Links for Keyword: Neurotoxins

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Industry, Environmentalists Argue Over How and When to Remove Toxic Metal By Guy Gugliotta WILSONVILLE, Ala. -- Larry Monroe pointed to a set of eight manhole cover-size plates mounted on the exhaust vent to limit mercury emissions from Gaston 3, a coal-burning power plant that feeds electricity to a half-dozen southern states. Gaston 3 and plants like it, the backbone of the U.S. power industry, are the focus of a furious debate over mercury pollution -- how much and how fast the nation should move to regulate a toxic metal capable of causing severe neurological damage, especially to fetuses and young children. Each of the plates at Gaston 3 houses an injector that squirts activated carbon dust into Gaston 3's flue gas. Particles of mercury cling to the carbon, which is then trapped by filters and discarded as toxic waste. © 2004 The Washington Post 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: 5133 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Study of high-seafood diet points to poison's long-lasting impact. HELEN PEARSON Eating seafood that contains mercury can affect the brain development of children in their adolescence, according to a study of people in the Faroe Islands. The study fuels an ongoing debate about the health effects of a form of mercury called methylmercury, which accumulates in large marine animals such as swordfish and whales. Some researchers think these compounds are toxic only to babies as they develop in the womb, and that older children are unlikely to suffer developmental problems from the poison. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2004

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: 4932 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Erik Ness Attention, parents: Now that you've seen your kids' first report cards of the year, it's time for a little homework of your own. No doubt you're doing the best you can to ensure your little ones' eventual membership in Mensa -- promoting stimulating dinner conversation, reading a chapter together each night, maybe even playing Mozart during bath time. But wait -- there's more. You'll find your next assignment in the pages of Colleen Moore's Silent Scourge: Children, Pollution, and Why Scientists Disagree. You probably already know that lead is not an appropriate component of any cerebral calisthenics program. But nor is it the only pollutant that can stunt intellectual development. In Silent Scourge, Moore, a developmental psychologist, reviews the case against lead and five additional types of pollutants -- mercury, PCBs, pesticides, noise, and radioactive and chemical wastes. With the possible exception of noise, most people recognize these pollutants as harmful and wouldn't actively incorporate them into K-12 curriculums or meal plans. But that doesn't mean we've got the necessary information -- or power -- to protect kids from them. Each of these pollutants has been the object of protracted debate, the kind of media-moderated, he-said/she-said dispute that frequently leaves us more worn down than wised up. Moore cuts through the confusion, using lay language to explain the dangers each pollutant poses to child development, including intellectual function, behavior, emotional state, and overall physical and psychological well-being. © 2003, Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.

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: 4735 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Survey finds mercury in 4 species at markets in Bay Area Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer Four popular varieties of fish sold by high-end markets in the Bay Area contain toxic mercury at levels suspected of causing health problems, a Chronicle/CBS5 survey has found. Recent reports have raised new concerns about the mercury content of such big, ocean-caught fish as swordfish and tuna, including a study last year of local residents who ate fish several times a week. The Chronicle and CBS5 wanted to find out just how much mercury a consumer might be getting from fish sold at some of the Bay Area's best fish markets. The results underscore what many longtime fish lovers and health- conscious consumers may not completely understand -- that consuming large amounts of certain types of fish can jeopardize one's health. And for some people, particularly children and pregnant women, no amount of these fish would be safe. ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle

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: 4590 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Susan Milius For the first time, scientists have found a poisonous frog that takes up a toxin from its prey and then tweaks the chemical to make it a more deadly weapon. At least three species of the 4-to-5-centimeter-long Dendrobates frogs of the New World tropics modify an alkaloid to create one that's about five times as poisonous, according to a team led by John W. Daly of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in Bethesda, Md. The souped-up poison, one of a class called pumiliotoxins, ends up as a protective agent in the frogs' skin, the researchers report in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "It's an important thing, showing how chemistry connects the life of one organism to another," comments chemical ecologist Jerrold Meinwald of Cornell University. Although scientists have found that some creatures other than frogs customize a basic toxin for various purposes, "I don't know of any other examples of improving a defensive weapon," Meinwald says. Copyright ©2003 Science Service.

