Phys Erectile dysfunction: Exercise Alters Our Microbiome. Is The Fact That One Good Reason It’s So Great for all of us?

But individuals research has been associational and may not show whether exercise really altered microbes or how any microbial changes might later affect health.

So for that new study, that was printed in November in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists in the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign made the decision to trace the heart of people that began a new workout.

The research was created, actually, like a follow-as much as an early on, interesting animal study through the same scientists. For the reason that work, they had permitted some lab rodents to operate yet others to sit down around for many of their adult lives. Gut material in the rodents ended up being transplanted into creatures that were bred to become germ-free, to ensure that their guts would easily incorporate these new tribes of bacteria. Following the animals’ microbiomes were established, the scientists uncovered the rodents to some substance that induce tissue irritation and inflammation within the colon.

The scientists discovered that the creatures with gut bugs in the runners were able to better resist and heal injury and tamp lower inflammation than individuals whose microbes had originate from sedentary rodents.

The scientists wanted to find out if exercise would likewise modify the functioning of microbes in people.

They started by recruiting 32 women and men who didn’t exercise. About 50 % were obese and the remainder of normal weight.

The scientists required bloodstream and fecal samples and tested everyone’s aerobic fitness. They had the women and men begin supervised workouts, where their efforts elevated with time from about half an hour of easy walking or cycling to around an hour of energetic jogging or pedaling three occasions each week.

The volunteers were requested to not change their normal diets.

Red carpet days, the scientists collected more samples and retested everybody, after which requested the volunteers to prevent exercising altogether.

Six days later, the tests were once more repeated.

The following analysis demonstrated the volunteers’ gut bugs had altered through the experiment, with a few growing in figures yet others declining. They also found alterations in the operations of numerous microbes’ genes. A number of individuals genes were working harder now, while some had grown silent.

Many of these changes weren’t shared in one person to another. Everyone’s gut responded distinctively to workout.

But there have been some similarities, they found. Particularly, they noted prevalent increases in a few microbes that will help to create substances known as short-chain essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are viewed to assist in reducing inflammation within the gut and all of those other body. Additionally they try to fight insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and otherwise bolster our metabolisms.

The majority of the volunteers had bigger concentrations of those short-chain essential fatty acids within their intestines after exercise, combined with the microbes that leave them.

These increases were finest, though, one of the volunteers who’d begun the experiment lean when compared with individuals who have been obese, the scientists found.

And possibly unsurprisingly, many of the alterations in people’s guts dissipated red carpet days of not exercising. Generally, their microbiomes reverted as to the they were in the study’s start.

Still, the study’s results claim that a couple of days of exercise can transform the makeup and performance of people’s microbiomes, states Jeffrey Forest, a professor of kinesiology and community health in the College of Illinois who conducted the research, together with his doctorate student Jacob Allen (now a postdoctoral investigator at Ohio Condition College) yet others.

Theoretically, Dr. Forest continues, these changes could lead to a few of the broader health advantages of exercise, for example being able to reduce inflammation through the body.

“But more studies have to be completed to prove this,” he states.

Also, he hopes that future research can explain why the obese volunteers demonstrated smaller sized gains within their fatty-acidity producing microbes compared to leaner women and men. Additional study may also assistance to see whether and just how people’s microbiomes might still change when they exercise for over six days — an objective that many of us, obviously, have resolved to complete in next season, right?

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Matter: Fiber Will work for You. Now Scientists May Have Heard Why.

But our physiques create a limited selection of enzymes, to ensure that we can’t break lower most of the tough compounds in plants. The word “dietary fiber” describes individuals indigestible molecules.

But they’re indigestible simply to us. The gut is coated having a layer of mucus, atop which sits carpeting of countless types of bacteria, area of the human microbiome. A few of these microbes carry the enzymes required to break lower several types of soluble fiber.

Ale these bacteria to outlive on fiber we can’t digest ourselves has brought most professionals to question when the microbes are in some way active in the together with your fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies printed lately within the journal Cell Host and Microbe provide compelling evidence that the reply is yes.

In a single experiment, Andrew T. Gewirtz of Georgia Condition College and the colleagues put rodents on the low-fiber, high-fat diet. By analyzing fragments of microbial DNA within the animals’ feces, the scientists could estimate how big the gut microbial population in every mouse.

On the low-fiber diet, they found, the populace crashed, shrinking tenfold.

Dr. Bäckhed and the colleagues transported out an identical experiment, surveying the microbiome in rodents because they were switched from fiber-wealthy food to some low-fiber diet. “It’s essentially what you’d reach McDonald’s,” stated Dr. Bäckhed stated. “A large amount of lard, lots of sugar, and 20 % protein.”

The scientists centered on the variety of species that comprise the mouse’s gut microbiome. Shifting the creatures to some low-fiber diet were built with a dramatic effect, they found: many common species grew to become rare, and rare species grew to become common.

Together with changes towards the microbiome, both teams also observed rapid changes towards the rodents themselves. Their intestines got smaller sized, and it is mucus layer thinner. Consequently, bacteria finished up much nearer to the intestinal wall, which encroachment triggered an immune reaction.

Following a couple of days around the low-fiber diet, mouse intestines developed chronic inflammation. Following a couple of days, Dr. Gewirtz’s team observed the rodents started to alter in different ways, wearing fat, for instance, and developing greater bloodstream sugar levels.

Dr. Bäckhed and the colleagues also given another number of rodents our prime-fat menu, plus a modest dose of a kind of fiber known as inulin. The mucus layer within their guts was healthier compared to rodents that didn’t get fiber, the scientists found, and intestinal bacteria were stored in a safer distance using their intestinal wall.

Dr. Gewirtz and the colleagues gave inulin for their rodents too, but in a much greater dose. The enhancements were much more dramatic: Despite a higher-fat diet, the rodents had healthy populations of bacteria within their guts, their intestines were nearer to normal, plus they placed on less weight.

Dr. Bäckhed and the colleagues ran yet another interesting experiment: They spiked water provided to rodents on the high-fat diet having a types of fiber-feeding bacteria. The addition altered the rodents for that better: Even on the high-fat diet, they created more mucus within their guts, developing a healthy barrier to help keep bacteria in the intestinal walls.

One of the ways that fiber benefits health is as simple as giving us, not directly, another food source, Dr. Gewirtz stated. Once bacteria are carried out harvesting the power in soluble fiber, they cast from the fragments as waste. That waste — by means of short-chain essential fatty acids — is absorbed by intestinal cells, designed to use it as being fuel.

However the gut’s microbes do not only make energy. Additionally they send messages.

Intestinal cells depend on chemical signals in the bacteria to operate correctly, Dr. Gewirtz stated. Cells react to the signals by multiplying and creating a healthy way to obtain mucus. Additionally they release bacteria-killing molecules.

By generating these responses, gut bacteria maintain a peaceful coexistence using the defense mechanisms. They rest atop the gut’s mucus layer in a safe distance in the intestinal wall. Any bacteria that find yourself too close get easily wiped out by antimicrobial poisons.

Although some types of gut bacteria feed on soluble fiber, they most likely support other species that feast upon their waste. Numerous species within this ecosystem — everything built on fiber — might be speaking to the guts.

A weight low-fiber diet disturbs this peaceful relationship, the brand new studies suggest. The species that rely on soluble fiber starve, just like another species that rely on them. Some species may change to feeding around the host’s own mucus.

With less fuel, intestinal cells grow more gradually. And without a steady flow of chemical signals from bacteria, cells slow their manufacture of mucus and bacteria-killing poisons.

Consequently, bacteria edge nearer to the intestinal wall, and also the defense mechanisms kicks into high gear.

“The gut is definitely precariously balanced between attempting to contain these microorganisms and never to overreact,” stated Eric C. Martens, a microbiologist in the College of Michigan who had been not active in the new studies. “It might be a tipping point between health insurance and disease.”

Inflammation might help fight infections, but when it might be chronic, it may harm our physiques. Amongst other things, chronic inflammation may hinder the way the body uses the calories in food, storing much more of it as being fat instead of burning it for energy.

