WBEZ | toxins http://www.wbez.org/tags/toxins Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Experimental drug reverses effects of toxic wild mushrooms http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-30/experimental-drug-reverses-effects-toxic-wild-mushrooms-92664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-30/istock_000011048521small_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Maybe it's something about this funky, rainy weather that has people chowing down on strange mushrooms. Regardless, for unlucky foragers who have consumed a poisonous mushroom, a drug still in clinical trials may avert potentially deadly consequences.</p><p>Doctors at Georgetown University Hospital have treated four people in the last month with the experimental drug silibinin after they ate toxic mushrooms picked in Virginia and Maryland. The first two men to check in for poisoning have recovered.</p><p>The other two women are in fair condition, <a href="http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body_fw.cfm?id=8&amp;action=detail&amp;ref=3290">Dr. Jacqueline Laurin</a>, a liver specialist, tells Shots.</p><p>The wet weather that has doused the mid-Atlantic recently has created a nursery-like environment for the <a href="http://www.chop.edu/service/poison-control-center/resources-for-families/mushrooms.html">Amanita mushroom family</a> — the genus responsible for most <a href="http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/firstaid/basics/129.printerview.html">mushroom-related illnesses</a>. Some of the toxic species sprouting in backyards and fields are dubbed with names seemingly inspired by metal bands, such as "Death Cap" and "Destroying Angel."</p><p>About two weeks ago, a man in Maryland and another one in Virginia <a href="http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body.cfm?id=15&amp;UserAction=PressDetails&amp;action=detail&amp;ref=244">mistook the toxic fungi</a> for harmless varieties and scarfed them down. A few hours later, the men were suffering from severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.</p><p>When ingested, poisonous Amanita mushrooms release toxins that damage liver cells, or hepatocytes, and can cause complete liver failure.</p><p>Laurin treated all four patients with the drug after reading a research paper detailing its effectiveness. Silibinin, sold as Legalon in Europe, was approved for the treatment of mushroom poisoning there. The drug comes from the milk thistle plant and works by stopping amatoxins from reaching the liver.</p><p>Laurin initially got approval from the hospital's Institutional Review Board for a one-time emergency use of the drug, which is in its final stages of testing for U.S. approval. With help from the local Poison Control Center, she contacted the lead researcher of the <a href="http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00915681?term=legalon&amp;rank=8">clinical study</a> in Santa Cruz, Calif. The drug was expedited to her and she eventually got approval to use it for a month.</p><p>Before silibinin, doctors used penicillin to treat mushroom poisoning. It doesn't pack the same punch, though, as the promising trial drug, according to Laurin.</p><p>She says she hopes the FDA will approve silbinin soon. In any event, she recommends people don't eat mushrooms unless they're 100 percent sure they're safe.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-30/experimental-drug-reverses-effects-toxic-wild-mushrooms-92664 Hair straightener contains dangerous chemicals, FDA says http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-08/hair-straightener-contains-dangerous-chemicals-fda-says-91709 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/blowout.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nearly a year ago, we warned you that a popular hair product which turns frizzy locks smooth and luxurious may be <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/10/19/130667357/blowing-the-whistle-on-brazilian-blowout-hair-straightener">endangering</a> the health of the salon workers who use it. Well, now the Food and Drug Administration has made it official.</p><p>The FDA issued a <a href="http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm270809.htm">warning</a> letter to the makers of <a href="http://www.brazilianblowout.com/?reload">Brazilian Blowout</a> saying their product contains dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. Known to many as the stuff used to pickle frogs for biology class, <a href="http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html">formaldehyde</a> is a chemical the <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde">National Cancer Institute</a> calls a cancer-causing substance.</p><p>But the company says the product is safe and is working with the FDA to clear up the "misunderstanding."</p><p>Brazilian Blowout markets itself as formaldehyde free, but an FDA analysis of the product found unacceptably high levels of methylene glycol, the liquid form of formaldehyde. Levels ranged from 8.7 percent to 10.4 percent, far higher than the 0.2 percent considered safe by the <a href="http://www.cir-safety.org/findings.shtml">Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel.</a></p><p>The FDA told the California company that makes Brazilian Blowout to stop misleading customers and misbranding its product. In the warning letter, Michael W. Roosevelt, acting director of the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/CFSAN/default.htm">Office of Compliance at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition</a> wrote: "It is your responsibility as a manufacturer, to ensure that the products your firm markets are safe."</p><p>Mike Brady, the chief executive for Brazilian Blowout, points to numerous tests done by <a href="http://www.osha.gov/">OSHA</a> (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). "We have been tested countless times by OSHA," Brady says, "And we have never exceeded a safety standard ever."</p><p>Brady says he will work with the FDA, but in the mean time, he says salons can "continue to confidently offer the Brazilian Blowout Treatment to your customers with the knowledge that Brazilian Blowout falls well below the stringent standards set forth by OSHA," he says in a <a href="http://www.brazilianblowout.com/fda">statement</a> on the company website.