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Biomonitoring: Population Exposures

Chemicals are substances that are a part of everyday lives. Environmental chemicals are found in air, water, food, soil, dust, or consumer products. They can be natural or man-made. We know that some of them cause disease or illness in people. However, for most chemicals, we do not know if low level environmental exposures affect our health.

Scientists at CDC have been determining which environmental chemicals people have been exposed to by measuring how much of those chemicals actually get into people's bodies. This is called biomonitoring. Most biomonitoring involves measuring the amount of a chemical or its breakdown product (metabolite) that is in a small sample of a person's blood or urine. The amount of the chemical or metabolite in the blood or urine depends on the amount of the chemical that has entered the body from exposure pathways like eating, drinking, breathing, and touching. This amount represents the amount of a chemical that entered the body from all sources and through all exposure pathways combined.

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