Justin L. Sonnenburg, a biologist at Stanford College who had been not active in the new studies, stated that the low-fiber diet may cause low-level inflammation not just in the gut, but through the body.

His studies suggest that whenever bacteria break lower soluble fiber lower into short-chain essential fatty acids, a number of them pass in to the blood stream and visit other organs, where they behave as signals to quiet lower the defense mechanisms.

“You can modulate what’s happening inside your lung according to what you’re feeding your microbiome inside your gut,” Dr. Sonnenburg stated.

Hannah D. Holscher, a diet researcher in the College of Illinois who had been not active in the new studies, stated the results on rodents have to be offer the exam in humans. But it’s more difficult to operate such studies on people.

In their lab, Dr. Holscher functions like a round-the-clock personal chef. She and her colleagues provide volunteers with all of the meals they eat for 2 days. She will then give a few of her volunteers an additional supply of fiber — for example walnuts — to check out alterations in both their microbiome as well as their amounts of inflammation.

Dr. Holscher along with other researchers hope that they’ll learn enough about how exactly fiber influences the microbiome for doing things in an effort to treat disorders. Lowering inflammation with fiber also may help in treating immune disorders for example inflammatory bowel disease.

Fiber also may help reverse weight problems. Recently within the American Journal of Clinical Diet, Dr. Holscher and her colleagues reviewed numerous trials by which fiber was utilized to deal with weight problems. They discovered that fiber supplements helped obese individuals to lose about five pounds, typically.

However for individuals who wish to remain healthy, simply adding one type of fiber to some typical Western diet will not be a cure all. Giving rodents inulin within the new studies only partially restored these to health.

That’s most likely because we rely on a variety of types of soluble fiber we obtain from plants. It’s entirely possible that each kind of fiber feeds a specific group of bacteria, which send their very own important signals to the physiques.

“It suggests the boring factor that everyone knows but nobody does,” Dr. Bäckhed stated. “If you consume more eco-friendly veggies and fewer fries and sweets, you’ll most likely need to be within the lengthy term.”

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Approach to rapidly, precisely identify bacteria is here now

The bacteria that many frequently cause blood stream infections range from the fishing rod-formed bacteria including Escherichia coli or E.coli, the round clusters of Staphylococcus species, and also the pairs or chains of Streptococcus species.  

By Zee Media Bureau Updated: 12 , 16, 2017, 16:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Based on research, microscopes enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) may help within the fast and accurate proper diagnosis of the deadly bloodstream infections, which might improve patients’ likelihood of survival.

The bacteria that many frequently cause blood stream infections range from the fishing rod-formed bacteria including Escherichia coli or E.coli, the round clusters of Staphylococcus species, and also the pairs or chains of Streptococcus species.

Rapid identification and delivery of antibiotic medications is paramount to treating blood stream infections, which could kill as much as 40 percent of patients who develop them. 

Within the study, brought by scientists Janet Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, used an automatic microscope made to collect high-resolution image data from microscopic slides. 

A convolutional neural network (CNN) — a category of artificial intelligence modelled around the mammalian visual cortex and accustomed to analyse visual data — was educated to categorise bacteria according to their shape and distribution. 

To coach the AI system, the scientists given the neural network greater than 100,000 images from bloodstream samples. 

The device intelligence learned how you can sort the pictures in to the three groups of bacteria — fishing rod-formed, round clusters, and round chains or pairs — ultimately achieving nearly 95 percent precision, they stated.

“This marks the very first illustration showing machine learning within the diagnostic area,” stated James Kirby, Director in the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at BIDMC. 

“With further development, we feel fraxel treatments could make up the foundation of the next diagnostic platform that augments the abilities of clinical laboratories, ultimately speeding the delivery of patient care,” Kirby added, within the paper printed within the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 

Automated classification may also improve the lack of human technologists by helping them work more proficiently, “conceivably reducing technologist read time from minutes to seconds”, Kirby recommended.

(With Agency inputs)

How to maintain your hands clean inside a microbial world

In my 4th-grade science fair project, I tested different soaps to determine what ones were the very best at keeping my hands clean.

Now, nearly twenty years later like a microbiology doctorate candidate, I can’t help but think, “Ugh, the 4th-grade me was this kind of amateur researcher!”

My experiment lacked apparent control groups and eventually requested the incorrect question. Rather of asking which make of soap was probably the most “effective” and classifying all bacteria as germs, I ought to happen to be investigating preventing the development and spread of specific disease-causing bacteria, or pathogens.

This is tough to reply to. You cannot tell by eye which bacteria growing inside a petri dish would be the “good guys” versus ones that create disease, and a few pathogenic microbes, like infections, can’t be detected within agar petri dishes.

Nonetheless, using the approaching holiday travels, asking preventing multiplication of disease-causing pathogens isn’t only for ambitious microbiologists however a great question for everybody.

Will we really stand an opportunity of keeping our hands clean from germs?

Two-fisted approach

There’s two primary strategies.

The very first is to lower the general biomass of microbes – that’s, decrease the quantity of bacteria, infections and other kinds of microorganisms. We all do this by lathering with soapy rinsing with water. Soap’s chemistry helps remove microorganisms from your hands by emphasizing the slippery qualities of the skin.

Research has proven that effectively washing with water and soap considerably cuts down on the microbial load of diarrhea-causing bacteria.

Washing hands with warm water and soap is the easiest method to keep the hands clean. r.classen/

The 2nd technique is to get rid of the bacteria. We all do this by utilizing products by having an antibacterial agent for example alcohols, swimming pool water, peroxides, chlorhexidine or triclosan.

Some academic work has proven that antibacterial soaps are better at reducing certain bacteria on soiled hands than soaps without one.

However, there is a problem. Some microbial cells on the hands might have genes that assist them to be resistant against confirmed antibacterial agent. Which means that following the antibacterial agent kills some bacteria, the resistant strains remaining around the hands can flourish.

Further, the genes that permitted the bacteria to become resistant could pass on with other bacteria, causing more resistant strains. Together, the “take-over” of resistant strains would render using the antibacterial agent basically ineffective.

Also, the lengthy-term utilization of some antibacterial products may harm your wellbeing.

For instance, animal studies investigating the antibacterial agent triclosan, which was once in soaps, toothpastes and deodorant, continues to be proven to change the way in which hormones work in your body. The Fda has prohibited using over-the-counter antiseptic wash products that contains triclosan and lots of other antibacterial ingredients.

With this thought, you might want to stick to common water and soap.


Kids traveling throughout the holidays frequently have a problem keeping their hands clean, just like adults do. NadyaEugene/

To wash our hands, the Cdc and Prevention recommends that people:

  • wet hands with water that is clean.
  • apply soapy lather/scrub every nook and cranny of the hands for 25-thirty seconds (concerning the time for you to sing “Happy Birthday” two times).
  • rinse well with clean flowing water.
  • dry hands having a clean paper towel or air-dry.

I had been shocked to see research that established that 93.2 percent of two,800 survey respondents didn’t wash their hands after coughing or sneezing. Also, research conducted recently demonstrated that across a university-town atmosphere with observations of three,749 people, the typical hands-washing there was a time roughly six seconds!

If water and soap aren’t unavailable, the CDC recommends utilizing an alcohol-based hands sanitizer which contains a minimum of 60 % ethanol. Alcohols possess a broad-spectrum of antimicrobial activity and therefore are less selective for resistance when compared with other antibacterial chemicals.

However, alcohol-based hands sanitizers might not focus on all classes of germs.

Not every microbes are germs

The existence of some bacteria isn’t always a poor factor.

Within the lab where I’m going after my dissertation, our focus is knowing the complex interactions between animal hosts and bacteria. I’d be remiss not to point out that the bacteria living on or within us are crucial for all of us as hosts, especially thinking about their role in protecting us from pathogens.

We reside in a microbial world: Trillions of various bacteria colonize the skin we have, gut, and orifices. With each other with yeast and infections, they’re known as our microbiota. An array of exciting studies suggest the associations of animal hosts using their microbiota aren’t rare occurrences however are essentially essential for the host’s biology.

