Synthetic Fragrances- Potential Danger

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Humans and other animals have a cellular defense system which helps protect them from toxic substances. There’s evidence that this system may be adversely affected by an overabundance of chemicals in our environment – particularly, synthetic fragrances. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Till Luckenbach is a Post Doctoral researcher at the Hopkins Marine Station in Stanford University. He’s studying the ability of cells to transport toxic substances away from the cell.

“What this resistance system does is it removes chemicals from the cell and protects the cell or the animal or organism from chemicals in the environment. But what happens if this transporter system is oversaturated?”

According to Luckenbach, what could oversaturate our body’s resistance are synthetic fragrances such as musks. When they’re disposed of, they are typically not eliminated by sewage plants and their presence has been detected in many marine organisms.

“We were interested in if maybe a group of chemicals which were supposedly innocuous, like these synthetic musk compounds, would interfere with this system.”

Working with shellfish, Lukenbach devised an experiment which exposed mussels to a dye. Now normally, the mussel’s defense system is able to keep out the dye. But when a synthetic fragrance was added, it appeared to interfere with the mussel cell’s ability to eliminate the dye.

“It’s a long way from mussels to humans. On the other hand, humans have a similar way to protect themselves against chemicals. So, we don’t know if these chemicals actually interfere with the human system as well, but since both systems are similar, we think it’s very important to see if these chemicals have a similar impact for humans too.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation . I’m Jim Metzner. music

Synthetic Fragrances- Potential Danger

Could chemicals found in synthetic fragrances compromise an organism's ability to defend itself from toxic substances?
Air Date:11/12/2008
Scientist:
Transcript:

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Humans and other animals have a cellular defense system which helps protect them from toxic substances. There's evidence that this system may be adversely affected by an overabundance of chemicals in our environment - particularly, synthetic fragrances. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Till Luckenbach is a Post Doctoral researcher at the Hopkins Marine Station in Stanford University. He's studying the ability of cells to transport toxic substances away from the cell.

"What this resistance system does is it removes chemicals from the cell and protects the cell or the animal or organism from chemicals in the environment. But what happens if this transporter system is oversaturated?"

According to Luckenbach, what could oversaturate our body's resistance are synthetic fragrances such as musks. When they're disposed of, they are typically not eliminated by sewage plants and their presence has been detected in many marine organisms.

"We were interested in if maybe a group of chemicals which were supposedly innocuous, like these synthetic musk compounds, would interfere with this system."

Working with shellfish, Lukenbach devised an experiment which exposed mussels to a dye. Now normally, the mussel's defense system is able to keep out the dye. But when a synthetic fragrance was added, it appeared to interfere with the mussel cell's ability to eliminate the dye.

"It’s a long way from mussels to humans. On the other hand, humans have a similar way to protect themselves against chemicals. So, we don’t know if these chemicals actually interfere with the human system as well, but since both systems are similar, we think it’s very important to see if these chemicals have a similar impact for humans too."

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation . I'm Jim Metzner. music