Environmental health

Lead exposure and heart disease

The harm that lead can cause young children has been known for decades, but there is growing evidence that lead in the blood may raise the risk of heart disease in adults.

Cleaner living: Plant-friendly is planet-friendly

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Food production has an enormous impact on the global ecosystem and contributes to climate change. Making the choice to replace meat with plant-based foods, even in one or two meals a week, is better for you and for the environment.

Something else to avoid in pregnancy: Phthalates

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Chemicals called phthalates are in all kinds of products we use every day, making them nearly inescapable. But research has found that children whose mothers were exposed to phthalates during pregnancy were more likely to have problems with motor skills or language development, so pregnant women should try to avoid them.

Heat related illness: How to keep your cool

Wynne Armand, MD

Contributing Editor

Prolonged periods of hot and humid weather increase the chance of a heat related illness, and you are at higher risk if you are older or spend time exerting yourself outdoors. Take precautions and be sure to hydrate wisely.

Common food additives and chemicals harmful to children

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Food additives and chemicals are common in all kinds of products, including packaging and personal care items, and pose greater risk to children than to adults. Simple steps to minimize exposure are sensible and do not require radical lifestyle changes.