Our microbiota can safeguard us from germs by training our defense mechanisms by colonization resistance): the sign of the intestinal microbiota to bar colonization of pathogens.

Although more research must be completed to comprehend the intricate interactions between microbial communities with host cells, consistent work illustrates that the diverse population of microbes along with a balance of the community is essential for the health.

Poor diet, insomnia, stress and antibiotic use can negatively perturb our microbiota communities, which can put us in danger of illnesses . Actually, it’s becoming obvious our microbiota are active participants in stopping and often driving disease, with respect to the condition from the microbial communities .

So what exactly is the take-home message?

There’s without doubt that washing our hands with liquid water and soap helps to reduce multiplication of infectious microorganisms, including individuals which are resistant against antimicrobial agents.

When it’s not necessary the chance to clean both hands after touching questionable surfaces, make use of an alcohol-based hands sanitizer. Limit the touching of the hands for your mouth, nose and eyes.

Further, conserve a healthy microbiota by restricting stress, getting enough sleep and “fertilizing” your gut microbes having a diversity of plant-based foods. It’s not just a small world, however a dirty one too.

The Zombie Illnesses of Global Warming

From the environment, the coast of Greenland seems vast and tranquil. Countless fjords, their surfaces one of blue sky and cloud bottoms, divide the territory. Within the gaps together, the terrain folds over itself, hill over hill, climbing down into obsidian ponds. The turf is included within the waxy pastels of all downhill dwarf willows and also the dull white-colored old-bleached lichen.

Though an enormous ice sheet sits in the interior, Greenland’s ice-free coast encompasses almost 159,000 square miles and and houses 57,000 people. Quite simply, it’s bigger than Germany having a population half how big Topeka, Peoria, or New Haven. You’ll be able to get up on a hill outdoors the seaside capital of scotland- Ilulissat and listen to just the grass quaking, the harbor ice dully grinding against itself.

Life Up Close

Find out more

I visited Greenland because, recently, the land here went soft, and disquieting things threaten to wake inside it.

Allow me to orient you. Towards the top of the planet, there’s water. Television anchors sometimes talk about the Arctic Sea because the “polar ice cap,” but that’s a contingency of temperature along with a quirk of today’s climate. Contemplate it rather a landlocked sea, a northern Mediterranean And Beyond. Surrounding it sit great landmasses—Europe, Asia, North America—and a surfeit of islands. One of the largest are Svalbard, that is due north of Norwegian and thus dense with polar bears that everybody who strays beyond its sole settlement must have a rifle Novaya Zemlya, the website from the largest atomic test ever conducted and Greenland.

Throughout these places, wealthy, marshy soils run in the fringe of the inside ice up to the sea coves. Once, this dirt gave rise to lush ferns and open grasslands now, after 35,000 many years of frigid cold, we give them a call permafrost.

Despite their name, they aren’t permanently, or entirely, frozen. Every winter, a sheet of ice blossoms within the Arctic ocean, and also the soils seize shut with frost. Then, throughout the lengthy summer time days, the ice splits up and also the permafrost partly thaws.

Recently, as summers have lengthened and winters have warmed, this periodic transformation has lost its symmetry. What biologists call the permafrost’s “active layer”—the area of the dirt where microbes along with other types of existence can live—now reaches farther subterranean, and additional north, of computer has for thousands of years.

The recently active permafrost comes complete with old stuff: dead plants, dead creatures, mosses hidden and reburied by dust and snow. This trouble, lengthy protected against decomposition through the cold, is finally rotting, and releasing gases in to the atmosphere that may quicken the speed of climatic change.

This trouble can also be filled with pathogens: bacteria and infections lengthy immobilized through the frost. A number of these pathogens might be able to survive a light thaw—and when they do, researchers warn, they might reinfect humanity.

Global warming, quite simply, could awaken Earth’s forgotten pathogens. It is among the most bizarre signs and symptoms of climatic change. And contains already commenced to occur.

The Russian botanist Dmitri Ivanovsky only agreed to be 28 when, in a scientific meeting in St. Petersburg, he presented proof of an unexplainable phenomenon: He’d found an illness without any germ.

As he uncovered tobacco leaves to some certain obvious liquid, he could watch the leaves mottle, but he couldn’t discover the bacteria under his microscope that may explain the modification. Within the decades before his work—it was 1892—Louis Pasteur along with other scientists had shown that microscopic existence might cause disease. But here would be a disease without any microbe to blame. Ivanovsky stated the disease should be natural towards the gloop he’d placed on the leaves. He termed it a virus, in the Latin word for slime.

Narciso Espiritu

One 120-5 years later, we still use Ivanovsky’s term, but we all know infections are far stranger than he ever imagined. A person virion, the system of viral existence, makes many copies of itself over its existence cycle, however it will not do something which can be defined as living. It never breathes or mates. It punctures a cell’s wall, hijacks its protein factories, and forces it to create much more of itself. Just one virion could make thousands of copies of itself near instantly. Infections live nonlife, a desirous but mindless substance.

In the frontier of viral existence are Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel, two professors of microbiology at Aix-Marseilles College who are actually married to one another. Because the turn from the century, they’ve established themselves as two world’s most well-known microbe hunters. In 2002, while researching Legionnaires’ disease within their lab in Marseilles, they found the biggest virus ever: Mimivirus, a virion so large that could be viewed within microscope.

They’ve identified four more monster infections since, all several occasions bigger than any virion recognized to science before 2000. Their menagerie oozes about inside a far-flung group of landscapes: one monster virus was discovered inside a shallow lake around australia, another lurked inside a bucket of seawater hauled from the Chilean coast. Another is discovered inside a woman’s contact.

Many of these mammoth infections infect amoebae, not people. They don’t pose an infective risk to all of us. But they’re strange substances. They rival bacteria in dimensions they may be seen within microscope. They’re quite durable. And a number of them produce more proteins than most amoebae.

Claverie and Abergel weren’t considering monster infections once they started poking around within the permafrost. In 2013, Claverie find out about a Russian team which had found a seed lodged deep within the permafrost. The fruit, hidden some 125 ft underneath the surface, had spent 1000’s of years at approximately 20 levels F, never thawing in the wax and wane of seasons. But when warmed and put into a pot, it sprouted waxy arms and delicate white-colored flowers.

Claverie contacted the Russian team, described his use microbes, and requested for a little bit of permafrost to check. They agreed, plus they mailed Claverie and Abergel an example of the identical deep-frozen core of permafrost which had contained the seed. The happy couple pulled a little sample onto a higher-resolution microscope, introduced it to 70 degrees, introduced an amoeba as bait, and anxiously waited.

After which, because they viewed, the herpes virus made an appearance within their viewfinder: Pithovirus sibericum, an enormous ovular virion which had survived 30,000 years frozen within the ice core. It had been even the largest virion ever discovered.

“We attempted to isolate amoeba infections not understanding they would be giant viruses—and an entirely different kind of virus than we know made an appearance,” Claverie stated. “It ends up the infections we’re getting [within the permafrost] are very abnormal, very fancy.”

Claverie and Abergel’s infections aren’t a menace to humanity—yet. But human pathogens also have survived freezing and thawing within the permafrost. Last summer time, an episode of anthrax in Siberia infected a large number of people and wiped out one child. The vector of disease is regarded as the thawing and decaying carcass of the reindeer wiped out in 1941.

Along with a group of Canadian scientists lately found stress of bacteria, Paenibacillus, inside a collapse Boise State Broncos that were closed off in excess of 4 million years. Though harmless to humans, the traditional bacteria was resistant against most clinical antibiotics, including the majority of the newest and many aggressive. The invention recommended that bacteria can survive probably the most exotic and remote environments.

Researchers are ongoing to check the boundaries of pathogens. Apparently, a Soviet microbiology lab elevated bacteria in the permafrost within the 1980s, nevertheless its paper went little observed. Claverie travels to Siberia this season to core even much deeper in to the soil, to demonstrate that infections can survive being thawed out following a million years.

