Health Care


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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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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” ( 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:

Certified lead contractors:



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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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Image from Associated Press

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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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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Review of TEDEX

Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, or TEDEX, is a non-profit “dedicated to compiling and disseminating the scientific evidence on the health and environmental problems caused by low-dose exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function, called endocrine disruptors” (

The focus is on the endocrine systems in our bodies, which is a complex web of hormones and glands that “regulate vital functions” and interact with overall health. The increase of synthetic chemicals in our products over the last 60 years has introduced new chemicals into our endocrine systems. TEDEX filters this exposure down more fully to “plastics and resins” that are now found in cars, sporting goods, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals.

“This project was designed to explore the health effects of products and chemicals used in drilling, fracturing (fracking, or stimulation), recovery and delivery of natural gas. It provides a glimpse at the pattern(s) of possible health hazards posed by the chemicals being used.”

The above excerpt gives TEDEX’s mission: to create awareness and attempt to fix a growing problem. In our blog post “Playing with Fossils,”[LINK HERE] we outline the negative consequences of living near power plants and being exposed to pollution. TEDEX likewise shows the degradation that fracking causes and the resulting contamination of water supplies.

The project acknowledges that there are hundreds of products and processes that are having negative environmental and health impacts on the public but they still “make no claim our list is complete.” By compiling facts, however, they are bringing this issue to light and helping to inform the public.

To learn more, go to


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Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’

The following is an article from The Guardian's Oliver Milman on November 23, 2016. 

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding as the president-elect seeks to shift focus away from home in favor of deep space exploration

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2bnnext year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8bn in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.

“We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.

“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

Trump has previously said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, although on Tuesday he said there is “some connectivity” between human actions and the climate. There is overwhelming and long-established evidence that burning fossil fuels and deforestation causes the release of heat-trapping gases, therefore causing the warming experienced in recent decades.

Walker, however, claimed that doubt over the role of human activity in climate change “is a view shared by half the climatologists in the world. We need good science to tell us what the reality is and science could do that if politicians didn’t interfere with it.”

It could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ ... Space research is a luxury, Earth observations are essential

Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research

It’s understood that federal government scientists have been unnerved by Trump’s dismissal of climate science and are concerned that their work will be sidelined as part of a new pro-fossil fuels and deregulation agenda. Climate scientists at other organizations expressed dismay at the potential gutting of Earth-based research.

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said as Nasa provides the scientific community with new instruments and techniques, the elimination of Earth sciences would be “a major setback if not devastating”.

“It could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ of almost the pre-satellite era,” he said. “It would be extremely short sighted.

“We live on planet Earth and there is much to discover, and it is essential to track and monitor many things from space. Information on planet Earth and its atmosphere and oceans is essential for our way of life. Space research is a luxury, Earth observations are essential.”

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, said Nasa has a “critical and unique role” in observing Earth and climate change.

“Without the support of Nasa, not only the US but the entire world would be taking a hard hit when it comes to understanding the behavior of our climate and the threats posed by human-caused climate change,” he said.

“It would be a blatantly political move, and would indicate the president-elect’s willingness to pander to the very same lobbyists and corporate interest groups he derided throughout the campaign.”

Nasa has appointed two officials, Tom Cremins and Jolene Meidinger, to lead the transition to the new Trump administration. However, the president-elect’s team has yet to formally review the space agency.

“The Nasa community is committed to doing whatever we can to assist in making the executive branch transition a smooth one,” a Nasa spokesman said. “The agency remains focused on the future, a future that will improve our understanding of our changing home planet from Nasa’s unique platforms in space.”

Super Polluters; A Super Problem

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

Super polluters are power plants that release more than the usual amount of pollutants into the surrounding environment– “millions of pounds of toxic air pollution.” The Center for Public Integrity underwent a nine-month investigation in Indiana to measure industrial air pollution in a state where there are seven super polluters within a 30-mile radius.  

The Weather Channel’s publication of this study created a 12-minute video and supporting case study. “A third of the toxic air releases in 2014 from power plant factors and other facilities came from just 100 complexes out of the more than 20,000 reporting to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency,” with 22 sites listed as super polluters and their owners’ profits at more than $58 billion.

