Chemicals in fossil fuels cause health problems for humans (study) - energy

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  • • Petrochemicals are linked to a variety of health problems, from infertility to cancer.
  • • Chemical pollutants associated with fossil fuels are becoming too prevalent to be avoided.
  • • Babies can be exposed to industrial chemicals even before birth.
  • • Higher concentrations of several chemicals among Hispanic women than white women.
  • • The next decade will witness more than 60% of the demand for oil from plastics and chemicals.

A new study on the prevalence of pollutants and chemicals associated with fossil fuels in the United States reveals that there are several categories of harmful effects.

According to the study, conducted by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, USA, and recently published by the American journal Environmental Science and Technology; Researchers have found several classes of potentially harmful substances that have not previously been measured: in the bodies of pregnant women, Inside Climate News reports.

The findings of this study help prompt policy makers to act now to protect the environment and public health from the threats posed by the inextricable link between climate change and synthetic chemicals, most of which are derived from petroleum.

Biomonitoring studies have measured at least 43 chemicals from a variety of chemical compounds in 99-100% of pregnant women in the United States.

It is worth noting that petrochemicals are associated with various health problems such as infertility and cancer, and are now accumulating in pregnant women.

The spread of fossil fuel pollutants

Chemicals
Air pollution from fossil fuel emissions

For years, researchers have warned that chemical pollutants associated with fossil fuels are becoming commonplace. So much so that it would be impossible for anyone to avoid them.

Scientists have verified for decades that babies can be exposed to industrial chemicals even before birth; Because these chemicals can cross the placenta.

And scientists from the US National Cancer Institute reported in 2010 that babies are born pre-polluted to an alarming degree.

Jesse Buckley, associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University, said the team of researchers reviewed the presence of chemicals from nine different classes.

Those chemicals included plastics industry salts (phthalates), alternative plastics, pesticides and other chemicals used in personal care products.

She added that the team of researchers detected many of these chemicals in all women in the studied samples from all over the United States.

Harmful effects of polluting chemicals

Jesse Buckley, associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University, said she and her team selected chemicals in target groups, such as herbicides, pesticides, parabens and phthalates, that are suspected of causing adverse health effects for mothers and children.

Now, that researchers have shown that 171 pregnant women nationwide have exposed; They are proceeding with a second study of 6,000 women to examine whether there are potential health consequences for their children.

She said they found widespread harm to neonicotinoids, newer pesticides replacing older ones of concern.

Buckley added that neonicotinoids, which are used in agriculture and to treat flea and tick infestations in pets, were found in the urine of nearly every woman who took part in the study, Inside Climate News reported.

air pollution in india

She explained that they found higher concentrations of several chemicals such as parabens, bisphenols and phthalates – found in shampoos, lotions, nail polish and water bottles – among the Hispanic women compared to the white women in the study.

She noted that it is not possible to determine why these chemicals are higher among Hispanic women, and that the research team knows that some personal care products and food packaging sources can be used more often among Hispanic women.

She indicated that many of the chemicals they measured are analogues or alternatives to chemicals that studies show have health effects, and that these alternatives are sometimes very similar to their predecessors.

Unsurprising results

University of Illinois Professor of Comparative Biosciences at Urbana-Champaign, Judy Floss, who was not involved in the research, said she was not surprised by the results.

Chemicals
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She emphasized that the latest study, in addition to several previous studies, had identified chemicals in the urine of both pregnant and non-pregnant women.

She explained that many of the chemicals that people are exposed to in the environment are ubiquitous every day in a number of ways.

She notes that animal studies and cell studies report that many of the chemicals they’ve found can interfere with the body’s ability to produce hormones or respond to hormones.

She showed that these repercussions can often lead to problems in reproduction, development, and metabolism.

Some researchers have begun to study why people in some ethnic groups are more exposed than others, Flos said, due to racial differences and the levels of chemicals people have.

She noted that socioeconomic status may play a role in exposure; Because some chemicals, such as phthalate salts, tend to be found in larger amounts in older buildings where poor people often live.

Synthetic chemical production

US production of synthetic chemicals has risen since World War II; It jumped more than 15-fold by 2007.

Global production nearly doubled between 2000 and 2017, and petrochemicals have spread to the market to the point where there is now an endless list of materials to be made of plastic.

Industrial and consumer products include, but are not limited to: building materials, carpets, yoga pants, sweaters, toys, cosmetics, fertilizers, pesticides, automobiles, nutritional supplements and packaging.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, USA, said that oil and gas companies are ramping up their production of petrochemicals and plastics.

Because fuel production has fallen slightly, expert chemist Marty Mulvihill, co-founder of the SaveMed Fund, which funds efforts to reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals, said, This increase is offset by the demand for plastics and petrochemicals.

Marty Mulvihill predicted that the next decade will see more than 60% of the demand for oil from plastics and chemicals.

He noted that chemical production carries a large carbon footprint; Chemical manufacturing accounts for 18% of industrial carbon emissions.

More than 3,200 US facilities store hazardous chemicals in areas at risk of climate-related natural disasters, including floods, wildfires and sea-level rise, according to a recent report by the US Government Accountability Office.

Mulvihill explained that after hurricanes, large chemical facilities, water treatment plants and other facilities near water bodies release large quantities of chemicals as a result of extreme weather events.

The planet’s ability to recover

Chemical pollution, like climate change, now exceeds what researchers call “planetary limits,” the ecological limits of Earth’s ability to recover from human assaults, said Tracy Woodruff, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Translation for Health (Earth) at the University of California.

Woodruff noted that, in the United States alone, the volume of industrial chemicals produced annually is at least 30,000 pounds (13,607.77 kilograms) per person per year.

She emphasized that it is inevitable that everyone will be exposed to these many and varied chemicals that are mainly produced from fossil fuel feedstocks.

She explained that using natural gas components as feedstock for petrochemicals is more profitable than selling them as fuel or electricity.

Oftentimes, the researchers argue, hazardous chemicals can be avoided entirely by simply redesigning the product, which is what furniture manufacturers have done.

After decades of adding toxic flame retardants to upholstery to prevent fires from spreading; Furniture manufacturers have done away with chemicals and used naturally flame-retardant fabrics such as wool.

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