</p><p>The investigation of Brazilian Blowout was prompted by complaints from an Oregon hair stylist who said she suffered chest and throat pain and nosebleeds after using the product.</p><p>According to the FDA, other complaints have included eye irritation, blurred vision, nausea, rashes and vomiting.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-08/hair-straightener-contains-dangerous-chemicals-fda-says-91709 Postcard: Scientists climb into bald eagle nests to measure health of the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes <p><p><em>Biologists with the National Park Service are in their sixth year of visiting eagle nests on Lake Superior for blood and feather samples that help them monitor the level of toxic pollutants in the lake</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/25677824?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="513" frameborder="0" height="341" scrolling="no"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/25677824">Feisty is good</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/wbez">WBEZ</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>Jim Spickler is wearing an orange hardhat and hanging on a climbing rope 100 feet up in a white pine tree on Basswood Island in Lake Superior.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-23/runaway-algae-returns-lake-erie-88249">Runaway Algae</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-23/front-and-center-how-chicagos-excrement-killing-fish-gulf-mexico-88234">How Chicago's excrement is killing fish in the Gulf of Mexico </a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-21/how-likely-fear-west-could-steal-great-lakes-water-88162">Could the West steal Great Lakes Water? </a></strong></li></ul><p><strong>SLIDESHOW</strong></p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/img_1542.jpg" style="width: 120px; height: 90px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title=""></a><p 12="" font-size:=""><br> <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094">&nbsp;J.W. Westcott,</a></strong><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"><br> Detroit's floating<br> post office</a></strong><br> &nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"> </a></strong></p></div></div><p>“Good morning, Mr. Eagle,” he says to a fuzzy brown bird sitting on the six-foot-wide jumble of sticks that serves as the eaglet’s nest. Spickler is a wildlife biologist and an expert climber from northern California where he works in giant redwood trees. It’s his job to gently stuff the eaglet into a sack and bring it to the ground for a quick checkup. The eaglet is only seven weeks old, but it’s already the size of a small goose, and it has formidable talons attached to its bright yellow feet.Waiting for Spickler on the ground is Bill Route, an ecologist with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program, which keeps tabs on the wellbeing of plants and animals on Park Service land.&nbsp; Route heads up this survey of eagle nests.“Eagles are a success story,” Route says. “Their numbers are increasing.”</p><p>Route says there were no eagles at all nesting on the Great Lakes in the late 1960s, thanks in part to the insecticide DDT, which left the eagle’s eggs perilously thin and nearly wiped the birds out. But DDT was banned in 1972, and eagles started to bounce back. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.</p><p>“We still find traces of DDT in eagles,” Route says. “It’s very persistent. And that’s what we’re worried about: persistent, toxic chemicals that accumulate up the food chain.”</p><p>Like some flame-retardant and stain resistant chemicals. The scientists will screen the eaglet’s blood for those, too.</p><p>“Eagles are a sentinel species,” Route says.&nbsp; “They get this magnification. Since bald eagles sit on top of the food chain, they get a lot of the contaminant because they eat other organisms that are also contaminated.”</p><p>As Route is talking, Jim Spickler descends the climbing rope with the eaglet. They draw a blood sample from the bird and make some measurements. The eaglet hisses at them and makes some klutzy attempts at biting their hands. In minutes, Spickler is on his way back up the rope to put the eaglet back on its nest.</p><p>Two adult eagles circle above the trees letting out a steady stream of cries. The sound is surprisingly thin and high-pitched for a bird with a seven-foot wingspan. The biologists say adult eagles can be noisy, but they rarely attack humans. The adults will be back on the nest soon after the humans leave.</p><p>A few minutes later, the eaglet is in its nest and Jim Spickler is on the ground.</p><p>“It’s a little bit of a feisty chick,” he says as he starts packing his climbing gear. “But that means that it’s well fed and it’s likely to survive. So, mission accomplished.”</p><ul></ul></p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes EPA: Lead levels too high in Pilsen air http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/Kramer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said the air in a swath of Chicago’s Southwest Side does not meet federal standards for lead. The finding is preliminary, but could lead to a crackdown on a copper smelter.</p><p>The finding supports an Illinois determination that the air in an area of the city’s Pilsen neighborhood exceeds 2008 federal limits for lead. The area’s borders are Damen Avenue, Roosevelt Road and the Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways.</p><p>Cheryl Newton, who directs the air division of an EPA region that includes Illinois, says the process could lead to a state plan “to make sure those elevated levels come down.”</p><p>A cleanup could be a problem for a Pilsen smelter owned by H. Kramer and Co. In April a U.S. EPA legal complaint accused Kramer of violating lead-emissions rules. Illinois regulators, meanwhile, asked the state attorney general to take action.</p><p>A Kramer spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the U.S. EPA’s preliminary finding.</p><p>Pilsen and an area near St. Louis are the only Illinois locations whose air, according to the state, does not meet the standards for lead. Early childhood exposure to lead, a heavy metal, can trigger learning disabilities.</p></p> Thu, 16 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913