As the italicized quote above outlines, this is a complex issue.

The video, however, makes it personal. A photographer-turned activist based in Evansville, Ohio, John Blair, made two remarks that stood out.

“I think the people should fight for their homeland.”


“People are just resigned to having ill-health.”

He has lived in this area of highly concentrated super-polluters for over 40 years and, after losing countless family members to cancer and other disease, he became an activist for the cause. Jessica Thomas is a local teacher in the same area and said, “I have 5-year-old twins and they love to play outside and the idea that we don’t know for sure what they’re breathing, that double-edged sword…”

Producers Greg Gilderman and Neil Katz and Director Jonathan Scienberg make the short film powerful by featuring the stories of real people affected by a real and huge industry. The accompanying case study written by Jamie Smith Hopkins seeks to bring the story further to life by providing graphs and statistics about super polluters and the damage they do.

Perhaps most simply put, Professor George Thurston from the NYU School of Medicine said: “I think clean coal is pretty much an oxymoron.”

The video seeks to inform the public and end these juxtapositions.


To read the article and watch the short film, click here:


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Upstream Reports Public Release

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

If you’ve found yourself wondering how your environment affects your health, you’re not alone. After behavior, the environment around you impacts your health the most–this includes the air you breathe, the water you drink and the soil under your feet.

Upstream Reports™ makes the environment personal.

Our web app launches today through and allows users to input any address in the continental U.S and receive an environmental Report within seconds. The Report compiles terabytes of federal, state and local data and displays it in a user-friendly format that outlines environmental risk of the area, gives contextual graphs and provides an "Action" function for further involvement.

Why? Because Where You Live Matters, doesn’t it? It’s where you spend time with your family, lounge on lazy Sundays and have loved ones over for holidays and major events. The environment outside of your home unfortunately does not stay there and can affect you and all those living in your home.

Upstream Research believes everyone has the right to access information about where they live, work and play which is why every person gets a free Report on the location of their choice when they register at

Still curious? Our Sample Reports like this one of the New York City Hall show carcinogen release points, “toxic schools,” risk of cancers and other diseases, and other health data like asthma rates in the surrounding area.

Where You Lives Matters, but it can only improve with awareness and action.

#moveupstream #placematters


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Mapping Your Genetics

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

If you could predict what illness you or your family member would be diagnosed with, would you? And if you could take steps to prevent this illness or get ahead of it, would you do that as well? Most people would answer, “of course!” Because why wouldn’t you want to know what to expect for your health and learn how to take control of your DNA?

It seems idyllic but one company is making this their goal. 23andMe is a genetic testing and analysis company that offers extensive results on consumer’s DNA so they can find out about their ancestry and what might be an issue to their health in future. According to their website,, their mission is to “help people access, understand and benefit the human genome.” The premise is simple: order a saliva kit, provide a sample, and wait a few weeks until your report is ready. The company goes beyond basic DNA testing into “Health + Ancestry” where they reveal a person’s ancestry, wellness and traits to take control of their genetics.

USA Today covered the company and listed some of the blocking factors 23andMe had encountered trying to make a mark in the industry: “Companies such as 23andMe and Theranos are being closely watched by the FDA as they press into new arenas where often proprietary technology crosses into the medical space.”

'I think there’s an internal battle at the FDA about where to go with such companies, but for the moment (regulators) are focusing on making sure tests are accurate and efficacious, which equals safety,' says Mark Mansour, a partner at Washington, D.C., law firm Mayer Brown, where he often represents biotech companies dealing with FDA inquiries."

Despite the ‘internal battle’ with the FDA, 23andMe’s CEO Anne Wojcicki is ready to continue with her mission (now FDA-approved) to make DNA accessible and understood. The larger goal of the company–to help people understanding and access their DNA–is part of its persistence despite pushback. At Upstream Research, we believe in the public’s right to know not only what is inside of them affecting health but in the air, soil, and water around them as well.

Mapping genetics is just the beginning.

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Could Diabetes Be Environmentally Caused?

