Research in the News
Pregnant Women at Risk near E-Waste Recycling Sites
The newest models of computers and cell phones are in demand, but what happens to last year’s products that get discarded? This electronic (e-) waste is typically sent overseas to countries like China, India, and West Africa where the valuable materials like gold, copper, aluminum, iron, and platinum are extracted. Although recycling is an environmentally-friendly process, many e-waste recycling sites around the world use hazardous burning and acid baths to extract these valuable materials. The rest gets dumped as waste. Adults and children work, and sometimes live, among the recycling facilities and can come in contact with a mix of chemicals like lead, cadmium, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
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Photo: Piles of e-waste at a small workshop in Guiyu, China. Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Factor, Xia Huo
Diesel Exhaust Can Change DNA
University of Cincinnati investigators in the Center for Environmental Genetics, led by Dr. Shuk-Mei Ho, have found that breathing diesel exhaust can alter an individual's genetic code or DNA. These DNA alterations referred to as epigenetic changes, can be handed down from generation to generation. The epigenetic changes were identified in samples of saliva in children participating in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), led by Dr. Grace LeMasters. This is the first time that epigenetic changes have been found in DNA from saliva associating long term diesel exhaust exposure to asthma and wheezing in children. These and other data from the CCAAPS study have been used to provide incentives for retrofitting trucks and buses in Cincinnati and across the nation. For more information about this study click here for a link to the complete article or to learn more about research in the CEG, click here.