Toxic Chemicals in Bodies Report From Centers for Disease Control: Environmental Health Advocates Respond

Friday, December 11, 2009 Environmental Health J E 4

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 10 The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) expected to be released today by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is on the right track with a focus on testing people's bodies for chemical contamination, say environmental health advocates working on chemical exposure issues.

According to Pamela K. Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, "While we are very relieved the CDC is stepping up its focus on chemical exposure with important monitoring of toxics in people's bodies, we'd like them to collect data to reflect geographic location in order to assess regional exposure patterns." In Alaska, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) - chemicals that can take many years to break down - drift North on wind and water and impact Indigenous people. Alaska has one of the highest rates of birth defects in the nation. Some scientists believe that the gender imbalance of more girls being born than boys in the Arctic is due in part to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals that drift North.

Sharyle Patton, program director at Commonweal, says, "CDC should make individual results available to those they have tested. As the European Union begins its pilot biomonitoring study, it will be making plans to do just this, given EU legal support for the right to know. In the interests of transparency and access, and as leaders in national biomonitoring programs, surely we can do the same."

Margaret Reeves, Ph.D., senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network North America, who works with farmworker and rural communities says, "It is necessary for CDC to link time of year of specimen collection and the occupations of those tested to see patterns with pesticide applications and other exposures."

Peter Orris, MD, MPH, Professor and Chief of Service, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center welcomes the report as important: "I would hope that CDC will continue to collect information and will also look at intergenerational comparisons to help protect women of child bearing age from those chemicals that may damage the developing fetus."

"Biomonitoring studies provide direct evidence that people are exposed to harmful chemicals, and these studies should be linked with policy actions to reduce and prevent exposures," according to Davis Baltz, M.S., a Senior Associate working on chemical policy issues with Commonweal.

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SOURCE Environmental Health Fund


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