BWH/Harvard Northport IBD Study to begin next month

2016 BWH/Harvard Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis study to begin in November

In 2011  Dr. Josh Korzenik, The Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), one of the leading IBD researchers in the country, and his team conducted a study of Northport residents through health questionnaires and medical record confirmations. He discovered a health cluster of Northport residents with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease that was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses he has ever seen.

The causes, and a cure, for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have long baffled the scientific community.  Northport’s historical exposure to specific heavy metal toxins may be a contributing factor to the abnormally high number of residents with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Korzenik is moving forward next month with a new epidemiological case-control study of Northport residents; focusing on a possible correlation to chronic exposure to heavy metals triggering ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

In March I asked for volunteers for this new study. Participants needed are residents diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis, as well as residents who do not have either of these illnesses (a control group).  I received many volunteers to participate.  Thank you!   However, I do not want to miss anyone who may want to participate in this ground breaking study.

If you have not already contacted me* to volunteer and you are willing to participate in this study, both diagnosed residents and non diagnosed residents, please e-mail me as soon as possible.  The study begins in the next two weeks.  

Contact Info:   or

* If you are not sure if you contacted me already please feel free to e-mail again!

The study is simple, and will take only a few minutes of your time.  You will be contacted by the research team, either by telephone or e-mail depending on your preference, to give your consent to participate in the study.  A questionnaire and a kit including scissors and nail clippers to obtain hair and nail samples will be sent to your home.  You will then send the packet back to the researchers, and the assays will be done at their lab.

Thank you so much to the community for your amazing support in volunteering for this much needed study!


Contact Info:   or

Linking Air Pollution to Colitis & Crohn’s

Linking Air Pollution to Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease;                      

A statement for Northport residents, epidemiologists, research organizations and universities on an opportunity for an epidemiological case-control study on Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis that continues to be ignored

By Jamie Paparich

Extensive studies continue to be done on human health issues linked to exposure to air pollution. It is well documented that exposure to air pollution has been a contributing factor in multiple forms of lung and heart diseases.

However, almost no studies have been done on the effects of air pollution on the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the intestines. Even though the bodies intestines absorb the majority of the toxins inhaled and ingested from air pollution.

Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two known inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation throughout the entire GI tract, anywhere from the mouth to the anus. It most commonly effects the small intestines, causing chronic inflammation of the lining of the small intestines.  Ulcerative colitis impacts the large intestine/colon.  Colitis causes inflammation and open sores, or ulcers on the lining of the large intestine/colon. Both Crohn’s and Colitis causes severe abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon. These diseases are incurable and impacts not only the patients long term health, but also their quality of life. The scientific and medical community have been unable to discover what causes these rare diseases, which limits the treatment options.


Depending on where you are, air pollution can contain anything from fire smoke, ash, emissions from smelters, mining operations, power plants, construction sites, road construction, and automobiles…just to name a few. All air pollution contains particulate matter (PM). Particulate matter is liquid and solid particles suspended in the air that contains a mixture of the toxic pollution, the dust and pollen in your air.  The particulate matter is how the toxins from pollution enter the body. 


Inhalation & Dermal:

There are two sizes of particulate matter.

– PM 10:  10 microns (a millionth of a meter) in diameter or less. These are small enough to be inhaled and accumulate in the respiratory system. Many of the particles pass from the respiratory system through mucus down the GI Tract.

– PM 2.5:  2.5 microns in diameter (1/10,000 of an inch). These are so small they are inhaled into the respiratory system, but then are able to pass through the lungs into the bloodstream, and also from the respiratory tract through the GI Tract. These size particles can also be absorbed through the skin.


The particulate matter falls onto gardens, crops, the food animals ingest, water sources, and the water ways fish inhabit. In turn, we ingest the PM through those products when consumed.