“We’re attempting to go much deeper and much deeper within our sampling, to show that it’s entirely possible that infections could survive—amoeba infections. We will not attempt to revive human infections, obviously, we’re not crazy,” he stated.

He already frets by what global warming will unlock within the permafrost, particularly when humans help it to along.

Take Greenland, for example. At this time, the area is really a territory of Denmark, the nation that colonized it three centuries ago. Greenland is gradually severing itself from Europe—in 2009, its government required over every government function from Denmark except defense and foreign policy. Denmark still pays out a block grant to Greenland each year comparable to roughly two-thirds of their government budget, but independence will probably mean giving that up. To fill that eventual budget hole, Greenland has explored opening six new mines across the nation. Greenland is full of minerals—the island’s south provides the largest reserve of untapped rare-earth elements around the planet—but the Arctic’s harmful seas and extreme temperatures have ensured they’ve never been found. Global warming will solve both individuals problems, as they say.

Inside a paper this season within the European Journal of Internal Medicine, Claverie concerned about the pathogenic effects of opening the Arctic Sea, particularly around Siberia and also the Russian Arctic, to commercial traffic.

Narciso Espiritu

“We know, and also the Russians know, there are plenty of sources there. Very gold and silver, rare-earths, gas, there’s gas and gold,” he explained. Greenland isn’t outside of these pressures.

Bothering the minerals and oil deposits through the Arctic, he states, will need moving lots of permafrost—an amount correctly measured in countless tons. “At once, you will excavate 16 million a lot of permafrost that is not moved or perturbed inside a million many years of time,” he stated.

He imagines towering loads of rotting permafrost stacked up alongside mining cabins, their contents available to the sun’s rays and air and summer time rain. “We are actually reaching places where, should there be microbes infectious to humans or human ancestors, we will have them,Inches he states.

If a person of these contagions does get loose in Greenland, Luit Penninga is going to be among the first men to cope with it. He’s charge surgeon at Ilulissat Hospital in Greenland. His office looks out across Disko Bay, a grey ocean 200 miles north from the Arctic Circle disturbed by azure-edged icebergs and also the periodic breaching tail of the humpback whale.

His entire existence is determined through the scarcity of Arctic medicine. The night time before I met Penninga, he boarded a red helicopter and rode it over the bay to satisfy a lady suffering getting pregnant from the womb. She resides in the village of Uummannaq, population 1,200, without any doctors of their own. He helped her board the helicopter, dealt with her with the flight, and—when the helicopter arrived at Ilulissat Hospital—operated on her behalf. It had been effective. The next morning he asked me to go to a healthcare facility. After I meet him, he’s gentle and calm.

Ilulissat Hospital (Malik Niemann / Thanks to Ilulissat Hospital)

Healthcare in Greenland is socialized—all hospitals are condition-owned and all sorts of health care and prescription medications are free—and the vast country is split up into regions. Since Penninga leads healthcare in Ilulissat, he oversees human health over the entire northwest 1 / 2 of the world’s largest island—from Ilulissat, the country’s third-largest city, to Qaanaaq, the suburbs of 650 that overlooks the Arctic Sea. 17 1000 people live in the area, mostly in small villages accessible only from boat or helicopter, disseminate over a place bigger than France.

Penninga must sometimes go ahead and take three-hour flight between Qaanaaq and Ilulissat, a distance in excess of 700 miles (1173 km). It is $1400. From Qaanaaq, it’s another hour-lengthy helicopter ride to achieve a few of the tiniest villages, where individuals search seal and walrus his or her ancestors have for generations. These transportation costs accumulate: In almost any year, between 10 and 15 % of Greenland’s national health finances are allocated to transportation costs alone.

Penninga treats snowmobile and dogsled accidents, appendicitis and chlamydia and pneumonia. Most of the worst ailments are microbial: An especially aggressive type of ear infection, which appears endemic to Greenland, can leave holes in kids’ eardrums that last a long time, permanently inhibiting their performance in class. The area also appears to possess its very own type of sepsis, which doctors learn how to fear following a couple many years of working there. “Some people may have a very short span of disease—they develop sepsis, very shortly are available in, and die,” he stated.

After I requested him concerning the zombie pathogens, he chuckled and nodded her head. “They state that, yes,” he explained. Penninga has enough problems.

A few of the microbes lurking within the permafrost might be familiar: adversaries that humanity already knows and believes it’s defeated. The Planet Health Organization brags it has eradicated smallpox, for instance—other compared to stores within the U . s . States and Russia—but Claverie warns that could well have survived within the tundra.

Much more worrisome would be the microbes we don’t know. “No one really understands why Neanderthals went extinct,” Claverie stated. Sometimes, he catches themself when speaking about these possible permafrost-locked diseases—they might have threatened humans or human relatives previously, he’ll say. Then, he’ll change tense, emphasizing they could achieve this again.

Two days once i left Greenland, an area of permafrost near Penninga’s office burst into flame. The press marveled all over the world: a wildfire around the tundra. It raged for days as government bodies attempted to learn how to ensure that it stays from causing anybody harm. The issue itself, the logistics involved with addressing it, needed an answer nobody had anticipated or practiced for. Eventually, rain place it out.

Such emergencies—those that overwhelm our knowledge of “known knowns”—are one of the most unsettling portents of global warming. If the emergencies from the coming century arrive by means of fires, or floods, or plagues that rise invisibly in the ground, they’re prone to become increasingly more extreme and much less familiar—a fantastical parade of crises we are shocked to locate ourselves battling. Even just in its quietest places, the planet will end up recently hostile.

Personal Health: Unlocking the Strategies of the Microbiome

With respect to the body site, between 20 % to 60 % from the microorganisms that comprise the microbiota can’t be cultured and identified using the older, traditional techniques utilized by microbiologists.

When the institutes’ five-year project succeeds in defining alterations in the microbiome which are connected with disease, it can transform medicine, presuming ways are available to fix microbial distortions within the affected tissues.

Here are the demonstration projects already going ahead:

Skin: Dr. Martin J. Blaser, microbiologist and director from the human microbiome program at New You are able to College Med school, is directing study of the microorganisms onto the skin of 75 individuals with and without skin psoriasis, checking whether agents accustomed to treat the problem adversely affect the microbiome.

Vagina: Jacques Ravel in the College of Maryland Med school and Ray J. Forney in the College of Idaho are studying 200 women to look for the microbial changes that can lead to a typical and hard-to-control infection known as microbial vaginosis, which afflicts greater than 20 million American women of childbearing age.

Bloodstream: At Washington College in St. Louis, Dr. Gregory A. Storch, a professional in pediatric infectious disease, and colleagues are analyzing the function of infections and also the defense mechanisms within the bloodstream and respiratory system and gastrointestinal tracts of kids who develop serious fevers that lead to some 20 million visits annually to hospital emergency rooms.

Gastrointestinal tract: Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, a microbiologist, and Dr. Alan R. Shuldiner, a geneticist, both in the College of Maryland Med school, are exploring the way the microbiome affects our body’s utilization of energy and the introduction of weight problems.

Previous research has already found variations within the gut microbiota of lean and obese adults. There’s also evidence the typical high-calorie American diet wealthy in sugar, meats and junk foods may adversely modify the balance of microbes within the gut and promote the extraction and absorption of excess calories from food.

An eating plan more heavily according to plants — that’s, vegetables and fruit — may lead to a microbiome that contains a broader selection of healthy microorganisms. In studies, rodents which had a microbiota preconditioned through the typical American diet didn’t respond as healthfully to some plant-based diet.

When compared with lean rodents, obese rodents possess a 50 % decrease in microorganisms known as Bacteroidetes along with a proportional rise in Firmicutes, and lean rodents get fat when given fecal transplants from obese rodents. An identical shift continues to be noticed in people, and also the distorted ratio of microorganisms was proven to reverse in individuals who slim down following wls.

