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Germany Publishes Study on Health Effects of Ultrafine Particles

The German Environment Agency (UBA) in October 2018 published a study entitled Health Effects of Ultrafine Particles:  Systematic literature search and the potential transferability of the results to the German setting.  The study notes that ultrafine particles represent the smallest size fractions of particles with sizes from one to about 100 nanometers in aerodynamic diameter.  Their specific health effects are thus related to their physical capacity to reach diverse organ systems.  Prepared on behalf of UBA and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, the aims of the study were to review systematically the scientific literature on the health effects of ultrafine particles, to evaluate the quality of the selected studies, and to assess the transferability of the results to the situation in Germany.  The search strategy yielded 85 references of original articles.  Most of the included studies were conducted in North America (n=37) or Western Europe (n=27), investigating short-term effects (n=75).  The short-term studies are dominated by panel studies (n=32), scripted exposure studies (n=16), and time-series studies (n=11). 

Ten studies investigated long-term associations using exposure estimates averaged over a period of months to years.  The study states that the evidence on health effects remains inconclusive or insufficient for most of the studied outcomes.  Specifically, while a number of studies have investigated mortality and emergency department/hospital admission outcomes, the relatively few studies with co-pollutant adjustment reveal mixed and, up to now, inconclusive evidence.  According to the study, in terms of number of studies, most available evidence is from studies investigating subclinical outcomes.  Within this group, cardiovascular outcomes and outcomes of pulmonary and systemic inflammation show the most consistent patterns with associations generally pointing in the direction of the adverse health outcome.  The study states that a future challenge is the development of enhanced spatiotemporal models that can contribute to a more precise exposure assessment across larger areas, as well as incorporating multipollutant models to become clear of independent effects.

©2018 Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

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About this Author

Lynn Bergeson, Campbell PC, Toxic Substances Control Act Attorney, federal insecticide lawyer, industrial biotechnology legal counsel, Food Drug Administration law
Managing Partner

Owner of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), Lynn L. Bergeson has earned an international reputation for her deep and expansive understanding of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), European Union Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and especially how these regulatory programs pertain to nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, synthetic biology, and other emerging transformative technologies. Her knowledge of and involvement in the policy...

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Carla Hutton, Bergeson Campbell PC, global regulatory attorney, public health activists lawyer, metals industry legal counsel, Toxic Substances Control Act law
Regulatory Analyst

Since 1996, Carla Hutton has monitored, researched, and written about regulatory and legislative issues that may potentially affect Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) clients. She is responsible for creating a number of monthly and quarterly regulatory updates for B&C's clients, as well as other documents, such as chemical-specific global assessments of regulatory developments and trends. She authors memoranda for B&C clients on regulatory and legislative developments, providing information that is focused, timely and applicable to client initiatives. These tasks have proven invaluable to many clients, keeping them aware and abreast of developing issues so that they can respond in kind and prepare for the future of their business.

Ms. Hutton brings a wealth of experience and judgment to her work in federal, state, and international chemical regulatory and legislative issues, including green chemistry, nanotechnology, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Proposition 65, and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program.

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