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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, Volume 10, Issue 11 (November 2013), Pages 5257-6214

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Open AccessArticle Tobacco Smoke Exposure during Childhood: Effect on Cochlear Physiology
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5257-5265; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115257
Received: 26 July 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 12 October 2013 / Published: 24 October 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (324 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The rate of smoking in Brazil is about 18.8%. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is one of the major factors predisposing children to several hazardous health problems. The objective of the present research was to analyze the effect of tobacco smoke exposure [...] Read more.
The rate of smoking in Brazil is about 18.8%. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is one of the major factors predisposing children to several hazardous health problems. The objective of the present research was to analyze the effect of tobacco smoke exposure during childhood on cochlear physiology by measuring the transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) response levels. Cotinine, the main metabolite of nicotine, was measured in 145 students’ (8–10 years old) urine. Sixty students indicated tobacco smoke exposure (TSE) (cotinine urine levels ≥ 5.0 ng/mL) and 85 did not. The evaluation of TEOAE of TSE students showed lower response levels, mainly on frequencies of 2.8 kHz on the right and left ears and 2.0 kHz on left ear and lower signal noise response levels, mainly on the 1.0 kHz and 1.4 kHz frequencies, when compared to controls that were not exposed to tobacco. The mean reduction observed in TEOAE of tobacco smoke exposure children was 2.1 dB SPL. These results have important implications on the damage to the cochlear structures and indicate a possible loss in hearing and hearing ability development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tobacco Control in Vulnerable Population Groups)
Open AccessArticle Automatic Assessment of Socioeconomic Impact on Cardiac Rehabilitation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5266-5283; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115266
Received: 15 August 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 14 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (447 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs), which capture life expectancy and quality of the remaining life-years, are applied in a new method to measure socioeconomic impacts related to health. A 7-step methodology estimating the impact of health interventions based [...] Read more.
Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs), which capture life expectancy and quality of the remaining life-years, are applied in a new method to measure socioeconomic impacts related to health. A 7-step methodology estimating the impact of health interventions based on DALYs, QALYs and functioning changes is presented. It relates the latter (1) to the EQ-5D-5L questionnaire (2) to automatically calculate the health status before and after the intervention (3). This change of status is represented as a change in quality of life when calculating QALYs gained due to the intervention (4). In order to make an economic assessment, QALYs gained are converted to DALYs averted (5). Then, by inferring the cost/DALY from the cost associated to the disability in terms of DALYs lost (6) and taking into account the cost of the action, cost savings due to the intervention are calculated (7) as an objective measure of socioeconomic impact. The methodology is implemented in Java. Cases within the framework of cardiac rehabilitation processes are analyzed and the calculations are based on 200 patients who underwent different cardiac-rehabilitation processes. Results show that these interventions result, on average, in a gain in QALYs of 0.6 and a cost savings of 8,000 €. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Health Economics)
Figures

Open AccessArticle The Dynamic Growth Exhibition and Accumulation of Cadmium of Pak Choi (Brassica campestris L. ssp. chinensis) Grown in Contaminated Soils
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5284-5298; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115284
Received: 10 July 2013 / Revised: 10 October 2013 / Accepted: 14 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (370 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The accumulation of heavy metals, especially cadmium (Cd), in leafy vegetables was compared with other vegetables. Pak choi (Brassica campestris L. ssp. chinensis) is a leafy vegetable consumed in Taiwan and its safety for consumption after growing in contaminated soils [...] Read more.
The accumulation of heavy metals, especially cadmium (Cd), in leafy vegetables was compared with other vegetables. Pak choi (Brassica campestris L. ssp. chinensis) is a leafy vegetable consumed in Taiwan and its safety for consumption after growing in contaminated soils is a public concern. A pot experiment (50 days) was conducted to understand the dynamic accumulation of Cd by pak choi grown in artificially contaminated soils. The edible parts of pak choi were sampled and analyzed every 2–3 days. The dry weight (DW) of pak choi was an exponential function of leaf length, leaf width, and chlorophyll content. The accumulation of Cd increased when the soil Cd concentration was raised, but was kept at a constant level during different growth stages. Pak choi had a high bioconcentration factor (BCF = ratio of the concentration in the edible parts to that in the soils), at values of 3.5–4.0. The consumption of pak choi grown in soils contaminated at levels used in this study would result in the ingestion of impermissible amounts of Cd and could possibly have harmful effects on health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety and Public Health)
Open AccessArticle Risk Selection, Risk Adjustment and Choice: Concepts and Lessons from the Americas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5299-5332; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115299
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 30 September 2013 / Accepted: 8 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (610 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interest has grown worldwide in risk adjustment and risk sharing due to their potential to contain costs, improve fairness, and reduce selection problems in health care markets. Significant steps have been made in the empirical development of risk adjustment models, and in [...] Read more.
Interest has grown worldwide in risk adjustment and risk sharing due to their potential to contain costs, improve fairness, and reduce selection problems in health care markets. Significant steps have been made in the empirical development of risk adjustment models, and in the theoretical foundations of risk adjustment and risk sharing. This literature has often modeled the effects of risk adjustment without highlighting the institutional setting, regulations, and diverse selection problems that risk adjustment is intended to fix. Perhaps because of this, the existing literature and their recommendations for optimal risk adjustment or optimal payment systems are sometimes confusing. In this paper, we present a unified way of thinking about the organizational structure of health care systems, which enables us to focus on two key dimensions of markets that have received less attention: what choices are available that may lead to selection problems, and what financial or regulatory tools other than risk adjustment are used to influence these choices. We specifically examine the health care systems, choices, and problems in four countries: the US, Canada, Chile, and Colombia, and examine the relationship between selection-related efficiency and fairness problems and the choices that are allowed in each country, and discuss recent regulatory reforms that affect choices and selection problems. In this sample, countries and insurance programs with more choices have more selection problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Market: Incentives and Competition)
Open AccessArticle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Urban Violence: An Anthropological Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5333-5348; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115333
Received: 30 August 2013 / Revised: 2 October 2013 / Accepted: 10 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
PDF Full-text (193 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The study aimed to understand how “distress” is experienced by patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the social-cultural context of São Paulo, Brazil, an urban environment marked by social inequality and high levels of violence. A qualitative study was conducted between [...] Read more.
The study aimed to understand how “distress” is experienced by patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the social-cultural context of São Paulo, Brazil, an urban environment marked by social inequality and high levels of violence. A qualitative study was conducted between 2008 and 2010 with PTSD patients (F43.1, ICD-10, 1997) who had been victims of robberies and kidnappings in São Paulo. Dense ethnographic observations were carried out, as well as in-depth semi-structured interviews with ten adult patients. The analysis method used was based on anthropology. The results show that it is particularly important to distinguish between perceptions of different forms of the experience of social suffering and perceptions of health and illness held by victims and biomedical experts. The cause of PTSD is more often associated with the personal problems of the victim than with the specific traumatic event. The distress described in terms of what is considered a “normal” reaction to violence and what is considered a symptom of PTSD. The findings indicate that the diagnostic of PTSD can be understood in relation to the different contexts within a culture. The ethnographic approach serves not only to illuminate individual suffering but also the social suffering experienced by the residents of São Paulo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trauma, Addiction and Criminality)
Open AccessArticle Suitability of Optical, Physical and Chemical Measurements for Detection of Changes in Bacterial Drinking Water Quality
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5349-5363; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115349
Received: 28 August 2013 / Revised: 10 October 2013 / Accepted: 13 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, different optical, physical and chemical measurements were tested for their capacity to detect changes in water quality. The tests included UV-absorbance at 254 nm, absorbance at 420 nm, turbidity, particle counting, temperature, pH, electric conductivity (EC), free chlorine concentration [...] Read more.
In this study, different optical, physical and chemical measurements were tested for their capacity to detect changes in water quality. The tests included UV-absorbance at 254 nm, absorbance at 420 nm, turbidity, particle counting, temperature, pH, electric conductivity (EC), free chlorine concentration and ATP concentration measurements. Special emphasis was given to investigating the potential for measurement tools to detect changes in bacterial concentrations in drinking water. Bacterial colony counts (CFU) and total bacterial cell counts (TBC) were used as reference methods for assessing the bacterial water quality. The study consists of a series of laboratory scale experiments: monitoring of regrowth of Pseudomonas fluorescens, estimation of the detection limits for optical measurements using Escherichia coli dilutions, verification of the relationships by analysing grab water samples from various distribution systems and utilisation of the measurements in the case of an accidentally contaminated distribution network. We found significant correlations between the tested measurements and the bacterial water quality. As the bacterial contamination of water often co-occurs with the intrusion of matrixes containing mainly non-bacterial components, the tested measurement tools can be considered to have the potential to rapidly detect any major changes in drinking water quality. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Impact of Family History of Allergy on Risk of Food Allergy: A Population-Based Study of Infants
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5364-5377; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115364
Received: 1 August 2013 / Revised: 11 October 2013 / Accepted: 14 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (248 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The apparent rapid increase in IgE-mediated food allergy and its implications are now widely recognized, but little is known about the relationship between family history (an indirect measure of genetic risk) and the risk of food allergy. In a population-based study of [...] Read more.