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research Marketing Manager

The “Problem” we outline on the front page of our website is the basis for all we do:

    In our rush to build the world’s most expensive healthcare system, create billion dollar drug therapies and map our DNA, we have ignored one of the biggest single contributors to our health: the environment. The water we drink, the air we breath and the soil that nourishes us affects our health much more than our DNA and far more than any health plan we may choose.

Given this, it is imperative to treat environmental factors as if their solution was the difference between life and death–in fact, it could be. And while we do not give information in a cause-and-effect format with Upstream Reports, it is important to understand how certain environmental factors could be impacting you daily.

For instance, two separate studies by the American Diabetes Association were published exploring the relationship between pollution and diabetes. “Diabetes Incidence and Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution” researched over 57,000 participants exposed to frequent air pollution and followed up 9 years later. What they found: “a borderline statistically significant association was detected with confirmed cases of diabetes (1.01 [1.00-1.08])” and this association between air pollution and diabetes made worse in participants with a healthy lifestyle (Andersen, 2012). 

As with Upstream Reports, this did not yield black and white answers; it simply sought to better understand the issue.

Similarly another ADA article from 2012, “Air Pollution and Type 2 Diabetes” showed that “There are now at least six published epidemiologic studies showing some degree of association between PM-or traffic-related air pollutants and DM” and highlighted the relationship between air pollutants, endothelial function and glucose uptake (Rajagopalan).

What these case studies–and, really, what Upstream Research–seeks to show is that the environment has a large impact on our health and deserves to be treated as such.

Related article:

Neighborhood Health

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research Marketing Manager

The adage, ‘Be the change you want to see,’ can be taken literally when it comes to where you live as well. We can improve our neighborhoods by noticing the warning signs of an unhealthy neighborhood or self-evaluating our community’s health. At the same time, we can also be proactive in finding ways to better our community health and security.

Assessing a neighborhood’s health may be as simple as observing what is happening in the neighborhood. Do there seem to be an unusual amount of people sick within a small area? Has the crime increased? What are the surrounding schools and houses like (upkeep, attendance, etc)? This can include anything from indoor air pollution (smoking, onset of asthma, lead dust or paint), outdoor air pollution (traffic congestion, respiratory infections, climate), or water pollution (urban runoff, sewage overflows, agriculture). 

Community members can take control of their local situation and have an impact on the greater environment as well. Starting a community urban garden, petitioning for city’s interference in pollution of any kind, and joining or forming public and neighborhood health groups that promote healthy and sustainable neighborhoods.




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The Water Crisis

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Post By: Molly Hover, Upstream Research Marketing Manager

In recent months, media outlets have been awash with stories about water crises, arguably breaking the conversation open with the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan in early 2015Citizens in Flint were warned of possible contaminants in the water but as early as January 2 were told that it did not present any considerable harm to ingest–except for children and the elderly who were advised to drink purified water. By February, the water had “dangerous” levels of lead and cancer-causing TTHM, causing citizens to protest and, by October of 2015, file a class action lawsuit.

Now, a housing complex in Indiana is said to have a water crisis that “may mirror” that in Flint. According to a CBS News article, the housing development is downwind of an old lead plant that closed in 1985 but still has disastrous affects.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The West Calumet Housing Complex sits in an area of winding canals, rivers and aging factories about 25 miles south of downtown Chicago across the border in Indiana, and is home to mostly African-American and Hispanic residents. From 1906 to 1985, a plant melting lead and copper in a process called smelting spewed toxic particles into the air that settled into the soil of residential yards throughout the area. The sprawling U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery, Inc. site was among several facilities contributing to the contamination.”

These factors coupled with silence from the city over the dangerous of living in such an area are what has made this situation eerily similar to that of Flint’s. Upstream Research’s mission is to empower individuals and give them better understanding. We are dedicated to showing citizens that where they live, work and play matters and can be improved by actions big and small.

To read the full article about Indiana, click here.

Further water crises: 

A story broke out on Sept 29 in the Daily Pennsylvanian regarding elevated levels of Chromium-6 in the local water supply. This chemical is known to cause skin burns, pnemonia, and stomach cancer. The health goal for its presence in water is .02 parts per billion (ppb)–the level they found was .39 ppb. Full article here

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