Links for Keyword: Neurotoxins

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 41 - 60 of 115

By Laura Sanders When the monitor lizard chomped into Bryan Fry, it did more than turn his hand into a bloody mess. Besides ripping skin and severing tendons, the lizard delivered noxious venom into Fry’s body, injecting molecules that quickly thinned his blood and dilated his vessels. As the tiny toxic assassins dispersed throughout his circulatory system, they hit their targets with speed and precision, ultimately causing more blood to gush from Fry’s wound. Over millions of years, evolution has meticulously shaped these toxins into powerful weapons, and Fry was feeling the devastating consequences firsthand. “I’ve never seen arterial bleeding before, and I really don’t want to ever see it again. Especially coming out of my own arm,” says Fry, a venom researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia. To unlock the molecular secrets of venom, Fry and other researchers have pioneered a burgeoning field called venomics. With cutting-edge methods, the scientists are teasing apart and cataloging venom’s ingredients, some of which can paralyze muscles, make blood pressure plummet or induce seizures by scrambling brain signals. Researchers are also learning more about how these toxins work. Discovering venom’s tricks may allow scientists to rehabilitate these damaging molecules and convert them from destroyers to healers. Venom might be teeming with wonder drugs, for instance. After all, a perfect venom toxin works with lightning speed, remains stable for a long time and strikes its mark with surgical exactitude — attributes that drugmakers dream about. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 13116 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Janet Raloff Testing for lead only in infants and toddlers may be a mistake, a new study suggests. Pediatricians routinely test very young children because this is the age when blood concentrations of the neurotoxic heavy metal tend to be highest. But older children can face significant lead exposures, and lead’s ability to lower IQ, the new study shows, is much greater for exposures in early school-age children than in toddlers. The study, which will appear in an upcoming Environmental Health Perspectives, also finds that the later childhood exposures correlate more strongly than earlier ones with an exaggerated risk of incurring future criminal arrests for violent behavior. The new data “get at a key concept in environmental health: that there may be some windows of vulnerability — stages of development — that are more vulnerable than others,” notes environmental epidemiologist Howard Hu of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. If school-age brains are more susceptible to lead toxicity than younger ones, “that’s important to know, from a public health perspective,” he says. Looking for lead in older children would be a first step in identifying families that need counseling on reducing sources of lead in and around the home. Richard Hornung and his colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center analyzed data on lead levels and IQ from 462 children. About half of the data were collected from kids in Cincinnati during the early 1980s, the rest from kids in Rochester, N.Y., during the mid-1990s. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 12859 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JASCHA HOFFMAN Has the Clean Air Act done more to fight crime than any other policy in American history? That is the claim of a new environmental theory of criminal behavior. In the early 1990s, a surge in the number of teenagers threatened a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. But to the surprise of some experts, crime fell steadily instead. Many explanations have been offered in hindsight, including economic growth, the expansion of police forces, the rise of prison populations and the end of the crack epidemic. But no one knows exactly why crime declined so steeply. The answer, according to Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an economist at Amherst College, lies in the cleanup of a toxic chemical that affected nearly everyone in the United States for most of the last century. After moving out of an old townhouse in Boston when her first child was born in 2000, Reyes started looking into the effects of lead poisoning. She learned that even low levels of lead can cause brain damage that makes children less intelligent and, in some cases, more impulsive and aggressive. She also discovered that the main source of lead in the air and water had not been paint but rather leaded gasoline — until it was phased out in the 1970s and ’80s by the Clean Air Act, which took blood levels of lead for all Americans down to a fraction of what they had been. “Putting the two together,” she says, “it seemed that this big change in people’s exposure to lead might have led to some big changes in behavior.” Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 10864 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Michael Hopkin They say you are what you eat. And that's especially true of Rhabdophis tigrinus — zoologists have discovered that this snake eats poisonous toads and keeps their venom for itself. Rather than going to the trouble of making its own venom to use against predators, R. tigrinus, which is found in Asia, takes the venom from its prey and transports it to its own venom glands for storage and use. The snakes eat a wide range of prey, often including toads that secrete defensive poisons called bufadienolides through their skin. When fed a diet featuring these toads, the snakes' venom glands fill up with an almost chemically identical venom, report Deborah Hutchinson of Old Dominion University in Norfold, Virginia, and her colleagues. Snakes lacking toads in their diet do not gather the poison, the researchers add. Their findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. Many invertebrates, such as sea slugs, collect and store toxins from their plant food to make themselves unpalatable to predators. A few species of poisonous frogs also get their toxins from insects in their diet. But examples of vertebrate predators using venom from vertebrate prey are rare, and the only other species known to do it only stores venom temporarily. ©2007 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 9896 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Scientists supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association the results of the first-ever randomized clinical trials to evaluate the safety of placing amalgam fillings, which contain mercury, in the teeth of children. Both studies — one conducted in Europe, the other in the United States — independently reached the conclusion: Children whose cavities were filled with dental amalgam had no adverse health effects. The findings included no detectable loss of intelligence, memory, coordination, concentration, nerve conduction, or kidney function during the 5-7 years the children were followed. The researchers looked for measurable signs of damage to the brain and kidneys because previous studies with adults indicated these organs might be especially sensitive to mercury. The authors noted that children in both studies who received amalgam, informally known as “silver fillings,” had slightly elevated levels of mercury in their urine. But after several years of analysis, they determined the mercury levels remained low and did not correlate with any symptoms of mercury poisoning. “What’s particularly impressive is the strength of the evidence,” said NIDCR director Dr. Lawrence Tabak. “The studies evaluated mercury exposure in two large, geographically distinct groups of children and reached similar conclusions about the safety of amalgam.”