The apparent rapid increase in IgE-mediated food allergy and its implications are now widely recognized, but little is known about the relationship between family history (an indirect measure of genetic risk) and the risk of food allergy. In a population-based study of 5,276 one year old infants (HealthNuts), the prevalence of oral food challenge-confirmed food allergy was measured. Associations between family history of allergic disease and food allergy in infants were examined using multiple logistic regression. Food allergy was diagnosed in 534 infants. Compared to those with no family history of allergic disease, children meeting the current definition of “high risk” for allergic disease (one immediate family member with a history of any allergic disease) showed only a modest increase (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1–1.7) in food allergy, while having two or more allergic family members was more strongly predictive of food allergy in the child (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5–2.3). There were also differences in the associations between family history and egg and peanut allergy in the child. Re-defining “high risk” as two or more allergic family members may be more useful for identification of groups with a significantly increased risk of food allergy both clinically and within research studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Allergy, Genes and Environment)
Open AccessArticle Design-with-Nature for Multifunctional Landscapes: Environmental Benefits and Social Barriers in Community Development
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5433-5458; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115433
Received: 6 September 2013 / Revised: 11 October 2013 / Accepted: 14 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1314 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since the early 1970s, Ian McHarg’s design-with-nature concept has been inspiring landscape architects, community and regional planners, and liked-minded professionals to create designs that take advantage of ecosystem services and promote environmental and public health. This study bridges the gap in the [...] Read more.
Since the early 1970s, Ian McHarg’s design-with-nature concept has been inspiring landscape architects, community and regional planners, and liked-minded professionals to create designs that take advantage of ecosystem services and promote environmental and public health. This study bridges the gap in the literature that has resulted from a lack of empirical examinations on the multiple performance benefits derived through design-with-nature and the under-investigated social aspect emanated from McHarg’s Ecological Determinism design approach. The Woodlands, TX, USA, an ecologically designed community development under McHarg’s approach, is compared with two adjacent communities that follow the conventional design approach. Using national environmental databases and multiple-year residents’ survey information, this study assesses three landscape performance metrics of McHarg’s approach: stormwater runoff, urban heat island effect, and social acceptance. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to assess the development extent and land surface temperature distribution. Results show that McHarg’s approach demonstrates benefits in reducing runoff and urban heat island effect, whereas it confronts challenges with the general acceptance of manicured landscapes and thus results in a low safety perception level when residents interact with naturally designed landscapes. The authors argue that design-with-nature warrants multifunctionality because of its intrinsic interdisciplinary approach. Moreover, education and dissemination of successful examples can achieve a greater level of awareness among the public and further promote multifunctional design for landscape sustainability. Full article
Open AccessArticle Antimicrobial Effect of 7-O-Butylnaringenin, a Novel Flavonoid, and Various Natural Flavonoids against Helicobacter pylori Strains
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5459-5469; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115459
Received: 5 August 2013 / Revised: 16 October 2013 / Accepted: 21 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (211 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The antimicrobial effect of a novel flavonoid (7-O-butylnaringenin) on Helicobacter pylori 26695, 51, and SS1 strains and its inhibitory effect on the urease activity of the strains were evaluated and compared with those of several natural flavonoids. First, various flavonoids [...] Read more.
The antimicrobial effect of a novel flavonoid (7-O-butylnaringenin) on Helicobacter pylori 26695, 51, and SS1 strains and its inhibitory effect on the urease activity of the strains were evaluated and compared with those of several natural flavonoids. First, various flavonoids were screened for antimicrobial activities using the paper disc diffusion method. Hesperetin and naringenin showed the strongest antimicrobial effects among the natural flavonoids tested, and thus hesperetin and naringenin were selected for comparison with 7-O-butylnaringenin. The antimicrobial effect of 7-O-butylnaringenin was greater than that of the hesperetin and naringenin. H. pylori 51 was more sensitive to 7-O-butylnaringenin (2 log reduction of colony forming units, p < 0.05) than the other two strains at 200 μM. 7-O-Butylnaringenin also showed the highest inhibitory effect against urease activity of H. pylori. Morphological changes of H. pylori 26695 treated with these flavonoids indicated that both hesperetin and 7-O-butylnaringenin at 200 μM damaged the cell membranes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Linking Childhood and Adult Criminality: Using a Life Course Framework to Examine Childhood Abuse and Neglect, Substance Use and Adult Partner Violence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5470-5489; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115470
Received: 29 July 2013 / Revised: 29 September 2013 / Accepted: 1 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (208 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Child abuse and neglect, considered criminal acts under the Criminal Code of Canada, play an important role in substance use, violence, and other criminal behaviour in adulthood. We adopted the life course perspective to identify modifiable contextual influences and co-occurring individual, social, [...] Read more.
Child abuse and neglect, considered criminal acts under the Criminal Code of Canada, play an important role in substance use, violence, and other criminal behaviour in adulthood. We adopted the life course perspective to identify modifiable contextual influences and co-occurring individual, social, and familial determinants associated with adult criminality. Using in-depth interview data, a sub-sample of 13 women who had recently experienced intimate partner violence, recounted their experiences of childhood abuse, their own substance use or criminality, as well as implications of these factors on their children’s life trajectories. For the purposes of this paper criminality was defined as child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, illegal substance use and underage alcohol use. Our objective was to explore, in our data: (1) patterns and trajectories of criminality from childhood to adulthood among women who were victims of violence, and (2) cumulative effects of early life exposures on experiences of criminality; with the aim of describing the life course perspective as a useful framework to understand criminality along the life trajectory. The analysis was not designed to demonstrate causal connections between early childhood and adulthood experiences of criminality. Rather we generated qualitative and quantitative hypotheses to guide future research in the field. Implications for research and interventions are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trauma, Addiction and Criminality)
Open AccessArticle Does Increasing Community and Liquor Licensees’ Awareness, Police Activity, and Feedback Reduce Alcohol-Related Violent Crime? A Benefit-Cost Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5490-5506; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115490
Received: 15 August 2013 / Revised: 24 September 2013 / Accepted: 29 September 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Approximately half of all alcohol-related crime is violent crime associated with heavy episodic drinking. Multi-component interventions are highly acceptable to communities and may be effective in reducing alcohol-related crime generally, but their impact on alcohol-related violent crime has not been examined. This [...] Read more.
Approximately half of all alcohol-related crime is violent crime associated with heavy episodic drinking. Multi-component interventions are highly acceptable to communities and may be effective in reducing alcohol-related crime generally, but their impact on alcohol-related violent crime has not been examined. This study evaluated the impact and benefit-cost of a multi-component intervention (increasing community and liquor licensees’ awareness, police activity, and feedback) on crimes typically associated with alcohol-related violence. The intervention was tailored to weekends identified as historically problematic in 10 experimental communities in NSW, Australia, relative to 10 control ones. There was no effect on alcohol-related assaults and a small, but statistically significant and cost-beneficial, effect on alcohol-related sexual assaults: a 64% reduction in in the experimental relative to control communities, equivalent to five fewer alcohol-related sexual assaults, with a net social benefit estimated as AUD$3,938,218. The positive benefit-cost ratio was primarily a function of the value that communities placed on reducing alcohol-related harm: the intervention would need to be more than twice as effective for its economic benefits to be comparable to its costs. It is most likely that greater reductions in crimes associated with alcohol-related violence would be achieved by a combination of complementary legislative and community-based interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economics of Prevention of Alcohol and Tobacco Related Harms)
Open AccessArticle Association between γ-Glutamyl Transferase and Metabolic Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Study of an Adult Population in Beijing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5523-5540; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115523
Received: 16 August 2013 / Revised: 26 September 2013 / Accepted: 11 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (312 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The relationship between liver enzymes and clustered components of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is explored and the predictive power of γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) for the diagnosis of MetS in an adult population in Beijing is investigated. A total of 10,553 adults aged 20–65 [...] Read more.
The relationship between liver enzymes and clustered components of metabolic syndrome (MetS) is explored and the predictive power of γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) for the diagnosis of MetS in an adult population in Beijing is investigated. A total of 10,553 adults aged 20–65 years who underwent health examinations at Beijing Tongren Hospital in 2012 were enrolled in the study. Multivariate logistic regression analysis is conducted to determine the associations between the levels of various liver enzymes and clustered components of MetS. A receiver operating characteristic analysis is used to determine the optimal cut-off value of GGT for the diagnosis of MetS. A high level of GGT is found to be positively associated with clustered components of MetS in both men and women after adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), history of alcoholic fatty liver, and the presence of taking anti-hypertensive, anti-dyslipidemic, and anti-diabetic drugs. Among all components of MetS, GGT is more predictive of triglyceride, and BMI. The area-under-the-curve values of GGT for discriminating MetS from normal metabolic status in men and women are 0.73 and 0.80, respectively. The optimal cut-off value of GGT for men is 31.50 U/L, demonstrating a sensitivity of 74.00% and specificity of 62.00%. For women, it is 19.50 U/L (sensitivity 76.00% and specificity 70.00%). GGT is therefore recommended as a useful diagnostic marker for MetS, because the test is inexpensive, highly sensitive, and frequently encountered in clinical practice. Full article
Open AccessArticle Extreme Heat and Health: Perspectives from Health Service Providers in Rural and Remote Communities in South Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5565-5583; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115565
Received: 2 September 2013 / Revised: 18 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (266 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Among the challenges for rural communities and health services in Australia, climate change and increasing extreme heat are emerging as additional stressors. Effective public health responses to extreme heat require an understanding of the impact on health and well-being, and the risk [...] Read more.
