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Biomonitoring Funding Awarded to Three States

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2009) Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded $5 million to the states of California, New York and Washington to conduct biomonitoring surveys to assess public exposure to chemicals and toxic substances. This will allow the states to determine which environmental chemicals people have been exposed to and how much of those chemicals are in their bodies.

Many U.S. residents carry toxic pesticides in their bodies above government assessed “acceptable” levels. Biomonitoring, which measures levels of chemicals directly in people’s blood or urine, has become increasingly helpful for assessing people’s exposure to toxic substances as well as for responding to serious environmental public health problems. The PANNA report “Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability” in 2004, which compiled data from previous CDC biomonitoring surveys found that children, women and Mexican Americans carried the heaviest “pesticide body burden.” Another biomonitoring study by the World Wildlife Fund UK in 2003, revealed that chemicals, such as DDT, which have been banned for decades and are associated with cancer, immune system disorders, and other health problems, are still found in people today.

“Biomonitoring measurements are considered the most health-relevant assessments of exposure because they measure the amount of the chemical that actually gets into people,” said Howard Frumkin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Biomonitoring data improves health officials’ ability to make timely and appropriate health decisions by reducing the uncertainty in assessing levels of human exposure to environmental chemicals.”

The funding that CDC is providing for the states of Washington, New York and California will be used to increase the capability and capacity of state public health laboratories to assess human exposure to environmental chemicals within their states. States will be able to conduct statewide biomonitoring assessments in order to focus on communities or groups where chemical exposure is a concern. Specifically, states can conduct targeted exposure investigations in communities; assess over time the effectiveness of state public health actions to reduce exposures to specific chemicals of concern; and enhance existing biomonitoring projects.

The exposure data compiled from the three grantee awarded states will be compared to data in CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. This is an ongoing report of the exposure of the U.S. population to chemicals for the past 30 years, which will show whether a person or a group has an unusually high exposure compared to the rest of the U.S. population. The next edition of the Report is due out by the end of 2009.

Source: Centers for Disease Control Press Release


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