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Protecting Americans through Better Chemical Exposure Monitoring

Release Date: 09/25/2007
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman, (202) 564-4355 /

EPA announced $4 million in grants to five institutions that will work on improving biomonitoring at the Public Health Applications of Human Biomonitoring Meeting. The meeting of experts was sponsored by EPA and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) Monday and Tuesday at EPA's Research Triangle Park campus.

"Protecting public health is an important part of this research and EPA's mission," said George Gray, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "Biomarkers can help us understand the connections between human exposure, dose, and health effects, and the work EPA is funding will help improve our understanding of how the agency can use biomarkers to protect human health and the environment."

Biomonitoring is the measurement of toxins in people by testing specimens such as blood and urine. Such measuring is critical to tracking public health and establishing public health and environmental policies. Biomarkers are the types of measurements done that show the presence of a chemical. For example, cotinine is a biomarker of exposure to cigarette smoke. Much more work remains to be done to develop other reliable biomarkers, and these grants will further this important endeavor.

Biomonitoring also helps federal agencies determine where the U.S. is making progress in reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and where more work needs to be done. CDC's annual biomonitoring report, "National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals" (NHANES), showed that people's exposure to secondhand smoke has been greatly reduced, and blood lead levels in children are way down.

The five EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants will be used to develop computer models that can match biomarkers with exposure and/or dose for many chemicals including chlorpyrifos, diazinon, parathion, carbaryl, perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). The research results will allow scientists and risk assessors to understand more about the meaning of biomarkers resulting from exposure to these insecticides and fire retardants.

EPA's STAR program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in many environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. The program engages the nation's best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA's own research programs and those of our partners in other federal agencies.

More information about the grants:
More information about the STAR grants program:
More information about EPA's human health research program:

The grants funded by EPA were awarded to:

    The Hamner Institutes, Research Triangle Park, N.C., $750,000 - Develop a new model to interpret biomarkers of exposure for carbaryl, a carbamate insecticide used on many crops.
    Clark University, Worcester, Mass., $677,499 - Use models to derive a developmental reference dose and/or acceptable daily intake for the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos.
    Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $748,582 - Develop a new model to interpret biomarkers of exposure for chlorpyrifos and diazinon, two organophosphate (OP) insecticides.
    The LifeLine Group, Inc., Annandale, Va., $749,991 - Link exposure and models as a method to characterize the relationships between exposures and biomarker levels of two perfluorinated compounds, perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).
    University at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y., $749,612 - Improve existing models to better estimate exposures, target tissue dose and resulting effects in human populations, using biomarker data for the organophosphate pesticides chlorpyrifos, parathion, methyl parathion, and diazinon.