Bill To Launch Biomonitoring Program, Environmental Toxin Database Fails in Assembly Health Committee
The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday defeated a bill (SB 1168) that would have made California the first state to conduct widespread, ongoing monitoring of residents for potentially dangerous chemicals in their bodies, the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/23). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), would have instituted a biomonitoring program under which people would volunteer to have their bodily fluids tested for chemicals. The first volunteers would have been new mothers from three communities across the state; their breast milk would have been examined for a number of chemical contaminants. Subsequently, the program would have added new communities and begun testing blood and other specimens. The data collected by the program would have been classified by region, ethnicity and gender, and participants would have been able to view their results (California Healthline, 6/22).
The bill did not gain the necessary majority support of committee members after four moderate Democrats declined to vote on it. Laurie Nelson, a lobbyist for the Consumer Specialty Products Association, testified that purely detecting the presence of a chemical in a human may not be cause for concern. She added that the amount "may not be at any level of concern to human health." Opponents of the legislation said that the biomonitoring program could have increased public fears about chemicals in the environment and led to legislation barring certain chemicals "without a scientific basis for such action," according to the Star (Ventura County Star, 6/23). Supporters of the bill, including health, labor and environmental groups, said the information collected could have drawn health officials' attention to emerging trends, been used to create a database to help explain high incidences of certain diseases in specific populations and broadened the knowledge base about interactions between people and chemicals in the environment (California Healthline, 6/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.