In the case of Northport, air monitoring has shown that our air contains dangerous levels (way above safety standards) of arsenic and cadmium.  This is from the emissions released from the smoke stack at Teck Resource, a Canadian smelter located 3 miles upriver. The particulate matter in our pollution contains several heavy metals, not just arsenic and cadmium, because of the smelters emissions. 


Gastrointestinal Tract

    • Inhalation:  Once particulate matter is inhaled into the respiratory tract, it is sent through the GI tract through mucocilliary clearance, eventually entering the intestines.  The majority of the  particulate matter inhaled into the body will end up in the intestines.  Not all of these toxins are expelled from the body. Many are absorbed and accumulate into the intestinal walls. This induces systemic effects; directly effecting the epithelial cells (the barrier between toxic invaders and healthy cells lining the intestine). System inflammation then triggers immune activation.  Over time, this leads to the immune system turning on the bodies good cells as well.
    • Ingestion:  Food and water containing PM toxins are ingested into the stomach, then passed to the intestines, where the toxins will, once again, spend the longest amount of time in the body, before being expelled from the body. The toxins not expelled will also inducing systemic effects, system inflammation, and eventually immune over stimulation.


Particulate matter alters the body’s immune system reaction. The immune system discovers and destroys disease causing organisms, viruses, and foreign agents in our bodies. The immune system kicks into overdrive due to the ingestion and inhalation of particulate matter, especially containing heavy metals. Eventually the chronic, overstimulation of the immune systems will cause chronic inflammation throughout the body, or to specific organs. 

Exposure to high levels of heavy metals is an obvious concern.  However, the more dangerous type of exposure is long term exposure, even to low levels.  This type of exposure causes the heavy metals to slowly accumulate in the bodies organs, causing biotoxic effects.  According to the research published in Heavy metal pollution and human biotoxic effects, (Duruibe, J. O. 1 *, Ogwuegbu, M. O. C. 2 and Egwurugwu, J. N. 3),  “….(G)eneral signs associated with biotoxicity of (sic) cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury, zinc, copper and aluminum poisoning:  gastrointestinal (GI) disorders….”


In people with IBD, the immune system attacks the heavy metal toxins in the intestines.  Because of the accumulation of heavy metals toxins, from chronic exposure to specific air pollution, some individuals immune systems go haywire, attacking the toxins and healthy cells.  This eventually leads to chronic-inflammation, ulcerations, and thickening of the intestinal wall.  The result of this is Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, and likely several other auto immune health issues.

However, not all people exposed to the same level of specific heavy metal toxins will develop Crohn’s or Colitis.  When the first cluster of Northport residents with either Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease was discovered in 1992 statistically 1 in 100,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with one of these IBDs.  In 1992 Northport’s population was approximately 375 people, and 15 residents had been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis.  In 2012 a research team from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center conducted an IBD study of Northport and confirmed 17 people had either Crohn’s or Colitis, the population in 2012 was still around 375 people.  This is 11.5 to 15 times higher than the national standard. 

In 1992 and 2012’s study the residents diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Colitis lived within a two mile radius of each other, in the Columbia River Valley.  This valley was nicknamed “The Heavy Fallout Zone” by the EPA, due to the high levels of heavy metal toxins found in their sampling.  The levels were so elevated in this area because Teck’s air emissions, full of heavy metal toxins and sulfer dioxide, would flow north down the river and become trapped in the valley.  There is would settle, the particulate matter falling onto every surface below it, and being inhaled by the residents living on the little farms scattered along the banks of the river. These residents were chronically exposed to the dangerously high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air for decades. 

However, the question still remains.  Why did some of these residents, living in the “heavy fallout zone”, contract Colitis or Crohn’s and some didn’t.  It impacted the children who grew up in the area the most, but not all of the children.  In the study; Exposure to ingested airborne pollutant particulate matter increases mucosal exposure to bacteria and induces early onset of inflammation in neonatal IL-10-deficient mice, (Salim SY1, Jovel J, Wine E, Kaplan GG, Vincent R, Thiesen A, Barkema HW, Madsen KL), the research team aimed to determine if exposure to particulate matter during the neonatal period and early-life would alter colitis in a mouse model.  The team concluded “Our data suggest that early exposure to pollution particulates can result in an earlier onset of intestinal disease in genetically susceptible hosts and can alter responses to gut injury in later life.”

