Synopsis: Appalachian Mountaintop Mining Particulate Matter Induces Neoplastic Transformation of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells and Promotes Tumor Formation

Main Points:

  1. The lungs are the primary target organ for these airborne mountaintop mining particulates.
  2. The results of this study show that chronic exposure (3 months) to 1 microgram/milliliter (µm/mL) of mountain top removal mining air on rat lung cells increased cell formation, cell clumps, and cell clump migration throughout their bodies.
  3. This study shows that air particulate matter from mountaintop removal communities promotes tumor growth, with a synergistic effect from the presence of molybdenum.

Overview Summary

  • Study Background:
  1. Silica and molybdenum are main inorganic chemical constituents of PM
  2. Air particulate matter samples were taken within 1 mile of mountaintop removal sites. These samples were used to expose rat bronchial (lung) cells to similar human environmental exposure amounts.
  3. The rat lung exposure amount was 0.1µg/cm2 for 3 months which would be the equivalent of a human consistently breathing 5µ/m3 of mountain top mining particulate matter over 8.5 years.
  • Findings:
  1. Mountain top removal particulate matter promoted tumor growth in the exposed rat lung cells.
  2. Cell creation, growth, and migration were expressed among the exposed cells.
  3. This study shows that cells are more likely to become cancerous in mining communities near mountain top removal than non-strip mining communities.
  • Conclusions:
  1. A growing body of evidence links living in proximity to MTM activities to greater risk of serious health consequences, including significantly higher reports of cancer.
  2. The present study demonstrated that chronic exposure to PMMTM induced neoplastic transformation of human bronchial epithelial cells with cancer-like properties.
  • Implications:
  1. As more than 60,000 cancer cases have been estimated to correlate with MTM activities in West Virginia, this finding on the cancer-promoting effect of PMMTM and related epidemiological data are crucial to raise public health awareness to reduce cancer risk.
  2. This study also suggested that molybdenum could be one of the key inorganic elements responsible for the cancer-promoting effect of PMMTM.
  • Policy Considerations:
  1. Our data indicate the cell-transforming and tumor-promoting effects of PMMTM; thus, supporting the prudent adoption of prevention strategies and implementation of exposure control for PMMTM.
  • Funded by and/or conducted by:
  1. This study was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Institutes of Health.
  2. Lab analysis was conducted at the West Virginia University Flow Cytometry Core Facility which is funded by the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and National Institutes of Health.

Citation: Luanpitpong, Sudjit, et al. “Appalachian Mountaintop Mining Particulate Matter Induces Neoplastic Transformation Of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells And Promotes Tumor Formation.” (2014): BASE. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

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