Fish on Prozac become angry, aggressive and KILL their mates, new study finds

Daily Mail

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that minnows administered Prozac became aggressive, anti-social and sometimes homicidal.
But why put a fish on Prozac? It’s not a fix for sad fish – rather, human medications are ending up in waterways and creating ecological effects scientists are only just beginning to research.

Anti-depressant drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. –  about 250 million prescriptions are filled every year. They’re also the most-documented drugs contaminating waterways.

Traces of the drugs typically get into the water when people excrete them. Sewage treatment plants discharge the filtered effluent, but most aren’t equipped to filter out the drugs.

The scientists wanted to study the effects of this drug exposure, and chose the fathead minnow, a fish common fish in Midwest waterways, as their subject.
Rebecca Klaper, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute, presented results of the study at the meeting of the North American division of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Long Beach, California.

Fathead minnows usually display complex mating behavior, with males building the nests where females comes to lay their eggs. After they’re laid, the males fertilize them and keep watch, cleaning away fungus and dead eggs.

Klaper said that the fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, was given in very low concentrations – 1 part per billion – which is the same as that found in waste water discharged into waterways.

The male of the species spent more time hiding alone, hunting and ignoring females.

Female fathead minnows seem to be unaffected by the chemical except for producing fewer eggs.

When the concentration of fluoxetine was increased to the highest levels found in waterways, male minnows started to spend more time building their nests.
Scientists increased the dose tenfold, in an effort to see what might happen in our waterways in the future, and the males ‘become obsessive, to the point they’re ignoring the females’, Klaper said.



When fluoxetine concentrations are increased again, fathead minnows stop reproducing all together and turn violent: ‘The males start killing the females,’ said Klaper.

Strangely, if the females are introduced a month after the males are exposed to the chemical, the males don’t show aggressive behavior towards them – but the females still don’t lay any eggs.
The research has shown that exposure to the drug can alter the genes responsible for building fish brains and controlling their behavior.

The drugs seem to cause these changes in behavior by scrambling how genes in the fishes’ brains are turned on and off. The minnows were exposed when they were a couple of months old and still developing.



Klaper said there appeared to be ‘architectural’ changes to the young minnows’ brains.

‘At high doses we expect brain changes,’ Klaper told the conference. ‘But we saw the gene expression changes and then behavioral changes at doses that we consider environmentally relevant.’

These new findings build on Klaper’s previous research, which tested minnows exposed to the drug to see how they dealt with predators. The fish swam longer distances and made more directional changes, which suggests that the drugs induced anxiety.

It is unclear whether any of these effects are being felt by wild fish populations, but Klaper said that any changes in reproduction, eating and avoiding prey can have devastating impacts for fish populations.
The most vulnerable fish populations are those downstream of sewage treatment plants, where prescription drugs consistently show up in higher levels than in other waterways.

Steve Carr, supervisor of the chemistry research group at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts told Environmental Health News that in the past decade technology has allowed plants to test for chemicals in their waste water and in waters downstream – but most don’t.

Studies have shown that drugs can build up in some fishes’ systems, meaning the drug levels could accumulate in fish the longer they are exposed to even low concentrations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers pharmaceuticals an ’emerging concern,’ and that chemicals from prescription drugs may pose risks to wildlife and humans, but there are no federal regulations in place as yet. 
While traces of prescription drugs in drinking water is ‘unlikely to pose risks to human health’ according to the World Health Organization, we are discovering that the effects on wildlife could be serious.

‘Fish do not metabolize drugs like we do,’ Klaper said.
‘Even if environmental doses aren’t thought to be much for a human, fish could still have significant accumulation, and, it appears, changes in their brain’s gene expression.’

