human exposure to the as yet unknown risks from these materials.
Synopsis Smaller sized nanomaterials inflict a bigger bite.
The smaller the size, the more damage silver nanomaterials will have, according to research with cells from the lungs of rats. Use of silver nanomaterials is increasing rapidly in common consumer products, even though scientists have barely begun to study the risks.
Synopsis Another chemical found to be harmful to boys.
Another chemical commonly found in the urine of U.S. residents was added to the list of those that are possibly contributing to the subtle feminization of boys.
Synopsis Dioxin garbles prostate development in mice.
Prostate glands of mice exposed in the womb to dioxin during a critical time of pregnancy do not develop properly. The research pinpoints how the chemical changes hormone signals that guide where normal tissue should grow. The result is a disruption in prostate development that could lead to adult prostate disease.
Synopsis Estrogen worsens ovarian cancer disease.
New research indicates that estrogen may enhance the aggressive behavior of cancer by promoting movement of cancer cells from the ovaries to other body organs.
Synopsis Baltic fish face more pollution today than two decades ago.
The amount of pollution fish living in the Baltic Sea encounter has increased over the past 20 years, say researchers who used a novel, yet simple and inexpensive, approach to monitor the fish for exposure.
Synopsis Arsenic changes DNA activity which may lead to cancer.
Arsenic can alter genes that affect DNA's stability, according to new research that gives insights into how arsenic might cause cancer.
Synopsis Dioxin tied to metabolic syndrome in Japan.
A large new epidemiological study in Japan finds that even at background levels of exposure, people with higher levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are a significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Synopsis Living near heavy traffic increases chances of miscarriage and newborn death.
Women who live near busy streets have an increased chance of a miscarriage or of their newborns dying, reports a study from Brazil. The findings implicate air pollution.
Synopsis Nanoparticles damage brain cells.
A new study with mice shows that very small nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide can travel from the nerves in the nose to the brain and damage cells.
Synopsis FDA draft decision on BPA deeply flawed
Thirty-six scientists conclude in a peer-reviewed commentary that the FDA's draft decision on bisphenol A uses unacceptable criteria for selecting data and depends heavily upon a key paper that is fatally flawed.
Synopsis Mouse allergen in US homes linked to asthma.
The risk of asthma increases as more mouse allergen is found in homes.
Synopsis Rat study links smoking while pregnant to youngster's diabetes, obesity.
Results of a study that exposed pregnant rats to nicotine levels similar to those found in the blood of women who smoke has isolated how the drug alters genes that govern fat and insulin in the offspring. The permanent changes can lead to life-threatening diseases as the animals age.
Synopsis Flame retardants alter thyroid function in fish.
When fed to fish, a common flame retardant affected thyroid-related gene actions and hormone levels that could alter metabolism, although the changes differed between the high and low doses tested.
Synopsis POPs change DNA in Greenlandic Inuit -- perhaps for generations.
Greenlandic Inuit with high levels of certain, long-lived industrial pollutants in their bodies also have DNA with altered function.
Synopsis Mercury hotspots continue to impair human cognition.
Memory and concentration ability were lower in adults living near an abandoned Taiwanese factory where mercury was used many years ago.
Synopsis Study finds moms share phthalates with their babies.
In the first study of its kind, researchers in Taiwan find that phthalates can pass from pregnant women to their unborn babies and affect reproductive development in their daughters.
Synopsis Mercury-laden whale meat may foster heart disease.
Eating mercury contaminated seafood increases the risk of heart disease in men, reports this unique study that examined Faroese whalers.
Synopsis Sugary sodas linked to kidney disease.
Drinking sugary soda is linked to kidney disease, most likely due to the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens the drinks.
Synopsis Early life radiation exposure causes long-lasting behavior changes.
Exposure to ionizing radiation just days after birth can impact anxiety and memory during later life, finds a new study with rats.
Synopsis A blanket approach to safe and healthy beaches.
Studying beaches on a region-wide basis and not individually is a better way to manage beach health.
Synopsis Lead-poisoned birds may have saved human lives.
A modern day 'canary in a coal mine' unfolds as thousands of birds “dropping from the sky” alert authorities to lead-tainted drinking water and people.
Synopsis Soy protein renders womb unsuitable for pregnancy.
There is new evidence that the soy protein genistein affects embryo development by causing changes to the uterine environment.
Synopsis Size matters: silver can get under your skin.
Researchers show for the first time that very small silver nanoparticles, now widely used in creams and other products to kill bacteria, can penetrate skin, especially if it is cut or damaged.
Synopsis Can toothpaste harm your thyroid?
Triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in toothpastes, soaps and cosmetics, alters thyroid function in male rats, highlighting a potential concern for pregnant women and others exposed to it.
Synopsis Pesticide mixes: when 1 + 1 does not equal 2
A mix of two pesticides had greater toxic effects on exposed salmon than would be expected from one separately, adding to concerns that health risks from pesticides are underestimated.
