Sunday, November 09, 2014

Could ADHD be triggered by mothers being exposed to air pollution while pregnant?

It is saddening that I have to say so but the study described below is typical epidemiological crap. They concluded what they wanted to conclude and damn the data.  The focus of the study was Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the atmosphere and in food.  So what did the results show?  "Maternal and cord adducts were not significantly correlated with prenatally air monitored PAH, ETS, or dietary PAH."  In other words those villainous PAHs had no effects that could be detected in the blood of the mother or the blood of the placenta.  So the whole theory fails at the first hurdle.  All other associations observable in the data were not due to anything in the atmosphere or in the diet. A few molecules of PAH in people must have come from somewhere but it would appear that they were so few that the research could not detect their origin.  The women examined were all black NYC residents from the ghettoes so perhaps they got the stuff from something to do with their lifestyle.  Drugs perhaps?

Children exposed to high levels of pollution in the womb are at greater risk of suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a new study has found.

Scientists at Columbia University studied 233 non-smoking pregnant women living in New York.  They found children exposed to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy were five times more likely to have ADHD by the time they were nine years old.

The nine-year study looked at levels of common pollutants polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).  Researchers measured the levels of PAH in maternal and umbilical cord blood shortly after delivery.  And they repeated tests when each of the children were three and five, measuring levels of PAH in their urine.

Thirty-three children who had high levels of exposure to PAHs, as measured at birth.  Of those, 13 were diagnosed with ADHD hyperactive-impulsive subtype, seven the inattentive subtype, and 13 had both.

Professor Frederica Perera, first author of the study, said: 'Those children born to moms who were exposed to high levels of PAH during pregnancy had five times the odds of having an increased number of symptoms.'

PAHs are created when products like coal, oil, gas and rubbish are burned but not completely.  They don't burn easily, and as a result remain in the environment for long periods of time.  Most are used to conduct research though some are used to make dyes, plastics and pesticides.

One of the most common ways they enter the body is through breathing in contaminated air.

To establish children's exposure to PAHs in the womb, the scientists measured levels of fragments of the mothers' DNA bonded to PAH molecules, also known as DNA adducts, in umbilical cord blood.

Previous studies carried out by Professor Perera and her team identified links between higher levels of prenatal PAH exposure and developmental delays in children by the age of three.

They also noted lower IQ scores at five, and increased risk a child will suffer anxiety, depression and attention problems at six and seven.

The new study, published in the journal PLoS One, looked at the children's ADHD symptoms using the Child Behavior Checklist and the Conners' Parent Rating Scale - two screening tests used to diagnose the condition.

Professor Perera said this is the first time a link has been established between prenatal PAH exposure and ADHD symptoms.  She told LiveScience: 'If replicated, then these findings could lead to new ways or stronger ways, better ways, to prevent ADHD.

'By nature, environmental exposures are preventable, this we consider one possible contributor to ADHD and one that's preventable, and the findings should be followed up so that necessary preventive strategies could be taken.'

She said pregnant women concerned about the effect of pollution levels on their unborn babies, can eat plenty of fresh produce which helps offset the effects of pollutants.


Early-Life Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and ADHD Behavior Problems

Frederica P. Perera et al.



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are widespread urban air pollutants from combustion of fossil fuel and other organic material shown previously to be neurotoxic.


In a prospective cohort study, we evaluated the relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems and prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure, adjusting for postnatal exposure.

Materials and Methods

Children of nonsmoking African-American and Dominican women in New York City were followed from in utero to 9 years. Prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure was estimated by levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon- DNA adducts in maternal and cord blood collected at delivery. Postnatal exposure was estimated by the concentration of urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites at ages 3 or 5. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist and the Conners Parent Rating Scale- Revised.


High prenatal adduct exposure, measured by elevated maternal adducts was significantly associated with all Conners Parent Rating Scale-Revised subscales when the raw scores were analyzed continuously (N = 233). After dichotomizing at the threshold for moderately to markedly atypical symptoms, high maternal adducts were significantly associated with the Conners Parent Rating Scale-Revised DSM-IV Inattentive (OR = 5.06, 95% CI [1.43, 17.93]) and DSM-IV Total (OR = 3.37, 95% CI [1.10, 10.34]) subscales. High maternal adducts were positivity associated with the DSM-oriented Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems scale on the Child Behavior Checklist, albeit not significant. In the smaller sample with cord adducts, the associations between outcomes and high cord adduct exposure were not statistically significant (N = 162).


