‘Forever Chemicals’ Harm our Immunity and Hormonal Function.

PFAS – also known as ‘Forever Chemicals’ (because they do not break down) are found in 99% of Americans. They are known to cause:

  • Lowered immunity
  • Abnormal hormonal function
  • Cancer

These chemicals are found in:

  • Fast food packaging
  • Bakery product packaging
  • Laundry products
  • Cosmetics
  • Stain and water repellent clothing
  • Non-stick cookware
  • Stain resistant furniture
  • Stain resistant carpeting

There are several ways you can REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE:

  • Buy natural cleaning supplies – look for the word “natural” on the label
  • Instead of using PFAS-treated microwave bags, make popcorn on the stovetop.
  • It’s critical not to consume or reheat food that has been wrapped in grease-resistant packaging.
  • Get rid of non-stick cookware and replace with cast-iron, glass, ceramic, or stainless steel pots and pans.
  • Avoid stain-resistant clothing – choose natural fabrics instead.
  • Don’t buy clothing made with water repellent fabric.
  • Avoid stain-resistant furniture.
  • Buy natural laundry products that state PFAS free
  • Buy natural cosmetic products that state”PFAS Free”

The following is a list of PFA Free products (from pfascentral.org)

The following are PFAS FREE products:

Rain Gear:

Other: 

Apparel

Shoes

Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Retailers: 

Manufacturers: 

Dental Floss:

Baby Products

Stroller: 

Bumbleride (all strollers, policy)

Car Seats:

(brand: model)

Furniture

Foodware

Take Out Packaging:

Non-Stick Cookware:

Disposable Foodware (cups, plates, straws, and bowls):

Carpet and Rugs

Manufacturers: 

Retailers: 

Textiles and Textile Technologies

Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

Textile Technologies

Home Maintenance

Sealers

Name Brands Known to Contain PFAS

Brands that are known to have PFAS in some of their products include the following.

Outdoor gear and jackets

  • North Face
  • Patagonia
  • Adidas
  • Columbia
  • Jack Wolfskin

Shoes

  • Nike
  • Puma
  • Adidas

Swimwear

  • Disney
  • Burberry

https://www.ewg.org/what-are-pfas-chemicals

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sujatha-bergen/lowes-bans-pfas-fabric-protector-sprays

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/exposure.html

https://pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products/

Coping with Stress

Heart Math has a very simple and effective online course available for free since the start of the pandemic. It is essentially a breathing technique with a focus on the heart. Heart Math is unique in that it has done years of scientific study on how people can affect their own health with very simple techniques. It can be learned in a few moments. It has profound effects when practiced daily. Click the link below then click ‘store’ and choose “The Heart Math Experience”. The course is FREE.

https://www.heartmath.org

COVID 6: Recovery

For those who have had Covid, proper recovery can make a world of difference. Here are a few recommendations based on what I have noticed among those sick with or recovering from Covid:

  • Stay warm!!! Especially your ‘skinny’ parts – neck (wear a wool muffler, indoors and out); wrists (wear long sleeved wool sweaters and wrist warmers); waist (clothes should be snug around the waist); ankles/feet (wool socks). Wool is warmer than fleece – it reflects your body’s heat back to you, fleece does not. Wear wind proof warm hats when outdoors. Avoid drafts, indoors or out.
  • REST!!! It takes energy to overcome a virus. Give your body the rest it needs. Stay in bed, take naps.
  • FLUIDS!!! Warm water, teas, etcetera.
  • Review the other 5 posts in this blog that are titled “Covid” and apply the dietary and lifestyle recommendations. (Type “Covid” into search bar above).
  • Continue taking whatever special foods/supplements/teas for at least two weeks after your last symptom albeit at a lower amount.
  • Get back into the normal flow of activity gradually.
  • Tweak your daily health habits appropriately for your body to prevent getting sick again.

For more information refer to the following sections of the clinic handbook (The 12 Elixirs):

  • page 319 “Recovery”
  • page 338 “Broths”
  • page 332 “Baths”
  • page 8 Chapter 2
  • page 20 Chapter 3

All good medicine,

Dr.R.

Migraines and Green Leafy Vegetables ;)

An article in the British Medical Journal1 last year cited the case of a patient whose migraine headaches were permanently eliminated by a change of diet which stressed dark leafy green vegetables……

For those of us in the trenches of natural medicine this was sweet (albeit eye-rolling “duh!”) justification. Eliminating disease is what we strive for for our patients. “Living with” a disease is just not acceptable. Chronic pain conditions do respond to dietary changes that promote body chemistry that is conducive to a pain free life.

