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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 blood.

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 economic status.


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 trends.

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 health effect.


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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Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist is an independent firm specializing in GIS project development and data research. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.

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