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From October 10, 2006                                                                                                        

California Institutes the Nation’s First Statewide Biomonitoring Program
(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2006) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed the first bill ever supporting a statewide “biomonitoring” program aimed at measuring how residents are absorbing chemicals from common use products. Senate Bill 1379, introduced by state Senators Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), will require the state Department of Health Services to establish a program for residents who agree to have their blood, urine and other body fluids tested for toxic chemicals and other pollutants.

According to Reuters, State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who advanced the legislation, said he had a personal interest in obtaining data on the extent to which Californians were exposed to potentially harmful chemicals. Senator Perata said, "I have in my office alone five women recovering from cancer and I can't believe that my experience is much different from other people."

Governor Schwarzenegger said, "There are literally thousands of chemicals being used in our everyday products in the United States in cleaning supplies, pesticides, cosmetics and more. It's important to know more about how those chemicals are building up in our bodies or how they may be affecting our health." The governor continued, "Bio-monitoring will do just that by shedding some light on our bodies, our environment and on public health."

Biomonitoring, an increasingly popular science, will be used to track hundreds of potentially harmful contaminants, such as lead, mercury, DDT and other pesticides, PCBs and flame retardants. Monitoring results will provide more information about toxics’ health risks by measuring how much, and in whom, they accumulate. California state health officers will use blood, urine, tissue, hair and breast milk samples collected voluntarily from a cross-section of California residents, taking into account ethnic, age, income and geographic differences, in an effort to gauge levels of exposure.

Support for the bill came from a variety of sources such as the California Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, large labor unions, and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club. According to Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund, “We monitor the air, the water and land for chemical contaminants, but we don't measure the chemical contaminants in people.” Ms. Nudelman continued, “By doing that, we can provide the kind of data we need to better understand links between chemical exposure and rates of disease, and communities that are disproportionately affected.'' (See Daily News)

Governor Schwarzenegger will set up a nine-member panel of experts that will be appointed by both the governor and legislative leaders to design the new bio-monitoring program.