Monday, October 28, 2002

Biomonitoring programs might keep tabs on air, water

By Suzanne Bohan - STAFF WRITER, 28/10/2002

IN THE coming years, expect to hear more about a novel technique, called "biomonitoring," to gauge a community's exposure to environmental toxins and create even more incentives to clean up the air and water.

In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention singled out breast milk as an ideal test fluid in a biomonitoring program, as these toxins accumulate in the fatty tissue in the breast and pass into the milk.

But the presenters at last week's hearing repeatedly voiced their concern that using breast milk to measure toxin exposure might scare women away from breastfeeding their infants. Still, the benefits of breast milk far exceed any risk from contaminants, several speakers stressed.

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