Scientist have not been able to discover an inheritance/genetic pattern to IBDs.  Most scientists and researchers whose work is focused on Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and the GI Tract believe both genetic and environmental factors trigger the illnesses. 

Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) , Ted Schettler, M.D., M.P.H., shared his thoughts about the high occurrence of these diseases in our area; “If it is in anyway related to smelter emissions I’d wonder about changes in the intestinal micro biome as a plausible mechanism that could link metal exposure to inflammatory bowel disease.”


The community of Northport exceed all of the requirements to conduct an accurate epidemiological case-control study of the contribution chronic exposure to specific heavy metal toxins in air pollution has on triggering inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the impact it may specifically have on the immune system response.

The EPA is currently conducting a Human Health Risk Assessment of the area, as part of their agreement with Teck Resources in conducting remedial investigations and feasibility studies of the Upper Columbia River area and Northport. The EPA, nor Teck have any plans to monitor our air in any of the investigations or assessments.  The EPA has no interest in looking at the cluster of diagnosed cases of Crohn’s or Colitis in the area, spanning three generations. 

Today members of the community continue to be diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis, and more will continue to be diagnosed until something is done. 


New BWH/Harvard Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis study on Northport residents underway;    VOLUNTEERS NEEDED


In 2011 the results of a community lead health survey conducted in Northport, WA caught the attention of Dr. Josh Korzenik, the Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Through BWH, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital, his team conducted their own survey of current and former Northport residents to investigate the possibility of a health cluster of resident’s diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.  Of the 119 participants, 17 had confirmed cases of either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.  According to Dr. Korzenik  “That’s about 10 to 15 times what we’d expect to see in a population the size of Northport.”  This confirmed his suspicion of a health cluster, (an unusually high occurrence of a disease or illness diagnosed in a group of people in close proximity of time and location.)

The causes, and a cure, for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have long baffled the scientific community.  Therefore, the discovery of this cluster could provide researchers and the medical community with an invaluable opportunity to better understand if environmental factors cause or trigger the diseases.

Northport’s historical exposure to specific heavy metal toxins, from the air emissions and solid discharges from a Canadian smelter located 3 miles up river, Teck Resources, may be a contributing factor to the abnormally high cases of of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnosed in residents.

Dr. Korzenik is moving forward with an epidemiological study of a correlation to chronic exposure to heavy metals and diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Korzenik and his team are currently preparing their Institutional Review Board (IRB) to move forward with this study.   To conduct an accurate study he will need residents diagnosed with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, as well as a control group of residents who do not have these illnesses.

The IRB process takes 1-2 months to complete.  In preparation for the study we are reaching out to the community to ask for volunteers to participate in this study.  Both impacted and non-impacted residents are needed.  The process to participate will be easy, a kit being sent to each participate, all of which can be done from home and sent back to Dr. Korzenik, free of charge.  The results of your participation will be invaluable, providing information that could lead to discovering the cause, and possibly even a cure, to these debilitating illnesses.

If you would be willing to participate in this study, or would like more information on it, please e-mail me at:

Help Save IBD Research Funding

Help Save IBD Research Funding

Take Action!
Contact Your Legislator Today

Urge Your Legislators to Fund IBD Research

President Obama submitted his Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget proposal to the Congress, the request did not include funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) IBD program.

We need to ask Members of Congress for full funding for CDC’s IBD program in FY13! The target funding for CDC’s IBD program for FY13 is $686,000.

To fund this program, we must encourage Members of Congress to contact the appropriations committee.