Mothers, from time immemorial it seems, have coaxed children into eating their spinach and other leafy greens. Vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones ARE “good for you” (i.e. they make you feel better). Even Popeye had some effect on encouraging the consumption of dark leafy greens. In Italy one could always finds platters of steamed spinach in the display cases of most all bistros. Alas, medical authorities saw no need to connect diet with chronic migraines and mothers’ opinions were downgraded to “old wives’ tales” (I still have not met one that was not based on truth). Popeye was replaced with sugar eating toons and eating veggies was not “in”. We were trained via TV commercials and magazine ads to switch to processed and packaged foods. “We” made a lot of businessman wealthy and a lot of doctors rich, too.

The annual cost of migraines in the US is estimated at$14billion/year.2 Yet, diet is rarely a consideration in standard medical practice.

So, eat your vegetables, grow strong and prosper.

All good medicine,

Dr.R.

1https://casereports.bmj.com/content/14/12/e243987

Chronic migraine reversal and prevention with the LIFE diet: a nutrient dense whole food plant-based diet (WFPBD)
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0528-5247Brittany Marie Perzia1, Joshua L Dunaief2 and David M Dunaief3
Correspondence to Dr Joshua L Dunaief; jdunaief@pennmedicine.upenn.edu
Abstract
We report a case of a 60-year-old man who struggled with frequent migraines for 12.5 years, which were refractory to all conventional therapies. Six months before initial consultation, these migraines become chronic. The patient was then advised to follow the Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet, a nutrient-dense, dark green leafy vegetable-rich, whole food plant-based diet. Within 2 months, his headache frequency declined from 18 to 24 headache days per month to 1, and he discontinued his preventive and abortive migraine medications. After 3 months, the patient had no headaches. These results far exceed the goal of migraine treatment with medication, which is to reduce migraine frequency by >50% per month. In addition, the results were durable; this patient has been migraine-free for 7.5 years. Serum beta-carotene more than tripled after the patient started the LIFE diet, consistent with its high content of dark green leafy vegetables. Weight, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), complete blood count (CBC), hydration status, sodium and other electrolytes remained constant throughout the study.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2021-243987

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92521/

Blood Pressure – Heart disease Nitrates – Veggies

Eating green leafy vegetables is good for you. A recent study looked at the effect of the naturally occurring nitrates in vegetables and their effect on blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. The researchers’ conclusion was:

Consumption of at least ~ 60 mg/day of vegetable nitrate (~ 1 cup of green leafy vegetables) may mitigate risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease).*

*Vegetable nitrate intake, blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease: Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study Catherine P Bondonno

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33884541/

COVID Update #5

It is easy to think that we are out of the woods with the Covid pandemic. Based on the history of pandemics, it would behoove us to remain cautious and vigilant.

All good medicine,

Dr. R.

I am including the following article for your perusal.

The Daily Beast

The Doctor Who Eliminated Smallpox Says COVID-19 Is Here to Stay

Harry Siegel

Sun, June 13, 2021, 3:42 AM

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

In some pockets of the United States, if you squint hard enough, the coronavirus pandemic might feel like it’s almost over. Larry Brilliant would beg to disagree. With U.S. COVID-19 deaths soon to surpass the domestic toll from the great influenza of a century ago even as widely available vaccines have worked wonders, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who worked with the WHO to help eradicate smallpox and was the science adviser for the eerily prescient film Contagion, thinks there’s still plenty left to worry about—but also lots of good news to appreciate.

In an hour-long interview that’s been edited for length and clarity, I asked him about why he thinks it’s too late to hope for herd immunity, and what he thinks we need to be doing now in what looks to be a long fight against a Forever Virus. We also ended up talking about MERS, SARS, Ebola, the “Spanish flu,” anti-maskers, biological warfare and Yogi Berra.

Harry Siegel: Let’s start with the big question: Why is it that you think COVID-19 isn’t going away, and does that mean the U.S. is in a bubble right now, as vaccines are being widely distributed here?

Larry Brilliant: Boy, I wish we could reach herd immunity. But there’s a number of reasons why we can’t. First and foremost, a virus that infects multiple species, animals and humans, and a virus that has multiple new variants, each one having the potential to reinfect people, is sort of disqualified from being a candidate to be eradicated. Because in both cases, the denominator keeps changing, of how many people could be exposed to the disease. If you’re exposed to or get vaccinated against the disease and then a new variant comes in that can still infect you, the concept of herd immunity no longer really applies. And if animals—and we’ve got 12 different species who’ve been infected with COVID-19, usually from humans—if they can harbor it, and then infect humans, then you can’t eradicate the disease like we’ve been unable to eradicate yellow fever, because monkeys get it and they just don’t like to put their arms out to get vaccinated, and it’s really tough to get them to stand in line.