The results suggest that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems.


UK: Family energy bills to be £70 HIGHER than ministers claimed... despite millions lavished of green energy schemes

Chimerical "savings" from government-encouraged use of home insulation and lower-powered electrical appliances are supposed to more than  offset green levies on British power bills -- so you can have your cake and eat it too!  Reality is beginning to intrude however. I wonder if they have yet factored in the fact that lower powered electrical appliances tend to be run longer.  If, for instance, a low-powered dishwasher doesn't get the dishes very clean, people tend to re-run the cycle  -- thus using MORE power than if the government hadn't meddled

Family energy bills in five years’ time will be £70 a year higher than previously thought, the Government admitted today.

In 2020, the average energy bill will be £1,319 – around £50 cheaper than today – the Department of Energy and Climate Change has estimated in a report published today. This is £92 cheaper than without Government measure, the report claims.

But in March last year, ministers promised that the raft of green policies it has introduced to reduce Britain’s dependence on coal would drive down prices down to £1,245 a year on average – or £166 cheaper than if the Government did nothing.

It means bills will be some £74 higher than the Government claimed last year.

Despite the setback the Government insists its green policies mean household fuel bills are £90 cheaper this year than they would be without the raft of policies to cut emissions and save energy.

Families will also be saving £92 a year on their electricity and gas bills by 2020, the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates.

But the figure for the end of the decade is significantly lower than savings of £166 predicted last March.

The assessment shows that while measures to support clean power – like subsidies for wind farms – push up bills, other policies to save energy, including insulation programmes and regulations on more efficient appliances, bring them down.

This year the average household energy bill is £1,369, compared with an estimated figure of £1,459 if there were no Government energy policies.

The £90 saving includes a £50 reduction as a result of moves brought in by the Government last December.

The majority of the £50 savings came from the Energy Company Obligation scheme which helps poorer families with energy efficiency measures to provide them with warmer homes and cheaper bills.

Subsidies for low carbon power makes up around 5 per cent of the average bill and energy efficiency measures make up around 2-3 per cent, the assessment shows.

But gas use is down 10 per cent and electricity use is 17 per cent less as a result of policies that save energy, Decc said.

By 2030, bills are predicted to rise to £1,524 with policies on emissions and energy savings, compared with £1,586 without any measures - though the estimates do not include extra policies that could be needed to cut carbon further.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: ‘We have the best energy security in Europe - and to stay that way we need to deal with a legacy of under investment and build a clean, secure energy system based on home-grown supplies.

‘I’m determined that while we tackle these challenges, consumers don’t pay a penny more than they have to for the energy they use.

‘We’re making homes warmer and cheaper to run, giving particular help to the most vulnerable people and avoiding the predicted energy crunch, meaning we can drive down bills and support investment in the economy with more secure energy supplies and more stable bills.’


More unsettled science

It's been overlooked for decades, but now scientists believe infrared energy could turn out to be a major contributor to warming in the Arctic region.

Infrared is invisible to human eyes but accounts for about half the energy emitted by Earth's surface. This process balances out incoming solar energy.

However, researchers hadn't previously thought to consider the long-wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Now, they believe its inclusion could change existing climate models.

Earth's surface is thought to radiate the equivalent of 17 per cent of incoming solar energy as thermal infrared.

Despite its importance in the planet's energy budget, it's difficult to measure a surface's effectiveness in emitting far-infrared energy.   As a result, its influence on the planet's climate is not well represented in climate models, which assume that all surfaces are 100 per cent efficient in emitting far-infrared energy.

That's not the case. The scientists found that open oceans are much less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum.

This means that the Arctic Ocean traps much of the energy in far-infrared radiation - a previously unknown phenomenon that is likely contributing to the warming of the polar climate.

'Far-infrared surface emissivity is an unexplored topic, but it deserves more attention,' said Daniel Feldman, a scientist in Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division.

'Our research found that non-frozen surfaces are poor emitters compared to frozen surfaces. This discrepancy has a much bigger impact on the polar climate than today's models indicate.

Professor Feldman's simulations revealed that far-infrared surface emissions have the biggest impact on the climates of arid high-latitude and high-altitude regions.

In the Arctic, the simulations found that open oceans hold more far-infrared energy than sea ice, resulting in warmer oceans, melting sea ice, and a 2°C increase in the polar climate after only a 25-year run.