There’s also evidence that microbes surviving in the gut can impact distant sites through their affect on an individual’s immune responses. This indirect action continues to be recommended just as one mechanism behind rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. In rodents, certain bacteria within the gut happen to be proven to promote manufacture of antibodies that attack the joints, inducing the joint destruction usual for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Similarly, research has recommended a job from the gut microbiota in the chance of developing neuropsychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, autism as well as chronic fatigue syndrome. Scientific study has recommended that in genetically susceptible people, altered microbes within the gut may disrupt the bloodstream-brain barrier, resulting in producing antibodies that adversely affect normal brain development.

One of the challenges in elucidating the microbiome’s role in health insurance and disease is figuring out whether changes based in the microorganisms inhabiting various organs really are a cause or perhaps an effect. Most of what’s already been aware of the microbiota in individuals with various health issues is dependant on observation, which makes it hard to say which came first: the condition or even the disrupted microbiota.

Animal studies like individuals pointed out above really are a clue although not evidence of an identical effect in people. Until therapeutic studies now going ahead are completed, individuals with conditions regarded as affected by the microbiome don’t have any choice presently but to depend on possible treatments recommended by animal research and a few preliminary scientific testing on people.

For instance, individuals with ibs, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic disorders and infections with drug-resistant microorganisms will benefit from taking probiotics, though some probiotics offered in health food and drugstores might be ineffective. It might be essential to tailor-result in the fix for each condition or perhaps each patient.

Meanwhile, people thinking about fostering any adverse health-promoting variety of gut microorganisms should think about shifting from the diet heavily according to meats, carbohydrates and junk foods to 1 that emphasizes plants. As Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, a genomics specialist at Washington College Med school, told The Occasions this past year, “The dietary worth of meals are influenced partly through the microbial community that encounters those meals.Inches

Continue studying the primary story

Trump Rules: Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots

The changes directed by Dr. Beck may result in an “underestimation of the potential risks to human health and the environment” caused by PFOA and other so-called legacy chemicals no longer sold on the market, the Office of Water’s top official warned in a confidential internal memo obtained by The New York Times.


Dr. Beck testifying at a Senate hearing in March. She joined the E.P.A. in May after working as an executive at the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association. Credit U.S. Senate Committee Channel

The E.P.A.’s abrupt new direction on legacy chemicals is part of a broad initiative by the Trump administration to change the way the federal government evaluates health and environmental risks associated with hazardous chemicals, making it more aligned with the industry’s wishes.

It is a cause with far-reaching consequences for consumers and chemical companies, as the E.P.A. regulates some 80,000 different chemicals, many of them highly toxic and used in workplaces, homes and everyday products. If chemicals are deemed less risky, they are less likely to be subjected to heavy oversight and restrictions.

The effort is not new, nor is the decades-long debate over how best to identify and assess risks, but the industry has not benefited from such highly placed champions in government since the Reagan administration. The cause was taken up by Dr. Beck and others in the administration of President George W. Bush, with some success, and met with resistance during the Obama administration. Now it has been aggressively revived under President Trump by an array of industry-backed political appointees and others.

Dr. Beck, who has a doctorate in environmental health, comes from a camp — firmly backed by the chemical industry — that says the government too often directs burdensome rules at what she has called “phantom risks.”

Other scientists and administrators at the E.P.A., including Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, until last month the agency’s top official overseeing pesticides and toxic chemicals, say the dangers are real and the pushback is often a tactic for deflecting accountability — and shoring up industry profits at the expense of public safety.


The New York Times requested copies of email correspondence related to the March 2017 decision by the E.P.A. to reject a decade-old petition to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that research suggests may cause developmental delays in children exposed to it in drinking water or in farming communities. Here are those documents.
OPEN Document Since Mr. Trump’s election, Dr. Beck’s approach has been unabashedly ascendant, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former E.P.A. and White House officials, confidential E.P.A. documents, and materials obtained through open-record requests. Continue reading the main story

In March, Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. chief, overrode the recommendation of Ms. Hamnett and agency scientists to ban the commercial use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, blamed for developmental disabilities in children.

The E.P.A.’s new leadership also pressed agency scientists to re-evaluate a plan to ban certain uses of two dangerous chemicals that have caused dozens of deaths or severe health problems: methylene chloride, which is found in paint strippers, and trichloroethylene, which removes grease from metals and is used in dry cleaning.

“It was extremely disturbing to me,” Ms. Hamnett said of the order she received to reverse the proposed pesticide ban. “The industry met with E.P.A. political appointees. And then I was asked to change the agency’s stand.”

The E.P.A. and Dr. Beck declined repeated requests to comment that included detailed lists of questions.

“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

Before joining the E.P.A., Ms. Bowman was a spokeswoman for the American Chemistry Council.

The conflict over how to define risk in federal regulations comes just as the E.P.A. was supposed to be fixing its backlogged and beleaguered chemical regulation program. Last year, after a decade of delays, Congress passed bipartisan legislation that would push the E.P.A. to determine whether dozens of chemicals were so dangerous that they should be banned or restricted.

The E.P.A.’s Top 10 Toxic Threats, and Industry’s Pushback

The chemical safety law was passed after Congress and the chemical industry reached a consensus that toxic chemical threats — or at least the fear of them — were so severe that they undermined consumer confidence in products on the market.

But now the chemical industry and many of the companies that use their compounds are praising the Trump administration’s changed direction, saying new chemicals are getting faster regulatory reviews and existing chemicals will benefit from a less dogmatic approach to determining risk.

“U.S. businesses, jobs and competitiveness depend on a functioning new chemicals program,” Calvin M. Dooley, a former congressman who is president of the American Chemistry Council, said in a statement. It was issued in June after Dr. Beck, his recent employee, pushed through many industry-friendly changes in her new role at the E.P.A., including the change in tracking legacy chemicals such as PFOA.

Anne Womack Kolton, a vice president at the council, said on Wednesday that Dr. Beck’s appointment was a positive development.

“We, along with many others, are glad that individuals who support credible science and thorough analysis as the basis for policymaking have agreed to serve,” she said in an email. “Consistency, transparency and high quality science in the regulatory process are in everyone’s interests.”

The Trump administration’s shift, the industry has acknowledged, could have financial benefits. Otherwise, the industry may lose “millions of dollars and years of research invested in a chemical,” the American Chemistry Council and other groups wrote in a legal brief defending the changes Dr. Beck had engineered.

But consumer advocates and many longtime scientists, managers and administrators at the E.P.A. are alarmed by the administration’s priorities and worry that the new law’s anticipated crackdown on hazardous chemicals could be compromised.

Dr. Beck, left, and Ms. Hamnett, center, who clashed over changes to new toxic chemical rules, attended a signing ceremony with Mr. Pruitt. Video by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Video by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

“You are never going to have 100 percent certainty on anything,” Ms. Hamnett said. “But when you have a chemical that evidence points to is causing fatalities, you err more on the side of taking some action, as opposed to ‘Let’s wait and spend some more time and try to get the science entirely certain,’ which it hardly ever gets to be.”

The divergent approaches and yearslong face-off between Ms. Hamnett and Dr. Beck parallel the story of the chemical industry’s quest to keep the E.P.A.’s enforcement arm at bay.

The two women, one a lawyer from New Jersey, the other a scientist from Long Island, have dedicated their lives to the issue of hazardous chemicals. Each’s expertise is respected by her peers, but their perspectives couldn’t be more dissimilar.

Ms. Hamnett, 63, spent her entire 38-year career at the E.P.A., joining the agency directly from law school as a believer in consumer and environmental protections. Dr. Beck, 51, did a fellowship at the E.P.A., but has spent most of her 29-year career elsewhere: in a testing lab at Estée Lauder, as a toxicologist in the Washington State Health Department, as a regulatory analyst in the White House and most recently with the chemical industry’s trade group.


Ms. Hamnett in Falls Church, Va. Last month, she retired as the top official overseeing pesticides and toxic chemicals at the E.P.A. “I had become irrelevant,” she said about changes there under the Trump administration. Credit Jared Soares for The New York Times

Before Mr. Trump’s election, Ms. Hamnett would have been regarded as the hands-down victor in their professional tug of war. Her decision to retire in September amounted to a surrender of sorts, a powerful acknowledgment of the two women’s reversed fortunes under the Trump administration.