How should Americans who’ve been vaccinated and are feeling a sense of relief and maybe going inside restaurants again or sending their kids under 12 to camp for the summer be thinking about all this and their behaviors?

If they’re like me, they’ll feel grateful. After an abysmal start in 2020—where America was part of the problem, as China was part of the problem, instead of being part of the solution—we’re getting there. President Biden at the G7 announced that we will supply 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines to the rest of the world that needs it the most, and I’m very proud of that. And we should be very proud of the mRNA vaccines. When I was at Google, we used to say that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the mRNA vaccines and the speed with which they were made are, in many ways, magic. We shouldn’t forget that the scientists working on mRNA vaccines had been working on them for 10 years, and almost had an mRNA vaccine against MERS[the Middle Eastern Repository Syndrome that was first identified in 2012]. And that’s what helped us to get off of the starting line so quickly.

Is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) the Next SARS?

Just think about this: It took us well over 200 years after we had a vaccine before we could eradicate smallpox, 70 years after we had a vaccine against polio before we could have a global polio program. And by January, really, a year from the day that COVID-19 began, we already got the start of a global vaccination program. It’s astonishing, and we should feel really grateful. Those of us who’ve been vaccinated, I think many would share the feeling I had when I had my second dose, and just felt like a load was off my shoulders.

Beachgoers flock to Clearwater Beach during spring break, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, in Clearwater, Florida, U.S. March 19, 2021. 

REUTERS/Octavio Jones

More

But while feeling grateful, we shouldn’t misunderstand the situation we’re in. It’s a Dickensian moment. It’s the best of times, because we’ve got the vaccines, and it’s the worst of times, because of the people who don’t have the vaccine. You can’t help but look at the funeral pyres burning in India and Nepal and contrast that to Americans, joyfully ripping off our masks and going to the beach for a summer holiday, without understanding that it’s a tale not of two cities but of two worlds, and two lived experiences.

The body of someone who died from COVID-19 lies on a funeral pyre during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India May 1, 2021. 

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

More

Could that second world, the one consumed with illness and suffering right now, return to America with the mutations? I mean, you’re writing about variants that could be more transmissible, or could be vaccine resistant, or could even be able to evade the tests we have now.

They’re already back. I mean, all the variants—the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants—are all back in the United States. In my county, Marin County in California, when I looked a couple of weeks ago, 30 percent of all the cases here were the British variant, the B.1.1.7, and that’s the alpha variant, but we also had the beta and gamma and delta, the others that we call variants of concern.

It’s likely that if a super-variant, a variant of high consequences, as WHO calls it, emerges anywhere in the world—including, you know, in Canton, Ohio, it doesn’t have to arise from an exotic place far away—it will be everywhere. It is the nature of a new variant. What makes a new variant succeed is that it outpaces all the prior variants, all the ancestral strains, and then infects all the people we have in our community who haven’t been vaccinated. Even many, perhaps, who’ve had the disease before. What we fear the most is that kind of a variant that will infect people who’ve already been vaccinated, and that the vaccines will turn out to not be effective against it.

And we have a reason for concern: that we already have one vaccine that, when matched against one variant, becomes 90 percent ineffective. And that’s the AstraZeneca vaccine matched against the beta variant, the South African variant. In trials, its effectiveness is reduced to 10 or 20 percent. It’s perfectly effective against other variants, but just not against that one. This should be a big red light blinking for us, that one variant has rendered one vaccine ineffective. We have a reason to be concerned that it could happen again with a new variant, and that new version could in fact render all vaccines we have to date ineffective.

I don’t think that’s a very high risk—it’s not a 50 percent risk, but it’s a non-zero risk, and Harry, if I told you that there was a 5 percent risk that if you drove from wherever you are to the closest Starbucks, that you’d be killed in that car, you wouldn’t go. You’d walk! And there’s a non-zero risk that we’ll have a super-variant like that. I don’t want to exaggerate it. I don’t want it to be the thing that everybody thinks about all the time, but epidemiologists have to think about it sometimes.

So, in a war, there’s a national mobilization; with the virus, outside of the medical world, there were shutdowns. Now, as things are reopening here, and with these concerns you’re talking about looming, what can we be doing to brace for what could be coming with a variant or the next pandemic?

We should realize that if 30 percent of Americans are not vaccinated, that’s 120 million people. And that’s plenty for the virus—the ancestral virus, let alone a novel virus, let alone a super-variant—to come in and create another wave, and a large one at that. So we need to have a defensive capability, a system of cluster-busters. That’s the term I’m borrowing from the Japanese, who use it to define teams that are mobile, that have highly computerized systems to have a situational report like a battlefield commander would have or like a CEO would have, and can see where every variant is.

