I was a little bit tied up with deadlines when this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out two weeks ago but this is still interesting enough to warrant a post before the year ends.
CDC said its recently released Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environment Chemicals was the most extensive assessment to date yet covering for the first time 75 new chemicals bringing to a total of 212 chemicals in its database.
Some of the chemicals added include acrylamide and glycidamide adducts; arsenic species and metabolites; environmental phenols including bisphenol A and triclosan; perchlorate; perfluorinated chemicals; polybrominated diphenyl ethers; volatile organic compounds, etc...
The data analyzed in the Fourth Report are based on blood and urine samples that were collected from approximately 2400 people who participated in CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 through 2004.
NHANES is an ongoing national health survey of the non-institutionalized U.S. population that includes collecting and analyzing blood and urine samples to help further research involving exposures and health effects.
CDC said the report can help physicians and public health officials determine whether people have been exposed to higher environmental chemicals as well as help scientists plan and conduct research about health effects.
Here are some of the report's findings:
- The percentage of blood lead levels in children has declined since the late1970s.
- Total blood mercury levels increase with age for all groups and begin to decline after the fifth decade of life. Compared to older women of childbearing age, younger women have higher birth rates and lower mercury levels.
- Acrylamide -- formed when foods containing carbohydrates are cooked at high temperatures -- was detected for the first time and is common in the U.S. population.
- All participants have detectable perchlorate in their urine. Perchlorate is both naturally occurring and manmade and is used to manufacture fireworks, explosives, flares, and rocket propellant. Large medical doses of perchlorate affect thyroid function.
- A high
percentage of the participants showed detectable levels of the gasoline
additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). Exposure to this chemical can
occur through the air or from contaminated water sources.
- 5% of the U.S. population aged 20 years and older has
urinary cadmium levels at or near these levels. Cigarette smoking is
the most likely source.
- BPA was found in more than 90% of the participants' urine.
- Most participants had measurable levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
- One type of the fire retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether, BDE-47, was found in the serum of nearly all of the participants.
"Advances in analytical chemistry enable us to measure low levels of environmental chemicals in people, but separate studies of varying levels of exposure determine whether specific levels cause health effects." -CDCThe American Chemistry Council (ACC) even noted that the CDC report reaffirms that levels of man-made and natural compounds detected in Americans remain low.
"Other factors such as dose, use, exposure and hazard information must all be assessed and analyzed to make any health effect determination," the ACC said in a statement.Low-levels they may be but the CDC report still caused an alarm from various health and environmental watchdogs. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health announced the need for major overhaul of the current chemical safety standards TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act), as he highlighted the recent CDC report.
"This study affirms that Americans are exposed to a wide range of industrial chemicals - including some that are known to cause cancer - and provides further evidence that America's broken chemical regulations must be fixed," stated Lautenberg.Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation to reform TSCA early next year that would require that EPA determine whether chemicals meet new safety standards based on scientific risk assessment and that chemical companies provide enough data to make that determination.
Lautenberg also wants EPA to prioritize taking action on chemicals that present the greatest health risk.