Among the challenges for rural communities and health services in Australia, climate change and increasing extreme heat are emerging as additional stressors. Effective public health responses to extreme heat require an understanding of the impact on health and well-being, and the risk or protective factors within communities. This study draws on lived experiences to explore these issues in eleven rural and remote communities across South Australia, framing these within a socio-ecological model. Semi-structured interviews with health service providers (n = 13), and a thematic analysis of these data, has identified particular challenges for rural communities and their health services during extreme heat. The findings draw attention to the social impacts of extreme heat in rural communities, the protective factors (independence, social support, education, community safety), and challenges for adaptation (vulnerabilities, infrastructure, community demographics, housing and local industries). With temperatures increasing across South Australia, there is a need for local planning and low-cost strategies to address heat-exacerbating factors in rural communities, to minimise the impact of extreme heat in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
Open AccessArticle Spatio-Temporal Epidemiology of Human West Nile Virus Disease in South Dakota
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5584-5602; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115584
Received: 6 August 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 15 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1306 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite a cold temperate climate and low human population density, the Northern Great Plains has become a persistent hot spot for human West Nile virus (WNV) disease in North America. Understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of WNV can provide insights into [...] Read more.
Despite a cold temperate climate and low human population density, the Northern Great Plains has become a persistent hot spot for human West Nile virus (WNV) disease in North America. Understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of WNV can provide insights into the epidemiological and ecological factors that influence disease emergence and persistence. We analyzed the 1,962 cases of human WNV disease that occurred in South Dakota from 2002–2012 to identify the geographic distribution, seasonal cycles, and interannual variability of disease risk. The geographic and seasonal patterns of WNV have changed since the invasion and initial epidemic in 2002–2003, with cases shifting toward the eastern portion of South Dakota and occurring earlier in the transmission season in more recent years. WNV cases were temporally autocorrelated at lags of up to six weeks and early season cumulative case numbers were correlated with seasonal totals, indicating the possibility of using these data for short-term early detection of outbreaks. Epidemiological data are likely to be most effective for early warning of WNV virus outbreaks if they are integrated with entomological surveillance and environmental monitoring to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of each information source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessArticle Walking for Well-Being: Are Group Walks in Certain Types of Natural Environments Better for Well-Being than Group Walks in Urban Environments?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5603-5628; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115603
Received: 13 April 2013 / Revised: 22 September 2013 / Accepted: 18 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (289 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The benefits of walking in natural environments for well-being are increasingly understood. However, less well known are the impacts different types of natural environments have on psychological and emotional well-being. This cross-sectional study investigated whether group walks in specific types of natural [...] Read more.
The benefits of walking in natural environments for well-being are increasingly understood. However, less well known are the impacts different types of natural environments have on psychological and emotional well-being. This cross-sectional study investigated whether group walks in specific types of natural environments were associated with greater psychological and emotional well-being compared to group walks in urban environments. Individuals who frequently attended a walking group once a week or more (n = 708) were surveyed on mental well-being (Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale), depression (Major Depressive Inventory), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and emotional well-being (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule). Compared to group walks in urban environments, group walks in farmland were significantly associated with less perceived stress and negative affect, and greater mental well-being. Group walks in green corridors were significantly associated with less perceived stress and negative affect. There were no significant differences between the effect of any environment types on depression or positive affect. Outdoor walking group programs could be endorsed through “green prescriptions” to improve psychological and emotional well-being, as well as physical activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Benefits of Nature)
Open AccessArticle Applying Evidence-Based Medicine in Telehealth: An Interactive Pattern Recognition Approximation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5671-5682; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115671
Received: 12 September 2013 / Revised: 23 October 2013 / Accepted: 24 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (292 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Born in the early nineteen nineties, evidence-based medicine (EBM) is a paradigm intended to promote the integration of biomedical evidence into the physicians daily practice. This paradigm requires the continuous study of diseases to provide the best scientific knowledge for supporting physicians [...] Read more.
Born in the early nineteen nineties, evidence-based medicine (EBM) is a paradigm intended to promote the integration of biomedical evidence into the physicians daily practice. This paradigm requires the continuous study of diseases to provide the best scientific knowledge for supporting physicians in their diagnosis and treatments in a close way. Within this paradigm, usually, health experts create and publish clinical guidelines, which provide holistic guidance for the care for a certain disease. The creation of these clinical guidelines requires hard iterative processes in which each iteration supposes scientific progress in the knowledge of the disease. To perform this guidance through telehealth, the use of formal clinical guidelines will allow the building of care processes that can be interpreted and executed directly by computers. In addition, the formalization of clinical guidelines allows for the possibility to build automatic methods, using pattern recognition techniques, to estimate the proper models, as well as the mathematical models for optimizing the iterative cycle for the continuous improvement of the guidelines. However, to ensure the efficiency of the system, it is necessary to build a probabilistic model of the problem. In this paper, an interactive pattern recognition approach to support professionals in evidence-based medicine is formalized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Benefits of Selected Physical Exercise Programs in Detention: A Randomized Controlled Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5683-5696; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115683
Received: 27 July 2013 / Revised: 9 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (238 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of the study was to determine which kind of physical activity could be useful to inmate populations to improve their health status and fitness levels. A repeated measure design was used to evaluate the effects of two different training protocols [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to determine which kind of physical activity could be useful to inmate populations to improve their health status and fitness levels. A repeated measure design was used to evaluate the effects of two different training protocols on subjects in a state of detention, tested pre- and post-experimental protocol.Seventy-five male subjects were enrolled in the studyand randomly allocated to three groups: the cardiovascular plus resistance training protocol group (CRT) (n = 25; mean age 30.9 ± 8.9 years),the high-intensity strength training protocol group (HIST) (n = 25; mean age 33.9 ± 6.8 years), and a control group (C) (n = 25; mean age 32.9 ± 8.9 years) receiving no treatment. All subjects underwent a clinical assessmentandfitness tests. MANOVA revealed significant multivariate effects on group (p < 0.01) and group-training interaction (p < 0.05). CRT protocol resulted the most effective protocol to reach the best outcome in fitness tests. Both CRT and HIST protocols produced significant gains in the functional capacity (cardio-respiratory capacity and cardiovascular disease risk decrease) of incarcerated males. The significant gains obtained in functional capacity reflect the great potential of supervised exercise interventions for improving the health status of incarcerated people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lifestyle Intervention for Chronic Diseases Prevention)
Open AccessArticle A Telerehabilitation Program Improves Postural Control in Multiple Sclerosis Patients: A Spanish Preliminary Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5697-5710; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115697
Received: 15 September 2013 / Revised: 25 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Postural control disorders are among the most frequent motor disorder symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. This study aims to demonstrate the potential improvements in postural control among patients with multiple sclerosis who complete a telerehabilitation program that represents a feasible alternative to [...] Read more.
Postural control disorders are among the most frequent motor disorder symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. This study aims to demonstrate the potential improvements in postural control among patients with multiple sclerosis who complete a telerehabilitation program that represents a feasible alternative to physical therapy for situations in which conventional treatment is not available. Fifty patients were recruited. Control group (n = 25) received physiotherapy treatment twice a week (40 min per session). Experimental group (n = 25) received monitored telerehabilitation treatment via videoconference using the Xbox 360® and Kinect console. Experimental group attended 40 sessions, four sessions per week (20 min per session).The treatment schedule lasted 10 weeks for both groups. A computerized dynamic posturography (Sensory Organization Test) was used to evaluate all patients at baseline and at the end of the treatment protocol. Results showed an improvement over general balance in both groups. Visual preference and the contribution of vestibular information yielded significant differences in the experimental group. Our results demonstrated that a telerehabilitation program based on a virtual reality system allows one to optimize the sensory information processing and integration systems necessary to maintain the balance and postural control of people with multiple sclerosis. We suggest that our virtual reality program enables anticipatory PC and response mechanisms and might serve as a successful therapeutic alternative in situations in which conventional therapy is not readily available. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Active Transportation Safety Features around Schools in Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5711-5725; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115711
Received: 15 August 2013 / Revised: 10 October 2013 / Accepted: 26 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
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Abstract
The purpose of this study was to describe the presence and quality of active transportation safety features in Canadian school environments that relate to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Variations in these features and associated traffic concerns as perceived by school administrators were [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to describe the presence and quality of active transportation safety features in Canadian school environments that relate to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Variations in these features and associated traffic concerns as perceived by school administrators were examined by geographic status and school type. The study was based on schools that participated in 2009/2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. ArcGIS software version 10 and Google Earth were used to assess the presence and quality of ten different active transportation safety features. Findings suggest that there are crosswalks and good sidewalk coverage in the environments surrounding most Canadian schools, but a dearth of bicycle lanes and other traffic calming measures (e.g., speed bumps, traffic chokers). Significant urban/rural inequities exist with a greater prevalence of sidewalk coverage, crosswalks, traffic medians, and speed bumps in urban areas. With the exception of bicycle lanes, the active transportation safety features that were present were generally rated as high quality. Traffic was more of a concern to administrators in urban areas. This study provides novel information about active transportation safety features in Canadian school environments. This information could help guide public health efforts aimed at increasing active transportation levels while simultaneously decreasing active transportation injuries. Full article
Open AccessArticle Estimated Fluoride Doses from Toothpastes Should be Based on Total Soluble Fluoride
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5726-5736; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115726
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 23 October 2013 / Accepted: 24 October 2013 / Published: 1 November 2013
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Abstract
The fluoride dose ingested by young children may be overestimated if based on levels of total fluoride (TF) rather than levels of bioavailable fluoride (total soluble fluoride—TSF) in toothpaste. The aim of the present study was to compare doses of fluoride intake [...] Read more.
