in the US and Responses
programs gained recognition and legitimacy as effective
indicators of public health and unhealth with the successful
monitoring and remediation of lead poisoning in children
in the 1970's. Through monitoring lead levels in the
blood of children, environmental and public health advocates
were able to successfully prove that eliminating lead
from gasoline had the near immediate effect of reducing
lead levels in children. Early biomonitoring programs
generally targeted one or two known toxics, seeking
to show how marginalized groups (e.g. children, people
of color, and the working class) bear a disproportionate
amount of the negative health consequences of our nation's
testing for other chemicals and substances, both human-made
and naturally occurring, has become increasingly easier,
biomonitoring has remained a tool used by activists
to push for increased regulation of toxics. Additionally,
biomonitoring has become a tool used by citizens suffering
from exposure to toxics to force industrial produces,
users, and polluters of toxics to cover the costs clean-up
and treatment (Biomonitoring Briefing Paper, 2006).
programs are pushing the limits of biomonitoring programs,
calling for the testing of hundreds of chemicals and
substances and recording even the smallest amounts of
known toxics. The CDC and state of California 's biomonitoring
programs also establish a change in the human scale
of testing. Whereas earlier programs focused on smaller,
geographically connected and marginalized communities,
newer programs are attempting to monitor a wide range
of geographically and situationally disconnected people
(CDC and CDHS).
The investment banker
and the factory worker are tested alongside suburban
children and urban teenagers. Newer programs test the
effects of everyday situations and foods, attempting
to see if chemicals and other substances are not just
part of the lives of the marginalized.
CDC's National Biomonitoring
The Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) has been testing human bodies for the
presence of chemicals and other substances for nearly
three decades. Starting in 1999, and every two years
since, the CDC tests a random and representative selection
of United States residents for the presence of chemicals
and other substances. The most recent report, released
in 2005 tested for 148 substances.
Additionally the CDC's
National Biomonitoring Program offers grants to states
and consortiums of states to implement short term biomonitoring
programs. Generally these state and consortium directed
programs have focused on specific substances and areas.
The California Biomonitoring Plan, the document used
as the foundation for California 's biomonitoring program,
was produced in 2003 with a grant from the CDC.
National Biomonitoring Program
Conference on Biomonitoring
In December of 2006,
a conference of citizens representing the diverse population
of Massachusetts was convened to discuss human biomonitoring
by the Boston University School of Public Health and
the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Health.
The conference met for three weekends and produced,
after two days of deliberation, a consensus statement
and policy recommendation for the state of Massachusetts
The conference was created
because Massachusetts politicians and scientists realized
that, despite the rapid growth of the biomonitoring
field and very likely consequences this growth will
have on everyday people, debates concerning the future
and implementation of this technology were primarily
limited to scientists and politicians. The Consensus
Conference aimed to give ‘lay people a voice in this
important problem' (‘p 10, Briefing Paper, Consensus
The consensus statement
produced by the Consensus Conference offered recommendations
for ethical and easily understandable biomonitoring
programs. Specifically the lay panel suggested that
effective and accountable biomonitoring programs must
aim to educate corporations and governments in more
sustainable behavior, educate the general public about
biomonitoring, and address ethics, confidentiality,
and disclosure of results. The statement concluded,
affirming the necessity of public policy on biomonitoring:,
We believe that public
policy should play a key role in guiding biomonitoring
efforts and the use of the data they generate. Specifically,
it should offer the guidelines within which biomonitoring
surveillance programs are conducted. Then, once the
data from these programs are available, public policy
should provide the framework for translating the results
into meaningful actions. (p7, Consensus Statement,
The American Chemistry
Council (ACC), an organization of business involved
in chemical production and research, states that it
supports the CDC's work on human biomonitoring. A press
release soon after the publication of the CDC's 2005
report, “Third National Report on Human Exposure to
Environmental Chemicals,” states that,
chemical makers support a balanced approach to biomonitoring
that uses validated methods developed by the CDC,
relies on independent scientific groups (such as the
National Academy of Sciences) to help society understand
how to interpret and use biomonitoring information
and communicates this information in an appropriate
Researchers in this
scientific area echo the CDC's caution that: ‘Just
because people have an environmental chemical in their
blood or urine does not mean that the chemical causes
disease….Small amounts may be of no health consequence,
whereas larger amounts may cause adverse health effects.'
Therefore the CDC data must be viewed in context and
used responsibly. (“America 's Chemical Makers…”,
The press release ends
with an affirmation of the life giving and life prolonging
benefits given to billions by chemicals.
In August, 2006, the
ACC formally removed its opposition to California 's
Biomonitoring Program, just one month before the proposed
program became law. The Acc citing recent amendments
to the bill as the reason for this position change.
These amendments, according the ACC, establish the “foundation
for [a] sound scientific approach” (ACC, 2006) and guarantee
appropriate review and contextualization of all findings.
Chemistry Council on the CDC's Biomonitoring Program,
Chemistry Council on California's Biomonitoring Program
of the pervasiveness of chemicals in human bodies and
the environment has also motivated recent efforts to
reduce and eliminate the use of harmful substances.
Green chemistry, one such effort, attempts to use chemistry
to reduce pollution and to develop non-toxic chemicals
and chemical production processes.
12 principles of green
chemistry were outlined in Green Chemistry: Theory
and Practice (1998) and are available online at
the Environmental Protection Agency's website. These
12 principles include:
Design chemical syntheses to prevent waste,
leaving no waste to treat or clean up.
chemicals and products: Design chemical products
to be fully effective, yet have little or no toxicity.
hazardous chemical syntheses: Design syntheses
to use and generate substances with little or no toxicity
to humans and the environment.
feedstocks: Use raw materials and feedstocks
that are renewable rather than depleting. Renewable
feedstocks are often made from agricultural products
or are the wastes of other processes; depleting feedstocks
are made from fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas,
or coal) or are mined.
not stoichiometric reagents: Minimize waste
by using catalytic reactions. Catalysts are used in
small amounts and can carry out a single reaction many
times. They are preferable to stoichiometric reagents,
which are used in excess and work only once.
derivatives: Avoid using blocking or protecting
groups or any temporary modifications if possible. Derivatives
use additional reagents and generate waste.
economy: Design syntheses so that the final
product contains the maximum proportion of the starting
materials. There should be few, if any, wasted atoms.
Use safer solvents
and reaction conditions: Avoid using solvents,
separation agents, or other auxiliary chemicals. If
these chemicals are necessary, use innocuous chemicals.
efficiency: Run chemical reactions at ambient
temperature and pressure whenever possible.
and products to degrade after use: Design
chemical products to break down to innocuous substances
after use so that they do not accumulate in the environment.
Analyze in real
time to prevent pollution: Include in-process
real-time monitoring and control during syntheses to
minimize or eliminate the formation of byproducts.
potential for accidents: Design chemicals
and their forms (solid, liquid, or gas) to minimize
the potential for chemical accidents including explosions,
fires, and releases to the environment.