Most days we give little thought to the thousands upon thousands of chemicals that surround us in our daily lives, but with each new study we are reminded just how toxic our modern world is. As scientists work to determine just how dangerous those chemicals are to our health, here are three new studies that spotlight their findings.
Where You Live May Affect Your Children’s Lung Health
A new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care shows an important connection between respiratory health in U.S. children and the air quality where they live. Despite stricter air quality regulations put in place in the 1990s, it seems children living close to major roadways are still at risk of “clinically reduced lung function.” In fact, lung function was about 6 percent lower in kids living within 100 meters of a major roadway, compared with those who lived 400 meters away or more.
Are these Common Chemicals More Dangerous than We Thought?
Scientists at Oregon State University were surprised to discover that coal-tar-based sealing products often used on parking lots and driveways may do more damage to human health than previously believed. Such products contain chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are known to be toxic to animals, plants, and humans. However, researchers discovered that some PAHs being used today are 30 times more toxic and carry a carcinogenic risk up to 40 times higher than those examined in previous studies.
Study Finds a Link between Phthalates and Obesity
Following a recent study, researchers from the University of Georgia have reason to believe that exposure to chemicals called phthalates—used in a wide range of plastic products found in nearly every American household—may be linked to obesity. Specifically, a phthalate called benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) triggered the accumulation of fat in cells and also caused the cells to be larger, which scientists speculate may contribute to the growing obesity epidemic.