The fluoride dose ingested by young children may be overestimated if based on levels of total fluoride (TF) rather than levels of bioavailable fluoride (total soluble fluoride—TSF) in toothpaste. The aim of the present study was to compare doses of fluoride intake based on TF and TSF. Fluoride intake in 158 Brazilian children aged three and four years was determined after tooth brushing with their usual toothpaste (either family toothpaste (n = 80) or children’s toothpaste (n = 78)). The estimated dose (mg F/day/Kg of body weight) of TF or TSF ingested was calculated from the chemical analysis of the toothpastes. Although the ingested dose of TF from the family toothpastes was higher than that from the children’s toothpastes (0.074 ± 0.007 and 0.039 ± 0.003 mg F/day/Kg, respectively; p < 0.05), no difference between types of toothpaste was found regarding the ingested dose based on TSF (0.039 ± 0.005 and 0.039 ± 0.005 mg F/day/Kg, respectively; p > 0.05). The fluoride dose ingested by children from toothpastes may be overestimated if based on the TF of the product. This finding suggests that the ingested dose should be calculated based on TSF. Dose of TSF ingested by children is similar whether family or children’s toothpaste is used. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effect of Urinary Bisphenol A on Androgenic Hormones and Insulin Resistance in Preadolescent Girls: A Pilot Study from the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5737-5749; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115737
Received: 6 August 2013 / Revised: 28 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 1 November 2013
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Abstract
To assess the effect of urinary bisphenol A (BPA) on repeated measurements of androgenic hormones and metabolic indices, we used multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) adjusted for potential confounders at baseline. During July to August 2011, 80 preadolescent girls enrolled in the [...] Read more.
To assess the effect of urinary bisphenol A (BPA) on repeated measurements of androgenic hormones and metabolic indices, we used multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) adjusted for potential confounders at baseline. During July to August 2011, 80 preadolescent girls enrolled in the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort study participated in a follow-up study and then forty-eight of them (60.0%) came back one year later. Baseline levels of estradiol and androstenedione were higher in the BPA group than in the non-BPA group. One year later, girls in the high BPA exposure group showed higher levels of androstenedione, testosterone, estradiol, and insulin, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index, than those in the other groups (p < 0.05). In MANOVA, estradiol and androstenedione showed significant differences among groups, while dehydroepiandrosterone, insulin, and HOMA-IR showed marginally significant differences. Exposure to BPA may affect endocrine metabolism in preadolescents. However, further investigation is required to elucidate the mechanisms linking BPA with regulation of androgenic hormones. Full article
Open AccessArticle Use of a Time-of-Flight Camera With an Omek Beckon™ Framework to Analyze, Evaluate and Correct in Real Time the Verticality of Multiple Sclerosis Patients during Exercise
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5807-5829; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115807
Received: 2 September 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 4 November 2013
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Abstract
Any person with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), regardless of the severity of their disability, needs regular physical activity. Poorly performed exercises could aggravate muscle imbalances and worsen the patient’s health. In this paper, we propose a human body verticality detection system using a [...] Read more.
Any person with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), regardless of the severity of their disability, needs regular physical activity. Poorly performed exercises could aggravate muscle imbalances and worsen the patient’s health. In this paper, we propose a human body verticality detection system using a time-of-flight camera as a tool to detect incorrect postures and improve them in real time. The prototype uses Omek’s Beckon™ Framework to analyze and evaluate the position of patients during exercise. Preliminary results, based on objective questionnaires, indicate an improvement in patients’ evolution through better positions and performance of the exercises. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Assessing the Mobility of Lead, Copper and Cadmium in a Calcareous Soil of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5830-5843; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115830
Received: 12 August 2013 / Revised: 28 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 4 November 2013
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Abstract
The presence of heavy metals in the environment constitutes a potential source of both soil and groundwater pollution. This study has focused on the reactivity of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and Cadmium (Cd) during their transfer in a calcareous soil of Port-au-Prince [...] Read more.
The presence of heavy metals in the environment constitutes a potential source of both soil and groundwater pollution. This study has focused on the reactivity of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and Cadmium (Cd) during their transfer in a calcareous soil of Port-au-Prince (Haiti). Kinetic, monometal and competitive batch tests were carried out at pH 6.0. Two simplified models including pseudo-first-order and pseudo-second-order were used to fit the experimental data from kinetics adsorption batch tests. A good fit of these data was found with pseudo-second-order kinetic model which indicates the applicability of this model to describe the adsorption rates of these metals on the soil. Monometal batch tests indicated that both Langmuir and Freundlich models allowed a good fit for experimental data. On the basis of the maximum adsorption capacity (qmax), the order affinity of Pb, Cu and Cd for the studied soil was Pb2+ > Cu2+ > Cd2+. Competitive sorption has proved that the competition between two or several cations on soils for the same active sites can decrease their qmax. These results show that, at high metal concentrations, Cd may pose more threat in soils and groundwater of Port-au-Prince than Pb and Cu. Full article
Open AccessArticle NO2 and Cancer Incidence in Saudi Arabia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5844-5862; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115844
Received: 19 August 2013 / Revised: 18 October 2013 / Accepted: 23 October 2013 / Published: 4 November 2013
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Abstract
Air pollution exposure has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of specific cancers. This study investigated whether the number and incidence of the most common cancers in Saudi Arabia were associated with urban air pollution exposure, specifically NO2 [...] Read more.
Air pollution exposure has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of specific cancers. This study investigated whether the number and incidence of the most common cancers in Saudi Arabia were associated with urban air pollution exposure, specifically NO2. Overall, high model goodness of fit (GOF) was observed in the Eastern, Riyadh and Makkah regions. The significant coefficients of determination (r2) were higher at the regional level (r2 = 0.32–0.71), weaker at the governorate level (r2 = 0.03–0.43), and declined slightly at the city level (r2 = 0.17–0.33), suggesting that an increased aggregated spatial level increased the explained variability and the model GOF. However, the low GOF at the lowest spatial level suggests that additional variation remains unexplained. At different spatial levels, associations between NO2 concentration and the most common cancers were marginally improved in geographically weighted regression (GWR) analysis, which explained both global and local heterogeneity and variations in cancer incidence. High coefficients of determination were observed between NO2 concentration and lung and breast cancer incidences, followed by prostate, bladder, cervical and ovarian cancers, confirming results from other studies. These results could be improved using individual explanatory variables such as environmental, demographic, behavioral, socio-economic, and genetic risk factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Epidemiology)
Open AccessArticle Psychosocial Job Strain and Sleep Quality Interaction Leading to Insufficient Recovery
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5863-5873; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115863
Received: 13 August 2013 / Revised: 29 October 2013 / Accepted: 30 October 2013 / Published: 5 November 2013
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Abstract
The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of job strain and sleep quality on the diurnal pattern of cortisol reactivity, measured by awakening and evening (10 PM) saliva cortisol. The sample consisted of 76 British white-collar workers (24 women, [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of job strain and sleep quality on the diurnal pattern of cortisol reactivity, measured by awakening and evening (10 PM) saliva cortisol. The sample consisted of 76 British white-collar workers (24 women, 52 men; mean age 45.8 years). Sleep quality and job strain were assessed in a survey distributed just before the cortisol sampling. Both input variables were dichotomized about the median and factorial ANOVA was used for the statistical analysis. Low sleep quality was significantly associated with lower morning cortisol secretion. While job strain had no main effects on the cortisol reactivity there was a significant interaction effect between the input variables on morning cortisol secretion. These findings tentatively support the hypothesis that lack of sleep for workers with high job strain may result in a flattened diurnal cortisol reactivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Job Stress and Health)
Open AccessCommunication Urban Ecosystem Health Assessment: Perspectives and Chinese Practice
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5874-5885; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115874
Received: 17 September 2013 / Revised: 28 October 2013 / Accepted: 29 October 2013 / Published: 6 November 2013
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Abstract
The concept of ecosystem health is a way to assess the holistic operations and development potential of urban ecosystems. Accelerated by the practical need for integrated ecosystem management, assessment of urban ecosystem health has been greatly developed and extensively applied in urban [...] Read more.
The concept of ecosystem health is a way to assess the holistic operations and development potential of urban ecosystems. Accelerated by the practical need for integrated ecosystem management, assessment of urban ecosystem health has been greatly developed and extensively applied in urban planning and management. Development is aimed at comprehensively evaluating the performance of urban ecosystems, identifying the limiting factors, and providing suggestions for urban regulation. The time has come for reviewing and establishing an instructional framework for urban ecosystem health assessment to shed light on certain essential issues of urban ecosystem health. Based on literature reviews and series of practice, a holistic framework of urban ecosystem health assessment is proposed. The framework covers the essential elements of urban ecosystem health and integrates three dimensions: theoretical foundation, assessment method, and practical application. Concrete assessment methods are also established, focusing on both external performance and internal metabolic processes. The practice of urban ecosystem health assessment in China is illustrated to briefly demonstrate the application of the established framework and methods. Some prospects are discussed for urban ecosystem health assessment and its application in urban planning and management. Full article
Open AccessArticle Did We Get Our Money’s Worth? Bridging Economic and Behavioral Measures of Program Success in Adolescent Drug Prevention
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5908-5935; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115908
Received: 20 September 2013 / Revised: 25 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
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Abstract
The recent U.S. Congressional mandate for creating drug-free learning environments in elementary and secondary schools stipulates that education reform rely on accountability, parental and community involvement, local decision making, and use of evidence-based drug prevention programs. By necessity, this charge has been [...] Read more.
