1/3 – Visualizing Environmental Risk: Chlorpyrifos

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After the EPA announced the reversal of its decision to ban the harmful pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, Upstream Research took action. Chlorpyrifos is a toxic pesticide that attacks the nervous systems of insects and humans and is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women. The below excerpt from the National Pesticide Information Center outlines its harm:

“Researchers studied the blood of women who were exposed to chlorpyrifos and the blood of their children from birth for three years. Children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than children who did not have chlorpyrifos in their blood. Exposed children also had more attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity disorders.”

However, despite these findings the EPA still has decided not to ban the pesticide. Upon learning of their reversal, our team at Upstream Research worked to add a new dataset into Upstream Reports – presence of chlorpyrifos. Our website’s risk map now also includes an easily-searchable section on the agricultural use of the pesticide, which may be useful to people trying to find out if they or their children are at risk.

Upstream does not seek to outline correlation or causation with our datasets; we simply wish to inform and empower the public. Get your own 5 free Reports by clicking the button below.

Where You Live Matters

It’s the tagline to our company, but where you live truly matters to your health. In some studies, life expectancy in certain areas is linked to the environmental concerns.

In fact, a case study titled “Life Expectancy and the Environment” from 2009 by Fabio Mariani et. al has the following abstract:

“We present an OLG model in which life expectancy and environmental quality dynamics are jointly determined. Agents may invest in environmental care, depending on how much they expect to live. In turn, environmental conditions affect life expectancy. As a result, our model produces a positive correlation between longevity and environmental quality, both in the long run and along the transition path. Eventually, multiple equilibria may also arise: some countries might be caught in a low-life-expectancy / low-environmental-quality trap. This outcome is consistent with stylized facts relating life expectancy and environmental performance measures. We also discuss the welfare and policy implications of the intergenerational externalities generated by individual choices. Finally, we show that our results are robust to the introduction of growth dynamics based on physical or human capital accumulation. “

Below are 5 cities with the lowest life expectancy in the U.S with the corresponding Upstream Report. And 5 cities with the highest life expectancy. We do not seek to make direct correlation, simply demonstrate that environmental risks play a role in health.

Lowest Life Expectancy:

1. Gadsden, Alabama - 72.9 years

2. Beckley, West Virginia - 73.4 years

3. Florence, South Carolina - 73.8 years

4. Hammond, Louisiana - 73.9 years

5. Columbus, Georgia - 74.4 years

Highest Life Expectancy: 

1. Naples, Florida - 83.5

2. Sunnyvale, California - 83.3

3. Corvallis, Oregon - 82.1

4. Norwalk, Connecticut - 82.1

5. Ames, Iowa - 82.0


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Post By: Molly Esselstrom, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Solutions come in many shapes and sizes. Policy changes are one, large solution. Education, awareness, protesting, and inventions are others. When it comes to pollution eradication, there are many ways people can make a difference. But it’s also important to be aware of your own health in highly polluted areas.

Dermalogica is one such invention and solution to rapidly aging skin for those in areas that are highly polluted. Upon entering the website, users receive a personalized Skin Pollution Index based on pollution in their area. This gives a number and calculates the risk based on the pollutants in the area and then goes on to explain ground-level ozone.

That’s not the only function of the website, though. Dermalogica is a skincare product line that is specifically designed to deeply cleanse skin of pollutants and reduce the signs of aging in higher risk areas. The company also tries to educate people on the harmful affects of pollution on skin and other aspects of health. Although it may seem like a small step in the progress against pollution, awareness and personal action are where any big goals begin. 

To see their full list of products and read about their stories, click here

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Poisoning Our Values

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Post By: Molly Esselstrom, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Cuts to the CDC might have more impact than you think.

An article March 9, 2017 via CNN online brought to light an important policy change that will have ripple effects in health care and the environment. According to the article, “the plan to repeal Obamacare will eliminate nearly $1 billion in Centers for Disease Control & Prevention funding” which is used for preventing outbreak of diseases and lead poisoning in children.

The cut and its effects could be devastating, especially for a problem like lead poisoning which has become all too common for children. Upstream Research’s new lead risk map exposes problem areas in the U.S where residents are most at-risk, especially if they are five years and younger. In fact, this map reveals that there are dozens of other communities that have lead in the water as bad as or worse than the case of Flint, MI. Likely in most of these areas, parents are unaware of the water they are exposing their children to whether in their homes or schools.

