Toxics2016, 4(3), 13; doi:10.3390/toxics4030013 (registering DOI) - published 28 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: African consumers and citizens are growingly aware of the wide range of toxic poisoning scenarios from different products and hazards. Recurrent episodes on poisoning that have been reported in Africa include toxic hazards in consumers’ products ranging from food to herbal medicine, drugs, and cosmetics. Chemical poisoning remains an issue that is overlooked by public health stakeholders in Africa. Available information on toxicovigilance systems and practices in African countries is reviewed in terms of increasing development, organization and articulation levels. Less than nine out of 54 African countries have a legally recognized toxicovigilance system. Of these, the majority have created toxicovigilance systems recently, and are facing many challenges in developing them, at regional and country levels. Basic structures for a good toxicovigilance system include a phone line service (available 24/7), and hospital facilities. Pesticides emerge as the hazard recognized by all of the toxicovigilance systems, and may represent a prototypic toxicant towards a toxicovigilance system that is inclusive of a wider spectrum of toxicological hazards for the protection of community health. Toxicovigilance today is more reactive than preventive in Africa, but some milestones are present that constitute some promising seminal efforts.
Abstract: With 2.8 billion biomass users globally, household air pollution remains a public health threat in many low- and middle-income countries. However, little evidence on pollution levels and health effects exists in low-income settings, especially slums. This study assesses the levels and sources of household air pollution in the urban slums of Nairobi. This cross-sectional study was embedded in a prospective cohort of pregnant women living in two slum areas—Korogocho and Viwandani—in Nairobi. Data on fuel and stove types and ventilation use come from 1058 households, while air quality data based on the particulate matters (PM2.5) level were collected in a sub-sample of 72 households using the DustTrak™ II Model 8532 monitor. We measured PM2.5 levels mainly during daytime and using sources of indoor air pollutions. The majority of the households used kerosene (69.7%) as a cooking fuel. In households where air quality was monitored, the mean PM2.5 levels were high and varied widely, especially during the evenings (124.6 µg/m3 SD: 372.7 in Korogocho and 82.2 µg/m3 SD: 249.9 in Viwandani), and in households using charcoal (126.5 µg/m3 SD: 434.7 in Korogocho and 75.7 µg/m3 SD: 323.0 in Viwandani). Overall, the mean PM2.5 levels measured within homes at both sites (Korogocho = 108.9 µg/m3 SD: 371.2; Viwandani = 59.3 µg/m3 SD: 234.1) were high. Residents of the two slums are exposed to high levels of PM2.5 in their homes. We recommend interventions, especially those focusing on clean cookstoves and lighting fuels to mitigate indoor levels of fine particles.
Abstract: UNMIX, a sensor modeling routine from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was used to model volatile organic compound (VOC) receptors in four urban sites in Toronto, Ontario. VOC ambient concentration data acquired in 2000–2009 for 175 VOC species in four air quality monitoring stations were analyzed. UNMIX, by performing multiple modeling attempts upon varying VOC menus—while rejecting the results that were not reliable—allowed for discriminating sources by their most consistent chemical characteristics. The method assessed occurrences of VOCs in sources typical of the urban environment (traffic, evaporative emissions of fuels, banks of fugitive inert gases), industrial point sources (plastic-, polymer-, and metalworking manufactures), and in secondary sources (releases from water, sediments, and contaminated urban soil). The remote sensing and robust modeling used here produces chemical profiles of putative VOC sources that, if combined with known environmental fates of VOCs, can be used to assign physical sources’ shares of VOCs emissions into the atmosphere. This in turn provides a means of assessing the impact of environmental policies on one hand, and industrial activities on the other hand, on VOC air pollution.
Abstract: Penconazole is a widely used fungicide in the UK; however, to date, there have been no peer-reviewed publications reporting human metabolism, excretion or biological monitoring data. The objectives of this study were to i) develop a robust analytical method, ii) determine biomarker levels in volunteers exposed to penconazole, and, finally, to iii) measure the metabolites in samples collected as part of a large investigation of rural residents’ exposure. An LC-MS/MS method was developed for penconazole and two oxidative metabolites. Three volunteers received a single oral dose of 0.03 mg/kg body weight and timed urine samples were collected and analysed. The volunteer study demonstrated that both penconazole-OH and penconazole-COOH are excreted in humans following an oral dose and are viable biomarkers. Excretion is rapid with a half-life of less than four hours. Mean recovery of the administered dose was 47% (range 33%–54%) in urine treated with glucuronidase to hydrolyse any conjugates. The results from the residents’ study showed that levels of penconazole-COOH in this population were low with >80% below the limit of detection. Future sampling strategies that include both end of exposure and next day urine samples, as well as contextual data about the route and time of exposure, are recommended.
Abstract: Psychotropic pharmaceuticals present in the environment may impact organisms both directly and via interaction strengths with other organisms, including predators; therefore, this study examined the potential effects of pharmaceuticals on behavioral responses of fish to avian predators. Wild-caught juvenile perch (Perca fluviatilis) were assayed using a striking bird model after a seven-day exposure to psychotropic pharmaceuticals (the antidepressants fluoxetine or sertraline, or the β-blocker propranolol) under the hypotheses that exposure would increase vulnerability to avian predation via increasing the probability of predator encounter as well as degrading evasive behaviors upon encounter. None of the substances significantly affected swimming activity of the fish, nor did they increase vulnerability by affecting encounter probability or evasive endpoints compared to control treatments. Counter to our expectations, fish exposed to 100 μg/L fluoxetine (but no other concentrations or pharmaceuticals) were less likely to enter the open area of the arena, i.e., less likely to engage in risky behavior that could lead to predator encounters. Additionally, all fish exposed to environmentally relevant, low concentrations of sertraline (0.12 μg/L) and propranolol (0.1 μg/L) sought refuge after the simulated attack. Our unexpected results warrant further research as they have interesting implications on how these psychotropic pharmaceuticals may affect predator-prey interactions spanning the terrestrial-aquatic interface.