Daily News Archive
From September 1, 2005

California Study Finds High Levels of DDT, Other Chemicals
(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2005) A biomonitoring study of eleven prominent Californians found higher levels of DDT and mercury than those found in the average American. The study, conducted by Commonweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center, also found other chemicals that had not previously been found in the state's population.

The study, Taking It All In: Documenting Chemical Pollution in Californians Through Biomonitoring, analyzed urine, blood, and hair samples from influential subjects with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. They were tested for six categories of chemicals: Organochlorine pesticides (DDT), Mercury, Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Bisphenol A and phthalates. Asthma, reproductive difficulties, neurological damage, birth defects, and cancer have each been linked to one or more of these chemicals.

All participants tested positive for DDT with levels exceeding those found in the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. DDT, which was banned in 1972 due to adverse health effects on wildlife, is a persistent organic pollutant (POP). DDT effects the nervous system and is linked to endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive problems, and cancer.

Overall, all six categories of chemicals or their metabolites were found in all eleven participants. These results are significant because a growing body of evidence shows that small amounts of toxic chemicals can have adverse health effects. Biomonitoring studies like Taking It All In and Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns promote a better understanding of these linkages.

"Biomonitoring is helping to create a revolution in our understanding of the links between exposure to chemicals and disease" said Davis Baltz, deputy directory of the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center.

As far as the future of biomonitoring in the state of California, the state Assembly will vote as early as this week on legislation that would create a statewide, voluntary and confidential program. The bill, Healthy Californians Biomonitoring Program (SB 600) will be the first state biomonitoring program in the nation if enacted.

"As a society, we are faced with a quiet crisis in public health," said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. "Biomonitoring is an important scientific public health tool already used by the CDC. Its use in California will ultimately help us improve public health, reduce the incidence of serious and chronic diseases and prioritize prevention."

TAKE ACTION: Help advance our understanding of the linkages between chemical exposure and disease by supporting biomonitoring efforts. If you are a California resident, support SB 600.