We can find out where every variant is. We can find asymptomatics. We need to be doing sewage sampling, environmental sampling. Columbia University does this for all of their dorms. It’s very inexpensive once it’s set up. We need this to find out which countries are infected.

We’re Fighting Polio With Sewage Surveillance

We’ve done that in the polio program—this is not new! In the polio program, when we found out that Syria, which was supposedly free of polio, had causative viruses in the sewage, we sequenced the viruses to find out which polio variant it was. We did this 15 or 20 years ago—this is not science fiction. We should, all over the United States, have sewage sampling now. Because this virus is going to be with us for years or decades, and the variants are likely to return, and there will be new pandemic viruses. Why not? Why not have sewage sampling everywhere, especially in the cities, and be able to do virus sequencing to know what the variant is?

And we should be using exposure notification systems. I know there was a big article in The New York Times a few weeks ago about how bad they are. They’re not bad, they’re wonderful. We learned from scientists at Cambridge and in the U.K. that exposure notification systems, when compared to human contact-tracing systems, found two times as many contacts for people who are exposed (four, compared to two) and found them two days earlier. Well, that’s a lifetime for an epidemiologist. Then we’ll know who to test, who to isolate, and who to vaccinate.

There’s a whole host of electronic symptom-surveillance systems, we call them syndromic-surveillance systems, and I’ll name a few of them: Outbreaks Near MeFlu Near YouHow We Feel—and GPHIN, the first of these digital disease-detection systems, which was how we found the original SARS. These are opt-in, voluntary systems where if somebody reports that they’ve got a fever or the symptoms of COVID-19, you can send them an email or text: When did you get sick? Do you know about the doctor here? Can I tell you about a vaccine there?

Adding in testing, tracing, and isolation on top of situational awareness, a good digital disease detection, a good surveillance system, we can do it differently than we did before because of the COVID stimulus package. This is all doable. We’ve done every one of these things in part. What we have to do now is put it together. And the worst part, and the hardest part, is we’ve got to put it together at a time when everyone is feeling like we’re through with this disease, we’re over it, we can go to the beach.

And then the testing that we do is so much better now. In addition to PCR testing, we’ve got rapid PCRs and viral sequencing. So a baseline of surveillance, and then containment of the outbreak. And the containment will include better isolation and just-in-time vaccination—but vaccination with a vaccine that matches the variant.

Larry Brilliant, President, Skoll Urgent Threats Fund; Philanthropic Adviser to Jeff Skoll and Google.org, speaks during “The Swine Flu Epidemic: How Serious Is the Threat?” panel at the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 28, 2009. 

REUTERS/Phil McCarten

More

One of the big issues last year internationally and within the United States was coordination between different governments and levels of government. In your Foreign Policy piece, you call for a single database for anonymized demographic epidemiological and sequencing data. But in New York City, where I am, the governor and the mayor can’t even agree on the most basic data, like the daily death count. And obviously some nations—China comes to mind here—have been much more secretive about their data. Is the answer here technologies or apps that route around governments, or what is the answer in a time of rising nationalism and suspicion of international or collaborative bodies?

If it’s any consolation, in every pandemic, almost every country has been secretive about whether they were infected or not. I give you as evidence the Spanish flu, which started in Kansas. You don’t call it the Kansas flu or the French flu or the British flu, even though those countries also had it, because all those countries were fighting in World War I, and they had military censorship. They were forbidden to tell other countries that their armed forces might be weakened by having a disease. But poor Spain was neutral, they had no reason to lie. So when a member of the royal family got it, they just kind of innocently did the right thing and I guess no good deed goes unpunished, so it got labeled the Spanish flu. It’s always the case that people hide diseases in a pandemic, and especially in wartime.

When SARS hit China, if it weren’t for that digital disease surveillance system, GPHIN, which by the way is a Canadian system, we never would have found it as quickly as we did—the original SARS. So what you’re describing is not new.

I think Trump took it to an entirely new level when he—the most reliable data is hospitalization data. It’s very difficult to get accurate death data, it’s very difficult to get accurate case data, especially when they’re asymptomatics. Hospitalization data is easier to get, and is more reliable, so what Trump did was he stopped letting anybody get that data. If you remember, he rerouted that data from CDC to Palantir. I can’t even imagine what was behind that story, but why did he want to do that? Recall, when that cruise ship docked in Oakland, with Americans who had COVID-19 on it, Trump said I don’t want it to touch American territory because if it docks and touches American territory, they’ll be counted against my score. I mean, what world are we living in? Don’t count, don’t find Americans who are sick from COVID-19, because it will be counted against my score?