This could help explain why polar warming is most pronounced during the three-month winter when there is no sun.

It also complements a process in which darker oceans absorb more solar energy than sea ice.

'The Earth continues to emit energy in the far infrared during the polar winter,' Professor Feldman said.  'And because ocean surfaces trap this energy, the system is warmer throughout the year as opposed to only when the sun is out.'

The simulations revealed a similar warming effect on the Tibetan plateau, where there was five per cent less snowpack after a 25-year run.

This means more non-frozen surface area to trap far-infrared energy, which further contributes to warming in the region.

'We found that in very arid areas, the extent to which the surface emits far-infrared energy really matters,' said Professor Feldman.   'It controls the thermal energy budget for the entire region, so we need to measure and model it better.'


Will Obama Regulation Shut Off the Lights?

National pundits have largely dismissed the large role that energy played in the Democrat wipeout part deux.

However, the Obama Administration and his big money environmental extremist allies lost two Senate seats due to the issue, and it is likely to get worse for the greenies in the next two years.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), described by Bloomberg News as “a non-profit that assures adequate voltage and power reserves to keep the electric grid functioning” pushed for delay of Environmental Protection Agency power plant regulations warning in a report that, “The proposed timeline does not provide enough time to develop sufficient resources to ensure continued reliable operation of the electric grid by 2020.”

House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) reacted by promising, “to do everything we can to assure American businesses and families are not left in the dark.”

Whitfield continued saying, “NERC’s report underscores the growing reliability concerns with EPA’s unworkable plan. EPA is seeking to eliminate one of our nation’s most abundant and affordable sources of power, but the administration has yet to provide honest answers about just how damaging the consequences will be for our nation’s power grid and our economy.”

The Obama Administration regulation designed to force electric generating utilities to replace coal as a fuel source has come under increasing scrutiny as its implementation date draws near.

A recent study by the non-profit Institute for Energy Research shows that the concerns about the power grids capacity to withstand the loss of electric power generation are real.  If the EPA rules go into effect, they will eliminate enough electricity generating capacity to provide power to 44.7 million homes.

The Daily Caller quotes Tom Pyle, President of IER as worrying, “These shutdowns will send electricity prices through the roof—inflicting the most harm on the elderly, the poor, those on fixed incomes, businesses, families, schools, and hospitals.”

Pyle said. “These shutdowns also threaten the reliability of our grid and will cost thousands of Americans their jobs.”

With Senator Mitch McConnell from the coal producing state of Kentucky set to take the reins of the Senate in January, it is becoming increasingly likely that a showdown is looming over the climate change motivated rules issued by the EPA.  After winning a hard fought victory by touting his record of fighting for coal and the jobs it brings to his state, it is almost guaranteed that protecting the electric power grid from this little known overreaching Obama regulation will become one of the first flash points in the weeks ahead.


John Kerry has a flash of realism

Kerry: Even Carpooling, Biking, Tree-Planting Americans Wouldn’t Offset China’s Emissions

 Even if carpooling, bicycling, tree-planting Americans managed to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions to zero, that still wouldn’t be enough to counteract emissions coming from China and the rest of the world, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.

In a speech focusing on U.S.-China relations, Kerry stressed the importance of the world’s two largest economies and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters working together to confront climate change, saying neither the U.S. nor China could “solve this problem” alone.

“Even if every single American biked to work or carpooled to school or used only solar panels to power their homes – if we reduced our emissions to zero, if we planted each of us in America a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what?” he said.

“That still wouldn’t be enough to counteract the carbon pollution coming from China and the rest of the world.”

“And the same would be true for China if they reduced everything and we continued,” Kerry said. “We would wipe out their gains; they would wipe out our gains. Because today, if even one or two major economies neglects to respond to this threat, it will erase the good work done everywhere else.”

In the speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Kerry pointed to the latest U.N-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, calling it “another wakeup call to everybody.”

The report released Sunday warned of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” if action is not taken to reduce GHGs globally – with a target of zero by 2100.

The IPCC also, for the first time, said the use of fossil fuels will need to be “phased out almost entirely” by the end of the century.

“The science could not be clearer,” Kerry said. “Our planet is warming and it is warming due to our actions, human input. And the damage is already visible, and it is visible at a faster and greater rate than scientists predicted. That’s why there’s cause for alarm, because everything that they predicted is happening, but happening faster and happening to a greater degree.”

