Daily News Archive
Weighing Nation’s First Statewide Biomonitoring Program
Biomonitoring is an increasingly popular science used to track hundreds of potentially harmful contaminants such as lead, mercury, DDT and other pesticides, PCBs and flame retardants. Biomonitoring provides more information about pesticide and other toxics health risks by measuring how much, and in whom, they accumulate. Projected costs for the program would total about $7 million a year, according to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
According to the
Press some scientists feel that simply because chemicals can be
detected in humans it doesn't necessarily mean they are causing harm.
However, pesticide use is being increasingly recognized by the medical
community as a health threat to children and other vulnerable populations.
Pesticides can cause neurological problems, learning disabilities, asthma,
cancer and other chemically-induced illnesses.
Ms. Nudelman expects about 2,000 volunteers representing varying ages, ethnicities and regions would initially be sought for testing to compile statewide baseline data. Afterward, specialized studies could be conducted. Examples of the biomonitoring program include measuring chemical levels in people living near the ports of Oakland or Los Angeles, where ships and trucks emit high levels of soot and farm workers who experience pesticide-related illnesses and injuries.
According to Robina Suwol, executive director of California Safe Schools, " The public has a right to know what contaminants are in their bodies so that they can begin to make informed decisions. Biomonitoring will support efforts to improve public health by providing information about the chemical pollution that each of us carries in our bodies. "
The bill is also
supported by Dr. Richard Jackson, trained pediatrician and former head
of the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental
Health. Dr. Jackson recalled studying pesticides in farm workers for
years. According to Dr. Jackson, ``Over and over again the problem we
were dealing with is that we really didn't have any idea what people
were exposed to.'' Dr. Jackson, now an adjunct professor at the University
of California-Berkeley, says there is currently no way of measuring
or knowing exposure levels and noted other states will copy California
Similar efforts (see Daily News) failed three years in a row after industry opposed the funding sources. First, the bill was to be paid for by a cigarette tax, then fees on industry. Now the money is proposed to come from the state general fund. If Governor Schwarzenegger signs the bill, the new law will set up a nine-member panel of experts appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders to design a biomonitoring program.