A new study, coordinated by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), provides the first North American data set for some environmental contaminants—including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as lindane and dioxins as well as metals like lead and mercury—in the blood of women of childbearing age.
The study, Trinational Biomonitoring Study: Assessment of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Selected Metals in the Blood of First-Birth Mothers in Southern Canada and Mexico and in Women of Reproductive Age in the United States, was conducted by a trinational group of government experts through the CEC, with support from the World Bank. It provides a baseline profile of human exposure to environmental contaminants that will help track progress in managing selected chemicals in the three countries as part of the CEC’s Renewed North American Agenda for Chemicals Management.
Between 2005 and 2007, 125 Canadian women in five cities—Calgary, Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa and Vancouver—participated in the study. In Mexico, 250 women were recruited in 10 cities: Córdoba, Coatzacoalcos, Salamanca, Tultitlán, Obregón, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Mérida, Monterrey, and Querétaro. For the United States, existing data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 2001 and 2004 were used.
While similar blood monitoring projects have been carried out nationally in Canada and the United States, it is a new exercise for Mexico. As part of the study, the CEC worked closely with two Mexican analytical laboratories to draw on experiences in Canada and the United States around blood monitoring techniques and analytical procedures. Among other benefits, this has enhanced the capacity of Mexico’s analytical facilities to monitor persistent organic pollutants as part of the country’s obligations under the United Nations Environment Programme Stockholm Convention.
The trinational study was prepared as part of the CEC’s Sound Management of Chemicals work through an Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Human Health Subgroup led by Jay Van Oostdam at Health Canada, Horacio Riojas of the Mexican National Institute of Public Health and Larry Needham of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The full study is available in English, with executive summaries available in French and Spanish.