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The Priority Toxicant Reference Range Study: Interim Report

Larry L. Needham, Robert H. Hill, Jr., David L. Ashley, James L. Pirkle and Eric J. Sampson
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 103, Supplement 3: Human Tissue Monitoring and Specimen Banking (Apr., 1995), pp. 89-94
DOI: 10.2307/3432567
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3432567
Page Count: 6
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The Priority Toxicant Reference Range Study: Interim Report
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Abstract

The relationship between human exposure to environmental toxicants and health effects is of utmost interest to public health scientists. To define this relationship, these scientists need accurate and precise methods for assessing human exposure and effects. One of the most accurate and precise means of assessing exposure is to measure the level of the toxicant or its primary metabolite in a biologic specimen; this has been defined as measuring the internal dose. This measurement must be quantitative to best study the dose-response relationship. Pertinent questions asked during an exposure assessment include "How do the levels of a given toxicant in a particular population compare with the levels of that toxicant in other populations?" and "What is the prevalence of exposure to that toxicant in other populations?" To answer these questions for two chemical classes of environmental toxicants, we developed state-of-the-art analytic methods and then applied them to measure the levels of 44 environmental toxicants in biologic specimens from 1000 United States residents who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). These 1000 people are a cross-sectional subset of the NHANES III population and were selected from urban and rural communities in four regions of the United States; all were between 20 and 59 years of age. This subset is not a probability-based sample. The 44 environmental toxicants are 32 volatile organic compounds, which are measured at parts-per-trillion levels in whole blood, and 11 phenols and one phenoxy acid, which are measured at parts-per-billion levels in urine. We present statistical data for these toxicants in a large portion of our study's population. These analytic measurements have not been compared to any demographic characteristics, such as age and race, in this interim report. In addition, we also give examples of how the methods we developed and the reference range data we gathered have been used to assess exposure in other populations.

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