New study reveals how glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup inhibits natural detoxification in human cells

Natural News
by Lance Devon

The modern age of industrial agriculture and manufacturing has dumped heavy metals, carninogens, plastics, and pesticides into the environment at alarming rates. These toxins are showing up in most human tissue cells today. One distinct chemical may be trapping these toxins in human cells, limiting the human body’s ability to detoxify its own cells. In a new peer reviewed study, this sinister chemical, glyphosate, has been proven to inhibit the human cell’s ability to detoxify altogether. Glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, is being deemed by publishers of the new study “one of the most dangerous chemicals” being unleashed into the environment today.

Download the PDF of the study here.

How glyphosate destroys human cells

Glyphosate, most commonly found in conventional sugar, corn, soy and wheat products, throws off the cytochrome P450 gene pathway, inhibiting enzyme production in the body. CYP enzymes play a crucial role in detoxifying xenobiotics, which include drugs, carcinogens, and pesticides. By inhibiting this natural detoxification process, glyphosate systematically enhances the damaging effects of other environmental toxins that get in the body. This, in turn, disrupts homeostasis, increases inflammation, and leads to a slow deconstruction of the cellular system. Toxins build up in the gut over time and break down through the intestinal walls, infiltrating blood, and ultimately passing through the brain/blood barrier, damaging neurological function.

Important CYP enzymes that are affected include aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen, 21-Hydroxylase, which creates stress hormone cortisol, and aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure.

Getting to the gut

Even as evidence mounts, Monsanto asserts that glyphosate is not harmful to humans, citing that its mechanism of action in plants (the disruption of the shikimate pathway), is not present in humans. This is not true.

The shikimate pathway, which is involved in the synthesis of the essential aromatic amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan, is present in human gut bacteria, which has a direct relationship with the human body, aiding in digestion, synthesizing vitamins, detoxifying carcinogens, and participating in immune system function.

By inhibiting the body’s gut flora from performing its essential function in the human body, glyphosate heightens many health issues facing the Western world today.

These conditions include inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease, obesity, and even dementia and depression. Also, by restricting gut bacteria from absorbing nutrients, glyphosate voids the body of essential life-giving vitamins.

Depletion of serum tryptophan and its link to obesity

Glysophate’s damaging effects on gut bacteria lead to depleted sulfate supplies in the gut, resulting in inflammatory bowel disease. As more chemicals are absorbed from the environment, alterations in body chemistry actively promote weight gain by blocking nutrient absorption. By effecting CYP enzymes in the liver, obesity incidence is compounded, impairing the body’s ability to detoxify synthetics chemicals. Since serotonin is derived from tryptophan and acts an appetite suppressant, the depletion of tryptophan encourages overeating in the brain, leading to obesity.

In need of urgent, massive awakening

Authors of the new review point out that “glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply and may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” Monsanto is already lashing back at these claims, calling this peer reviewed study, “bad science” and “another bogus study.” What Monsanto fails to is mention that most of the studies on glyphosate’s “safety” are conducted by Monsanto themselves, which is bias to the core.

The authors of this new study instead call out for more independent research to be done to validate their findings. They are concerned with glyphosate’s inhibition of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in the body, which are hindering the body’s natural detoxification ability.

There is certainly a need for more empowering education on chemicals like glyphosate. There needs to be a kind of public mass awakening that correlates Monsanto’s Roundup with skull and crossbones. If anything, Americans have the right to know how their food was produced, engineered, and poisoned, and everyone should pitch in and stop using toxic glyphosate-laced Roundup at all costs

Related:   The shikimate pathway as a target for herbicides

Why Is Autism So Drastically on the Rise? An Environmental Horror Story

by Eleanor J. Bader

If horror is your genre, environmental writer Brita Belli’s The Autism Puzzle , is the book for you. Her terrifying look at the chemicals we eat, drink and breathe is guaranteed to make your hair stand on end.

We should thank her for it.

Statistics released earlier this spring by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that one in 88 U.S. born toddlers has an autism spectral disorder—from the less severe Asperger’s Syndrome to the so-called classical form of the ailment. Worse, it’s not just a North American phenomenon; Belli also reports a 57 percent spike in Asia and Europe.

