Many people are surprised to learn that they may have a variety of chemical substances in their bodies. Many of these substances are foreign to the human body. They may be natural or they may be man-made, and they may be toxic or may disrupt normal development. Of course, upon learning about the possibility that such substances may be in their bodies, people want to know how the substances got there, and whether they face possible harm from the substances’ presence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health(NCEH) has established a program to identify, measure and assess the health impacts of such substances. The program employs biological monitoring (biomonitoring) to help us understand and manage the potential for impacts to humans. The CDC notes that:
“Throughout the world, biomonitoring has become the standard for assessing people’s exposure to toxic substances as well as for responding to serious environmental public health problems. Rather than guessing how much of a substance gets into people from measured environmental concentrations, National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) laboratory scientists have taken out the guesswork by measuring levels of chemicals that actually are in people’s bodies. And they do so with precision, speed, and pinpoint accuracy, measuring many chemicals in a very small amount-often a teaspoon or less-of blood or urine.”
The CDC has developed a very informative presentation on the practice and goals of biomonitoring. The CDC Program has provided the data and information reported in its National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. The report is the third in a series that provides an ongoing assessment of the U.S. population’s exposure to environmental chemicals using biomonitoring.