“I had become irrelevant,” Ms. Hamnett said.

Her farewell party in late August was held in the wood-paneled Map Room on the first floor of the E.P.A. headquarters, the same room where Mr. Trump had signed an executive order backed by big business that called for the agency to dismantle environmental protections.

Dr. Beck was among those who spoke. She thanked Ms. Hamnett for her decades of service. “I don’t know what I am going to do without her,” she said, according to multiple people who attended the event.

Ms. Hamnett, in an interview, said she had little trouble envisioning the future under the new leadership. “It’s time for me to go,” she said. “I have done what I could do.”

‘Unreasonable Risk of Injury’

Chemical regulation was not part of the E.P.A.’s original mission. But several environmental disasters in the early 1970s prompted Congress to extend the agency’s authority.

Industrial waste, including highly toxic PCBs, led to fish kills in the Hudson River. Chemicals from flame retardants were detected in livestock in Michigan, contaminating food across the state. And residents in Niagara Falls, N.Y., first started to notice a black, oily liquid in their basements, early hints of one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history: Love Canal.

President Gerald R. Ford signed the Toxic Substances Control Act in October 1976, giving the E.P.A. the authority to ban or restrict chemicals it deemed dangerous. It was hailed as a public health breakthrough.

“For the first time, the law empowers the federal government to control and even to stop production or use of chemical substances that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or environment,” a federal report said.

A few years later, after graduating from George Washington University Law School in 1979, Ms. Hamnett landed at the E.P.A. She arrived fully embracing its enhanced mission.

She had grown up in Trenton, where the words “Trenton Makes, the World Takes” are affixed in neon to the side of a railroad bridge spanning the Delaware River.


A bridge over the Delaware River in Trenton, N.J., says, “Trenton Makes, the World Takes.” The Roebling Steel Company plant brought prosperity to the region, but also contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. Credit Mel Evans/Associated Press

Her childhood memories included passing by the 200-acre Roebling Steel Company plant — named after the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. At its peak, the plant was Trenton’s largest employer, and it helped spread prosperity to the region.

But the company was also a chronic polluter. For decades, it dumped arsenic, chromium, lead and other hazardous chemicals, contaminating soil and groundwater. Ultimately, the pollution was so pervasive that the E.P.A. declared the property a Superfund cleanup site.

It was this legacy, as well as the congressional directive to the E.P.A. to protect the public from harm, that Ms. Hamnett said guided her.

During the Bush administration, she was drawn into a contentious debate involving lead paint that highlighted her resolve — and that of her opponents.

Few environmental hazards are as well understood as the dangers of lead in paint. Since it was first used in homes in the United States, more than a century ago, it has poisoned children. Even after it was banned in the late 1970s, it remained a threat, particularly when renovations took place in the tens of millions of homes with lead-based paint.

The E.P.A. set out to establish standards governing home renovations, and Ms. Hamnett came to the discussions with a strong perspective.

“What is the effect of exposure likely to be?” she recalled asking. “If it is likely to be a severe effect and result in a significant number of people exposed, if so, I am going to err on the side of safety.”

While the evidence was solid that lead caused learning disabilities and other problems for children, it was less definitive on whether it was also a factor in adult diseases.

To Ms. Hamnett and her colleagues, the results of multiple studies were compelling enough to establish an apparent link to cardiovascular disease in adults. They concluded in a report in 2006 that there was “stronger evidence for a relationship between lead exposure and blood pressure for adults,” citing it as a factor for aggressive safety requirements.

The home renovation industry filed protests over the “inappropriate and costly” rule with the Bush administration and Congress. Taking up its cause was a White House official with a reputation for assessing risk much differently: Dr. Beck.

Throwing ‘Sand in the Gears’

As the Bush administration took office, John D. Graham, who ran the White House office overseeing regulations, unveiled a plan to ease the government’s burden on business by reining in “the regulatory state.”

To that end, Mr. Graham hired scientists to review major federal regulations and make recommendations about their worthiness, something the E.P.A. itself had done over the years.

Dr. Beck, Mr. Graham said, was an excellent addition to his staff.

She had grown up in Oyster Bay, N.Y., an affluent suburb on Long Island, earned an undergraduate microbiology degree in 1988 from Cornell and a doctorate from the University of Washington a decade later. Her dissertation, which examined how the sedative phenobarbital impacts the metabolism of the liver, started with words still relevant to her today: “Each day the human body is confronted with many potentially toxic substances in the form of food items, medicinal products and environmental agents.”

She started her career at Estée Lauder, where she helped develop preservatives used to extend the shelf life of cosmetics, and also designed laboratory tests to determine if products caused adverse reactions when applied to skin.

When Mr. Graham hired her, she had been working as a science fellow at the E.P.A.’s center for environmental reviews. He described her as having “street smarts and thick skin,” someone who did not need the limelight to be effective.

“Dr. Beck is easy to underestimate,” Mr. Graham said in an email.

When the proposed lead paint rule came along in 2006, Dr. Beck, in her White House role, pressed Ms. Hamnett and others in the E.P.A. to revise the language to diminish the link to cardiovascular disease in adults, Ms. Hamnett recalled, before letting the rule go into effect.

That was one marker in Dr. Beck’s journey to redefine the way the government evaluates risk. Though they repeatedly found themselves on opposite sides, Ms. Hamnett said that, in a way, she admired Dr. Beck’s effort during those years.

She described Dr. Beck as a voracious reader of scientific studies and agency reports, diving deep into footnotes and scientific data with a rigor matched by few colleagues. She combed through thousands of comments submitted on proposed rules. And she had a habit of reading the Federal Register, the daily diary of new federal rules.

All of it made Dr. Beck an intimidating and confident adversary, Ms. Hamnett recalled. “She’s very smart and very well informed,” she said.

But there was a destructive side to that confidence, others said. In particular, Dr. Beck was seen as an enemy of scientists and risk assessors at the E.P.A., willing to challenge the validity of their studies and impose her own judgment, said Robert M. Sussman, a lawyer who represented chemical industry clients during the Bush administration and later became an E.P.A. lawyer and policy adviser under the Obama administration.

“Her goal was to throw sand in the gears to stop things from going forward,” said Mr. Sussman, who now is counsel to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups.

Jack Housenger, a biologist who served as the director of the E.P.A.’s pesticide program, had a more positive recollection. He said Dr. Beck asked reasonable questions about his findings related to a wood preservative used in playgrounds and outdoor decks that was being pulled from the market.

“She wanted us to present the uncertainties and ranges of risk,” said Mr. Housenger, who retired this year. “She was trying to understand the methodology.”

Paul Noe, a lawyer who worked with Dr. Beck during the Bush administration, also said her critics got her wrong.

“What you really want to do as a government is to set priorities,” he said. “If you don’t have a realistic way of distinguishing significant risks from insignificant ones, you are just going to get bogged down and waste significant resources, and that can impede public health and safety.”

One of the harshest criticisms of Dr. Beck’s tenure in the Bush White House came in 2007 from the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences, which examined a draft policy she helped write proposing much stricter controls over the way the government evaluates risks.

“The committee agrees that there is room for improvement in risk assessment practices in the federal government,” the review said, but it described Dr. Beck’s suggestions as “oversimplified” and “fundamentally flawed.” It recommended her proposal be withdrawn.


An internal struggle has broken out in the Environmental Protection Agency over how to regulate toxic chemicals. These documents tell the backstory of the tension, which emerged after the Trump administration named an industry insider as a top agency regulator.
OPEN Document Dr. Beck was so aggressive in second-guessing E.P.A. scientists that she became central to a special investigation by the House Committee on Science and Technology.

The committee obtained copies of her detailed emails to agency officials and accused her of slowing progress in confirming drinking-water health threats presented by chemicals like perchlorate, used in rocket fuel. “Suppression of Environmental Science by the Bush Administration’s Office of Management and Budget,” the committee wrote in 2009, before describing Dr. Beck’s actions.

The opposition became so intense that Dr. Beck’s efforts started to get shut down.

