Taking It All In

Taking It All In: Documenting Chemical Pollution in Californians Through Biomonitoring

Executive Summary

Biomonitoring gives us important information about how much of the polluting chemicals that are in the air, the water, the food we eat and the products we use every day end up being taken into our bodies.

Taking It All In — Documenting Chemical Pollution in Californians Through Biomonitoring is the first study of its kind that measures the chemical pollution in a cross-section of Californians, and gives them the opportunity to respond in their own words. The study participants are known for their integrity, wisdom, and commitment to community health and justice, and it is hoped that listening carefully to this group’s responses will catalyze pubic discussion about how California can use biomonitoring as a public health tool.

The report measures the levels of over 25 varieties of 6 categories of chemicals: mercury, organochlorine pesticides (DDT), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), Bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates. All participants had detectable levels of at least one chemical in each of the six chemical categories.

Scientists know we are living in the midst of an epidemic of chronic diseases and disabilities. A growing number of Americans suffer from asthma, cancer, learning disabilties, infertility, birth defects, Parkinson’s Disease, autism and many other conditions. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that toxic chemicals in our bodies are a significant contributing factor in this epidemic of disease.

An explosion of new studies are showing that small amounts of toxic chemicals can have large effects on health, especially for babies in the womb and young children. New science is challenging the old notions that “the dose makes the poison” and that low doses are always safe. Instead, new science is teaching us that small amounts of chemicals, at critical times in development, can have lifelong health impacts.

Learning more is what biomonitoring is all about. Taking in all this new science will bring new insights and solutions to the health problems we face today. Biomonitoring is an essential scientific tool that will allow us to turn what we learn into enlightened corporate and government policies that better protect our health.

Without wider biomonitoring to establish patterns of exposures within California communities, including sources and pathways of exposure, we will be missing key information that can help us understand how chemical exposures may be linked to rising incidents of some diseases. Comprehensive, regular biomonitoring programs would enable us to establish baselines and track exposure trends. Until then, Californians will continue to be part of a vast chemistry experiment.

Taking It All In: Documenting Chemical Pollution in Californians Through Biomonitoring (PDF)
Download the Full Report