About the Biomonitoring Data: MNPH Data Access -- MN Dept. of Health
About the biomonitoring data
This page provides general information about chemicals in people and measures developed by the Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking (MN EPHT) Program. For more information about these data, contact MNPH Data Access.
- The median and upper percentiles of blood or urine levels in a representative sample of the U.S. population.
- Data broken down by age, race/ethnicity, sex, and year.
- A geometric mean provides a better estimate of central tendency for data that are distributed with a "long tail" at the upper end of the distribution, which is very common in the measurement of environmental chemicals in blood or urine.
- Track trends in exposure to chemicals over time.
- Show exposure levels that may be harmful to health.
- Learn which groups of people are more highly exposed than others.
- Target highly exposed or vulnerable groups for policies or programs to reduce exposures.
- Evaluate whether exposure reduction efforts were effective.
- Identify communities with high exposures that are not seen in national data.
- The specific sources of exposure to the chemical being measured.
- Finding a chemical in blood or urine does not mean the exposure causes a health effect; it only tells us that a person was exposed to the chemical. Looking at biomonitoring data and health effects studies together can help us determine levels of chemical exposures that cause health effects.
- For mercury, enough research on possible health effects has been done that public health scientists have determined a reference for safe and unsafe levels in blood.
- For PFAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) recently released draft scientific review documents regarding the health effects of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Biomonitoring Program measures chemicals in the blood and urine of a representative sample of the U.S. population through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is an ongoing survey of the U.S. population.
- Data are made publicly available in two-year cycles, and can be found on the CDC's National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals web page.
- Some of the data shown are from peer-reviewed published papers that used NHANES data or from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports from the CDC. Links to the sources of data are provided on the charts page.
- Minnesota-specific PFAS biomonitoring data were collected as part of a series of studies by the Minnesota Department of Health. More information can be found on the PFAS Biomonitoring in the East Metro web page.
- Chemicals are usually measured in blood and urine as the mass of the chemical (such as a microgram (mcg), or one-millionth of a gram) per volume (such as a liter (L)) of blood or urine. The units most commonly seen are mcg/L.
- A single urine or blood measurement may not reflect a person's ongoing exposure, particularly for chemicals cleared quickly from the body.
- Many factors such as genetics, diet, and biological characteristics can influence how an individual metabolizes and clears a chemical from the body, and thus their urine and blood levels.
- National biomonitoring data from NHANES do not necessarily reflect chemical levels and trends in exposure among Minnesota residents. There may be reasons why exposures are different at the state or local level, including localized sources of pollution, climate patterns, and differences in lifestyle factors such as diet.
- The CDC's National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals web page provides a recent full report with information on data sources, analysis, and interpretation. The most up-to-date NHANES data for this report can be found in the 2015 updated tables.
- The NHANES web site has a large amount of useful technical information on the larger NHANES survey, including what data are collected, how they are collected, and how they can be accessed and used.
- Information about the Minnesota Biomonitoring Program and the state data collected can be found at Minnesota Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People