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 8798 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Botulinum neurotoxin A can be either the greatest wrinkle remover or one of the world's most potent biological weapons. To perform either job, however, the toxin must first find a way to enter cells. But understanding how the toxin — one of seven neurotoxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum — enters nerve cells has proved elusive for scientists. Despite a decade-long search for the receptor by labs around the world, researchers had come up empty handed. Now, a research team led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher Edwin R. Chapman reports that it has identified the cellular receptor for botulinum neurotoxin A. The group's work was published in the March 16, 2006, edition of ScienceXpress, which provides electronic publication of selected Science papers in advance of print. The finding offers important new insights that suggest how the toxin shuts down nerve cells with deadly efficiency. In the clinic, the toxin, which is also known as botox, is used to treat forehead wrinkles, migraine headaches, urinary retention, eye muscle disorders, and excessive sweating. The same toxin also has more nefarious uses, and is considered a potential bioterror threat because it can kill people by paralyzing motor nerves in diaphragm muscles, causing breathing to stop. Lack of knowledge about the identity of the cell surface receptor that botulism toxin A uses to invade nerve cells has hindered the development of new antidotes to the toxin. © 2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 8660 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. . . . This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. . . . It’s a tough place. —Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country Raised, as you probably were, on film or video footage of drowsy koalas hugging eucalyptus trees, or kangaroos bouncing happily around the outback, you might wonder just what country Bryson is talking about. But consider the unassuming cone shell—just the kind of malicious mollusk that will “actually sometimes go for you.” The cone shell is a marine snail that lives in tropical regions worldwide, including the waters around northeastern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The snail aggressively reaches out to sting prey or would-be predators, injecting toxins that are among the most powerful in the animal kingdom. Even a diminutive member of the genus Conus can carry enough venom to kill a dozen people; a single careless encounter can bring death in less than thirty minutes. What’s more, the radula, a harpoonlike stinger that delivers the venom, can strike with enough speed and force to pierce a diver’s wetsuit. There is almost no pain associated with a cone-shell sting, because the venom contains a strong analgesic. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the toxin is a nerve agent for which there is no known antidote. © Natural History Magazine, Inc., 2005

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 8036 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Eating fish is a healthy choice because its' one of the best sources of beneficial fats called omega-3 fatty acids. But some people are also cautioned to watch out for certain fish because of high levels of mercury. "The problem with mercury is, if it's ingested at very high levels, for certain populations it can cause damage to our nervous systems," says Charles Santerre, associate professor of foods and nutrition and food science at Purdue University. "Our greatest concern is women of child-bearing age, because women who become pregnant or are nursing can pass mercury either through the placenta or through their milk, and the levels that get to the fetus or the nursing infant can be high enough, in some instances, to cause injury to the baby." In March of 2004 the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that sensitive populations—women who are pregnant or might become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children—should avoid eating large ocean fish like swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. But what about the most commonly eaten fish, like tuna? Canned tuna is eaten by 96 percent of American households, and represents the number three item in U.S. grocery stores (behind sugar and coffee) based on dollar sales per linear foot of shelf space. © ScienCentral, 2000- 2005.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 6893 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — Two types of ants from the family that includes carpenter ants, as well as the common "sidewalk" ants that often march through gardens, serve as the poison source for certain poisonous frogs, according to a new study. The ants generate alkaloids, which are powerful substances that can produce physiological effects in humans and animals. The study, published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, presents the first evidence for alkaloids in the ant subfamily Formicinae. Poisonous frogs are able to eat loads of the toxin-generating ants and are able to concentrate the ants' alkaloids into their bodies and skin. The frogs come from the dendrobatid family, a group commonly referred to as poisonous dart frogs, which are the frogs that Central and South American Emberá and Noanamá Chocó Indians use to create poison darts for their blowguns. Copyright © 2004 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 5463 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JAMES DAO WASHINGTON, — High levels of lead in the city's drinking water, a problem disclosed last month, prompted several members of Congress to say on Friday that three agencies had misled residents and could have begun correcting the problem last year or even earlier. In a sometimes heated hearing on Capitol Hill, lawmakers said the agencies had failed to tell thousands of residents promptly that elevated, in some cases dangerously high, lead levels had been discovered in their houses last year. The agencies seemed disconcertingly uncertain about the problem's causes, scope and solutions, the lawmakers and expert witnesses said. "Mistakes in judgment and procedure were apparently made at every important juncture, as those involved now concede," Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate from the District of Columbia to Congress, said. "Any one of those three agencies could have caught the problem much earlier." Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 5096 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Sy Montgomery Sam Marshall doesn’t waste much time. Seconds after stepping into the steaming rain forest of French Guiana, he announces his agenda: “Let’s divide and search for holes with big, hairy legs.” After all, he hasn’t come to French Guiana for the beaches (muddy and shark infested), the food (cheese, bread, and sardines), or the shopping (none, but credit cards can be used to dig out ticks). He has come for the tarantulas—tarantulas that are big enough to eat birds. When threatened, the Usambara orange tarantula can get very aggressive. It rears up, slaps the ground, hisses loudly, and even drips venom from its fangs. “They don’t try to bite very much,” says arachnologist Sam Marshall. “It’s really just a display.” © 2003 The Walt Disney Company. All rights reserved.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 4877 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By IVER PETERSON TRENTON, — New Jersey will propose new controls to limit emissions of mercury, a toxic substance that is particularly harmful to fetuses and young children. The new rules on power plants and other sources would cut emissions by 75 percent in three years. Bradley M. Campbell, the commissioner of environmental protection, announced here on Wednesday that if the department adopts the proposal after a hearing period, 24 coal-fired power plants, municipal waste incinerators and iron smelters will have to adopt measures to cut the state's current mercury emissions of 2,000 pounds per year to 500 pounds. "New Jersey's largest sources of mercury air pollution must use today's technology wherever possible to protect our children and families," Mr. Campbell said at a news conference. Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 4684 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By THOM SHANKER with WILLIAM J. BROAD WASHINGTON, — The Defense Department sprayed live nerve and biological agents on ships and sailors in cold war-era experiments to test the Navy's vulnerability to toxic warfare, the Pentagon revealed today. The Pentagon documents made public today showed that six tests were carried out in the Pacific Ocean from 1964 to 1968. In the experiments, nerve or chemical agents were sprayed on a variety of ships and their crews to gauge how quickly the poisons could be detected and how rapidly they would disperse, as well as to test the effectiveness of protective gear and decontamination procedures in use at the time. Hundreds of sailors exposed to the poisons in tests conducted in the 1960's could be eligible for health care benefits, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has already begun contacting those who participated in some of the experiments, known as Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense, or SHAD. Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 2129 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By JODI WILGOREN HERCULANEUM, Mo., Jan. 18 — Carol Miller's family lives in the world of no. No playing on the swing set until someone washes off the black dust. No barbecues at Grandma's, where the view from the picnic table is of an enormous slag pile. No digging in the backyard. No using the ceiling fan or opening windows in the Millers' cramped house here in the shadow of the nation's largest lead smelter, whose 550-foot smokestack towers over this Mississippi River town 30 miles south of St. Louis. Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 1370 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Although the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are well known for their health benefits, many fish are also the primary source of mercury in the general population. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently completed the first study of mercury and cognitive function in urban, U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 70 years. They found that blood mercury levels were not consistently associated with adverse performance on a broad range of tests of cognitive function. This study may help policy makers with future decisions about mercury emissions from power plants as well as fish consumption recommendations for older adults. The study is published in the April 20, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). “Our study provides no evidence to challenge the government’s current recommendations for blood mercury levels, but neither does it indicate that they are safe. The key point is that the aging population may be more sensitive to toxic chemicals and this is the first study to examine mercury exposure in the older U.S. population,” said Megan Weil, MHS, lead author of the study and a PhD-candidate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. © 2005, Johns Hopkins University.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 7219 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Karen Wright Let’s start with a straightforward fact: Mercury is unimaginably toxic and dangerous. A single drop on a human hand can be irreversibly fatal. A single drop in a large lake can make all the fish in it unsafe to eat. Often referred to as quicksilver, mercury is the only common metal that is liquid at room temperature. Alchemists, including the young Sir Isaac Newton, believed it was the source of gold. In the modern era, it became a common ingredient of paints, diuretics, pesticides, batteries, fluorescent lightbulbs, skin creams, antifungal agents, vaccines for children, and of course, thermometers. There is probably some in your mouth right now: So-called silver dental fillings are half mercury. Mercury is also a by-product of many industrial processes. In the United States coal-fired power plants alone pump about 50 tons of it into the air each