Environment

Summaries of study evidence on various household compounds and environmental pollutants. Choose a sub-section from the menu to narrow to a specific category. OBJECTIVITY zone.

Apr 172011
 

This post is in initial build-out status and may change.

General Information: Wikipedia entry.

Studied Risks: General health

General Health

Aluminum Evidence Summary - General - http://sheet.zoho.com

Overall Score: -2.15

Behind the Score: The score is only slightly negative because aluminum, although widely rumored to be a cause of diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s, has not been definitively proven to cause any health problems other than isolated instances of contact dermatitis or granulomas. 1 2 However, relatively few clinical studies have been conducted. Of those, a large prospective study in France that covered 8- and 15-year intervals showed Alzheimer’s incidence rose as aluminum concentrations in drinking water increased (and fell as silica concentrations rose). 3 4 However, some other studies did not corroborate those results. 5 6 Another inconclusive study showed increased risk for use of aluminum-containing antiperspirant but decreased risk for use of aluminum-containing antacids (though much higher risk for use of all antacids “regardless of aluminum content”). Consider that at least hundreds of millions of people worldwide use aluminum-containing antiperspirants. 7

Adding to this murky picture, a preliminary literature review related to cancer 8 and a study related to breast cysts 9 were inconclusive.

Warnings and Special Notes: See the research studies noted above for possible adverse effects of aluminum.

What Now? More rigorous study is warranted, since no direct effects have been proven. In the meantime, caution (as with discretion) may be the better part of valor.

What Can I Do? To address the possible links found by researchers, deodorants without aluminum (or parabens, another possibly toxic substance) are readily available and reasonably priced at health stores.

Also, if you’re a U.S. resident, you can check aluminum levels in your tap water by entering your ZIP code to view the Environmental Working Group’s database for your local area.

 

May 222011
 

This post is in initial build-out status and may change.

General Information: Wikipedia and the EPA.

General Mortality

Mortality Evidence Summary - Ozone - https://sheet.zoho.com

Overall Score: -4.61

Behind the Score: There are almost no clinical trials related to air pollution, of course, but prospective and retrospective studies show a small but significant risk of increased mortality, especially from respiratory causes, due to high ambient ozone levels. 1 2 3 (Ozone is good in the upper atmosphere, not in the lower atmosphere where we breathe.) Although the relative risk of death differs only slightly for higher ozone exposure, the huge numbers of study participants or individuals in the time-series data pool make the conclusions statistically significant.

That said, other studies showed more inconclusive results on ozone or even no effect. 4 Notably, some studies indicated that fine particulate pollution, among other types, was more harmful than ozone. 5 6 7

Warnings and Special Notes: The EPA has a page on indoor air cleaners that produce ozone, warning against their use.

What Now? Human clinical trials related to air pollution are virtually impossible since they are ethically indefensible. Even the prospective studies that showed an increased relative risk of death found that the increase was quite small.

What Can I Do? Moving seems like a drastic step for the small but significant risk posed by ozone. You can check your area’s ozone levels at AIRNow for the U.S., at the European Environment Agency (EEA) site for Europe, and at Environment Canada for Canada and the rest of the world. The EEA also has some tips on what to do to avoid peak ozone levels and minimize the effects of ozone.

Also, if ozone levels are high in your area, building up your body so it can deal better with pollutants is one option, along with taking individual action and supporting environmental initiatives to clean up the air we breathe.