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Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Chemical Market Reporter - 30-Oct-00
CDC to Issue National Exposure Report Card
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to
issue a report by early next year that will tell scientists and the
public how many Americans--and which ones--have unusually high
levels of lead, pesticides and other chemical substances in their
The first National Exposure Report Card, expected to issued in
December or January, will be the most extensive look at which
chemicals Americans have been exposed to, according to Dr.
James Pirkle, a director of the CDC project. "We don't have
anything remotely like this," he noted.
The report, which will be released on the Internet, will be
accompanied by information on what is known about how much of
a particular toxic substance it takes to cause disease.
In compiling information for the report card, CDC scientists have
been taking blood and urine samples from 5,000 people considered
representative of the US in terms of race, gender, ethnic and
Dr. Pirkle said the CDC scientists are looking into the participants'
work histories for possible occupational exposures, what fertilizers
or pesticides they have used on their lawns, how long ago their
homes were painted, and what food they eat.
He said the tests, which can measure up to 230 toxic substances
in blood or urine, will show who has high concentrations of
chemicals in their bodies. The information will be correlated and
compared with CDC's data on rates of cancer and other diseases.
The report card will examine 25 substances, including dioxins,
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, cadmium, mercury,
organophosphate insecticides such as chlorpyrifos and malathion,
and phthalate plasticizers.
Dr. Pirkle said the report will be updated annually, with test results
from 5,000 new people incorporated in order to detect a change in
The CDC official also said the public will likely be surprised by the
findings because exposure to chemicals is so widespread.
"If you gave a blood or urine sample to us, we could find all sorts of
things you didn't think you had. We are regularly, every day,
exposed to 50,000 chemicals," said Dr. Pirkle.
But he stressed that exposure to toxics does not necessarily
mean disease. Consequently, he said it is important to find out just
how much of each chemical it takes to cause an adverse human
National Exposure Report Card. Each year the
lab plans to measure and report the exposure of the
U.S. population to 25 priority toxic substances. By
comparing the results over time, public health
experts will be able to see how health is being
positively or negatively affected as levels of
exposure to toxic substances in the environment
change. The lab will report the data according to
the age, sex, race/ethnicity, geographic area, and
income level of the people tested to see whose
health is most at risk. The annual report card will be
used to identify exposures to toxic substances that
can hurt health, to identify whose health is most at
risk, and to monitor how well actions to prevent
exposure are working. The lab's goal is to expand
the report card to cover 100 priority toxic
substances per year.
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