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: 4224 - Posted: 06.24.2010

No clear choices on which fish are best Olivia Wu, Chronicle Staff Writer So you jack up the amount of fish you eat, pump the omega-3s, and make your heart healthier and happier than it's ever been. But at the same time, are you accumulating toxic levels of mercury and making a mess of your brain and nerves? It depends, scientists say. What kind of fish, how large the fish are and your individual tolerance for mercury are all factors in choosing a mercury-safe seafood diet. You can eat fish often -- if you choose carefully. ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle

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: 3698 - Posted: 06.24.2010

SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer PST WASHINGTON (AP) -- Low levels of sarin nerve gas affected behavior and organ functions in laboratory animals at least a month after exposure, suggests new research that may provide clues to the mysterious illnesses of Persian Gulf War veterans. In separate Army-sponsored studies, scientists observed behavioral problems, brain changes and immune system suppression in the animals many days after exposure to doses that caused no immediate effects, such as convulsions or pupil constriction. Both studies involved rodents, and "that's a big leap to human beings," said Melinda Roberson, a behavioral neuroscientist involved in a study still under way. ©2002 Associated Press

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: 3222 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Technique detects nerve agent's swift decay. KENDALL POWELL The deadly nerve agent VX degrades on concrete in a matter of hours, a new detector has revealed1. The finding could help military clean-up crews and chemical-weapons inspectors. The discovery was a surprise spin-off from a project to detect VX at Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls. The research group designed a sensitive instrument to detect VX's chemical signature on a contaminated surface. Chemist Gary Groenewold and his colleagues celebrated when they found that their device, called a secondary ion mass spectrometer, could pick up VX on a concrete sample at minute concentrations of around one part per million. They left to grab some lunch. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2002

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: 3137 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Copyright © 2002 AP Online By SHARON L. CRENSON, AP National Writer BURLINGTON, Vt. - A study of Californians who loaded their lunch and dinner menus with fish shows 89 percent wound up with elevated mercury levels in their bodies. The research, presented Saturday by San Francisco internist Dr. Jane Hightower at a symposium of environmental health experts in Vermont, is one of the first studies to document mercury levels in Americans who eat more fish than the Environmental Protection Agency recommends. Doctors are increasingly interested in the possible risks of eating too much mercury-tainted fish, and the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are trying to better inform the public about the subject. Copyright © 2001 Nando Media

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: 2833 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Bespoke bacteria tackle poisonous organophosphates. HELEN PEARSON Bacteria could digest chemical-weapons stockpiles, say Californian chemists. Their genetically engineered bacteria might also scrub pesticides from farm equipment. A bin full of bugs could make a cheap, green bioreactor to break down residues left in agricultural aircraft, tractors or animal dips, says Ashok Mulchandani of the University of California in Riverside. Mulchandani and his colleagues have given Escherichia coli bacteria the power to break down organophosphates. Developed - but now banned - as chemical-warfare agents, the use of mild forms of these compounds as insecticides has led to concern that they may harm farm workers or contaminate food. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2002

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: 1861 - Posted: 06.24.2010

CHAPEL HILL ? Because of concerns about terrorists one day using such deadly nerve agents as sarin, soman, tabun and VX, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientist is urging the government and medical researchers to investigate potentially more effective treatments. Dr. David S. Janowsky says he has a strong candidate drug that might prevent many deaths from an attack. Studies he and colleagues published 16 years ago suggest scopolamine, a drug already routinely used to combat motion sickness, could be a significant improvement over the standard treatment, atropine, in treating civilians and military personnel exposed to toxic nerve agents. Copyright © 1992-2002 Bio Online, Inc. 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: 1492 - Posted: 06.24.2010

A drug widely used to treat cancer may cause brain damage, with the effects lasting for years after the end of treatment, research suggests. The drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), is used, alongside others, to treat cancers of the breast, ovaries, colon, stomach, pancreas and bladder. Tests on mice showed it destroys vital cells in the brain that help to keep nerves functioning properly. The University of Rochester study features in the Journal of Biology. The researchers say their findings could explain some of the neurological side effects associated with chemotherapy - a phenomenon often known as "chemo brain". These include memory loss, poor concentration, and in more extreme cases, seizures, impaired vision and even dementia. Until recently they were often dismissed as the by-products of fatigue, depression and anxiety related both to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. But many patients show symptoms: a previous study by the Rochester team found more than 80% of breast cancer patients reported some form of mental impairment after chemotherapy. The latest study found 5-FU attacks oligodendrocyte cells in the brain and the precursor stem cells from which they originate. These cells play a crucial role in the central nervous system, producing myelin, the protective sheath that keeps nerve fibres in working order. If myelin is not constantly renewed, communication between nerve cells is damaged. The researchers showed that oligodendrocytes virtually disappeared from the brains of mice six months after the animals were treated with 5-FU. (C)BBC

