Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Down Among U.S. Adults, CDC Reports
A report released by the CDC yesterday found that human exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke dipped more than 75% during the last decade, an indication that efforts to curb indoor smoking have "been effective," the Los Angeles Times reports. However, according to the report, children and teenagers up to age 19, including non-smokers, had "higher measurable levels" of cotintine -- a measure of tobacco smoke exposure -- in their systems (Cimons, Los Angeles Times, 3/22). In addition to the tobacco-related findings, the report revealed that lead exposure for children ages one to five has decreased since the early 1990s, although those with "high risk for lead exposure" remain a "major public health concern" (
CDC report findings, 3/21). The CDC report, which analyzed blood and urine samples from about 3,800 participants in the agency's 1999 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, measured Americans' exposure to 27 environmental chemicals, including metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, pesticide and phthalate metabolites and cotinine. While the CDC has conducted studies on lead, cadmium and cotintine in the past, the agency has never studied national exposure levels for the other 24 chemicals. The study also marks the "first time" that the CDC has "directly" measured blood and urine samples, rather than estimating exposure by analyzing air, water and soil samples (CDC release, 3/21). Among other findings, the report found "surprisingly high levels" of diethyl phthalate, a chemical used in some soaps, cosmetic products and plastic toys, which based on animal studies may "disrupt normal hormone function and cause birth defects" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/22). The report, however, also indicated that Americans did not harbor "alarming amounts" of most "potentially worrisome" chemicals (Knight Ridder Newspapers/Contra Costa Times, 3/22). To view a summary of the CDC report, go to
http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/report/PDF/NatExpRep.pdf. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the summary.