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Biomonitoring

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Tobacco Smoke

Cotinine

Cotinine is a chemical that a person's body makes when it breaks down nicotine. Tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco contain nicotine. Measuring cotinine in a person's blood is the best way to show the amount of nicotine exposure in a person. Nonsmokers exposed to tobacco smoke, referred to as secondhand smoke, can have measureable cotinine in their blood serum.

The Tracking Network includes data on the concentration of cotinine in serum (a component of blood) in non-smoking NHANES participants aged 3 years and older. These results provide an estimate of secondhand smoke exposure in the U.S. population.

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Metals

Arsenic

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in combination with other elements. It has two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic compounds are found mainly in fish and shellfish. In general, organic compounds are less harmful than inorganic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic compounds are found in soils, sediments, and groundwater.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentrations of total arsenic—both organic and inorganic forms—in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Urinary total arsenic levels reflect recent exposure. Finding a measurable amount of arsenic in urine does not mean that the level of arsenic causes a health effect.

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In addition to biomonitoring data on arsenic, the Tracking Network has information and data about arsenic in drinking water.

Benzene

Benzene belongs to a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate into the air easily. Most people are exposed to benzene mainly from gasoline fumes, automobile emissions, and cigarette smoke.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of benzene in blood in NHANES participants ages 12 years and older. Levels of benzene in blood reflect recent exposure. Finding a measurable amount of benzene in blood does not mean that the level of benzene causes a health effect.

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Cadmium

Cadmium is a naturally occurring element. Most soil and rocks, including coal and mineral fertilizers, contain some cadmium. Products such as batteries, tobacco, and tobacco smoke also can include cadmium.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of cadmium in blood and urine in NHANES participants ages 1 year and older (blood) and ages 6 years and older (urine). Blood cadmium reflects recent and accumulated exposure, while urine cadmium reflects accumulated exposure. Finding a measurable amount of cadmium in blood or urine does not mean that the level of cadmium causes a health effect.

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Lead

Lead is a soft, dense, blue-gray metal that occurs naturally in the Earth's crust. Lead has been widely used in manufacturing and in many products, including paints, solder, glass and crystal, batteries, and metal alloys. Until the 1970's, lead use included household paint; until the 1980's, lead was in gasoline. Because of health concerns, lead is no longer added to gasoline or house paint. In the past, the use of lead solder to seal food cans occurred in the United States, but this practice no longer happens.

The Tracking Network includes data on the concentration of lead in blood in NHANES participants aged 1 year and older.

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In addition to biomonitoring data on lead, the Tracking Network has information and data about childhood lead poisoning.

Mercury

Mercury is an element that is in air, water, and soil. It exists in three forms that have different properties and sources of exposure. The three forms are elemental mercury (also called metallic mercury), inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds.

Microorganisms in water and soil can convert elemental and inorganic mercury into the organic mercury compound methylmercury. Methylmercury builds up in the food chain, most importantly in ocean fish that eat other fish, like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of mercury in blood and urine in NHANES participants ages 1 year and older (blood) and ages 6 years and older (urine). Total blood mercury is mainly a measure of methylmercury exposure. Mercury in the urine mainly consists of inorganic mercury. It is also a measure of elemental mercury exposure.

Finding a measurable amount of mercury in blood or urine does not mean that the level of mercury causes a health effect.

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Uranium

Uranium is a naturally occurring, weakly radioactive element and found in very small amounts in nature. Because uranium is everywhere, exposure to people can occur from small amounts in the air, water, food, and soil. Naturally occurring uranium can contaminate nearby drinking water sources and raise the normal uranium levels in water.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of uranium in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Levels of uranium in the urine reflect recent and long-term exposure.