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: 11552 - Posted: 04.23.2008

An hour sniffing exhaust fumes may not just give you a headache - it could even alter the way the brain functions, Dutch researchers have suggested. Scientists have known nanoparticles reach the brain when inhaled, but this is the first time they have been shown to affect how we process information. Researchers sought to replicate the environment experienced by those who work in a garage or by the roadside. Their findings were published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology. A team at Zuyd University in the Netherlands persuaded 10 volunteers to spend an hour in a room filled either with clean air or exhaust from a diesel engine. They were wired up to an electroencephalograph (EEG), a device that records the electrical signals of the brain. They were monitored during the period of exposure and for an hour after they left the room. After about 30 minutes, the brains of those in the exhaust rooms displayed a stress response on the EEG, which is indicative of a change in the way information is being processed in the brain cortex. This effect continued after they were no longer in the room. "We can only speculate what these effects may mean for the chronic exposure to air pollution encountered in busy cities where the levels of such soot particles can be very high," said lead researcher Paul Borm. "It is conceivable that the long-term effects of exposure to traffic nanoparticles may interfere with normal brain function and information processing. Further studies are necessary to explore this effect." The fact that the brain responds when confronted with a new smell is not entirely surprising, says Ken Donaldson, professor of respiratory toxicology at the University of Edinburgh. "And it may not necessarily be negative, but such physiological changes do warrant investigation because there could indeed be a long-term effect. It's a very interesting, and potentially important, study." (C)BBC

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: 11401 - Posted: 03.11.2008

Agricultural workers exposed to high levels of pesticides have a raised risk of brain tumours, research suggests. The French study also indicated a possible higher risk among people who used pesticides on houseplants. All agricultural workers exposed to pesticides had a slightly elevated brain tumour risk, it suggested. But the Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found the risk was more than doubled for those exposed to the highest levels. The risk of a type of central nervous system tumour known as a glioma was particularly heightened among this group - more than three times the risk in the general population. Gliomas are more common in men than women, and the researchers speculate that part of the reason might be that men are more often exposed to pesticides. However, the overall risk of developing a brain tumour remained very low. UK experts said the findings were inconclusive. The findings were based on an analysis of 221 cases of brain tumours by the French Institute of Public Health, Epidemiology and Development. The research took place in the Bordeaux wine-growing region, where 80% of all pesticides used are fungicides. The chemicals are mixed and sprayed in a mist to protect vines from fungal attack. However, the researchers were unable to get specific enough data to pin down exactly which types of pesticide were associated with the development of brain tumours. (C)BBC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 10375 - Posted: 06.05.2007

Two Howard Hughes Medical Institute research teams working independently have discovered new information about how the botulinum neurotoxin shuts down neurons with deadly efficiency. By providing detailed views of the toxin plugged into its neuronal receptor, the new studies could aid efforts to engineer specialized versions of the powerful neurotoxin that is used to treat a wide array of medical problems. The two groups were led by HHMI investigators Axel Brunger at Stanford University and Edwin Chapman at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. They published their findings December 13, 2006, in advance online publications in the journal Nature. "Botulinum neurotoxins are powerful tools for biologists and find widespread use as therapeutics for the treatment of certain nervous-system diseases," wrote Giampietro Schiavo of the London Research Institute in an accompanying News & Views commentary in Nature. "For these reasons, the papers reported here are of tremendous value." Botulinum neurotoxins are among the most deadly natural toxins in the world. They act by first attaching themselves to receptors on the surface of neurons. The toxins then insinuate an enzyme into the neuron that degrades key proteins required for neurons to communicate with one another. The toxins principally affect muscle-controlling motor neurons activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. They kill by paralyzing the respiratory muscles. There are seven structurally and functionally related botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), called serotypes A through G, with each acting in a slightly different manner.

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: 9747 - Posted: 12.14.2006

The regions in robins' brains responsible for singing and mating are shrinking when exposed to high levels of DDT, says new University of Alberta research--the first proof that natural exposure to a contaminant damages the brain of a wild animal. "These residues have been persisting since the late 1960s--that's what is really disturbing," said Dr. Andrew Iwaniuk, a post-doctoral research fellow in the U of A's Department of Psychology. "It has been years since it has been used and still has this effect." The new research, published in Behavioural Brain Research, strongly suggests that exposure to environmental levels of DDT causes significant changes in the brains of songbirds. Previous studies have suggested that exposure to DDT residues affect the brain, but none have actually demonstrated it. The research team, including Iwaniuk's supervisor, psychology professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair Douglas Wong-Wylie, used American Robins to test the idea. Birds are more susceptible to the effects of pesticide residues and other contaminants in the environment than other animals. As well, American robins are often exposed to high levels of DDT and other chemicals because they rely heavily on earthworms as part of their diet. They specifically chose these birds in the Okanagan Valley because at that location they are exposed to high levels of DDT, but relatively low levels of other chemicals.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 9137 - Posted: 07.15.2006