The question is why. Perhaps, some posit, medical professionals have simply become better diagnosticians and people previously labeled eccentric or developmentally disabled were in fact, autistic. Or, perhaps there’s a genetic culprit since ASD typically runs in families. Belli gives credence to both theories, but ultimately concludes that there is more to the puzzle. “If the rise in autism numbers were only due to improved diagnosis and awareness of autism among the medical community—or if the roots of the epidemic were primarily genetic—professionals would have seen an increase in adult or adolescent patients who had not been diagnosed or who had been misdiagnosed in the past,” she writes.

But they haven’t. This realization piqued Belli’s curiosity and her investigation into the relationship between environmental poisons and human health is riveting. “The idea that a toxin can cause autism is neither controversial nor speculative,” she begins. In fact, thalidomide, a medication used in the 1960s to control morning sickness in pregnant women, was tied to autism almost 20 years ago. Likewise valproic acid, used to treat bipolar disorder, misoprostol, an ulcer drug, and chlorpyrifos, an insecticide.

And that’s just the tip of the chemical iceberg. “Many other chemicals distributed far and wide across the natural world by power plant smokestacks, leaking waste sites, improper storage facilities, and outdated manufacturing processes have been proven to cause injury to developing brains,” Belli continues. More specifically, mercury, lead and polychlorinated biphenyls—also known as PCBs—along with the chemicals used to make insulation, flame retardants, electronic equipment, and plastic pose known health risks to fetal life and newborns.

Belli cites recent studies by the Environmental Working Group that discovered an average of 200 pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants. Among them: pesticides, perflourinated compounds, antibiotics, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Belli is particularly interested in “autism clusters,” geographic areas with higher than average rates of the disorder. One such place is Brick Township, New Jersey, where 63 million gallons of septic waste were dumped into a nearby landfill between 1969 and 1979. By the time the community learned that heavy metals and volatile organic compounds had leaked from storage containers, it was too late–soil and groundwater had already become contaminated by bromoform, chloroform and chloroethylene.

Researcher Carol Reinisch tested the impact of each of these substances on clam embryos—a precursor to human trials—and found that the “chemical cocktail”–the combined impact of the three substances acting together–was far more destructive to the body than each of the chemicals acting alone. Reinisch’s research, Belli writes, “made a solid case for the fact that toxins in combination can have a unique impact on the way brains develop. It is likely not one bodily insult that’s driving up [autism] cases, but a number of contaminants and exposures acting in concert.”

That there are approximately 1,300 Superfund sites on the National Priorities List—200 of them in New Jersey, the state with the highest autism rates—should both give us pause and make us furious since we know who is responsible for fouling the air, water and soil—unscrupulous businesses. In fact, Belli reports that the corporations responsible for the lion’s share of pollution often avoid taking responsibility for their misdeeds, sometimes declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying necessary cleanup costs, at other times disappearing altogether. Many companies simply continue polluting without consequence.

Take Fairfax County, Virginia. “The EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory for the country notes that BP Products North America releases 2822 pounds of toxins per year,” Belli writes. Joining BP are the Newington Concrete Plant (171 pounds); the Sipca Securink Corporation, which makes security inks for bank notes (250 pounds); the Virginia Concrete Edsall Road Plant (154 pounds) and several petroleum and concrete operations for which pollution data were unavailable.

Unfortunately, Fairfax County is not an anomaly. In fact, Belli presents a startling statistic: 25 percent of us live within four miles of a hazardous waste site.

Are you scared yet? Me too.

Belli offers readers a few common sense—albeit limited—suggestions: Eat fresh fruit and vegetables or choose frozen over canned; avoid washing plastic in the dish washer or putting it in the microwave because chemicals like biphenyl A (BPA) can leach and contaminate food; use a French-press coffeemaker instead of one with phthalate-containing tubing; avoid Teflon, Gore-Tex and stain, grease and water-resistant materials; and steer clear of cosmetics containing triclosan, formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and lead. She also suggests cleaning with white vinegar and baking soda rather than harsh chemical cleansers.