Foundations like Lead Safe America even offer free lead test kits if you think your child might be at risk. These resources for parents are the first step in finding a solution for an ever-growing problem. As the new administration continues to repeal policies aimed at climate change and reducing our impact (and are simultaneously promoting big industry), there will likely be even more stories of lead poisoning as well as polluted water, soil and air.

Furthermore, a $1 billion budget cut to the CDC could gravely hurt the chances of addressing these problems before they become major issues. Perhaps this is where Upstream Reports steps in, as a community advocate and resource when policy is up in the air. With any address in the U.S, you can pull a Report of the environmental risk for that area. This includes lead risk, disease, overall toxicity, and other socioeconomic data in the area you input. The ability for everyone to have access to five free Reports makes this a true resource for communities that otherwise may not know what’s in their soil, air and water.

To pull a Report, go to www.upstreamreports.com.

To speak to your state official about a problem in your area, search here



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In Children We Trust

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Post By: Molly Esselstrom, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Kid President is certainly a joke, a satire even, but it brings to mind an important question. What rights do the children of the United States (and the world) have? They cannot lead a country, they cannot vote, they cannot decide policy. Yet, the leaders, voters, and policies that we put in place now are going to affect them the most. Their unalienable rights should be the same as anyone else over the age of 18 and, in fact, their voices deserve to be heard as well.

Our Children’s Trust is a true illustration of children’s rights. This is a lawsuit where kids are suing the government. Let that sink in: kids are suing the government. The mission according to their website is to “elevate the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere to the benefit of all present and future generations.”

The lawsuit is present and future-oriented, and the end-goal is to affect climate change policy and give a voice to those most vulnerable (and those climate change will most impact in future). Our Children’s Trust does this by facilitating youth programs that provide public education and civic engagement in these environmental matters. A press release on February 28, 2017, mentioned the progress of the plaintiffs and federal defendants, specifically regarding role of oil and gas industry in impacting climate change. 

A recent BBC article, “Is there a way to tackle air pollution?” by science editor David Shukman, posited this question in light of the World Health Organization’s calculation that “92% of the world’s population are exposed to dirty air.” In recent news, Paris, Athens, Mexico City and Madrid are planning to ban all diesels by 2025.

The article mentions that the University of Leicester conducted a study where children volunteered to carry around pollution monitoring devices in their backpacks. The personal monitors showed levels that were much worse than they had been expecting. The implications of such a study (and others like it) have the potential to be life-changing to many people around the world. Especially children, who are most at risk to air pollution.

Now, more than ever, is the time when children can take a stand in their environmental education and their impact. Not only is proper knowledge of environmental concerns and solutions critical to curriculums, but the empowerment of children’s voices being heard as those of the future is invaluable. When we trust in our children and give them the environment they deserve, we are making huge, forward-thinking changes that will surely benefit more than our generation.  

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HIMSS 17 – A Review

Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Lights, action, colors. Giveaways, promos, and staged presentations. These are the sights you might typically associate with a trip to NYC or Las Vegas. Yet picture this scene inside a massive convention center in Orlando, Florida with tens of thousands of exhibitors (“the brightest minds”) showing the latest innovations in health and IT.

This is the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Convention – or, HIMSS 2017. 

The annual event is the largest healthcare tradeshow in the United States with over 40,000 attendees from all over the states and the world. Upstream Research participated with our partner, Cognosante and their other partner Protenus in booth #3323. The “theme” of the weekend was tracking lead exposure in a particular Missouri neighborhood – calculating risk, taking this risk to better help a patient, and altogether transforming healthcare – a topic that is all too familiar in recent news.

In fact, many of the innovations seen in walking around the booths were pushing the envelope on traditional healthcare. Improving the patient experience, applying analytics and Big Data, and customization within these realms were some of the largest overall themes. Companies like Cognosante, MITREESO Solutions, ERSI, and Orion Health are leading their respective areas in the healthcare industry so that patients can get more out of their healthcare and live healthier lives overall.

While this convention is a show of sorts with prizes, games and gadgets, it is also an important display of possibility.

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

You’re running low on gas and, as you watch the needle get closer to the big E on your dashboard, you can’t ignore it any longer. So, you pull into the nearest gas station, uncap your gas tank and reach for the pump. Then there’s the choice of what type of fuel you’d like: regular unleaded, plus unleaded, premium unleaded, diesel. You make your choice without a second thought to the type of gas you’re using. What does unleaded really mean anyway?

Well, it means it doesn’t contain lead. Obviously.