First, the new risk assessment policy she had proposed was formally withdrawn. Then, after Mr. Obama took office in 2009, Mr. Sussman recalled going to the White House along with Lisa P. Jackson, the new E.P.A. administrator, to ask for a commitment to curb Dr. Beck’s power.

“We told them that we need the White House out of the E.P.A. science program,” Mr. Sussman said. “We demanded that. And we got it.”

Continuing the Fight

During Mr. Obama’s first term, Dr. Beck left the White House for the American Chemistry Council, whose members include Dow, DuPont and dozens of other major manufacturers and chemical companies.

As the trade association’s senior regulatory scientist, she was perfectly positioned to continue her second-guessing of the E.P.A.’s science.

Now her detailed criticisms of the agency came on trade association letterhead and in presentations at agency meetings and events.

“If the same person says the same thing three times, does this create a weight of evidence?” Dr. Beck said in a presentation in 2013, essentially mocking the scientific standards at the agency.

E.P.A. records show her challenging the agency’s scientific conclusions related to arsenic (used to manufacture semiconductors), tert-Butanol (used in perfumes and as an octane booster in gasoline), and 1-bromopropane (used in dry cleaning).

Her point was often the same: Did the scientists producing work that federal regulators relied on adequately justify all of the conclusions about any risks?

“Scientists today are more prolific than ever,” she said in a November 2014 presentation, later adding that “unfortunately, many of the scientific studies we read about in the news were not quite ready for prime time.”

But at the same time, the industry was confronting a much larger existential problem.

E.P.A. and government-funded academic researchers were raising serious health questions about the safety of a range of chemicals, including flame retardants in furniture and plastics in water bottles and children’s toys. Consumer confidence in the industry was eroding.

Some state legislatures, frustrated by the E.P.A.’s slow response and facing a consumer backlash, moved to increase their own authority to investigate and act on the problems — threatening the chemical industry with an unwieldy patchwork of state rules and regulations.

Dr. Beck and other chemical industry representatives were dispatched to the E.P.A. and Congress to press for changes to the federal regulatory system that would standardize testing of the most worrisome existing chemicals and improve and accelerate the evaluation of new ones.

The resulting law, passed last year with Democratic and Republican support, gave both sides something they wanted. The chemical industry got pre-emption from most new state regulations, and environmentalists got assurances that new chemicals would be evaluated on health and safety risks alone, not financial considerations.

It was the most significant overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act since its enactment in the 1970s, and once again Ms. Hamnett was prepared to help shepherd it into place. The task was shaping up to be what she considered her final, crowning act at the E.P.A.

Ms. Hamnett was invited to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a part of the White House complex, to be present as Mr. Obama signed the bill into law. She was so excited that she arrived early and sneaked up to the stage to look at the papers Mr. Obama would be signing.


President Barack Obama signing a chemical safety bill in June last year. Credit Zach Gibson for The New York Times

“Protecting people and the environment for decades to come,” she said, recalling her thoughts, as she excitedly stood on the stage. “At least, that is what we planned.”

Turning the Tables

They gathered in early June around a long conference table at the E.P.A. headquarters, the sunlight shining in from Constitution Avenue. In the crowd were Dr. Beck, Ms. Hamnett and other top agency officials charged with regulating toxic chemicals, as well as environmentalists worried about last-minute changes to rules being pushed by the chemical industry.

Olga Naidenko, an immunologist specializing in children’s health, said she was struck by the head-spinning scene. Dr. Beck, who had spent years trying to influence Ms. Hamnett and others to issue rules friendly to the chemical industry, was now sitting at the conference table as a government decision maker.

“I am running the show. I am now in the chair. And it is mine,” Dr. Naidenko, said, describing her impressions of Dr. Beck at the gathering.

The Obama-era leadership at the E.P.A., in its last weeks, had published drafts of two critical rules needed to start the new chemical program. The rules detailed how the agency would choose the most risky chemicals to be tested or evaluated and how the hazards should be judged.

It would be up to Mr. Pruitt, the new E.P.A. chief, and his team to complete the process in time for a June deadline, set in the legislation.

Dr. Naidenko, a staff scientist at the Environmental Working Group, was there to plead with the agency to ignore a request from the American Chemistry Council to make more than a dozen last-minute changes, some pushed by Dr. Beck while she was at the council.

Dr. Beck did not seem convinced, recalled Dr. Naidenko and one of her colleagues, Melanie Benesh, a lawyer with the same organization.

“Tell me why you are concerned. What is it about?” Ms. Benesh and Ms. Hamnett each said they recalled Dr. Beck saying.

In fact, behind the scenes, the deed was already done.

Before Dr. Beck’s arrival, representatives from the E.P.A.’s major divisions had agreed on final wording for the rules that would be sent to the White House for approval. But they were told to wait until May 1, when Dr. Beck began her job as the acting assistant administrator for chemical safety.

Dr. Beck then spent her first weeks on the job pressing agency staff to rewrite the standards to reflect, in some cases, word for word, the chemical industry’s proposed changes, three staff members involved in the effort said. They asked not to be named for fear of losing their jobs.

Dr. Beck had unusual authority to make it happen.

When she was hired by the Trump administration, she was granted the status of “administratively determined” position. It is an unusual classification that means she was not hired based on a competitive process — as civil servants are — and she was also not identified as a political appointee. There are only about a dozen such posts at the E.P.A., among the 15,800 agency employees, and the jobs are typically reserved for technical experts, not managers with the authority to give orders.

Crucially, the special status meant that Dr. Beck did not have to abide by the ethics agreement Mr. Trump adopted in January, which bars political appointees in his administration from participating for two years “in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

Her written offer of employment, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, also made it clear that Dr. Beck’s appointment was junior enough not to require Senate confirmation, which would have almost certainly delayed her arrival at the agency and prevented her from making changes to the rules ahead of the June deadline.

None of these arrangements raised concerns with the E.P.A.’s acting general counsel, Kevin S. Minoli, who issued a ruling on her unusual employment status. Mr. Minoli saw Dr. Beck’s background as a benefit, according to a memo he wrote that was reviewed by The Times.

“You have extensive prior experience with the regulated industry’s perspective and are already familiar with (and may well have authored) A.C.C. comments now under consideration,” he wrote, referring to the American Chemistry Council.

He added that Dr. Beck’s “unique expertise, knowledge and prior experience will ensure that the agency is able to consider all perspectives, including that of the regulated industry’s major trade association.”


In a letter, an E.P.A. official addressed Dr. Beck’s ability to be involved in matters affecting her former employer.

Others at the E.P.A., however, were stunned at the free pass given to Dr. Beck.

“It was a clear demonstration this administration has been captured by the industry,” said Elizabeth Southerland, who served as the director of science and technology in the Office of Water until her retirement in July.

Getting Her Way

In the weeks leading up to the June deadline, Dr. Beck made clear what changes she wanted.

The conversations were polite, and Dr. Beck listened to counterarguments that Ms. Hamnett and her team made, Ms. Hamnett said. But in most cases, Dr. Beck did not back down, demanding a variety of revisions, particularly related to how the agency defined risks.

It all had a familiar ring. Ms. Hamnett and the others had fielded many of the same demands from the American Chemistry Council and from Dr. Beck herself when she worked there. Ms. Hamnett took detailed notes in spiral notepads, excerpts from which she showed The Times.

One area of contention was Dr. Beck’s insistence that the E.P.A. adopt precise definitions of terms and phrases used in imposing rules and regulations, such as “best available science” and “weight of the evidence.”

The agency had repeatedly rejected the idea, most recently in January, in part because the definitions were seen as a guise for opponents to raise legal challenges.

“These terms have and will continue to evolve with changing scientific methods and innovation,” the agency said in a Jan. 17 statement in the Federal Register, three days before Mr. Trump was sworn in. “Codifying specific definitions for these phrases in this rule may inhibit the flexibility and responsiveness of the agency to quickly adapt to and implement changing science.”