The recent U.S. Congressional mandate for creating drug-free learning environments in elementary and secondary schools stipulates that education reform rely on accountability, parental and community involvement, local decision making, and use of evidence-based drug prevention programs. By necessity, this charge has been paralleled by increased interest in demonstrating that drug prevention programs net tangible benefits to society. One pressing concern is precisely how to integrate traditional scientific methods of program evaluation with economic measures of “cost efficiency”. The languages and methods of each respective discipline don’t necessarily converge on how to establish the true benefits of drug prevention. This article serves as a primer for conducting economic analyses of school-based drug prevention programs. The article provides the reader with a foundation in the relevant principles, methodologies, and benefits related to conducting economic analysis. Discussion revolves around how economists value the potential costs and benefits, both financial and personal, from implementing school-based drug prevention programs targeting youth. Application of heterogeneous costing methods coupled with widely divergent program evaluation findings influences the feasibility of these techniques and may hinder utilization of these practices. Determination of cost-efficiency should undoubtedly become one of several markers of program success and contribute to the ongoing debate over health policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economics of Prevention of Alcohol and Tobacco Related Harms)
Open AccessArticle Biomedical Progress Rates as New Parameters for Models of Economic Growth in Developed Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5936-5952; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115936
Received: 26 September 2013 / Revised: 23 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
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Abstract
While the doubling of life expectancy in developed countries during the 20th century can be attributed mostly to decreases in child mortality, the trillions of dollars spent on biomedical research by governments, foundations and corporations over the past sixty years are also [...] Read more.
While the doubling of life expectancy in developed countries during the 20th century can be attributed mostly to decreases in child mortality, the trillions of dollars spent on biomedical research by governments, foundations and corporations over the past sixty years are also yielding longevity dividends in both working and retired population. Biomedical progress will likely increase the healthy productive lifespan and the number of years of government support in the old age. In this paper we introduce several new parameters that can be applied to established models of economic growth: the biomedical progress rate, the rate of clinical adoption and the rate of change in retirement age. The biomedical progress rate is comprised of the rejuvenation rate (extending the productive lifespan) and the non-rejuvenating rate (extending the lifespan beyond the age at which the net contribution to the economy becomes negative). While staying within the neoclassical economics framework and extending the overlapping generations (OLG) growth model and assumptions from the life cycle theory of saving behavior, we provide an example of the relations between these new parameters in the context of demographics, labor, households and the firm. Full article
Open AccessArticle A General Model of Dioxin Contamination in Breast Milk: Results from a Study on 94 Women from the Caserta and Naples Areas in Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5953-5970; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115953
Received: 26 July 2013 / Revised: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 25 October 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
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Abstract
Background: The Caserta and Naples areas in Campania Region experience heavy environmental contamination due to illegal waste disposal and burns, thus representing a valuable setting to develop a general model of human contamination with dioxins (PCDDs-PCDFs) and dioxin-like-PCBs (dl-PCBs). Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: The Caserta and Naples areas in Campania Region experience heavy environmental contamination due to illegal waste disposal and burns, thus representing a valuable setting to develop a general model of human contamination with dioxins (PCDDs-PCDFs) and dioxin-like-PCBs (dl-PCBs). Methods: 94 breastfeeding women (aged 19–32 years; mean age 27.9 ± 3.0) were recruited to determine concentrations of PCDDs-PCDFs and dl-PCBs in their milk. Individual milk samples were collected and analyzed according to standard international procedures. A generalized linear model was used to test potential predictors of pollutant concentration in breast milk: age, exposure to waste fires, cigarette smoking, diet, and residence in high/low risk area (defined at high/low environmental pressure by a specific 2007 WHO report). A Structural Equation Model (SEM) analysis was carried out by taking into account PCDDs-PCDFs and dl-PCBs as endogenous variables and age, waste fires, risk area and smoking as exogenous variables. Results: All milk samples were contaminated by PCDDs-PCDFs (8.6 pg WHO-TEQ/98g fat ± 2.7; range 3.8–19) and dl-PCBs (8.0 pg WHO-TEQ/98g fat ± 3.7; range 2.5–24), with their concentrations being associated with age and exposure to waste fires (p < 0.01). Exposure to fires resulted in larger increases of dioxins concentrations in people living in low risk areas than those from high risk areas (p < 0.01). Conclusions: A diffuse human exposure to persistent organic pollutants was observed in the Caserta and Naples areas. Dioxins concentration in women living in areas classified at low environmental pressure in 2007 WHO report was significantly influenced by exposure to burns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances on Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology)
Open AccessArticle Age-Related Changes in Physical Fall Risk Factors: Results from a 3 Year Follow-up of Community Dwelling Older Adults in Tasmania, Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5989-5997; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115989
Received: 5 September 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 11 November 2013
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Abstract
As the population ages, fall rates are expected to increase, leading to a rise in accidental injury and injury-related deaths, and placing an escalating burden on health care systems. Sixty-nine independent community-dwelling adults (60–85 years, 18 males) had their leg strength, physical [...] Read more.
As the population ages, fall rates are expected to increase, leading to a rise in accidental injury and injury-related deaths, and placing an escalating burden on health care systems. Sixty-nine independent community-dwelling adults (60–85 years, 18 males) had their leg strength, physical activity levels and their annual fall rate assessed at two timepoints over three years, (summer 2010 and summer 2013) monitoring balance. Force platform measures of medio-lateral sway range increased significantly under conditions of eyes open (mean difference MD 2.5 cm; 95% CI 2.2 to 2.8 cm) and eyes closed (MD 3.2 cm; 95% CI 2.8 to 3.6 cm), respectively (all p < 0.001) indicating worsening static balance control. Dynamic balance showed similar changes (p < 0.036). Leg strength was not significantly different between visits (p > 0.26). Physical activity reduced significantly (MD −909 Cal/week; 95% CI −347 to −1,470 Cal/week; p = 0.002) during the course of the study. Participants maintained aerobic activities, however resistance and balance exercise levels decreased non-significantly. The likelihood of falling was higher at the end of the study compared to the first timepoint (odds ratio 1.93, 95% CI 0.94 to 3.94; p = 0.07). Results of this study indicate that despite maintenance of leg strength there was an increase in medio-lateral sway over a relatively short time frame, with higher than expected increases in fall rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle Twelve-Months Follow-up of Supervised Exercise after Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty for Intermittent Claudication: A Randomised Clinical Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5998-6014; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115998
Received: 29 August 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 6 November 2013 / Published: 11 November 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (523 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The aim of this study was to explore the effects during 12 months follow-up of 12 weeks of supervised exercise therapy (SET) after percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) compared to PTA alone on physical function, limb hemodynamics and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to explore the effects during 12 months follow-up of 12 weeks of supervised exercise therapy (SET) after percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) compared to PTA alone on physical function, limb hemodynamics and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with intermittent claudication. Fifty patients were randomised to an intervention or a control group. Both groups received usual post-operative care and follow-up measurements at three, six and 12 months after PTA. The intervention group performed 12 weeks of SET after PTA. The control group did not receive any additional follow-up regarding exercise. During the 12 months’ follow-up, the members of the intervention group had significantly better walking distance than the control group. The intervention group had a significantly higher HRQoL score in the physical component score of the SF-36, and the domains of physical function, bodily pain and vitality. For limb hemodynamics, there was a non-significant trend towards better results in the intervention group compared to the control group. Conclusion: SET after PTA yielded statistically significantly better results for walking distance and HRQoL in the intervention group than the control group during the 12 months of follow-up. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Hospital Admissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Case-Crossover Study in Taipei
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6015-6026; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116015
Received: 4 September 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 5 November 2013 / Published: 11 November 2013
Cited by 20 | PDF Full-text (191 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We undertook this study to investigate whether there is an association between atmospheric fine particles (PM2.5) levels and inpatient admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Taipei, Taiwan. Data on inpatient admissions for COPD and ambient on air pollution [...] Read more.
We undertook this study to investigate whether there is an association between atmospheric fine particles (PM2.5) levels and inpatient admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Taipei, Taiwan. Data on inpatient admissions for COPD and ambient on air pollution levels in Taipei were obtained for years 2006 to 2010. We estimated the relative risk of inpatient admissions for COPD using a case-crossover design with the following control variables: weather measures, day of the week, seasonality, and long-term time trends. For the single-pollutant model (not controlling for other atmospheric pollutants), COPD admissions were significantly and positively associated with higher PM2.5 levels during both warm days (>23 °C) and cool days (<23 °C), with an interquartile range increase of 12% (95% CI = 8–16%) and 3% (95% CI = 0–7%) in COPD admissions, respectively. In the two-pollutant models, PM2.5 remained significant even controlling for SO2 or O3 on both warm and cool days. Taken as a whole, our study demonstrates that higher levels of PM2.5 may increase the risk of inpatient admissions for COPD. Full article
Open AccessCommunication Lithium in Tap Water and Suicide Mortality in Japan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6044-6048; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116044
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (161 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Lithium has been used as a mood-stabilizing drug in people with mood disorders. Previous studies have shown that natural levels of lithium in drinking water may protect against suicide. This study evaluated the association between lithium levels in tap water and the [...] Read more.
