Exposure to pesticides diminishes lung functions in children

A new study has linked the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of 279 children living in California’s Salinas Valley with decreased lung function. Each tenfold increase in concentrations of organophosphate metabolites was associated with a 159-milliliter decrease in lung function, or about 8 percent less air, on average, when blowing out a candle. The magnitude of this decrease is similar to a child’s secondhand smoke exposure from his or her mother…

“Researchers have described breathing problems in agricultural workers who are exposed to these pesticides, but these new findings are about children who live in an agricultural area where the organophosphates are being used,” said study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “This is the first evidence suggesting that children exposed to organophosphates have poorer lung function.”

The children were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas, a longitudinal study in which the researchers follow children from the time they are in the womb up to adolescence.

The researchers collected urine samples five times throughout the children’s lives, from age 6 months to 5 years, and measured the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites each time. When the children were 7 years old, they were given a spirometry test to measure the amount of air they could exhale.

The study accounted for other factors that could affect the results, such as whether the mothers smoked, air pollution, presence of mold or pets in the home and proximity to highways.

❝”The kids in our study with higher pesticide exposure had lower breathing capacity,” said study lead author Rachel Raanan, who conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral scholar in Eskenazi’s lab. “If the reduced lung function persists into adulthood, it could leave our participants at greater risk of developing respiratory problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)…”

❝”This study adds exposure to organophosphate pesticides to the growing list of environmental exposures — including air pollution, indoor cook stove smoke and environmental tobacco smoke — that could be harmful to the developing lungs of children,” said Raanan. “Given they are still used worldwide, we believe our findings deserve further attention.”

Organophospate pesticides were phased out of residential use in the US a bit over a decade ago. Agricultural use has diminished by half – though still measured by millions of pounds. The EPA has recommended termination for a few of the worst; but, like most current EPA recommendations, Republicans controlling Congress would rather children die before reducing agribusiness profits.

COPD is a global problem and causative agents like pesticides are global products bringing profits home to America and to peer corporations in industrial centers. I expect politicians in all nations where corrupt practices are considered part of the cost of doing business to continue to defend the manufacture and use of deadly agents.

We just set the standard for lies defending the practices.

New process produces hydrogen from methane – and no CO2

methane-cracking-1

Natural gas accounts for over 28 percent of US energy consumption. Its main component, methane, is a widely-used fossil fuel but also a major contributor to rising CO2 levels, and thus climate change. To address this issue, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a process that extracts the energy content of methane, in the form of hydrogen, without producing carbon dioxide.

In a process called “methane cracking,” the molecular components of methane – hydrogen and carbon – are separated at temperatures of over 750° C (1,382° F), without harmful emissions. The concept of methane cracking has been around for several decades, but was limited by low conversion rates and carbon clogging.

The researchers tweaked the process using a novel 1.2-meter-high (4 ft) reactor design based on liquid metal technology, and made of quartz and stainless steel. Fine methane bubbles are injected into columns of molten tin. As they rise to the surface, the carbon is separated out and deposited as powder at the top end of the reactor. Clogging is avoided due to the easily separated micro-granular carbon powder, while the reactor’s design makes it resistant to corrosion…

❝”We expect that another three years research and development could result in an industrial prototype for a modular reactor, which could be scaled by simple multiplication,” researcher Stefan Stueckrad told Gizmag…

The team’s research showed that methane cracking is comparable to water electrolysis, in regards to CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen, and more than 50 percent cleaner than steam methane reforming technologies. Preliminary calculations reveal that the technology could achieve costs of $2 to $3.50 per kilogram of hydrogen at current German natural gas prices.

The next phase of the research will concentrate on optimizing aspects of the reactor design and a gradual scaling up to handle increased flow rates.

Always useful to increase affordable access to hydrogen. There still are major auto manufacturers – Toyota and GM, for example – who consider a commitment to hydrogen-powered fuel cells as useful and productive as electric vehicles.

Toyota’s initial placement of a small number of their fuel cell Mirais in California has already outstripped dealers’ ability to provide hydrogen.

Cartoon of the day

I’m reminded to note this in the blog – after bumping into an acquaintance in a grocery store – who was surprised to learn I’m a gun owner.

What I’m pissed off about is the gun nuts, the NRA selling out any ideals they ever had about gun safety and training, the profiteering through hatred by the gun lobby.

I’ve owned guns for over a half-century. Used to hunt a bit. Not bad at trap shooting. Growing up in “the arsenal of America” almost every member of my father’s generation worked in the firearms trade some part of their life – including one of the best prototype gunsmiths in the industry. None were like the Tea Party/NRA nutballs who infest today’s politics.