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Biomonitoring California Publishes Chemical Exposure Results

On May 5, 2014, the California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program, also known as Biomonitoring California, published the results of its biomonitoring efforts in an interactive database.  According to the results,  a number of subpopulations have been exposed to several categories of chemicals.

Biomonitoring California is a joint program of three California agencies:  the Department of Public Health, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control.  The program was established in 2006 by S.B. 1379 “to assist in the evaluation of toxic chemicals in a representative sample of Californians, establish trends of these chemicals in Californians’ bodies over time, and assess effectiveness of public health efforts and regulatory programs to decrease exposure of Californians to specific chemical contaminants.”

Depending on the particular subpopulation being evaluated, the program tests for:

  • Environmental phenols
  • Herbicides
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Organophosphate pesticides
  • Pyrethroid pesticides
  • Perfluorochemicals
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Metals
  • Phthalates

The program has evaluated exposures to specified chemical categories in female California teachers; mothers and their children in the Salinas valley agricultural communities; firefighters; and pregnant women with autistic children.  Except for the female California teachers’ study, which included over 800 women, relatively small numbers of individuals (significantly less than 100, in most groups) within each group were evaluated for exposure.

According to the studies’ results, individuals in almost all of these subpopulations have been exposed to a detectable level of a chemical within the evaluated chemical groups.  Not surprisingly, firefighters’ biomonitoring results showed consistent exposure to PAHs, which are formed during combustion.  Aside for what these results may mean for the regulatory management of chemical exposures for these subpopulations, these results also will feed into other regulatory programs, like the California Safer Consumer Products Regulations, and also ultimately may form the basis of new chemical legislation.

Ann Grimaldi

About Ann Grimaldi

Ms. Grimaldi maintains a diverse environmental law practice focusing on chemical and product regulation and litigation defense. Her practice areas include Proposition 65, California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations, California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Act and the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Ms. Grimaldi graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law magna cum laude and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bacteriology from University of California, Davis. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a research assistant in laboratories at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Research Institute and at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

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