Before 1974, “unleaded” gasoline was not an option for patrons using the pump. “Tetraethyl lead was added to fuel to reduce the volatility of the gas and increase the octane rating” (Quora.com...). Lead was an additive that was meant enhance gasoline, but the harmful effects of breathing in lead for children and the negative environmental impacts led to the switch in the mid ‘70s.

In 2017, we take the bi-weekly look at “unleaded” for granted. In a time where lead is on the mind of the nation (think Flint, MI), we should be focused on our consumptions that do not contain lead.

Among its worst effects, lead “attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death." Children are the most at-risk group because they absorb as much as five times the amount of lead that adults do. The effects in behavior and neurological functions are commonly believed to be irreversible, which makes avoidance of exposure vital.

Most alarming of all, “there is no known safe blood lead concentration” making any exposure, a hazardous one especially for young children.

See our other blog posts for a guide on toxic-free products, risks of toxics to expecting mothersa look at the water crisis, and at the harmful effects of lead paint. While many companies and cities have made advances in “unleaded” products and city services, there is still much work to be done. The next time you need to gas up, think about the effort that was made to turn a necessary chore into a safer one.



See Upstream environmental risk map here, which highlights lead risk especially in children under the age of five.

Lead prevention tips: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm

Certified lead contractors: http://www.leadsafelist.com/renovators/





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Upstream's First Podcast

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Good things are worth sharing–again. 

On January 9th our CEO, Nick Bedbury, was featured on Frank Peters' podcast via breathOregon. Peters hosts a podcast series called The Frank Peters Show and his interviews are featured on multiple outlets. His subject matter is usually environmentally-centered as he is an advocate for clean air, water and soil.

Listen to the complete podcast below:

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPetersShow

By the End of the Century...

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Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan hope to cure all disease. All disease. Why the end of the century you ask? Well, besides the fact that it's a lofty goal, their daughter was born this past year and they want a healthier world within her lifetime.

That's a sacrifice worth $3 billion. 

In the official announcement (video embedded) Priscilla began the presentation by saying, “We are assembling teams that can build transformational tools that unlock a new era of accelerated progress in science and health.” In her emotional introduction, she outlines the reason they created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) was for their daughter and for the children that Priscilla cannot save as an oncologist.

The main theme of this announcement is best shown with this quote from Mark:

Our society spends 50 times more treating people who are sick than on finding cures”

Thus, CZI was born with a team of leading scientists in the industry working with three main components, one of which is the Bio Hub. This aspect of CZI is heavily academic and research-oriented, bringing together top minds from Stanford, UCSF and Cal Berkeley.

The other two components of CZI include Transformative Technologies and Challenging Networks. The technology component is all about building new tools that can aide the scientific community in their progress to cure all disease. One such technology CZI is investing is is a “cell atlas” that helps with genomic research.

The last big component of CZI is the idea of Challenging Networks, for which the institution supports networks of investigators (virtual institutes and think tanks) with a common mission. Their ultimate goal is to have a team of 10-15 networks worldwide.

All of these components equal to CZI’s mission: to make a healthier tomorrow.


Watch the full video below: 

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A Time After the Flood?

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

The environment has been a hot topic in the media for a while–especially following Election Day 2016. Before the Flood is a feature length documentary-style film that follows narrator Leonardo DiCaprio as he explores the world’s environmental degradations and the actions that must be taken to reverse them.

The film, which is being referred to as 2016’s An Inconvenient Truth equivalent, was a joint project with National Geographic and produced by Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio himself. DiCaprio opens the scene speaking to an assembly as the newly appointed U.N Messenger of Peace. In this role, he is met both with approval and with contempt and controversy as key figures question his position and his lack of experience with climate control.

“Try to have a conversation about anyone about climate change and they just tune out,” DiCaprio says within the first few minutes of the film.

And it's true. Whether someone avidly believes in change, opposes it, or is unsure with the rhetoric floating around they are more than likely despondent about the current climate situation. However, this film seeks to shine a light on the dark landscape of the warming planet.

Another poignant quote in the film: “Planet Earth is such a small boat and if this boat sinks, I think we will have to all sink together.” Although slightly hopeless, this again is meant to wake people up. Earth is the home to people of every race, color, religion, sexual identity, and personality. And it's high time we begin to take care of it as our home.

Namely, the film focuses on fossil fuels and the extreme consequences of fracking and mountaintop removal.

“There is no such thing as clean fossil fuel.”

And there isn't. So, where do we go from here? Certainly not to what has caused a problem in recent news and is leading to all sorts of diseases (see our blog posts Super Polluters: A Super Problem, Playing with Fossils, & Dear Governor Cuomo). If there was a time before the flood (and there certainly was), then together we can find a way after it.