Regardless of where scientific research goes in the next few years in its conclusions on the environmental connections to autism, we are undoubtedly in an environmental crisis.

And that current environmental crisis will take more than individual action, which is why Belli believes the government needs to enforce and strengthen environmental protections. The Toxic Substances Control Act was first passed in 1976 and has remained essentially unchanged—that is, toothless–for 36 years. When the Act passed Congress it grandfathered in 62,000 chemicals, in essence giving a free pass to known toxins such as trichloroethylene and BPA. To remedy this, Senator Frank Lautenberg has introduced the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847), which would, for the first time, require industry to provide information on the health and safety of chemicals in order for them to be introduced or remain on the market. It would further allow the EPA to take immediate action on hazardous chemicals including lead, mercury and flame retardants.

Whether passage would roll back autism levels to what they were 20 or 30 years ago is impossible to know. What is certain is this: The number of autism diagnoses is spiraling and is cause for immediate concern and immediate action. One child in 88 will soon be one adult in 88. And then?

CELL PHONES TOXIC TO HUMANS AND EARTH

Discovery News
by Tim Wall

The pollution produced by cell phones can be hard to locate, and it’s not just the fault of the iPhone 5’s much maligned map app. From production to disposal, cell phones contaminate the environment. A recent study by the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan and ifixit.com dissected 36 different models of cell phone and found that every one of them contained at least one of the toxic elements: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury or cadmium.

The least toxic telephone was the Motorola Citrus, whereas the dirtiest dialer was the iPhone 2G. Apple had made big improvements over the years. The iPhone 4S and 5 both ranked in the top 5 of cleanest phones.

“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards,” said the research director of the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, where the results were published, Jeff Gearhart, in a press release.

“These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics.”

Altogether, 1,106 individual phones were disassembled and tested by the team at ifixit.com using X-ray fluorescence, a technique that bombards an object with radiation then measures the radiation that is re-released by the object. Specific materials can be identified by the characteristic signature of radiation they re-release.

The biggest pollution and health risk from the phones comes in the mining of the minerals used in the phones, the production of the devices, and their subsequent disposal or recycling.

“We’re not making any claim that there’s any in-use exposure hazard from these mobile phones,” Gearhart told the Detroit Free Press.

The mining of some of the tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold used in cell phone production has been associated with exploitation and brutality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Gearhart in a press release. Once the life of the phone is over, many of them are shipped to China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and the Philippines where the hands-on recycling process there exposes workers to dangerous chemicals, according to the release.

“In 2009, 2.37 million tons of electronics were ready for what the Environmental Protection Agency calls ‘end-of-life management’—code for broken, dead, outdated, and unwanted devices,” said Kyle Wiens, CEO of ifixit.com, in a press release. “Of the digital castoffs, only 25 percent made it into recycling centers. We can’t allow the other 75 percent of our old electronics to become waste. All those toxins add up. E-waste is an enormous problem that can result in toxic chemicals seeping into drinking water and poisoning the environment.”

Healthystuff.org recommends the e-Stewards website for consumers looking to responsibly dispose of their cell phones and other electronics.

Higher Levels of BPA in Children and Teens Significantly Associated With Obesity

Science Daily

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have revealed a significant association between obesity and children and adolescents with higher concentrations of urinary bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical recently banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from sippy cups and baby bottles. Still, the chemical continues to be used in aluminum cans, such as those containing soda.

The study appears in the September 19 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), dedicated to the theme of obesity.

“This is the first association of an environmental chemical in childhood obesity in a large, nationally representative sample,” said lead investigator Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine. “Our findings further demonstrate the need for a broader paradigm in the way we think about the obesity epidemic. Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity certainly contribute to increased fat mass, but the story clearly doesn’t end there.”

BPA, a low-grade estrogen, was until recently found in plastic bottles labeled with the number 7 recycling symbol, and is still used as an internal coating for aluminum cans. Manufacturers say it provides an antiseptic function, but studies have shown the chemical disrupts multiple mechanisms of human metabolism that may increase body mass. BPA exposure has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and infertility.

