Extensive CDC Study on Levels of Toxins in U.S. Residents Finds Mixed Results
An "unprecedented array" of toxins were detected in the blood and urine of U.S. residents in the "most exhaustive and detailed" study to date of such toxins, according to a CDC report released Friday, the Washington Post reports. Of the 116 chemicals analyzed in the $6.5 million study, researchers found at least trace levels in participants of 89 chemicals, including dioxins, phthalates, pesticides, herbicides, pest repellants and disinfectants, according to the Post. However, the study also found that levels of lead and nicotine-related chemicals have been "sharply reduced" over the past 10 years (Pianin, Washington Post, 2/1). The study analyzed blood and urine samples taken between 1999 and 2000 from a group of 2,500 volunteers representative of the U.S. population, according to a CDC release (CDC release, 1/31). However, in "troubling" findings, the study also shows that people have higher blood levels of mercury; that children have more exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke; and that Mexican-Americans have levels of DDT residue three times higher than their non-Latino counterparts, the Times reports (Revkin, New York Times, 2/1). Other findings include the following:
- Children's bodies contain higher levels of pesticides and a phthalate compound used in plastic than adults.
- Children have higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are found in vehicle exhaust and combustion.
- U.S. residents still are carrying residue of "dangerous and persistent" chemicals banned 25 to 30 years ago, such as pesticide DDT.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), shown to suppress immune systems, were not detectable in most people.
- Children's lead exposure dropped by half since the early 1990s to 2.2%.
NPR's "All Things Considered" Friday reported on the CDC study. The segment includes comments from study test subject Monique Harden, CDC National Center for Environmental Health Director Richard Jackson, NCEH Deputy Director of Science Jim Pirkle and pesticide industry representative Jay Vroom (Nielsen, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/31). The full segment is available in RealPlayer online. In addition, extended NPR coverage is available online.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.