To learn more about the film, click here


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Toxic Trails

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Imagine you’re four years old and looking wide-eyed at the contrails of the planes speeding above you. For a few moments they leave their mark on the sky–a white dusting like chalk on a board. Just as quickly, they disappear and your attention moves elsewhere.

Contrails may be a sight to behold, but they quite literally leave their mark with their release of chemicals. An article from the Star Tribune in 2008 used a Question/Answer format to the question: “Is life under a flight path more toxic?”

The answer the Tribune gave was inconclusive, citing a study conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that tested air in four neighborhoods underneath airplanes’ flight paths. The results showed the “amount of toxics found was below the maximum accepted health benchmarks for those compounds” such as benzene and formaldehyde and was further complicated by the pollution-emitting cars nearby.

The follow-up question to this study may be: What are the “maximum accepted health benchmarks” for compounds such as benzene?

A paper by the U.S. Energy Information Administration outlines the path to biofuels in aircrafts and says that “jet fuel is a 22-billion gallon per year market in the United Sates” with biofuels only now starting to trickle into the market. “Biojet” or biofuel is made from renewable and biologically derived materials, but is up against the larger market of jet fuels before it is the norm.

In fact, a paper through the World Wildlife Fund this year reported that a week prior to the article’s publishing on October 10, 2016, the “United Nations’ civil aviation body agreed…to put a cap on the emissions for an international sector rather than a country.” And, as one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, “this is the starting block.”

However, although these two sources outline jet fuel’s role in greenhouse emissions, they do not delve deeper into the flight path of their toxic trails. It seems related that the need to change from jet fuels to bio fuels not only affects our climate but also our health.

An article from the LA Times does, though. The 2014 piece measured exhaust particles released in neighborhoods below the Los Angeles International Airport and "found that takeoffs and landings at LAX are a major source of ultrafine particles...equal in magnitude to those from a large portion of the country's freeways." In contrast to the Tribune article that could not decipher between the roadway pollution and the toxic trails of the planes, the LA Times article reports a "'novel and alarming set of results.'" The results of breathing in such particles can be asthma, blocked arteries, and an aggravation of lung and heart conditions. 

With pollutants such as benzene hazing out skies, it is important to take our observance of those pretty contrails one step further and demand to know what’s in the air we breathe.


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The Home Environment

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Home is where the health is. The truth of this statement lies with children and the development of their brains, bodies, and habits from early home life. Healthy homes could refer to variety of things –mental and physical health, air/water quality, environmental factors–but all contribute to a developing child and follow him or her into adulthood. A healthy family environment could make the difference in graduation rates, behavior, and mental illness in the same way that the home’s physical environment can make the difference in cognitive development, disease and susceptibility to illness or disorders (asthma, for example).

In fact, Penn State recently announced their researchers will combine with other universities (notably, the University of  Oregon and George Washington University) to study the effects of the environment on children’s health. The project will be called “Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes” and will involve a sampling from children adopted at birth and those that live with their biological parents to “‘tease apart genetic and environmental contributions to child outcomes’” (Jaramillo, 2016).

It is extremely important to understand how our environment from an early age can have an impact in out later life, as well as understanding how our internal environment [genetic makeup] and external environment can impact how we are,’ Neiderhiser said.”

While the research has a few years until it is fully developed, the intent of the study is to highlight the importance of environmental influences on a child’s development. Taking action starts with awareness.

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Prior to 1978, the regulation on building materials for homes was nowhere near what it is now. Lead paint was prominent, asbestos was just beginning to be looked at as harmful and lead poisoning was yet to be an addressed issue. In 2016, most of us know to inquire about the paint of a home built before ’78 but we may not fully understand why.

The World Health Organization (WHO), released a graphic recently with the title #BanLeadPaint. The simple design shows a paint can with statistics about lead paint. Some of these include:

  • “Fact: Lead is Toxic” and damages the brain, kidneys, liver, blood and reproductive system.
  • “Young children are most vulnerable.”
  • “In pregnant women…also affects the developing fetus.”

These are a few negative consequences of lead exposure, not just in paint but in all manner of ways. A news release from the EPA on October 25 of this year announced its activities for “Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.” The greater mission of such a week is to show that “lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable and 0 percent irreversible.”

Although the article outlined events in only one county, there is something to be said for bringing this issue to the greater public’s awareness and promoting the use of lead-free products in future.

More about lead paint poisoning here


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