The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $5 million to the states of California, New York and Washington to assess residents’ exposure to chemicals, according to a recent press release. Using a technique known as biomonitoring, the states will determine which environmental chemicals people have been exposed to and how much of those chemicals are in their bodies.

Throughout the world, biomonitoring is the standard for assessing people’s exposure to chemicals and toxic substances, such as lead and pesticides. Biomonitoring also provides critical information for responding to public health problems involving chemicals.

“Biomonitoring measurements are considered the most health-relevant assessments of exposure because they measure the amount of the chemical that actually gets into people,” said Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.Ph., Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Biomonitoring data improves health officials’ ability to make timely and appropriate health decisions by reducing the uncertainty in assessing levels of human exposure to environmental chemicals.”

This funding will increase the capability and capacity of state public health laboratories to assess human exposure to environmental chemicals within their states. States can conduct statewide biomonitoring assessments and focus on communities or groups where chemical exposure is a concern. Specifically, states can conduct targeted exposure investigations in communities; assess over time the effectiveness of state public health actions to reduce exposures to specific chemicals of concern; and enhance existing biomonitoring projects.

The state-specific exposure data produced by the grantees can be compared to data in CDC’sNational Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals , an ongoing assessment of the exposure of the U.S. population to chemicals. Such comparisons will show whether a person or a group has an unusually high exposure compared to the rest of the U.S. population.

Thirty-three states applied for funding either individually or in partnership with other states. The states’ individual funding awards are:
  • California: $2,652,487
  • New York: $1,000,000
  • Washington: $1,347,513
For approximately three decades, CDC’s Environmental Health Laboratory has used biomonitoring to provide critical data about the U.S. population’s exposure to hundreds of environmental chemicals. These findings have been published in the peer-reviewed literature and in CDC’sNational Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicalsat CDC plans to publish the next edition of theReportby the end of 2009.

For more information on the National Biomonitoring Program and CDC’s Environmental Health Laboratory, please visit