Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tesla Terror: Can That New Car Smell Kill You? Or Someone Else?

By Lewis Perdue

Driving with the windows down when you are tired may keep you awake in more ways than just the sounds and tactile effects of air currents. It could also keep you from being poisoned and, perhaps, prevent you from killing someone.

Take, for instance,  Navindra Kumar Jain, a 63-year-old retired Silicon Valley tech executive who told police that the intense new car smell of his Tesla S made him drowsy enough to fall asleep at the wheel.

When Jain lost control of the Tesla on Nov. 2, 2013, he killed 40-year-old librarian
Joshua Alper who had been riding a bicycle in a wide shoulder lane on Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz.

Most public reactions to Jain's claim have been met with derision and disbelief.

But scientific evidence, including a major one by Australia's CSIRO14, indicate that many of the chemicals given off by automotive dashboards, upholstery, wiring, adhesives and interior trim can offer the same consciousness-impairing and mind-altering effects as sniffing glue.

The CSIRO study and others have found that -- in addition to toluene, xylene, benzene and other Volatile Organic Counpounds (VOCs)(1-4) , there are phthalates (5-7), flame-retardants(11,12) and other Endocrine Disrupting Compounds that are outgassed from car interior materials and form the scummy film on windshields and windows.(5-7).

And, in a contra-Darwinian sense, people love the fragrance of these VOCs so much that they support an entire industry of sprays and air fresheners containing many of the same petrochemicals and EDCs. (See: shop on Google for new car smell)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Alzheimer's Disease Risk

By Becca Yeamans

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a very common neurological disease, has continued to see a growing trend over the past few decades, with projections increasing to up to 3-fold over the next four decades1.  Exactly what causes AD is still unknown, though there are many avenues of research where some progress is being made.  Due to the complexity of the disease, it’s been extremely difficult to find out what it is caused by, let alone a cure.  Studies have found links to AD in genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, which you can imagine would complicate the picture greatly with so much variability2.  So far, genetic factors have only been tied to less than half of diagnosed AD cases, leaving a majority of AD cases to be caused by environmental or lifestyle factors.

One earlier study strongly hinted at a connection between AD and pesticide exposure, specifically DDE, a metabolite of the organochlorine pesticide, DDT, showing that serum DDE levels in patients with AD were significantly higher than serum DDE levels of control (no AD) patients, in addition to a significant association between DDE levels and AD diagnosis3

Wishing to confirm (or refute) these findings with a larger sample size, collaborating researchers from Rutgers University, Emory University, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center recently published a study examining the difference between brain and serum DDE levels, and also whether or not DDE or DDT had any effect on amyloid beta expression, the protein that is most commonly associated with AD4.