But this is not new, and Trump is not the first person to do this. Half the reason we’re having this explosion of cases in India compared to what we had before is that India didn’t do a very good job of reporting the cases. Surprise. China under-reported cases. This is not new.

So we need to find ways to aggregate data, because we’re really in this for the long haul. I wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal about a decade ago called The Age of Pandemics, and we now live in the age of pandemics, whether we like it or not, and we need to protect ourselves. Yes, we should be celebrating that we have this amazing mRNA technology and these vaccines. But you are never going to have a vaccine on the day that a novel virus leaps out from a chimpanzee or a mink to a human. On that day, the only thing you have is early detection and rapid response and isolation. If you’re lucky, you have an antiviral if it’s a virus that’s been hanging around on a shelf from some other disease, but you’re probably not going to be lucky.

The future is going to be—animals and humans are living in each other’s territory now, in a way that we haven’t done. I just heard the other day that 60 percent of the animals that we had 40, 50 years ago are gone, because humans are eating animals, including monkeys and rodents, bushmeat. And 30 years ago in China, the number of pigs and cows that were available for food was a fraction of what it is right now. But to get there, we’ve had to cut down the rainforests and build up soy plantations, and by cutting down the forest, we’re living right next to animals.

We tried to portray this in a movie that I was science adviser on, called Contagion. And if you remember the last scene, that Steven Soderbergh put in as the genius that he is, it is exactly that, it’s cutting the forest and a bat, losing its habitat, flying to a barn and eating an apple and a pig eating the apple that the bat dropped. That’s transmission. In that case, the pig would have been the animal that we’re searching for in COVID-19, but because we live in the world in which humans and animals are getting closer and closer together—there’s actually a whole branch now called One Health, which is a kind of big deal, with scientists who are convinced that animal health, human health, and environmental health all have to be looked at as one piece. That’s important for looking at the future of disease transmission.

Every year, two to five novel viruses jump from animals to humans. And these are viruses that could infect humans, and might become transmissible. Every year, we’re facing the drip, drip, drip of the risk of another pandemic. We might as well use this one to get good at it, because this risk is not going away. The last I looked, we haven’t changed our living practices to reduce the overlap between humans and animals.

Is summer travel likely to cause significant problems again this year?

Summer travel last year caused the explosion that we saw in the fall. If a third of the population, 30 percent, is not vaccinated, not wearing masks, and we’ve already got the variants in the United States—what do you think’s going to happen? Remember, what drives a virus is not how good we’ve been at vaccinating 60 percent. It’s the 120 million Americans who are not vaccinated, not wearing masks, not practicing social distancing, and who are congregating. And it only takes one little virus, and it’s everywhere, because they’re just not protected. Of those who aren’t vaccinated but had the virus, a high percentage have already lost their immunity or have waning immunity—there’s much less and much less durable immunity from getting the disease than from getting the vaccine.

How worried should we be about the big discrepancy in the U.S. between vaccination in the northern and southern states, a year out from the big surge in the south?

You know, Yogi Berra said it’s very difficult to make predictions, particularly about the future. However, I am extremely worried that the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year cadence will bring about another wave this year. I look at Texas, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi—the states that have been tepid about wearing masks, anti-vax, late to close, and early to open. That’s a formula for creating risk. And it’s true that if we don’t have any viruses anywhere in the country, those states will get the derivative benefit of the prudence of other states, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it.

What countries are you concerned may be next in line to be hit hard now, or is that back in Yogi territory?

We have to worry about the parts of Africa that are densely populated. South Africa is an example of a country that became an explosive outbreak almost overnight. It had a new variant.

By the way, I’m pretty optimistic that we’re going to get a handle on this disease, that we’re going to have booster shots, and we’re going to shame or convince the world to help build vaccine manufacturing plants all over the world. America just charitably promised 500 million doses, which is a wonderful thing, but far better would be that we help build vaccine manufacturing facilities all over Africa, all over Latin America, all over Asia, where they don’t have it. That would be better.

We want to be able to manufacture them all over the world. That’s the way you deal with a global pandemic. But you mentioned earlier, because of nationalism, because of people focused on their own community, we misunderestimate this virus. We don’t understand that we’re all just meat, and it travels everywhere.

How far have we come since 1918?

H1N1, the virus that caused the great influenza, went around the world four times in one year. And you know what there was not then? Commercial airplanes. You know, you don’t want to underestimate your adversary.

National Archives

I’m not sure if it’s a West Coast thing, but I know San Francisco and L.A. both closed their schools in 1918, and New York City, where the Department of Health was led by Royal Copeland, a homeopath, kept the schools open on the argument that the kids were actually safer there because they could be effectively monitored and surveilled, and otherwise you have lots of kids who are coming from tenements with bad circulation. Copeland ended up becoming a senator and fought very hard to get air conditioning into the Senate chamber which didn’t have it and apparently was unbearably hot. Forgive me, that’s random information as I’m processing here.

