Exposure to phthalates may raise risk of pregnancy loss, gestational diabetes

November 2016. Boston, MA. In recent years, a growing body of evidence has suggested that phthalates—synthetic chemicals used in scores of products ranging from vinyl flooring to food packaging to medical tubing to cosmetics—can cause reproductive harms. Now, two new studies from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have revealed that these hormone-disrupting chemicals may increase both the risk of miscarriage and risk factors for gestational diabetes.

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Agricultural fires in Southeast Asia linked to 100,000 premature deaths

Fire and forest

August 2016. Boston, MA. A series of fires in Indonesia in 2015 to clear land for agriculture caused an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. That’s according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University.

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Breastfeeding may expose infants to toxic chemicals

August 2015. Boston, MA. A widely used class of industrial chemicals linked with cancer and interference with immune function—perfluorinated alkylate substances, or PFASs—appears to build up in infants by 20%–30% for each month they’re breastfed, according to a new study co-authored by experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Air pollution below EPA standards linked with higher death rates

June 2015. Boston, MA. A new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that death rates among people over 65 are higher in zip codes with more fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) than in those with lower levels of PM2.5. It is the first study to examine the effect of soot particles in the air in the entire population of a region, including rural areas.

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This Week in Health podcast: Electronic Waste

September 2016. Boston, MA. In our new podcast series, Harvard Chan: This Week in Health, we’ll bring you top health headlines—from wellness tips to important global health trends. You’ll also hear insight from Harvard Chan experts. In this week’s episode: A closer look at what happens to all the electronics we throw away.

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Gymnasts exposed to flame retardants in foam safety equipment

July 2016. Boston, MA. Collegiate gymnasts may have been exposed to flame retardant chemicals from polyurethane foam safety equipment, such as pit cubes and landing mats, according to a small pilot study led by a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher. Flame retardants are associated with neurological and reproductive toxicity and cancer.

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Laser printing has gone ‘nano’ — but is it safe?

August 2015. Boston, MA. Manufacturers of toner used in consumer laser printers and other printing equipment are incorporating engineered “nano” materials into their formulations to improve quality. It’s a trend seen in a wide range of products from cosmetics to building materials, but the new technology is raising safety concerns.

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Tracking down toxins in schools

March 2015. Boston, MA. Parents, teachers and others from Malibu to Massachusetts are grappling with what to do about toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in schools. These chemicals—which are associated with ills including cancer, endocrine disorders, and reproductive troubles—were used in window caulk and other sealants in an estimated one-third of schools built between the early 1950s and the late 1970s, when Congress phased out the chemical’s use.

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Many electronic recycling companies put workers, environment at risk

September 2016. Boston, MA. Companies need to better protect workers and the environment from exposure to heavy metals and toxic chemicals generated during the recycling of electronics such as computers, printers, TVs, cameras, and batteries, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.

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‘Bugs’ on the subway: Monitoring the microbial environment to improve public health

June 2016. Boston, MA. The trillions of microbes that transfer from people to surfaces could provide an early warning system for the emergence of public health threats such as a flu outbreak or a rise in antibiotic resistance, according to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers took to the Boston subway system to find out what kinds of bugs people across the city are passing around—and how they might help preserve or disrupt our health.

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Nickel may contribute to air pollution’s cardiovascular effects

June 2015. Boston, MA. Nickel appears to contribute to adverse cardiovascular outcomes associated with fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. The study was published online June 19, 2015 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

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