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CDC grants California $2.6 million to measure pollution in people

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2009
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, Breast Cancer Fund, 415-336-2246,

SAN FRANCISCO – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will fund California, New York and Washington to assess residents' exposure to chemicals, using a tool called biomonitoring. Thirty-three states applied for the funding; California received over half—$2.6 million—of the available $5 million in grants.

"This is a major milestone for California's groundbreaking biomonitoring program," said Nancy Buermeyer, senior policy strategist at the Breast Cancer Fund, which advocated for federal funding to support state biomonitoring programs. "We're pleased that California, New York and Washington are funded, and we will continue to advocate for more resources to help other states fully implement this important public health tool."

Biomonitoring is the process of measuring pollution in people. By testing human biospecimens like blood and urine for an array of industrial and toxic chemicals, public health professionals receive critical information about how chemicals in the environment are actually absorbed by people.

"Billions of pounds of chemicals are released into the environment each year," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Biomonitoring gives public health officials the ability to measure human exposure levels and to assess the impact of those exposures on health. California is leading the way to ensure this essential tool is utilized to reduce chronic disease, improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs."

"The Breast Cancer Fund is proud to have been a strong sponsor of the California biomonitoring bill, which created the first statewide program in the country," said Buermeyer. "Unfortunately, budget constraints have limited the state's ability to fully implement the program, so CDC support is critical."

States around the country are also struggling to find the resources to understand how environmental exposures to chemicals are impacting the health of specific populations. Public health advocates are urging the federal government to continue and expand its commitment to helping states implement local biomonitoring programs. With the funds, states can conduct biomonitoring assessments statewide and also conduct assessments in communities or within groups where chemical exposure is a concern.

Meanwhile, the California program is poised to continue its trailblazing work. With the additional funding, it will be able to expand its epidemiologic investigations, support collaboration with communities and stakeholder groups, and integrate biomonitoring findings into the development and implementation of chemical policy in California.