Increased Biomonitoring Programs

The chemical industry has long expressed concern that governments' methods for risk estimation, based on modeling and conservative assumptions, overstate risks from chemicals, and that it would be desirable to have real measurements of human exposures. Recent events serve as a reminder to be careful about what you wish for. For example, a 2001 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted unexpectedly high levels of phthalates, ingredients in many personal care products, in American women of child-bearing age. Some phthalates have been shown in laboratory animal studies to cause testicular harm. The CDC report contributed to a campaign by public health organizations to encourage companies to remove these chemicals from their products.67

Indoor studies of homes underscore that common consumer goods can be a source of hazardous chemicals. For example, a study by the Silent Spring Institute identified 67 suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals in air and dust samples taken from 120 homes on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.68 Growing interest in monitoring breast milk and sampling other bodily fluids can only heighten public recognition of the intrusiveness and ubiquity of chemical contaminants. With respect to breast milk, even though it is generally recognized that "breast is best" and contamination

67See www.notyoopretty.org, accessed February 17, 2004.

68"Are U.S. Homes a Haven for Toxins?" Environmental Science and Technology, November 1, 2003, p. 407A.

of breast milk by chemicals does not justify a switch to baby formula, parents of nursing babies may increasingly ask what steps can be taken to reduce flame retardants and other chemicals in breast milk.

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