Measurement of Chemicals in Blood and Urine – What Does it Really Mean?

August 17, 2010

Recently Statistics Canada released their Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada; in the US a similar report is regularly published by the CDC called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. The Canadian report has generated a lot of media attention, specifically regarding bisphenol A (BPA) being measured in 91% of the population. However, the reporting typically doesn’t include any context or information about what this really means – a chemical being detected in a urine sample doesn’t automatically mean it is causing any harm. This is partly because most journalists don’t have the appropriate background to actually understand what they are reporting on when it comes to environmental exposures (or science in general); I suspect sensationalism may also contribute.

The Canadian and US reports actually both do a decent job of providing some background information about the chemicals measured, unlike similar reports published by groups like Environmental Defence that skimp on the background/context (again likely related to a desire for sensationalism). However, even the government reports often don’t have enough information to establish whether what is being measured in the population is really of concern or not.

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Good news for cyclists

August 12, 2010

Several researchers in the Netherlands recently looked at the effects of riding a bike vs. driving a car on health – more specifically mortality and life expectancy. After considering the health benefits of increased physical activity vs. the effects of increased air pollution exposure and increase in traffic accidents, they concluded that on average people live longer if they switch to riding a bike. This doesn’t even consider the effects of reduced pollution and traffic accidents if large numbers of people switch.

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Regulation of natural products

August 5, 2010

Related to my previous post – there was a good article today on natural product regulation in Canada vs. the US at Science-Based Medicine.