Lithium has been used as a mood-stabilizing drug in people with mood disorders. Previous studies have shown that natural levels of lithium in drinking water may protect against suicide. This study evaluated the association between lithium levels in tap water and the suicide standardized mortality ratio (SMR) in 40 municipalities of Aomori prefecture, which has the highest levels of suicide mortality rate in Japan. Lithium levels in the tap water supplies of each municipality were measured using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. After adjusting for confounders, a statistical trend toward significance was found for the relationship between lithium levels and the average SMR among females. These findings indicate that natural levels of lithium in drinking water might have a protective effect on the risk of suicide among females. Future research is warranted to confirm this association. Full article
Open AccessArticle How Do Grass Species, Season and Ensiling Influence Mycotoxin Content in Forage?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6084-6095; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116084
Received: 25 September 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 1 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungal species that have harmful effects on mammals. The aim of this study was to assess the content of mycotoxins in fresh-cut material of selected forage grass species both during and at the end of the [...] Read more.
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungal species that have harmful effects on mammals. The aim of this study was to assess the content of mycotoxins in fresh-cut material of selected forage grass species both during and at the end of the growing season. We further assessed mycotoxin content in subsequently produced first-cutting silages with respect to the species used in this study: Lolium perenne (cv. Kentaur), Festulolium pabulare (cv. Felina), Festulolium braunii (cv. Perseus), and mixtures of these species with Festuca rubra (cv. Gondolin) or Poa pratensis (Slezanka). The mycotoxins deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and T-2 toxin were mainly detected in the fresh-cut grass material, while fumonisin and aflatoxin contents were below the detection limits. July and October were the most risky periods for mycotoxins to occur. During the cold temperatures in November and December, the occurrence of mycotoxins in fresh-cut material declined. Although June was a period with low incidence of mycotoxins in green silage, contents of deoxynivalenol and zearalenone in silages from the first cutting exceeded by several times those determined in their biomass collected directly from the field. Moreover, we observed that use of preservatives or inoculants did not prevent mycotoxin production. Full article
Open AccessArticle IAServ: An Intelligent Home Care Web Services Platform in a Cloud for Aging-in-Place
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6106-6130; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116106
Received: 3 September 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 5 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As the elderly population has been rapidly expanding and the core tax-paying population has been shrinking, the need for adequate elderly health and housing services continues to grow while the resources to provide such services are becoming increasingly scarce. Thus, increasing the [...] Read more.
As the elderly population has been rapidly expanding and the core tax-paying population has been shrinking, the need for adequate elderly health and housing services continues to grow while the resources to provide such services are becoming increasingly scarce. Thus, increasing the efficiency of the delivery of healthcare services through the use of modern technology is a pressing issue. The seamless integration of such enabling technologies as ontology, intelligent agents, web services, and cloud computing is transforming healthcare from hospital-based treatments to home-based self-care and preventive care. A ubiquitous healthcare platform based on this technological integration, which synergizes service providers with patients’ needs to be developed to provide personalized healthcare services at the right time, in the right place, and the right manner. This paper presents the development and overall architecture of IAServ (the Intelligent Aging-in-place Home care Web Services Platform) to provide personalized healthcare service ubiquitously in a cloud computing setting to support the most desirable and cost-efficient method of care for the aged-aging in place. The IAServ is expected to offer intelligent, pervasive, accurate and contextually-aware personal care services. Architecturally the implemented IAServ leverages web services and cloud computing to provide economic, scalable, and robust healthcare services over the Internet. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Toxicology Testing in Fatally Injured Workers: A Review of Five Years of Iowa FACE Cases
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6154-6168; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116154
Received: 2 September 2013 / Revised: 1 November 2013 / Accepted: 4 November 2013 / Published: 14 November 2013
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Abstract
Toxicology testing of fatally injured workers is not routinely conducted. We completed a case-series study of 2005–2009 occupational fatalities captured by Iowa’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The goals of our research were to: (1) measure the proportion of FACE [...] Read more.
Toxicology testing of fatally injured workers is not routinely conducted. We completed a case-series study of 2005–2009 occupational fatalities captured by Iowa’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The goals of our research were to: (1) measure the proportion of FACE cases that undergo toxicology testing, and describe the factors associated with being tested, and (2) measure the rate of positive toxicology tests, the substances identified and the demographics and occupations of victims who tested positive. Case documents and toxicology laboratory reports were reviewed. There were 427 occupational deaths from 2005 to 2009. Only 69% underwent toxicology testing. Younger workers had greater odds of being tested. Among occupational groups, workers in farming, fishing and forestry had half the odds of being tested compared to other occupational groups. Of the 280 cases with toxicology tests completed, 22% (n = 61) were found to have positive toxicology testing. Commonly identified drug classes included cannabinoids and alcohols. Based on the small number of positive tests, older victims (65+ years) tested positive more frequently than younger workers. Management, business, science, arts, service and sales/office workers had proportionately more positive toxicology tests (almost 30%) compared with other workers (18–22%). These results identify an area in need of further research efforts and a potential target for injury prevention strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Health)
Open AccessArticle Attitudes of COPD Patients towards Tele-Rehabilitation: A Cross-Sector Case Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6184-6198; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116184
Received: 31 August 2013 / Revised: 11 November 2013 / Accepted: 12 November 2013 / Published: 15 November 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (257 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to describe patients’ attitudes towards tele-rehabilitation in the Danish TELEKAT (for Telehomecare, Chronic Patients and the Integrated Healthcare System) project, in order to better understand patients’ behavior when performing tele-rehabilitation activities in home surroundings. A total [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to describe patients’ attitudes towards tele-rehabilitation in the Danish TELEKAT (for Telehomecare, Chronic Patients and the Integrated Healthcare System) project, in order to better understand patients’ behavior when performing tele-rehabilitation activities in home surroundings. A total of 111 COPD patients were included in the study, and they were randomized into an intervention group (n = 60) and a control group (n = 51). However, a non-randomized design was used to analyze the qualitative perspectives of the patients’ attitudes towards tele-rehabilitation. From the intervention group, 22 COPD patients were selected for qualitative interviews and participant observation in their homes. The theoretical framework for this study is based on learning theory and the “communities of practice” approach inspired by Etienne Wenger. COPD patients exhibit four types of attitudes about their tele-rehabilitation: indifference, learning as part of situations in everyday life, feeling of security and motivation for performing physical training. The patients express the view that they circulate between these attitudes depending on their physical and emotional state as they perform their training. The COPD patients and healthcare professionals have created a community of tele-rehabilitation across sectors, exchanging experiences, stories and strategies for how to manage rehabilitation in home surroundings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle A mHealth Application for Chronic Wound Care: Findings of a User Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6199-6214; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116199
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 12 November 2013 / Accepted: 13 November 2013 / Published: 19 November 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (877 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper reports on the findings of a user trial of a mHealth application for pressure ulcer (bedsore) documentation. Pressure ulcers are a leading iatrogenic cause of death in developed countries and significantly impact quality of life for those affected. Pressure ulcers [...] Read more.
This paper reports on the findings of a user trial of a mHealth application for pressure ulcer (bedsore) documentation. Pressure ulcers are a leading iatrogenic cause of death in developed countries and significantly impact quality of life for those affected. Pressure ulcers will be an increasing public health concern as the population ages. Electronic information systems are being explored to improve consistency and accuracy of documentation, improve patient and caregiver experience and ultimately improve patient outcomes. A software application was developed for Android Smartphones and tablets and was trialed in a personal care home in Western Canada. The software application provides an electronic medical record for chronic wounds, replacing nurses’ paper-based charting and is positioned for integration with facility’s larger eHealth framework. The mHealth application offers three intended benefits over paper-based charting of chronic wounds, including: (1) the capacity for remote consultation (telehealth between facilities, practitioners, and/or remote communities), (2) data organization and analysis, including built-in alerts, automatically-generated text-based and graph-based wound histories including wound images, and (3) tutorial support for non-specialized caregivers. The user trial yielded insights regarding the software application’s design and functionality in the clinical setting, and highlighted the key role of wound photographs in enhancing patient and caregiver experiences, enhancing communication between multiple healthcare professionals, and leveraging the software’s telehealth capacities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Is Household Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Eye Disease?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5378-5398; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115378
Received: 19 September 2013 / Revised: 18 October 2013 / Accepted: 19 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (213 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In developing countries, household air pollution (HAP) resulting from the inefficient burning of coal and biomass (wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop residues) for cooking and heating has been linked to a number of negative health outcomes, mostly notably respiratory diseases and [...] Read more.
In developing countries, household air pollution (HAP) resulting from the inefficient burning of coal and biomass (wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop residues) for cooking and heating has been linked to a number of negative health outcomes, mostly notably respiratory diseases and cancers. While ocular irritation has been associated with HAP, there are sparse data on adverse ocular outcomes that may result from acute and chronic exposures. We consider that there is suggestive evidence, and biological plausibility, to hypothesize that HAP is associated with some of the major blinding, and painful, eye conditions seen worldwide. Further research on this environmental risk factor for eye diseases is warranted. Full article
Open AccessReview Exploring the Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Reservoir Hosts, Vectors, and Human Hosts of West Nile Virus: A Review of the Recent Literature
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5399-5432; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115399
Received: 15 August 2013 / Revised: 23 September 2013 / Accepted: 24 September 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (481 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the last two decades West Nile Virus (WNV) has been responsible for significant disease outbreaks in humans and animals in many parts of the World. Its extremely rapid global diffusion argues for a better understanding of its geographic extent. The purpose [...] Read more.