year. That mercury rains out of the sky into oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, where it becomes concentrated in the flesh of fish, shellfish, seals, and whales. Last year the Food and Drug Administration determined there is so much mercury in the sea that women of childbearing age should severely limit their consumption of larger ocean fish. The warning comes too late for many mothers. A nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control shows that one in 12 women of childbearing age already have unsafe blood levels of mercury and that as many as 600,000 babies in the United States could be at risk. But that begs a critical question: At risk for what? © 2004 The Walt Disney Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 6884 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Researchers have identified an Australian poison frog that makes its own toxin rather than getting it from food sources. It is the first documented case of a vertebrate that generates its own poison alkaloids, complex chemicals that are usually associated with plants, the researchers said. Poison frogs release alkaloids from their skin to defend against predators. Until now, the researchers believed that all obtained their alkaloids from eating insects. The discovery was reported in the April 3 Web edition of the Journal of Natural Products, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The discovery will also be described April 8 in Orlando, Fla., at the Society’s 223rd national meeting.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 1815 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Environmental enrichment that stimulates brain activity can reverse the long-term learning deficits caused by lead poisoning, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health . It has long been known that lead poisoning in children affects their cognitive and behavioral development. Despite significant efforts to reduce lead contamination in homes, childhood lead poisoning remains a major public health problem with an estimated 34 million housing units in the United States containing lead paint. The Hopkins study is the first to demonstrate that the long-term deficits in cognitive function caused by lead can be reversed and offers a basis for the treatment of childhood lead intoxication. The findings appear in the online edition of the Annals of Neurology. “Lead exposure during development causes long-lasting deficits in learning in experimental animals, but our study shows for the first time that these cognitive deficits are reversible,” said lead author Tomás R. Guilarte, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This study is particularly important for two reasons. First, it was not known until now whether the effects of lead on cognitive function were reversible. Secondly, the environmental enrichment that reversed the learning deficits was administered after the animals were exposed to lead. Environmental enrichment could be a promising therapy for treating millions of children suffering from the effects of lead poisoning,” added Dr. Guilarte.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 3081 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Cristen Conger, HowStuffWorks.com -- The first detailed anatomical atlas of a living wildlife species has been constructed by researchers. Mapping the California sea lion's (Zalophus californianus) brain with a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and volumetric measuring, scientists want to better understand how toxins in the water are causing neurological damage among marine mammal populations. Eric Montie, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida, spearheaded the study, which was published in The Anatomical Record in October. The brain atlas is a first step toward determining whether exposure to manmade chemicals, such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), increase California sea lions' susceptibility to life-threatening brain damage from domoic acid, a neurotoxin naturally produced by certain types of algae. Past studies have concluded that domoic acid, which accumulates in the sea lion's system from ingesting prey that feed on algae, causes the mammal's hippocampus to shrink. Research has also linked domoic acid to acute and chronic epilepsy and seizures in sea lions. But exactly how that neurotoxin-induced brain damage progresses is still unclear. sea lion "We don't know enough about the endocrinology and neurobiology of these animals," Montie told Discovery News. "That's why you start with baby steps like an atlas." © 2009 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 13433 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jessica Knoblauch One night in February, high school principal Matthew Smith got a frightening wake-up call. The local fire department alerted him that the home of a student at Agua Fria High School was contaminated with liquid mercury that apparently had been taken from a science classroom. The next day, emergency crews descended on the school in haz-mat suits, discovering a toxic trail of mercury vapors in classrooms, locker rooms, and buses. The high school, in Avondale, Ariz., was shut down for a week so it could be decontaminated. The homes of six students were tainted with mercury, two so severely that the families had to be relocated for 11 days, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The total cleanup is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. The mercury mess in Arizona was only the latest in thousands of incidents where children are exposed to elemental mercury, a poison that can damage the brain, trigger respiratory failure and cause other serious health problems. Power plants are typically cast as the usual suspects of mercury contamination, since they emit mercury into the air, where it spreads globally. But many children are exposed to toxic levels of mercury much closer to home. Mercury spills inside schools and houses, often unreported, can release vapors into the air for weeks, even years. © 1996-2009 Scientific American Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 12828 - Posted: 06.24.2010