No, no, I’ll give you a random one back which is, you know, I worked so hard on smallpox and my colleagues, we worked very hard, and the last case of Variola major in nature was Bhola Island, October of 1975, a little girl named Rahima Banu. And when her scabs fell off and her coughs stopped, that was the end of an unbroken chain of transmission of Variola major going back to the pharaohs. And we celebrated.

Variola major was the disease that killed off the Native Americans. In New England, when you get to an old cemetery from the 1700 or 1800s, you’ll see right near it an annex that’s called Pox Acres. That’s mostly where the Indians were buried who picked up blankets from Jeffrey Amherst, after whom the city and the college are named, and who was the first bioterrorist in American history.

Back to 1975, we worked so hard and we declared smallpox eliminated, and we began the clock ticking. We weren’t going to declare it eradicated until two years would have passed after the last case. And, well, before the two-year clock had ticked, we had our last case. And our last death was in Birmingham, England, and it was a young woman who was a photographer, and her photographic studio was located above a lab, a smallpox lab, and the virus somehow got into the air conditioning system and floated up through the smallpox lab and infected her and she died.

Birmingham Archive

That was the last case of smallpox, and whenever I’m asked about Wuhan, I say, if we were so careless that the last death of smallpox was a lab accident, it could be anywhere, a lab accident, we just don’t know. But that’s another air conditioning response to your anecdote. I mean, this world of diseases is so filled with stories. You know, Conquistadors probably killed one out of every two Aztecs, just huge numbers that we can’t even count, because they’ve got smallpox. We should never underestimate these diseases that we sort of lost familiarity with because modernity has given us cleanliness and hygiene and vaccines.

That said, there’s happy news. Seven years ago it took us six months to find Ebola as the cause of that novel outbreak. And on average, it took six months to find any virus with pandemic potential that spilled over from animals. Today, it takes two or three weeks. That’s huge. It gives you the appearance of more outbreaks, but it gives you time to respond to bird flu or swine flu or a coronavirus or whatever the next pandemic is going to be. We’ve already got a global program. It may be uncoordinated, it may not have leadership, we’ve got all those problems, but we do have a global program, and we have a vaccine. Lots of good news.

I remember Trump, in the midst of Ebola and before he was president, tweeting his fears about this in real time and blasting Obama. I also remember (then New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie quarantining a returning nurse who had no symptoms at all.

Ebola is one of the diseases that I worry the least about. It’s a bloodborne disease, or it’s a disease spread by sharing vital fluids, and there’s no asymptomatics, and it kills a lot of people who get it. So if you were a virus and choosing the attributes that you wanted, smallpox would be ideal, because it spreads like wildfire and is to some extent more contagious than the original COVID-19, and it kills one out of three. COVID-19 made good choices, seeing from its perspective, trying to perpetuate its life. By having asymptomatics and a very short incubation period—it can be two to 14 days, average is six.

Just as an aside, one of my happiest days in epidemiology was in training Kate Winslet how to stand at that blackboard (in Contagion) and explain what R naught means. R naught is really critical. It’s the definition of the number of secondary cases that come from a primary case, which tells you, because this virus is going to spread at exponential speed, it tells you what’s the exponent. In the case of measles, one case gives rise to 10 to 12 others. In the case of influenza or Ebola, one case gives rise to about 1.2 or 1.3. These are laggards. Measles is the most transmissible. Smallpox was 3.5 to 4.5 and COVID-19, initially was thought to be 2 or 3. I think in retrospect, now that we know we were missing all these asymptomatics, it was originally 5 or 6. And each variant increases that. So this is a bit wonky, but the formula for herd immunity is one minus one divided by R naught. So if R naught is 10, as it is for measles, herd immunity is one minus one over 10, or 90 percent of people have got to be immunized. If R naught is two, then it’s one minus one over two or 50 percent of the population.

The theory is that what drives an epidemic is the density of susceptibles, it isn’t the number of people who are vaccinated. So if a disease transmits very slowly, it doesn’t infect very many people, then you don’t have to vaccinate that many people to stop it. But if it transmits incredibly quickly, then you have to vaccinate a huge number of people to stop it because you have to reduce the number of people who are susceptible to it.

Early on in the epidemic, when the first report out of Wuhan was that the R naught was 2 or 3, people were saying how we could get to herd immunity with only 50 or 67 percent of the population vaccinated. It was always ludicrous to think that we could do what Sweden was proposing, to just let the virus run through and infect everybody. I mean, we already have 600,000 deaths.