Over the last two decades West Nile Virus (WNV) has been responsible for significant disease outbreaks in humans and animals in many parts of the World. Its extremely rapid global diffusion argues for a better understanding of its geographic extent. The purpose of this inquiry was to explore spatio-temporal patterns of WNV using geospatial technologies to study populations of the reservoir hosts, vectors, and human hosts, in addition to the spatio-temporal interactions among these populations. Review of the recent literature on spatial WNV disease risk modeling led to the conclusion that numerous environmental factors might be critical for its dissemination. New Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based studies are monitoring occurrence at the macro-level, and helping pinpoint areas of occurrence at the micro-level, where geographically-targeted, species-specific control measures are sometimes taken and more sophisticated methods of surveillance have been used. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Figures

Open AccessReview A Systematic Review of Peer-Support Programs for Smoking Cessation in Disadvantaged Groups
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5507-5522; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115507
Received: 4 August 2013 / Revised: 9 October 2013 / Accepted: 12 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The burden of smoking is borne most by those who are socially disadvantaged and the social gradient in smoking contributes substantially to the health gap between the rich and poor. A number of factors contribute to higher tobacco use among socially disadvantaged [...] Read more.
The burden of smoking is borne most by those who are socially disadvantaged and the social gradient in smoking contributes substantially to the health gap between the rich and poor. A number of factors contribute to higher tobacco use among socially disadvantaged populations including social (e.g., low social support for quitting), psychological (e.g., low self-efficacy) and physical factors (e.g., greater nicotine dependence). Current evidence for the effectiveness of peer or partner support interventions in enhancing the success of quit attempts in the general population is equivocal, largely due to study design and lack of a theoretical framework in this research. We conducted a systematic review of peer support interventions for smoking cessation in disadvantaged groups. The eight studies which met the inclusion criteria showed that interventions that improve social support for smoking cessation may be of greater importance to disadvantaged groups who experience fewer opportunities to access such support informally. Peer-support programs are emerging as highly effective and empowering ways for people to manage health issues in a socially supportive context. We discuss the potential for peer-support programs to address the high prevalence of smoking in vulnerable populations and also to build capacity in their communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tobacco Control in Vulnerable Population Groups)
Open AccessReview How Technology in Care at Home Affects Patient Self-Care and Self-Management: A Scoping Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5541-5564; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115541
Received: 9 September 2013 / Revised: 17 October 2013 / Accepted: 17 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (648 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of technology in care at home has potential benefits such as improved quality of care. This includes greater focus on the patients’ role in managing their health and increased patient involvement in the care process. The objective of this scoping [...] Read more.
The use of technology in care at home has potential benefits such as improved quality of care. This includes greater focus on the patients’ role in managing their health and increased patient involvement in the care process. The objective of this scoping review is to analyse the existing evidence for effects of technology in home-based care on patients’ self-care and self-management. Using suitable search terms we searched the databases of Pubmed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Cinahl, Picarta and NIVEL dating from 2002 to 2012. Thirty-three studies (six review studies and twenty-seven individual studies) were selected. Effects were extracted from each study and were classified. In almost all the studies, the concepts self-care and self-management are not clearly defined or operationalized. Therefore, based on a meta-analysis, we made a new classification of outcome measures, with hierarchical levels: (1) competence (2) illness-management (3) independence (social participation, autonomy). In general, patient outcomes appear to be positive or promising, but most studies were pilot studies. We did not find strong evidence that technology in care at home has (a positive) effect on patient self-care and self-management according to the above classification. Future research is needed to clarify how technology can be used to maximize its benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessReview Domestic Asbestos Exposure: A Review of Epidemiologic and Exposure Data
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5629-5670; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115629
Received: 17 August 2013 / Revised: 18 October 2013 / Accepted: 22 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (551 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Inhalation of asbestos resulting from living with and handling the clothing of workers directly exposed to asbestos has been established as a possible contributor to disease. This review evaluates epidemiologic studies of asbestos-related disease or conditions (mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural and [...] Read more.
Inhalation of asbestos resulting from living with and handling the clothing of workers directly exposed to asbestos has been established as a possible contributor to disease. This review evaluates epidemiologic studies of asbestos-related disease or conditions (mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural and interstitial abnormalities) among domestically exposed individuals and exposure studies that provide either direct exposure measurements or surrogate measures of asbestos exposure. A meta-analysis of studies providing relative risk estimates (n = 12) of mesothelioma was performed, resulting in a summary relative risk estimate (SRRE) of 5.02 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.48–10.13). This SRRE pertains to persons domestically exposed via workers involved in occupations with a traditionally high risk of disease from exposure to asbestos (i.e., asbestos product manufacturing workers, insulators, shipyard workers, and asbestos miners). The epidemiologic studies also show an elevated risk of interstitial, but more likely pleural, abnormalities (n = 6), though only half accounted for confounding exposures. The studies are limited with regard to lung cancer (n = 2). Several exposure-related studies describe results from airborne samples collected within the home (n = 3), during laundering of contaminated clothing (n = 1) or in controlled exposure simulations (n = 5) of domestic exposures, the latter of which were generally associated with low-level chrysotile-exposed workers. Lung burden studies (n = 6) were also evaluated as a surrogate of exposure. In general, available results for domestic exposures are lower than the workers’ exposures. Recent simulations of low-level chrysotile-exposed workers indicate asbestos levels commensurate with background concentrations in those exposed domestically. Full article
Open AccessReview Simulation Models for Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5750-5780; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115750
Received: 5 September 2013 / Revised: 14 October 2013 / Accepted: 16 October 2013 / Published: 4 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (485 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: The emergence and evolution of socioeconomic inequalities in health involves multiple factors interacting with each other at different levels. Simulation models are suitable for studying such complex and dynamic systems and have the ability to test the impact of policy [...] Read more.
Background: The emergence and evolution of socioeconomic inequalities in health involves multiple factors interacting with each other at different levels. Simulation models are suitable for studying such complex and dynamic systems and have the ability to test the impact of policy interventions in silico. Objective: To explore how simulation models were used in the field of socioeconomic inequalities in health. Methods: An electronic search of studies assessing socioeconomic inequalities in health using a simulation model was conducted. Characteristics of the simulation models were extracted and distinct simulation approaches were identified. As an illustration, a simple agent-based model of the emergence of socioeconomic differences in alcohol abuse was developed. Results: We found 61 studies published between 1989 and 2013. Ten different simulation approaches were identified. The agent-based model illustration showed that multilevel, reciprocal and indirect effects of social determinants on health can be modeled flexibly. Discussion and Conclusions: Based on the review, we discuss the utility of using simulation models for studying health inequalities, and refer to good modeling practices for developing such models. The review and the simulation model example suggest that the use of simulation models may enhance the understanding and debate about existing and new socioeconomic inequalities of health frameworks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inequalities in Health)
Open AccessReview Overview of Evidence in Prevention and Aetiology of Food Allergy: A Review of Systematic Reviews
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5781-5806; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115781
Received: 20 September 2013 / Revised: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 25 October 2013 / Published: 4 November 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The worldwide prevalence of food allergy appears to be increasing. Early life environmental factors are implicated in the aetiology of this global epidemic. The largest burden of disease is in early childhood, where research efforts aimed at prevention have been focused. Evidence [...] Read more.
The worldwide prevalence of food allergy appears to be increasing. Early life environmental factors are implicated in the aetiology of this global epidemic. The largest burden of disease is in early childhood, where research efforts aimed at prevention have been focused. Evidence synthesis from good quality systematic reviews is needed. We performed an overview of systematic reviews concerning the prevention and aetiology of food allergy, retrieving 14 systematic reviews, which covered three broad topics: formula (hydrolysed or soy) for the prevention of food allergy or food sensitization; maternal and infant diet and dietary supplements for the prevention of food allergy or food sensitization and hygiene hypothesis-related interventions. Using the AMSTAR criteria for assessment of methodological quality, we found five reviews to be of high quality, seven of medium quality and two of low quality. Overall we found no compelling evidence that any of the interventions that had been systematically reviewed were related to the risk of food allergy. Updating of existing reviews, and production of new systematic reviews, are needed in areas where evidence is emerging for interventions and environmental associations. Furthermore, additional primary studies, with greater numbers of participants and objective food allergy definitions are urgently required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Allergy, Genes and Environment)
Open AccessReview The Role of Environmental Reservoirs in Human Campylobacteriosis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5886-5907; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115886
Received: 12 September 2013 / Revised: 16 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (262 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Campylobacteriosis is infection caused by the bacteria Campylobacter spp. and is considered a major public health concern. Campylobacter spp. have been identified as one of the most common causative agents of bacterial gastroenteritis. They are typically considered a foodborne pathogen and have [...] Read more.
Campylobacteriosis is infection caused by the bacteria Campylobacter spp. and is considered a major public health concern. Campylobacter spp. have been identified as one of the most common causative agents of bacterial gastroenteritis. They are typically considered a foodborne pathogen and have been shown to colonise the intestinal mucosa of all food-producing animals. Much emphasis has been placed on controlling the foodborne pathway of exposure, particularly within the poultry industry, however, other environmental sources have been identified as important contributors to human infection. This paper aims to review the current literature on the sources of human exposure to Campylobacter spp. and will cover contaminated poultry, red meat, unpasteurised milk, unwashed fruit and vegetables, compost, wild bird faeces, sewage, surface water, ground water and drinking water. A comparison of current Campylobacter spp. identification methods from environmental samples is also presented. The review of literature suggests that there are multiple and diverse sources for Campylobacter infection. Many environmental sources result in direct human exposure but also in contamination of the food processing industry. This review provides useful information for risk assessment. Full article
Open AccessReview Economic Rationality in Choosing between Short-Term Bad-Health Choices and Longer-Term Good-Health Choices
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 5971-5988; doi:10.3390/ijerph10115971
Received: 28 September 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 1 November 2013 / Published: 8 November 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Non-contagious, chronic disease has been identified as a global health risk. Poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol, drug and solvent abuse, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet have been identified as important factors affecting the increasing incidence of chronic disease. The following [...] Read more.
