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What is Biomonitoring?
Biomonitoring Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol, Biomonitoreo Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol (Spanish), is a way to measure environmental chemicals in people. There are many natural and man-made chemicals in our environment. Some are harmless to us, but others can cause disease or poor health such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or developmental delays. Biomonitoring tells us whether chemicals in the environment are entering our bodies. It can also tell us whether interventions, like treatment or removing products from our homes or work, help reduce the amount of those contaminants in our bodies. With this knowledge, we can better protect you, your family, and your community’s health.

How do chemicals get into our bodies?
Young girl drinking a glass of waterEnvironmental chemicals get into our bodies in many ways:

  • Through eating, drinking, and breathing.
  • By using certain products at home or work.
  • Through some recreational or job activities, like painting or working with pesticides.
  • By taking certain supplements or herbal remedies.

Finding a chemical in your body doesn’t mean that you will get sick. Whether you get sick depends upon many factors, such as which and how much of the chemical gets into your body and personal traits such as your health status, genetics, and behaviors.

Why is it important to collect Biomonitoring samples?
Biomonitoring helps us:

  • Determine which chemicals are getting into people,
  • Find out how much of those chemicals are getting into people, and
  • Whether certain groups of people are more likely to have chemicals in them.

Having this information means we can educate people on how to reduce their exposure to those chemicals in order to protect their health. It even helps us to evaluate and make changes to public policy. One example of this is reducing the amount of lead in gasoline in the 1970s. Testing of specimens after the Clean Air Act passed showed a significant decrease in the amount of lead in humans. This is important because lead can cause neurological disease, especially in small children.

How can Biomonitoring help YOU?

Biomonitoring can help you become more aware of what chemicals are in your body. These chemicals may be coming from the air; the dust around your house; your water, soil, or food; or even the products you use daily (such as skin creams or Teflon-coated cookware). Often, very small amounts of chemicals over a short period of time are not harmful, but it’s important to know what chemicals you come in contact with so you can make informed choices over the course of your lifetime.

Find out more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Biomonitoring Program.

Biomonitoring New Hampshire Program
Biomonitoring New Hampshire is working on two projects from September 2014 to August 2019:

  1. A targeted public health study looking at arsenic and uranium in well water and whether those chemicals are getting into people in our state; and,
  2. A state-wide surveillance public health study looking at many different metals, pesticides, and other environmental chemicals such as tobacco smoke.

Contact Information

Financial and technical assistance is being provided through cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Laboratory Sciences at the National Center for Environmental Health RFA EH14140202. The contents of these pages do not necessary represent the official views of the CDC.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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