We’re about to pass the number of deaths that the United States had from the 1918 great influenza [the CDC says the Spanish flu killed 675,000 Americans; while COVID-19 has killed about 600,000]. Yes, the population has tripled from what it was then. But that doesn’t matter—there are as many grieving families with COVID-19 as there were with the great influenza. And we’re just starting with COVID-19.

What is it Churchill said? This is not the end. It’s not the beginning of the end. But it’s the end of the beginning.

New York City Bans Round-Up -Pesticides!

New York City has passed legislation banning Round-Up/ toxic pesticides!

Thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of a group of New York City public school kindergarteners!

Lawmakers voted unanimously to make New York the nation’s largest city to ban toxic pesticides from routine use by city agencies, and to push its parks to control weeds, insects and vermin with nature-based techniques of organic gardening.

Pesticides are inherently toxic compounds but their toxic effects are not limited to the intended target. Any reasonable efforts to reduce or eliminate exposure helps protect human health–particularly of those most vulnerable to harm from pesticides: pregnant women and children,” said Ken Spaeth, MD, MPH

Round-Up is toxic to bees – that effects the world’s food production.

“Pesticides …are disruptive to the health and well-being of adults, children and pets. ….they are linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, mental health disorders , etc.

it’s impossible to poison one organism without poisoning ourselves. It’s time to ban pesticides,”
Maya Shetreat, MD

“Pesticides interfere with brain development, are linked to cancer, and can disrupt hormones. Passage of Intro 1524 is a critical step towards protecting children’s health by eliminating the use of these chemicals where they live, learn, and play,” said Sarah Evans, PhD MPH, Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Glyphosate has been banned or limited in many jurisdictions throughout the world, including Brazil, France, Netherlands, Portugal.

In 2017, the state of California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals and substances known to cause cancer.

Sources:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/24/nyregion/pesticide-ban-nyc.html

https://benkallos.com/press-release/bill-banning-toxic-pesticides-city-parks-and-public-spaces-proposed-new-york-city

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1365-2664.13867; Round-Up bee mortality

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835870/; Glyphosphate/Round-Up bee impairment

https://www.cdc.gov For the latest re Covid.

Plastic and Your Health Now

We used to live without plastic.

Look around you: your computer/phone/tablet; your clothes (polyester/nylon/etc.); your car; your bike; your furniture; your house; your car; toys; food containers; etc. etc. all are made of plastic.

We used to live without plastic.

Effects of Micro and Nanoplastics on Human Health
A recent report from the “World Health Organization” emphasized the ubiquitous microplastics presence in the environment and aroused great concern regarding the effects ofmicroplastics on human health.1

Plastic breaks down into small particles called microplastics (MPs).

Microplastics are everywhere – in the air, water, and food.

We breathe it.

We eat it.

In a Minnesota study every fish tested was found to contain microplastics.5

Microplastics are in the SALT, SUGAR, ALCOHOL, and BOTTLED WATER you consume.1

Microplastics have a negative effect upon your hormones.4

Microplastics have a negative effect upon your immune system.1

Microplastics damage your lungs.4

Bottlefed babies ingest over 1 million particles of plastic per day.2

Microplastic particles are found in human milk.

Microplastics act as disease vectors.4,6

WE DO NOT KNOW THE LONG TERM EFFECTS, YET. But evidence is indicating that many human health problems are at the very least aggravated by micro plastics and in some cases caused by microplastics.

Unlabelled Image
Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Main sources of indoor and outdoor plastic debris released into the air and subject to human inhalation.4



More than 60 million metric tons of plastic fibers were produced in 2016.


Present in outdoor and indoor air.


Inhaled microplastics are likely to be biopersistent.


Airborne microplastics may carry pollutants including microbes.

Microplastics may persist in the lung causing localized biological responses, including inflammation.3

The resulting toxicity is via inflammation due to the persistent nature of microplastics.1

Health effects include reproductive damage, cancer, and genetic mutation.3

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is ijerph-17-01212-g006.jpg

Figure 6

Overview of scientific studies focused on the effects of micro and nanoplastics on human health. Colored squares represent pollutants (organic and inorganic) that could be present in environmental matrices (free or associated with micro and nanoplastics) and that could enter into the human body through different entry routes.


Main use of heavy metals as additives in polymer products and their effects on human health.