A major U.N. climate conference scheduled for November 2015 in Paris, France aims to deliver a universal agreement for the post-2020 period on reducing GHG emissions and mitigating climate change. A lead-up conference will be held in Lima, Peru next month.

Kerry expressed hope that the U.S. and China could together set an example for other countries to follow.

“Next year, countries are supposed to come forward with their stated [emission-reduction] goals. And we hope that the partnership between China and the United States can help set an example for global leadership and for the seriousness of purpose on those targets and on the negotiations overall,” he said.

“If the two countries that together are nearing 50 percent of all the emissions in the world, which happen to be also the two largest economies in the world, if they can come together and show seriousness of purpose, imagine what the impact could be on the rest of the world.”

Kerry and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi last year launched a U.S.-China working group on climate change. Projects have been launched or agreements reached on carbon capture, utilization and storage, vehicle fuel efficiency, GHG emission standards and a climate and forests initiative, among others.


Argentina: The Most Attractive Shale Play Outside US

Great geology; Nutty politics

Cristina Fernandez, president of Argentina, is the sort of populist political leader financial markets love to hate.

For business interests and the media, she has become an archetypal villain, a symbol of everything that has gone wrong with the country's economy over the last century.

Extreme political polarisation, serial defaults, devaluations, hyper-inflation and expropriations of foreign property, culminating in the nationalisation of oil company YPF in 2012 and a standoff with the U.S. courts over unpaid foreign debts in 2014 - Argentina's economic dysfunction is legendary.

The country remains frozen out of foreign debt markets while its lawyers argue about how to pay restructured bond holders without also paying investors who refused to participate in the restructuring.

The federal government enforces strict controls on imports as well as the export of capital and earnings to protect Argentina's meagre foreign exchange reserves.

Relations between the government and much of the business community and foreign investors can best be described as confrontational.

In the energy sector, oil and gas production has stagnated over the past two decades as consumption has grown, adding to pressure on the balance of payments.

Oil output has been falling, from a peak of more than 900,000 barrels per day in 1998 to a little over 700,000 bpd in 2013, and Argentina became a net petroleum importer in 2012.

In the foothills of the Andes, however, the country has world-class shale resources in the Neuquen Basin's Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow) and Los Molles formations.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Argentina has the world's fourth-largest technically recoverable shale oil resources at around 27 billion barrels, putting it behind only Russia, the United States and China.

The government recently updated the energy laws to ease exchange controls for investors in the oil and gas sector, harmonise treatment across provinces and provide more favourable fiscal terms.

Many observers remain sceptical, however, about whether shale can be successfully developed without a fundamental change in the business climate.

"Flogging a Dead Cow" was the headline of an article that appeared in the Economist magazine in July 2013, typical of the attitude of the international media.

But there is another side to the story, which suggests Argentina could be one of the first large shale plays outside the United States ("Flirting with default, Argentina enjoys drilling boom" July 21).

Follow the Drilling

There are more rigs drilling for oil and gas in the country than at any time in the last 30 years, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes. With over 100 rigs operating in September, the number of rigs has doubled since 2009. (

There is more drilling activity in Argentina than anywhere else except the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and India.

In 2013, U.S. oil major Chevron signed a deal with YPF on a drilling programme across 5,000 acres in the Neuquen Basin.

In total, they drilled 109 wells in 2013, and the drilling plan includes a further 140 wells in 2014, according to Chevron.

In a conference call with investors on Aug. 1, the company disclosed it had 19 active rigs in the first half of the year and had already drilled 89 wells.

"Chevron is pleased with our initial results in the Vaca Muerta," Chevron's exploration chief told analysts. "Drilling results have identified two sweet spots where we are focusing our activity. In one of these areas we have commenced a horizontal (drilling) programme."

He continued, "We have seen a production uptick, which gives us confidence that we will deliver the growth we anticipated when we entered this play."

Other smaller North American exploration and production companies also have active drilling programmes in the Vaca Muerta.

Of course, all these exploration and production companies are very bullish about the play's future. But it would be a mistake to write off their enthusiasm entirely.

Vaca Muerta has made faster progress than other shale plays in Poland and China.

World Class Resource
The play remains speculative from a regulatory and political perspective. But the geology is favourable (with hundreds of feet of thick organic-rich marine shale). Neuquen has a long history of conventional production as well as existing pipelines to Buenos Aires.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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