“In the U.S. population, exposure [to BPA] is nearly ubiquitous, with 92.6 percent of persons 6 years or older identified in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as having detectable BPA levels in their urine. A comprehensive, cross-sectional study of dust, indoor and outdoor air, and solid and liquid food in preschool-aged children suggested that dietary sources constitute 99 percent of BPA exposure,” the investigators wrote.

Using a sample of nearly 3,000 children and adolescents, ages 6 through 19 years, randomly selected for measurement of urinary BPA concentration in the 2003-2008 NHANES, Dr. Trasande and his co-authors, Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, and Teresa Attina, MD, PhD, MPH, examined associations between urinary BPA concentrations and body mass.

After controlling for race/ethnicity, age, caregiver education, poverty to income ratio, sex, serum cotinine level, caloric intake, television watching, and urinary creatinine level, the researchers found children with the highest levels of urinary BPA had 2.6 times higher odds of being obese than those with the lowest measures of urinary BPA. Among the participants with the highest levels, 22.3 percent were obese compared with 10.3 percent of the participants with the lowest levels.

Further analyses showed this association to be statistically significant in only one racial subpopulation, white children and adolescents. The researchers also found that obesity was not associated with exposure to other environmental phenols commonly used in other consumer products, such as sunscreens and soaps.

“Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans,” Dr. Trasande said. “This data adds to already existing concerns about BPA and further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children. Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans.”

The researchers wrote in their study that advocates and policy makers have long been concerned about BPA exposure. “We note the recent FDA ban of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, yet our findings raise questions about exposure to BPA in consumer products used by older children. Last year, the FDA declined to ban BPA in aluminum cans and other food packaging, announcing ‘reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the human food supply’ and noting that it will continue to consider evidence on the safety of the chemical. Carefully conducted longitudinal studies that assess the associations identified here will yield evidence many years in the future.”

LIST OF THE TOP 10 TOXIC CHEMICALS SUSPECTED TO CAUSE AUTISM AND LEARNING DISABILITIES

Science Blog

An editorial published today in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives calls for increased research to identify possible environmental causes of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in America’s children and presents a list of ten target chemicals including which are considered highly likely to contribute to these conditions.

Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, a world-renowned leader in children’s environmental health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, co-authored the editorial, entitled “A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities,” along with Luca Lambertini, PhD, MPH, MSc, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai and Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute OF Environmental Health Sciences.

The editorial was published alongside four other papers — each suggesting a link between toxic chemicals and autism. Both the editorial and the papers originated at a conference hosted by CEHC in December 2010.

The National Academy of Sciences reports that 3 percent of all neurobehavioral disorders in children, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are caused by toxic exposures in the environment and that another 25 percent are caused by interactions between environmental factors and genetics. But the precise environmental causes are not yet known. While genetic research has demonstrated that ASD and certain other neurodevelopmental disorders have a strong hereditary component, many believe that environmental causes may also play a role – and Mount Sinai is leading an effort to understand the role of these toxins in a condition that now affects between 400,000 and 600,000 of the 4 million children born in the United States each year.

“A large number of the chemicals in widest use have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity and this is of great concern,” says Dr. Landrigan. “Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable.”

CEHC developed the list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities to guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals are:

1. Lead

2. Methylmercury
3. PCBs
4. Organophosphate pesticides
5. Organochlorine pesticides
6. Endocrine disruptors
7. Automotive exhaust
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
9. Brominated flame retardants
10. Perfluorinated compounds

In addition to the editorial, the other four papers also call for increased research to identify the possible environmental causes of autism in America’s children. The first paper, written by a team at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, found preliminary evidence linking smoking during pregnancy to Asperger’s disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism. Two papers, written by researchers at the University of California – Davis, show that PCBs disrupt early brain development. The final paper, also by a team at UC – Davis, suggests further exploring the link between pesticide exposure and autism.