Synopsis Older moms and dads might be a reason for more autism.
Women who give birth after age 35 and men who father children after age 40 increase their risk of having autistic children, according to a large population-based study in the US.
Synopsis A widely-used, understudied chemical alters inflammation.
Dibutyltin, an understudied chemical used widely in PVC plastics, can interfere with the natural ability of human and animals cells to control important immune responses and inflammation.
Synopsis Carbon nanomaterials damage rat DNA.
A single exposure to carbon-based nanomaterials can damage DNA in a rat's sensitive liver and lung tissue, raising health concerns for people exposed through work and consumer products.
Synopsis Nanotubes suppress immune response of human lung cells.
Extremely small carbon nanotubes can move through lung fluid and suppress normal immune responses in human lung cells, finds this laboratory study.
Synopsis Organotins block a cell's protein recycling center.
Widely-used pollutants called organotins can harm cells - and even kill them - by interfering with their ability to take apart unwanted proteins.
Synopsis Chemical levels decline among those who eat Great Lakes fish.
Levels of PCBs and DDT declined among people living in the Great Lakes region between 1994 and 2005.
Synopsis In-home air pollution heightens asthma symptoms.
A recent study confirms and broadens our understanding of asthma by showing the respiratory disease is highly affected by particulate matter.
Synopsis Study predicts BPA in babies 11 times higher than adults.
Using a mathematical model based on enzymatic differences between newborns and adults, scientists estimate that the amount of bisphenol A (BPA) circulating in the blood of babies is more than 11 times higher than the amount in adult blood.
Synopsis Chinese paint exceeds legal lead limits.
A study of new, oil-based paints sold in Chinese retail stores finds that more than half have lead levels above the government's standards.
Synopsis Biomarkers show chemical exposures and predict health risk.
People living in agricultural areas of Belgium have higher blood levels of certain markers that identify chemical exposure than people living in nonagricultural areas.
Synopsis Fish study proves “the pill” is NOT man’s best friend.
Fish exposed to the active ingredient in "The Pill" at levels comparable to what is found in North American streams and rivers causes chromosomal abnormalities in the fish sperm.
Synopsis High BPA levels found in hospitalized, premature infants.
A study conducted in Boston hospitals have found that hospitalized premature babies have high levels of bisphenol A in their urine.
Synopsis Oil slicks cause heartaches in fish.
Crude oil disrupts the first heart beats of a developing fish, say scientists, who note that the heart may be the most sensitive target of harmful chemicals from oil spills.
Synopsis Illicit drugs blanket cities.
Cocaine, methadone and a slew of other drugs and illicite substances drift freely in the air of cities around the world.
Synopsis Low mercury levels damage nerves.
A reanalysis of decades-old data finds that neurologic problems caused by eating mercury-contaminated fish plagued Japanese residents 10 years after the poisoning and at lower doses than originally measured.
Synopsis Toxic materials hitchhike into cells on nanoparticles.
Toxicants that cannot enter cells on their own can get in and hurt them when they are bound in nanoparticles, those very, very small materials now widely used in a range of consumer products.
Synopsis Humans, worms share ancient estrogen bond.
Researchers confirm for the first time that a worm has estrogen signaling capabilities, just like people and other back-boned animals. The invertebrate shares both the good -- and detrimental -- functions.
Synopsis Common chemical increases risk of boys genital deformity.
Pregnant women exposed to phthalates through hairspray and other sources at work have a greatly increased risk of delivering a son with a common reproductive birth defect known as hypospadias. Taking folate supplements might reduce this risk.
Synopsis Expect more exposure to pests and pollutants as climate changes.
Risks of exposure to many pathogens and toxic agricultural contaminants could be increased substantially by global warming.
Synopsis PFOA slows breast development in mice exposed via mom.
Short term exposure to PFOA in early life, during late pregnancy or during breastfeeding can lead to long term problems for breast development in offspring.
Synopsis Flame retarding chemicals pollute fetal tissue.
A new study finds that widely used flame retardant chemicals known as PBDEs can cross the placenta barrier, passing readily from mother to fetus, where they accumulate in the liver.
Synopsis PCBs influence allergy risk.
The type of chemicals someone is exposed to in the womb, or soon after birth, may predetermine the risk for developing respiratory infections as an infant and allergy and asthma as an adult, according to a study that focused on PCBs and DDE.
Synopsis Coal-tar sealcoats pollute nearby soil and water.
Parking lots treated with coal-tar-based sealcoats are a major source of cancer-causing contaminants and may be a significant health risk to humans and the environment.
Synopsis Genetics key to how ozone damages lungs.
Genetics, age and gender determine what kind and how badly lungs are harmed in mice that breath ozone, a dangerous type of air pollution.
Synopsis Soy mixture may be alternative hormone therapy.
Eating a mix of soy compounds may be a safer way than traditional hormone therapies to protect against age-related brain disease, finds a new study that tested the mixtures in rats.