It’s as easy as a couple clicks.
click here to help

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America • 386 Park Avenue South, 17th Floor, New York NY 10016
Phone: 800-932-2423 • E-mail: • Web site:

Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week Begins

The blog below is from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) website:

Today begins Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week

CCFA is proud to announce that the Senate has passed a resolution to make December 1 – 7 Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week! This is an important step toward recognizing the 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and it commends the dedication of health care professionals and biomedical researchers.

“The passage of this resolution will give hope to the millions of Americans, including a growing number of young children, who struggle with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that we will continue to focus our attention on these very difficult diseases,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

What better way to celebrate than by raising awareness? You can take action by asking your legislators to join the Congressional Caucus in the House. And if you haven’t already, be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow on Twitter for more Awareness Week updates.

Health Science – Patients helping patients towards a better quality of life

The following press release is for a new health science study to treat IBD. Health science involves using technology and scientific research to improve healthcare and treatment. If you are interested in learning more about, or possibly entering this field for yourself, this site exploring health science programs in college offers more information on what it takes to become a health scientist.

CCFA is looking for 10,000or more IBD patients to share how IBD has impacted their lives through CCFA Partners, our newly-launched groundbreaking online research and education program.

By completing a short, confidential survey about their current quality of life and providing occasional updates on their health, participants can shape researchers’ understanding of IBD.

This will ultimately help us to reach the goal of more rapid research progress, better treatments, and the cures we need.

Start your survey here.

Colitis or Crohn’s – Symptoms in Children

About Childhood IBD

  • Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). They are chronic and painful disorders that affect the intestinal tract.
  • Ten percent, or 140,000, of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who suffer from IBD are under the age of 18.
  • Approximately 20 percent of patients have another family member with IBD, and families frequently share a similar pattern of disease.
  • IBD, which has been detected in infants as young as 18 months, can be particularly hard to diagnose in children.


  • The initial symptoms may be nonspecific weight loss or delayed growth. For example, 80-90 percent of children with Crohn’s disease experience weight loss. For this reason, the correct diagnosis can be difficult to make: The average delay in diagnosis is three years from the onset of symptoms.
  • Other symptoms range from mild to severe and life-threatening and include any or all of the following:
    • persistent diarrhea,
      abdominal pain or cramps,
    • rectal bleeding,
    • intermittent fever,
      inflammation of joints (arthritic-like symptoms),
    • inflammation of skin or eyes, and
    • skin nodules and ulcers.
  • Sixty to 90 percent of children with Crohn’s disease and 14 percent of children with ulcerative colitis experience growth failure.

The Etiology of IBD

  • Both the causes of and medical cures for IBD are unknown. Colectomy (surgical removal of the colon) is the only cure for ulcerative colitis. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease; while surgery may be needed to help control symptoms or treat complications, relapses are common.
  • There is no link between eating certain kinds of foods and IBD. However, dietary modifications, especially during flare-ups, can help reduce symptoms and replace lost nutrients.
  • IBD is not a psychosomatic illness. There is no evidence to suggest that emotions play a causative role, but emotional stress can affect symptoms.


  • In younger patients, IBD tends to be more aggressive than in adults; thus, more aggressive treatment is needed.
  • Medications currently available alleviate inflammation and reduce symptoms but do not provide a cure. The principal drugs used to treat Crohn’s disease and colitis are 5-ASA agents (e.g., sulfasalazine, mesalamine) and corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone).
  • Prednisone can cause physically and emotionally disturbing side effects in children, including acne, puffy faces, weight gain, and growth retardation.
  • Sometimes, special nutritional therapy is needed to successfully treat IBD in children, because their maturing bodies require more vital proteins, vitamins, calories, and minerals.
  • A child who suffers from growth failure may require tube feedings or total parental nutrition (TPN)–intravenous feedings that fulfill all nutritional requirements. In some severe cases, surgery becomes the only option.
  • An estimated two-thirds to three-quarters of children with Crohn’s disease will require one or more operations in their lifetime.
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