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Federal Government Finds Americans Carry
Industrial Chemicals In Their Bodies
Clean Air Council
February 3, 2003

Public Health Experts Alarmed by Wide-Spread Exposure to Chemicals Linked to Cancer, Birth Defects, and Other Health Problems

Philadelphia, PA- Average Americans are carrying multiple toxic chemicals in their bodies, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in a recently released report. The CDC's second "National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals" found that chemicals used or produced by industry, in agriculture and in some popular consumer products are present in the bodies of most of the 10,000 people tested nationwide.

"Industry leaders have frequently downplayed the idea that the public is exposed to the chemicals used in products or released as pollution," said Aaron Firestone, Children's Environmental Health Coordinator of Clean Air Council. "The CDC is providing quantifiable evidence that Americans are in fact bearing the burden of these toxic chemicals in their bodies."

While official decisions on chemical pollution rely almost entirely on estimates of human exposure, the CDC program measures actual human exposure. The first CDC exposure report in 2001 found higher levels of phthalates and mercury in women of childbearing age than studies by the National Toxicology Program and National Academy of Sciences had estimated just months previously.

"Measuring actual levels of chemicals in humans is the necessary step needed in public health to establish sources of exposure," Dr. Julie Becker, Women's Health & Environmental Network "Many of these chemicals have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and reproductive and developmental disabilities in human and animal studies. While we don't know what health problems are associated at the levels found in this study, this information is crucial to understanding the connection between chemical exposures and poor health outcomes."

Today's report highlighted:
Between 5-10% of women of children-bearing age have more mercury in their bodies than EPA or the National Academy of Sciences recommend as the ceiling level-- the maximum dose that is deemed safe for developing fetuses. Mercury primarily affects the brain, central nervous system, liver and kidneys. There are many sources of human exposure to mercury, including power plant emissions, fish consumption, dental fillings, thermometers, blood pressure devices, batteries, old latex paint, fluorescent lights and vaccines.

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