What is Human Biomonitoring?
Human biomonitoring tests
the human body for the presence of a wide array of harmful
and potentially harmful chemicals, toxics, and other
substances. Typically, a small amount of blood and urine
can be tested for traces of a wide spectrum of substances.
Human Biomonitoring Technology
Human biomonitoring technology has become increasingly accessible in the past few decades for two reasons:
- Testing capabilities have improved. Smaller traces of substances can now be tested for in smaller samples than before. There are, however, still relatively few labs that are able to test such small amounts.
- The cost of testing has decreased,
though it remains expensive (costing tens of thousands
of dollars per person). (Duncan, 2006)
As testing capabilities
continue to improve and as biomonitoring becomes an
increasingly known and sought after analysis of public
health, biomonitoring technology promises to become
even more prevalent.
An Issue of Human Health
programs mark significant shifts in how issues of environmental
health are dealt with by state and federal governments.
In the past, regulation and remediation of toxic substances
has been primarily considered the duty of environmental
and agricultural agencies. For example, the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) regulates car and factory emissions
and is charged with approving or disapproving the use
of chemicals. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) regulates which pesticides can be used on crops
grown for human consumption and which drugs are safe
for human use.
though they seek to test for and potentially remediate
and regulate the same substances typically overseen
by environmental and agricultural agencies, have been
created through and managed by human health services
agencies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and
the California Department of Health Services (CDHS)
are two organizations currently spearheading pushes
for institutionalized biomonitoring programs (CDC and
Though human environmental
health as been an important issue in United States environmentalism
for many decades, human health services agencies are
now at the forefront of human environmental health activism.
This marks a significant shift in how chemicals and
toxic substances are publicly and politically viewed:
Toxics are no longer seen as preventable harms.
They are, rather, dangerously unavoidable. Instead
of preventing harm, we must now work to treat it.
Image 3. Cart of urine samples.