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In addition to biomonitoring data on uranium, the Tracking Network has information and data about uranium in drinking water.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Benzene

Benzene belongs to a class of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate into the air easily. Exposure to benzene for people mainly occurs from gasoline fumes, automobile emissions, and cigarette smoke.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of benzene in blood in NHANES participants ages 12 years and older. Levels of benzene in blood reflect recent exposure. Finding a measurable amount of benzene in blood does not mean that the level of benzene causes a health effect.

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Toluene

Toluene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that evaporates in the air and has a distinctive smell. It occurs naturally in crude oil. Uses include as a solvent and in chemical production, and a gasoline additive. Exposure to toluene for the general population mainly occurs by breathing contaminated air.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of toluene in blood in NHANES participants aged 12 years and older. Levels of toluene in blood reflect recent exposure. Finding a measurable amount of toluene in blood does not mean that the level of toluene causes a health effect.

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Disinfection By-products

Chloroform

Chloroform (tricholoromethane) is a colorless liquid. In the environment, chloroform is the result when chlorine reacts with natural organic materials found in water. Most of the chloroform found in the environment comes from adding chlorine to water. Primary sources are chlorinated drinking water and recreational water bodies, such as swimming pools. General population exposure to chloroform occurs primarily through ingesting chlorinated water and inhaling the water vapor.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of chloroform in blood in NHANES participants aged 12 years and older. Levels of chloroform in blood reflect recent exposure. Finding a measurable amount of chloroform in blood does not mean that the level of chloroform causes a health effect.

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Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS)

Per-and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to make heat, oil, stain, grease, and water-resistant products such as clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and the insulation of electrical wire. Many chemicals in this group, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have been a concern because they do not break down in the environment, can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources, and they build up in fish and wildlife. Exposure to people is mostly by consuming PFAS-contaminated water or food. Exposure may also occur by using products that contain PFAS. In addition to PFOS and PFOA, the Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on other PFAS including perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxs), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) in blood.The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of PFAS in blood in NHANES participants aged 12 years and older. Finding a measurable amount of PFAS in blood does not mean that the level of PFAS cause a health effect.

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Personal Care and Consumer Products

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to manufacture certain plastics such as some types of beverage containers, compact disks, plastic dinnerware, impact-resistant safety equipment, automobile parts, toys, protective linings of food cans, in dental sealants, and in other products. General exposure to BPA at low levels comes from eating food or drinking water stored in containers that have BPA.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of BPA in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Finding a measurable amount of BPA in urine does not mean that the levels of BPA cause an adverse health effect.

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Triclosan

Triclosan is a chemical with antibacterial properties. Consumer products such as detergents, soaps, skin cleansers, deodorants, lotions, creams, toothpastes, and dishwashing liquids can contain triclosan. Other materials include triclosan such as textiles to make them resistant to bacterial growth. Triclosan exposure in people can occur through the skin or the mouth when using consumer products containing triclosan.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of triclosan in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Finding a measurable amount of triclosan in urine does not mean that the levels of triclosan cause an adverse health effect.

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Parabens

Parabens are chemicals often used in small amounts as preservatives in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, foods, and beverages. Exposure to parabens in people can occur through touching, swallowing, or eating products that contain parabens. Many products, such as makeup, moisturizers, hair-care products, and shaving creams, contain parabens.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of methyl paraben and propyl paraben in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Finding a measurable amount of parabens in urine does not mean that the levels of parabens cause an adverse health effect.

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2,5-Dichlorophenol

The chemical 2,5-dichlorophenol is a metabolite of 1,4-dichlorobenzene (paradichlorobenzene) as well as other phenol compounds. Paradichlorobenzene uses include mothballs, room and toilet deodorizers and, previously, as an insecticide. Uses also include making dyes and other chemicals. Exposure to paradichlorobenzene in people usually occurs through touching, swallowing, or eating products that contain it.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of 2,5-dichlorophenol in urine in NHANES participants. Finding a measurable amount of 2,5-dichlorophenol in urine does not mean that the levels cause an adverse health effect.

