A research article written by Marja Roslund et al. has been published in Environment International. The article is based on the fact that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are priority environmental pollutants that cause adverse health effects. PAHs belong to endocrine signaling disruptors to which children are sensitive to. Recent evidence suggests that PAH pollution alters the abundance of environmental bacteria that is associated with health outcomes.
To estimate the risk of endocrine disruption in daycare children, the authors measured PAHs from soil and air of eleven urban daycare centres in Finland. They observed associations between signaling pathways in endocrine system and gaseous PAH levels in ambient air. Soil PAH contamination was associated with altered Actinobacteria, Bacteoridetes and Proteobacteria communities on children's skin and in daycare yard soil. Even though fluoranhtene levels were above the current threshold values, total PAHs were below safety threshold values. The findings indicate that PAH concentrations that are considered safe may interfere with endocrine signaling by commensal microbiota and alter both environmental and commensal bacterial communities. The imbalance in human microbiota and the decrease in signaling pathways may contribute to emerging public health problems, including inflammatory disorders, obesity and diabetes. Current risk assessments may underestimate the hazard of PAHs.
According to PAH source estimation, home wood burning, coal combustion and vehicular traffic are significant sources of PAHs for urban soils in Finland. Nature-Based Solutions Research Group is developing novel biodiverse landscaping materials for daycare yards or other green spaces to balance this kind of human-induced disturbances in urban environments.