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What scientists say about emerging health risks



10th July 2009

Scientific evidence is available to help us keep up to date with new and emerging environmental health risks.

Referring to the evidence available from the scientific committees indicated in the “online source”, and using your existing knowledge and experience, provide concise
answers to the questions. You may select one or more questions with 2.5 hrs CPD available per topic.

1 Are tooth whitening kits safe?
Tooth whitening kits have become easily available in the UK to consumers seeking to brighten their smiles. These are supplied as paint-on gels, strips, or mouth guards, and may be applied at a dental clinic, or at home by the consumer. The whitening ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. Some toothpastes and mouth rinses also contain low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant to prevent plaque and inflammation of the gums.

Are toothpastes, mouthrinses and tooth whitening products containing hydrogen peroxide sufficiently safe to be sold directly to consumers?

Online source: Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) (2007) “Opinion on Hydrogen peroxide, in its free form or when released, in oral hygiene products and tooth whitening products”. Available at: http://copublicationsgreenfacts.org/en/toothwhiteners/index.htm#il1 

2 Does the increased usage of mobile phones require new health guidelines?
Safety limits have been set by the EU for the protection of workers and the public against the potential adverse health effects of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones. In light of the substantial increase in the number of users and the individual usage times of mobile phones, are the existing safety and health limits still adequate?

Online source: Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) (2007) Possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), Radio Frequency Fields (RF) and Microwave Radiation on human health (update). Available at: http://copublications.greenfacts.org/en/electromagnetic fields/index.htm#il1

3 Are current risk assessment methods suitable for nanoparticles?
Nanomaterials are used in the manufacture of car tyres, sunscreens, toothpastes, sanitaryware coatings and food products. Chemicals in this minute form have properties that are very different than when in their large physical forms.

In terms of environment and health the effects may also be very different – the routes of exposure, the ability to move inside the body, their potential for bioaccumulation and their persistence in the environment. Thus, are the current risk assessment methods adequate for assessing the environment and health risks from nanoparticles?

Online source: SCENIHR (2006). The appropriateness of existing methodologies to assess the potential risks associated with engineered and adventitious products of nanotechnologies. Available at: http://copublications.greenfacts.org/en/nanotechnologies/index.htm

4 Do drinking water disinfectants and their by-products pose risks to health?
As we are aware, disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines and ozone are used to help keep drinking water safe. These chemicals can react with natural organic
matter in the water to form unwanted by-products. Do these by-products pose risks to health?

Online source: International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCR) (2000). Environmental health criteria for disinfectants and disinfectant by-products. Available online at: http://www.greenfacts.org/en/waterdisinfectants/index.htm#5  

Your submission

Provide an answer in the region of 500 words for each question you select.
You should provide a front cover with your name, CIEH membership number, address, telephone number, email address, date and title of assignment and a statement to confirm that “the work to complete this assignment is my individual effort and any included work by others is referenced or otherwise acknowledged”.

Assessment
Your responses to the questions 90 per cent 
Presentation 10 per cent

CPD accreditation
A CPD certificate will be issued to successful candidates based on 2.5 hours per question.

Fee
A fee of £20.00 payable to “University of Ulster” should be sent to:
Maxine Pickering,
UUTech, University of Ulster,
Jordanstown, Newtownabbey,
BT37 0QB.

Return your assignment to:
Dr H Harvey at:
haroldharvey@yahoo.com and
haroldharvey@gmx.com by 30 September.