Heavy MetalsAdditivesType of PolymersEffects on Human HealthReferences
Antimony (Sb)Flame retardants and biocidesVarious plasticsMetal–estrogen; breast cancer[18,22,90
Aluminum (Al)Stabilizers, inorganic pigments and flame retardants.PBT, PET, PE, PVC Metal–estrogen; breast cancer[18,22,90]
Zinc (Zn)Heat stabilizers, flame retardants, anti-slip agents and inorganic pigments. PVC, PE, PP[18,22]
Bromine (Br)Flame retardantsPBT, PE, PS, PPApoptosis and genotoxicity[18,88]
Cadmium (Cd)Heat stabilizers, UV stabilizers and inorganic pigmentsPVCChanges in metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and bone; osteomalacia and bone fractures in postmenopausal women; lipid peroxidation and in the promotion of carcinogenesis; cellular apoptosis; DNA methylation.[18,22,77,79,92,93]
Copper (Cu)Biocides Formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); inducing DNA strand breaks and oxidation.[18,22,77]
Mercury (Hg)BiocidesPUMutagen or carcinogen; induction of the disruption of DNA molecular structure and brain damage.[11,22,77,95]
Arsenic (As)BiocidesPVC, LDPE and polyestersCongenital disabilities; Carcinogen: lung, skin, liver, bladder, kidneys; gastrointestinal damage; death.[18,22,93]
Tin (Sn)UV stabilizers and biocidesPU foam and PVCMetal–estrogen; breast cancer; skin rashes; stomach complaints; nausea; vomiting, diarrhea; abdominal pain; headache and palpitations; potential clastogen. [18,22,87,90]
Lead (Pb)Heat stabilizers, UV stabilizers and inorganic pigmentsPVC and all types of plastics, where red pigments are usedAnemia (less Hb); hypertension; miscarriages; disruption of nervous Systems; brain damage; infertility; oxidative stress and cell damage.[18,22,77,79,90,93]
Titanium (Ti)UV stabilizers and inorganic pigmentsPVCCytotoxicity on human epithelial lung and colon cells.[18,80,94]
Cobalt (Co)Inorganic pigmentsPET bottlesFormation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); neurological (e.g., hearing and visual impairment); cardiovascular and endocrine deficits.[22,77,86]
Chrome (Cr)Inorganic pigmentsPVC, PE, PP Allergic reactions to the body; nasal septum ulcer; severe cardiovascular, respiratory, hematological, gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic, and neurological effects and possibly death.[77,79]
Barium (Ba)Inorganic pigments and UV stabilizersPVCMetal–estrogen, breast cancer; cardiovascular and kidney diseases; metabolic, neurological, and mental disorders[18,22,85,90]
Manganese (Mn)Inorganic pigmentsNeurodegenerative disorder [18,84]

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/pollution-act/embed/#?secret=HYL7lB4q1l

1A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health
Claudia Campanale,*et al. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068600/

2https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-020-00171-y#citeas
Published: 19 October 2020
Microplastic release from the degradation of polypropylene feeding bottles during infant formula preparation; Dunzhu Li, et al
Nature Food volume 1, pages746–754(2020)

3https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2468584417300119?via%3Dihub; Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? JohnnyGasper et al

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7424328/; An emerging class of air pollutants: Potential effects of microplastics to respiratory human health? Luís Fernando Amato-Lourenço, et al.

5https://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/blog/2020/04/microplastic-planet

6https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bugbitten/2021/03/05/microplastics-and-microbes-have-we-created-a-new-disease-vector/embed/#?secret=TQT8TQHwpD

  • Post
  • Block

5 blocks77 words

Covid Update #4 – Melatonin

(For previous Covid posts type ‘Covid’ in the search bar.)

Recent data suggests that people taking melatonin are less likely to test positive for Covid 19 and that melatonin appears to be a good candidate for both protection from infection and for the treatment of Covid 19.

The body produces its own melatonin while you are sleeping in a dark room (that means no light, including night lights, computer/device power lights, etc.). When in your bed the bedroom should appear pitch black when you open your eyes. For night time trips to the bathroom – have a nightlight switch at your bedstand.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7102583/

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/melatonin-a-promising-candidate-for-prevention-and-treatment-of-covid-19/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7405774/#!po=39.8148

Food Allergies Revisited

From Eat This Not That

Food allergies have been increasing dramatically across the developed world for more than 30 years. For instance, as many as 8% of children in the U.S. now experience potentially lethal immune system responses to such foods as milk, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

“One factor is increased use of hygiene products and overuse of antibiotics and, secondly, a change in diet and the increased consumption of processed food with reduced exposure to naturally grown food and changed composition of the gut microbiome,” Medzhitov said. “Finally, the introduction of food preservatives and environmental chemicals such as dishwashing detergents introduced novel elements for immune system to monitor.”

Collectively, these changes in the environment effectively trigger food quality control responses making the immune system react to food proteins the way it would react to toxic substances, the team argues.

*https://news.yale.edu/2021/01/14/overactive-food-quality-control-system-triggers-food-allergies