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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d89oct50

This collection of papers sets the stage for the upcoming conference on this topic in Washington, December 4-6, 1989, organized by the Center for Environmental Information. Most of the concern in this area relates to effects of increased ultraviolet radiation in the B range (UV-B) resulting from ozone depletion; very little work has been published to date on human health effects of global warming. Readers are encouraged to submit any recent publications on this (or any other) topic for possible use in Global Climate Change Digest.

Item #d89oct51

"Potential Carcinogenic Effects of Stratospheric Ozone Depletion," M.L. Kripke (Dept. Immun., Anderson Cancer Ctr., Univ. Texas, Houston TX 77030), H. Pitcher, J.D. Longstreth, Environ. Carcinogenesis Rev., in press, Oct. or Nov. 1989.

A review summarizing information prepared for the U.S. EPA that formed the basis for the decision of the United States to sign the Montreal Protocol; more recent information is also included. Increased UV-B from ozone depletion is expected and has already been demonstrated in the Southern Hemisphere. It will almost certainly lead to increased incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) and cutaneous melanoma, both of which are already rising rapidly. Increased UV-B may lead to a preferential increase in the more serious form of NMSC, squamous cell carcinoma; more data are needed to assess the impact on cutaneous melanoma. A different threat is the demonstrated ability of ultraviolet radiation to impair immune responses to infectious agents in animal models, but the implications of this result for humans is completely unknown.

Item #d89oct52

"Wavelength Dependence of Pyrimidine Dimer Formation in DNA of Human Skin Irradiated in situ with Ultraviolet Light," S.E. Freeman et al., B.M. Sutherland (Biol. Dept., Brookhaven Nat. Lab., Upton NY 11973), Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 86, 5605-5609, July 1989.

The authors determined an action spectrum for the frequency of pyrimidine dimer formation induced in the DNA of human skin. Convolution of this dimer action spectrum with the solar spectra corresponding to a solar angle of 40° under current levels of stratospheric ozone (0.32-cm O3 layer), and with spectra for 50% ozone depletion (0.16-cm O3 layer), indicates about a 2.5-fold increase in dimer formation. These results, combined with epidemiological data, suggest that a 50% decrease in stratospheric ozone would increase the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers among white males in Seattle, Washington, by 7.5 to 8-fold, to a higher incidence than is presently seen in the corresponding population of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Item #d89oct53

"Exposure to Sunlight and Other Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration," S.K. West (Wilmer Inst., Johns Hopkins Hosp., 600 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore MD 21205), F.S. Rosenthal et al., Arch. Ophthalmol. 107, 875-879, June 1989.

To address a growing concern over a possible relationship between long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation and increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, a survey was conducted of 838 Maryland watermen who had well-characterized ocular UV-A and UV-B exposure. Found that, even with high levels of sunlight exposure, there was no evidence of increased risk of age-related macular degeneration associated with UV-B or UV-A exposure.

Item #d89oct54

"Ultraviolet Light Exposure and Risk of Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts," T.W. Bochow, S.K. West (address immed. above) et al., ibid., 369-372, Mar. 1989.

A case-control study was undertaken to investigate the role of exposure to ultraviolet light in the B range and other potential risk factors for the development of posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataracts, which are visually disabling and account for 40% of surgical cases. Surgical PSC cataract cases from a large rural ophthalmic practice on the lower eastern shore of Maryland were matched with phakic controls without PSC cataract changes from the same geographic area by age, sex and referral pattern. Matched-pairs analyses indicated that a history of relatively high exposure to UV-B was associated with increased risk of PSC cataracts, and suggests that UV-B exposure may be an important risk factor for PSC cataracts.

Item #d89oct55

"Abrogation of Skin Lesions in Cutaneous Leishmaniasis by Ultraviolet B Irradiation," S.H. Giannini (Ctr. Vaccine Devel., Univ. Maryland Sch. Med., Baltimore MD 21201), E.C. De Fabo, in Leishmaniasis: The Current Status and New Strategies for Control, D.T. Hart, Ed., NATO ASI Series A: Life Sciences, 683-690, 1989 (Plenum Pub. Corp., New York).

Studies the effect of narrow-band UV-B at either end of the UV-B spectrum on mice infected with leishmania, still a serious health problem in the tropics and subtropics. UV-B radiation suppressed obvious skin ulcers, but left mice heavily parasitized and non-immune. Implications for humans in the tropics are discussed.

Item #d89oct56

"Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma and Ultraviolet Radiation: A Review," J. Longstreth (ICF/Clement Assoc., 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax VA 22031), Cancer Metas. Rev., 7, 321-333, 1988.

Summarizes a comprehensive report prepared for the U.S. EPA as part of a risk assessment of stratospheric ozone depletion. Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) rates have been increasing in the United States at an average rate of about 4% per year; the exact cause is unknown, but several lines of evidence described in this paper suggest that increasing exposure to UV-B radiation may be a factor. With increasing levels of UV-B possible from stratospheric ozone depletion, it has become important to understand the relationship between UV-B and CMM to estimate increased risks. Based on empirical relationships between UV-B and CMM incidence and mortality rates, a 1% depletion of ozone was predicted to result in increases of 1-2% in CMM incidence and 0.8-1.5% in CMM mortality.

Item #d89oct57

"Impact of Ozone Depletion on Skin Cancers," M.L. Kripke (M.D. Anderson Cancer Ctr., Univ. Texas, Houston TX 77030), J. Dermatol. Surg. Oncol., 14(8), 853-857, Aug. 1988.

A review concluding that the most obvious effect on human health of increased UV-B radiation resulting from a decrease in the protective ozone layer will be an increase in the incidence of basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Other possible effects include a contribution to the development of cutaneous melanoma, ocular changes leading to the formation of cataracts, and immunologic perturbation.

Item #d89oct58

"Ozone Depletion and Skin Cancer," J.C. van der Leun (Inst. Dermatol., Univ. Utrecht, Catharijnesingel 101, Utrecht, Neth.), J. Photochem. & Photobiol., B: Biol., 1, 493-494, 1988.

One conclusion from 16 years of research on UV-B radiation and skin cancer is that the number of patients with non-melanoma skin cancer will increase more sharply than the rate at which the amount of ozone decreases. This is expressed as an amplification factor made up of a radiation factor and a biological factor, giving the percent increase in incidence caused by a 1% decrease in the amount of ozone. For photocarcinogenesis, the radiation amplification factor has a value of about 2. The biological amplification factor has a value of about 2 for basal cell carcinoma and about 3 for squamous cell carcinoma.

Item #d89oct59

"Effect of Ultraviolet Radiation on Cataract Formation," H.R. Taylor (address immed. above), S.K. West et al., 319, 1429-1433, Dec. 1, 1988.

To investigate the relation of ultraviolet radiation and cataract formation, the authors undertook an epidemiologic survey of 838 watermen (mean age, 53 years) who worked on Chesapeake Bay. The annual ocular exposure was calculated from the age of 16 for each by combining a detailed occupational history with laboratory and field measurements of sun exposure. Cataracts were graded by ophthalmologic examination for both type and severity. Results indicate that there is an association between exposure to UV-B radiation and cataract formation, which supports the need for ocular protection from UV-B.

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