By JANE E. BRODY There's no question that the amount of lead in children's blood has dropped significantly in recent decades, much to the benefit of their brains and bodies. There's also no question that children who are still being permanently damaged by excessive lead levels live mainly at the poverty level or near it, in neighborhoods where they can be poisoned by lead from contaminated paint, water, soil and dust. More Personal Health Columns However, no one at any level of society, not even those with seven-figure incomes, can afford to be complacent about the exposure of children to lead in home and play environments. Here are some disturbing facts important to everyone concerned about the damage lead can cause and its individual and societal costs. About a quarter of the nation's children are exposed to lead at home, and more than 400,000 children are found each year to harbor amounts of lead deemed hazardous to normal mental and physical development. Environmental exposure to lead in early childhood is a prelude to a host of societal ills. It is associated with an increased risk of reading problems, school failure, delinquency and criminal behavior. Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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: 8416 - Posted: 01.19.2006

UCLA scientists have discovered how chronic exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide (CO) damages the inner ear of young rats, resulting in permanent hearing loss. At the Ca/OSHA's exposure limit of 0.0025 percent -- or 25 parts per million CO in the air -- the gas creates oxidative stress, a condition that damages the cochlear cells, leading to impairment of the auditory nerves. Tobacco smoke, gas heaters, stoves and ovens all emit CO, which can rise to high concentrations in poorly ventilated homes. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to CO exposure because they spend a great deal of time in the home. No policies exist to regulate CO in the home. Many commercial home monitors sound an alarm only 20 minutes after CO concentrations reaches 70 parts per million -- nearly three times the 25 parts per million limit set by Cal/OSHA. This is the first time that inhaled CO has been linked to oxidative stress, a known risk factor in many disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gherig's disease and cardiovascular disease. Tobacco smoke, which contains CO, aggravates many of these diseases. The UCLA findings highlight the need for policy makers to reexamine the regulation of car exhaust, tobacco smoke, smog, and heating and cooking appliances.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 7447 - Posted: 06.04.2005

New research shows that farmers who used agricultural insecticides experienced increased neurological symptoms, even when they were no longer using the products. Data from 18,782 North Carolina and Iowa farmers linked use of insecticides, including organophosphates and organochlorines, to reports of reoccurring headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, hand tremors, numbness and other neurological symptoms. Some of the insecticides addressed by the study are still on the market, but some, including DDT, have been banned or restricted. These findings will be available online in April, and published in the June issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. The research is part of the ongoing Agricultural Health Study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, two of the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency. "This research is really important because it evaluated the health effects of agricultural chemicals as they were commonly used by farmers. It's different from previous studies that focused on pesticide poisoning or high dose exposures, for example when large amounts of a chemical were accidentally spilled on the skin," said Freya Kamel, Ph.D., a researcher for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The NIEHS researchers examined questionnaires completed by farmers on lifetime exposure to herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fumigants, and their history of 23 neurological symptoms. Those who reported experiencing more than 10 symptoms during the year prior to completing a study questionnaire were classified as having high levels of symptoms.

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: 7270 - Posted: 04.29.2005

By CARL ZIMMER The inland taipan, a nine-foot-long Australian snake, is not the sort of creature most people would want to bother. Drop for drop, its venom is the deadliest in the world, 50 times as potent as cobra venom. Its fangs are so long they can poke through the snake's lower jaw. Its victims collapse in seconds and suffer a quick death. Dr. Bryan Fry, a biologist from the University of Melbourne, will readily admit he is not like most people. He not only bothers inland taipans; he hunts them down in dense cane fields, pins them down and bags them. Later he grabs them by the head and squeezes venom from their fangs. Besides inland taipans, Dr. Fry collects venom from death adders, rattlesnakes, king cobras, sea snakes and many others. He estimates that he handles 2,000 to 3,000 snakes a year. "Working with some of these snakes is the biggest adrenaline rush you could ever do," he admitted. "I used to do extreme ski jumping and big wave surfing, but none of that can touch working with some of these animals." Copyright 2005 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: 7144 - Posted: 04.05.2005