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2,4-Dichlorophenol

The chemical 2,4-dichlorophenol has been used to make herbicides. Release of the chemical can occur during water treatment, wood pulp bleaching, and when burning solid waste, coal, and wood. 2,4-dichlorophenol has been found in soils and waste streams near industrial sites, and can be spread into the air. People are exposed to 2,4-dichlorophenol by breathing contaminated air, drinking contaminated water, or by absorbing it through the skin.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of 2,4-dichlorophenol in urine in NHANES participants. Finding a measurable amount of 2,4-dichlorophenol in urine does not mean that the levels cause an adverse health effect.

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Pesticides

Organophosphorus insecticides

Organophosphorus insecticides are chemicals used to kill many types of insects. These chemicals account for a large share of all insecticides used in the United States, including those used on food crops. Exposure to organophosphorus insecticides in people usually occurs by eating foods treated with these chemicals. Exposure can also occur from hand-to-mouth contact with surfaces contaminated with the insecticides.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of organophosphorus metabolites in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 - 59 years old. The organophosphorus metabolites include 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyrindol (TcPY), malathion dicarboxylic acid, and 2-Isopropyl-4-methyl-6-hydroxypyrimidine (IMPY). Finding a measurable amount of organophosphorus insecticides in urine does not mean that the levels of them cause an adverse health effect.

Pyrethroid pesticides

Pyrethroid pesticides use can control a wide range of insects in public and commercial buildings, animal facilities, warehouses, agricultural fields, and greenhouses. Exposure to pyrethroids in the general population occurs primarily from the ingestion of food or from residential use.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of pyrethroid metabolites in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. The pyrethroid metabolites include 3-phenoxybenzoic acid and trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (trans-DCCA). Levels of pyrethroid metabolites in urine reflect exposure. Finding a measurable amount of pyrethroid metabolites in urine does not mean the levels of pyrethroid metabolites cause an adverse health effect.

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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline. The burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco also can produce PAHs. PAHs generated from these sources can bind to or form small particles in the air. High-temperature cooking will form PAHs in meat and in other foods. Breathing air contaminated with motor vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, or fumes from asphalt roads are common ways exposure occurs. People take in PAHs when they eat grilled or charred meats or foods or foods on which PAH particles have settled from the air. Naphthalene is a type of PAH, and can also be found in moth repellent and in production of other chemicals, especially for making polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on concentrations of different types of PAHs and their metabolites in urine in NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. The types of PAHs found on the Tracking Network include fluorene, phenanthrene, pyrene, and naphthalene.

Flurorene metabolites:

  • 2-hydroxyfluorene in urine
  • 3-hydorxyfluorene in urine

Phenanthrene metabolite

  • 1-hydroxyphenanthrene urine

Pyrene metabolite

  • 1-hydroxypyrene in urine

Naphthalene metabolites

  • 1-Hydroxynaphthalene (1-Naphtol) in urine
  • 2-hydroxynaphthalene (2-naphthol)

Finding a measurable amount of PAHs in urine does not mean the levels of PAHs cause an adverse health effect.

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Phthalates

Phthalates also known as plasticizers are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates are used in products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes). Phthalates exposure can occur by eating and drinking foods that have been in contact with containers and products containing phthalates. To a lesser extent, exposure can occur from breathing in air that contains phthalate vapors or dust contaminated with phthalate particles.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the concentration of phthalates in urine from NHANES participants aged 6 years and older. Finding a measurable amount of phthalates in the urine does not mean that the levels of the chemical cause a health effect.

The Tracking Network includes biomonitoring data on the following phthalates:

  • Mono-benzyl phthalate (MBzP) in urine (metabolite for Benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP)
  • Mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (MCPP) in urine (metabolite for Di-n-octyl phthalate (DOP)
  • Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) metabolites:
  • Mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP) in urine
  • Mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP) in urine
  • Mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) in urine
  • Mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHHP) in urine
  • Mono—isobutyl phthalate (MiBP) in urine (metabolite of Di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)

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