Report: Biomonitoring an Important New Tool in Evaluating Health Risks

But there are limitations to what the data reveal, and misuse will sow confusion and fear, Mackinac Center analyst warns

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008

Contact: Diane S. Katz
Director of Science, Environment and Technology Policy
989-631-0900

MIDLAND — A new report released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy concludes that biomonitoring offers enormous opportunities for increasing our knowledge and understanding of chemical exposures. But the report also details why caution must be exercised in the interpretation of biomonitoring results.

Biomonitoring is the measurement of people’s exposure to chemicals. Advances in analytical chemistry now make it possible to measure minute levels of both natural and synthetic compounds in human tissue and body fluids. But as the report documents, the utility of biomonitoring rests on understanding for each chemical the precise relationship between exposure and the actual effects on the body.

“There is a great deal to be said in favor of calculating risk based on actual exposure data, rather than relying on hypothetical modeling or extrapolations of animal studies, as currently is the case,” said Diane S. Katz, the Mackinac Center’s director of science, environment and technology policy and coauthor of the report. “However, policymakers, the media and the public must understand that biomonitoring data, in and of itself, cannot reveal the health effects of exposure.”

The report, which also includes policy recommendations, is available at http://www.mackinac.org/9244.

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