What We're Reading: EPA Acts Against Toxic Chemicals; COVID-19, Pregnancy Complications; Substance Abuse and Infection Risk

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to announce plan on strengthening regulations against certain chemicals; risk of emergency complications increased in pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19; fully vaccinated, heavy marijuana users with substance abuse disorder linked with higher susceptibility to breakthrough infection.

EPA to Bolster Regulations Against Toxic Chemicals

As reported by The Hill, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to announce a plan that would strengthen regulations against toxic chemicals known to disproportionately impact vulnerable populations. Polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, have been linked with adverse health outcomes such as kidney and testicular cancer, and a 2015 study showed PFAS to be in the blood of 97% Americans. A spokesperson of the EPA confirmed that it has engaged with the Department of Defense in its effort to curb PFAS, but no steps were noted on whether this included steps to address PFAS from military bases—a major source of the contamination.

Risk of Pregnancy Complications With Symptomatic COVID-19 Infection

According to 2 new studies, risk of emergency complications may be increased in pregnant women who develop COVID-19–related symptoms, which would also put their children at risk, CNN reported. The study found that 58% of COVID-19–positive mothers with symptomatic infections delivered in emergency circumstances, compared with 46% of mothers who had asymptomatic COVID-19 infections. Notably, infants born to symptomatic mothers were shown to be significantly more likely to require oxygen support and be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Substance Abuse Disorder and Risk of Breakthrough COVID-19 Infection

People with substance abuse disorder (SUD) who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, particularly heavy marijuana users, were indicated to be more susceptible to breakthrough cases of the virus. Reported by Fox News, findings of the study published in World Psychology found that patients with SUD, including a dependence on marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and tobacco, were at nearly 2 times greater risk of breakthrough infections compared with those without SUD (7% vs 3.6%), with patients who had marijuana use disorder most at risk (7.8%). Marijuana advocates said the findings did not show that the drug could be a cause in breakthrough cases, and noted that most users are not dependent on marijuana.