Non-contagious, chronic disease has been identified as a global health risk. Poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol, drug and solvent abuse, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet have been identified as important factors affecting the increasing incidence of chronic disease. The following focuses on the circumstance affecting the lifestyle or behavioral choices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote-/very remote Australia. Poor behavioral choices are the result of endogenous characteristics that are influenced by a range of stressful exogenous variables making up the psychosocial determinants including social disenfranchisement, cultural loss, insurmountable tasks, the loss of volitional control and resource constraints. It is shown that poor behavioral choices can be economically rational; especially under highly stressful conditions. Stressful circumstances erode individual capacity to commit to long-term positive health alternatives such as self-investment in education. Policies directed at removing the impediments and providing incentives to behaviors involving better health choices can lead to reductions in smoking and alcohol consumption and improved health outcomes. Multijurisdictional culturally acceptable policies directed at distal variables relating to the psychosocial determinants of health and personal mastery and control can be cost effective. While the content of this paper is focused on the conditions of colonized peoples, it has broader relevance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Economics of Prevention of Alcohol and Tobacco Related Harms)
Open AccessReview Assessment of Infantile Mineral Imbalances in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6027-6043; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116027
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 6 November 2013 / Published: 11 November 2013
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (1250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The interactions between genes and the environment are now regarded as the most probable explanation for autism. In this review, we summarize the results of a metallomics study in which scalp hair concentrations of 26 trace elements were examined for 1,967 autistic [...] Read more.
The interactions between genes and the environment are now regarded as the most probable explanation for autism. In this review, we summarize the results of a metallomics study in which scalp hair concentrations of 26 trace elements were examined for 1,967 autistic children (1,553 males and 414 females aged 0–15 years-old), and discuss recent advances in our understanding of epigenetic roles of infantile mineral imbalances in the pathogenesis of autism. In the 1,967 subjects, 584 (29.7%) and 347 (17.6%) were found deficient in zinc and magnesium, respectively, and the incidence rate of zinc deficiency was estimated at 43.5% in male and 52.5% in female infantile subjects aged 0–3 years-old. In contrast, 339 (17.2%), 168 (8.5%) and 94 (4.8%) individuals were found to suffer from high burdens of aluminum, cadmium and lead, respectively, and 2.8% or less from mercury and arsenic. High toxic metal burdens were more frequently observed in the infants aged 0–3 years-old, whose incidence rates were 20.6%, 12.1%, 7.5%, 3.2% and 2.3% for aluminum, cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury, respectively. These findings suggest that infantile zinc- and magnesium-deficiency and/or toxic metal burdens may be critical and induce epigenetic alterations in the genes and genetic regulation mechanisms of neurodevelopment in the autistic children, and demonstrate that a time factor “infantile window” is also critical for neurodevelopment and probably for therapy. Thus, early metallomics analysis may lead to early screening/estimation and treatment/prevention for the autistic neurodevelopment disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Environment Risk of Autism)
Open AccessReview Flaviviruses in Europe: Complex Circulation Patterns and Their Consequences for the Diagnosis and Control of West Nile Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6049-6083; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116049
Received: 19 August 2013 / Revised: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 29 October 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 28 | PDF Full-text (1478 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Europe, many flaviviruses are endemic (West Nile, Usutu, tick-borne encephalitis viruses) or occasionally imported (dengue, yellow fever viruses). Due to the temporal and geographical co-circulation of flaviviruses in Europe, flavivirus differentiation by diagnostic tests is crucial in the adaptation of surveillance [...] Read more.
In Europe, many flaviviruses are endemic (West Nile, Usutu, tick-borne encephalitis viruses) or occasionally imported (dengue, yellow fever viruses). Due to the temporal and geographical co-circulation of flaviviruses in Europe, flavivirus differentiation by diagnostic tests is crucial in the adaptation of surveillance and control efforts. Serological diagnosis of flavivirus infections is complicated by the antigenic similarities among the Flavivirus genus. Indeed, most flavivirus antibodies are directed against the highly immunogenic envelope protein, which contains both flavivirus cross-reactive and virus-specific epitopes. Serological assay results should thus be interpreted with care and confirmed by comparative neutralization tests using a panel of viruses known to circulate in Europe. However, antibody cross-reactivity could be advantageous in efforts to control emerging flaviviruses because it ensures partial cross-protection. In contrast, it might also facilitate subsequent diseases, through a phenomenon called antibody-dependent enhancement mainly described for dengue virus infections. Here, we review the serological methods commonly used in WNV diagnosis and surveillance in Europe. By examining past and current epidemiological situations in different European countries, we present the challenges involved in interpreting flavivirus serological tests and setting up appropriate surveillance programs; we also address the consequences of flavivirus circulation and vaccination for host immunity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessReview Impediments to Comprehensive Research on Climate Change and Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6096-6105; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116096
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 31 October 2013 / Accepted: 6 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During every climatic era Life on Earth is constrained by a limited range of climatic conditions, outside which thriving and then surviving becomes difficult. This applies at both planetary and organism (species) levels. Further, many causal influences of climate change on human [...] Read more.
During every climatic era Life on Earth is constrained by a limited range of climatic conditions, outside which thriving and then surviving becomes difficult. This applies at both planetary and organism (species) levels. Further, many causal influences of climate change on human health entail changes—often disruptive, sometimes irreversible—in complex system functioning. Understanding the diverse health risks from climate change, and their influence pathways, presents a challenge to environmental health researchers whose prior work has been in a more definable, specific and quantitative milieu. Extension of the research agenda and conceptual framework to assess present and future health risks from climate change may be constrained by three factors: (i) lack of historically-informed understanding of population-health sensitivity to climatic changes; (ii) an instinctual ‘epidemiologising’ tendency to choose research topics amenable to conventional epidemiological analysis and risk estimation; and (iii) under-confidence in relation to interdisciplinary collaborative scenario-based modeling of future health risks. These constraints must be recognized and remedied. And environmental researchers must argue for heightened public attention to today’s macro-environmental threats to present and future population health—emphasising the ecological dimension of these determinants of long-term health that apply to whole populations and communities, not just to individuals and social groupings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
Open AccessReview Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data Computing: Contributions, Challenges, and New Directions in Telecardiology
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6131-6153; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116131
Received: 20 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 8 November 2013 / Published: 13 November 2013
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1174 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many studies have indicated that computing technology can enable off-site cardiologists to read patients’ electrocardiograph (ECG), echocardiography (ECHO), and relevant images via smart phones during pre-hospital, in-hospital, and post-hospital teleconsultation, which not only identifies emergency cases in need of immediate treatment, but [...] Read more.
Many studies have indicated that computing technology can enable off-site cardiologists to read patients’ electrocardiograph (ECG), echocardiography (ECHO), and relevant images via smart phones during pre-hospital, in-hospital, and post-hospital teleconsultation, which not only identifies emergency cases in need of immediate treatment, but also prevents the unnecessary re-hospitalizations. Meanwhile, several studies have combined cloud computing and mobile computing to facilitate better storage, delivery, retrieval, and management of medical files for telecardiology. In the future, the aggregated ECG and images from hospitals worldwide will become big data, which should be used to develop an e-consultation program helping on-site practitioners deliver appropriate treatment. With information technology, real-time tele-consultation and tele-diagnosis of ECG and images can be practiced via an e-platform for clinical, research, and educational purposes. While being devoted to promote the application of information technology onto telecardiology, we need to resolve several issues: (1) data confidentiality in the cloud, (2) data interoperability among hospitals, and (3) network latency and accessibility. If these challenges are overcome, tele-consultation will be ubiquitous, easy to perform, inexpensive, and beneficial. Most importantly, these services will increase global collaboration and advance clinical practice, education, and scientific research in cardiology. Full article
Open AccessReview Methods for Recovering Microorganisms from Solid Surfaces Used in the Food Industry: A Review of the Literature
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(11), 6169-6183; doi:10.3390/ijerph10116169
Received: 22 September 2013 / Revised: 6 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 14 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (193 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Various types of surfaces are used today in the food industry, such as plastic, stainless steel, glass, and wood. These surfaces are subject to contamination by microorganisms responsible for the cross-contamination of food by contact with working surfaces. The HACCP-based processes are [...] Read more.
Various types of surfaces are used today in the food industry, such as plastic, stainless steel, glass, and wood. These surfaces are subject to contamination by microorganisms responsible for the cross-contamination of food by contact with working surfaces. The HACCP-based processes are now widely used for the control of microbial hazards to prevent food safety issues. This preventive approach has resulted in the use of microbiological analyses of surfaces as one of the tools to control the hygiene of products. A method of recovering microorganisms from different solid surfaces is necessary as a means of health prevention. No regulation exists for surface microbial contamination, but food companies tend to establish technical specifications to add value to their products and limit contamination risks. The aim of this review is to present the most frequently used methods: swabbing, friction or scrubbing, printing, rinsing or immersion, sonication and scraping or grinding and describe their advantages and drawbacks. The choice of the recovery method has to be suitable for the type and size of the surface tested for microbiological analysis. Today, quick and cheap methods have to be standardized and especially easy to perform in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety and Public Health)

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