Another area of dispute involved the “all uses” standard for evaluating health threats posed by chemicals. Under that standard, the E.P.A. would consider any possible use of a chemical when determining how to regulate it; Dr. Beck, like the chemical industry, wanted the E.P.A. to limit the evaluations to specific intended uses.

“There is no way we can look at thousands of uses,” Dr. Beck told Ms. Hamnett in one meeting in mid-May, according to Ms. Hamnett and her notes. “We can’t chase the last molecule.”


Ms. Hamnett’s notes from meetings where changes in toxic chemical rules were discussed at the request of Dr. Beck, who had a history of second-guessing the E.P.A.’s scientists.

As the June deadline under the new law approached, Dr. Beck took control of the rewriting herself, a highly unusual step at the E.P.A., where expert Civil Service employees traditionally hold the rule-writing pen.

Ms. Hamnett said she did not try to stop Dr. Beck given she had the support of the agency’s new leadership.

Mr. Noe, the lawyer who worked with Dr. Beck during the Bush administration, was not involved in the rewriting of the new rules. But he said it was wrong to interpret Dr. Beck’s actions as pro-industry; instead, he said, she was a defender of rigorous science.

“Anyone who would question Nancy’s ability or integrity does not know her at all and just has a political ax to grind,” he said.

Ms. Hamnett’s handwritten notes, however, record increasingly urgent objections from across the agency, including from the Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division, the Office of Water and the Office of General Counsel.

“Everyone was furious,” said Ms. Southerland, the official from the Office of Water. “Nancy was just rewriting the rule herself. And it was a huge change. Everybody was stunned such a substantial change would be made literally in the last week.”

The general counsel’s objections to the substance of the changes were among the most alarming.

Laurel Celeste, an agency lawyer, questioned whether the last-minute changes would leave the agency’s rule-making open to legal challenges. Her objections were outlined in a memo reviewed by The Times that was marked “confidential attorney client communication. Do not release under FOIA,” referring to the Freedom of Information Act.

Federal law requires rules to be a “logical outgrowth” of the administrative record. But Dr. Beck had demanded changes that the staff had rejected, meaning that the rule contained items that “differ so greatly from the proposal that they cannot be considered to be the ‘logical outgrowth’ of the proposal and the comments,” Ms. Celeste said.

Her memo, sent by email on May 30 to Dr. Beck and more than two dozen agency scientists and staff members, also raised concerns about the preamble, an important piece of any regulation that must accurately reflect its contents.

“We are also concerned that, as currently drafted, the preamble lacks an adequate rationale for a number of final rule provisions that have changed significantly from the proposal,” Ms. Celeste wrote.

The objections were strongly worded, but they fell short of an important legal threshold — the formal filing of a “nonconcurrence” memo — that would have triggered further review of Dr. Beck’s actions. Several E.P.A. staff members said in interviews that they had been told by Mr. Pruitt’s top deputies to air their concerns in so-called concur-with-comment memos, which put objections on the record but allowed the process to move forward.

The rules, with Dr. Beck’s changes, were sent to the White House and approved by the June deadline. Mr. Pruitt assembled the team in late June for a brief ceremony to celebrate the completion of the work.

“Everybody here worked very, very hard,” Ms. Hamnett said, as Mr. Pruitt signed his name, according to a video of the ceremony posted by the E.P.A.


Calvin M. Dooley, a former congressman who is president of the American Chemistry Council. In May, Dr. Beck, his recent employee, pushed through many industry-friendly changes at the E.P.A. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

‘Not One of My Best Days’

Environmentalists were dismayed, but Ms. Hamnett emerged from the whirlwind process with some confidence that all was not lost.

While she disagreed with a number of Dr. Beck’s changes, she trusted that the E.P.A. staff would maintain its commitment to honor Congress’s intent in the 2016 legislation. That would translate into a rigorous crackdown on the most dangerous chemicals, regardless of the changes.

But her confidence in the E.P.A.’s resolve was fragile, and it had been shaken by other actions, including the order Ms. Hamnett received to reverse course on banning the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The order came before Dr. Beck’s arrival at the agency, but Ms. Hamnett saw the industry’s fingerprints all over it. Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, instructed Ms. Hamnett to ignore the recommendation of agency scientists, she said.

The scientists had called for a ban based on research suggesting the pesticide might cause developmental disabilities in children.


Farm workers in a field picking berries. Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide blamed for developmental disabilities in children, is still widely used in agriculture. In March, Mr. Pruitt overrode agency scientists’ recommendation to ban it. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

To keep the pesticide on the market, under E.P.A. guidelines, the agency needed to have a “reasonable certainty” that no harm was being caused.

“The science and the law tell us this is the way to go,” Ms. Hamnett said of a ban.

But the reaction from her superiors was not about the science or the law, she said. Instead, they queried her about Dow Chemical, the pesticide’s largest manufacturer, which had been lobbying against a ban.

The clash is recorded in Ms. Hamnett notebook as well as in emails among Mr. Pruitt’s top political aides, which were obtained by The Times.

“They are trying to strong arm us,” Mr. Jackson wrote after meeting with Ms. Hamnett, who presented him with a draft petition to ban the pesticide.

Mr. Jackson, Ms. Hamnett’s notebook shows, then asked her to come up with alternatives to a ban. He asserted, her notes show, that he did not want to be “forced into a box” by the petition.


Ms. Hamnett recorded Mr. Jackson’s reaction to a pesticide ban in her notebook.

“I scared them,” Mr. Jackson wrote in an email to a colleague about his demands on Ms. Hamnett and her team.

As a possible compromise, Ms. Hamnett’s team had been talking to Dow about perhaps phasing out the pesticide instead of imposing an immediate ban. But Dow, after Mr. Trump’s election, was suddenly in no mood to compromise, Ms. Hamnett recalled. Dow did not respond to requests for comment.

She now knew, she said, that the effort to ban the pesticide had been lost, something Mr. Jackson’s emails celebrated.

“They know where this is headed,” Mr. Jackson wrote.

Just over a week later, Ms. Hamnett submitted a draft order that would deny the request for a ban.

“It was hard, very hard,” she said, worrying that the pesticide would continue to harm children of farmworkers. “That was not one of my best days.”

The episode is one reason she worries the E.P.A. will defer to the chemical industry as it begins to evaluate toxic chemicals under the standards created by the new law. She became particularly concerned because of a more recent exchange with Dr. Beck over methylene chloride, which is used in paint removers.

After more than a decade of research, the agency had concluded in January that methylene chloride was so hazardous that its use in paint removers should be banned.

Methylene chloride has been blamed in dozens of deaths, including that of a 21-year-old Tennessee man in April, who was overwhelmed by fumes as he was refinishing a bathtub.

“How is it possible that you can go to a home improvement store and buy a paint remover that can kill you?” Ms. Hamnett asked. “How can we let this happen?”

Furniture-refinishing companies and chemical manufacturers have urged the E.P.A. to focus on steps like strengthening warning labels, complaining that there are few reasonably priced alternatives.

Ms. Hamnett said Dr. Beck raised the possibility that people were not following the directions on the labels. She also suggested that only a small number of users had been injured. “Is it 1 percent?” Ms. Hamnett recalled Dr. Beck asking.

Ms. Hamnett said she was devastated by the line of questioning.

After years of successfully fending off Dr. Beck and her industry allies, the balance of power at the agency had shifted toward the industry.


A postcard received by Ms. Hamnett during the early months of the Trump administration, urging her to stay the course. The sender’s information has been redacted by The New York Times.

She had long planned to wrap up her work at the agency soon, as her husband, David, had retired three years ago. On Sept. 1, Ms. Hamnett turned in her badge and joined him.

Mr. Pruitt has selected a replacement for Ms. Hamnett: Michael L. Dourson, a toxicologist who has spent the last two decades as a consultant helping businesses fight E.P.A. restrictions on the use of potentially toxic compounds. He is already at work at the agency in a temporary post while he awaits Senate confirmation.

The American Chemistry Council, and its members, are among the top private-sector sponsors of Mr. Dourson’s research. Last year, he collaborated on a paper that was funded by the trade group. His fellow author was Dr. Beck.

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