California biomonitoring data: Comparison to NHANES and interpretation in a risk assessment context

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The California Environmental Biomonitoring Program (also known as Biomonitoring California) has been generating human biomonitoring data and releasing it via their website. The current Biomonitoring California program is a collection of smaller studies, targeting specific populations (e.g., fire fighters, breast cancer patients and controls, etc.). In this paper we compare the results from Biomonitoring California with those from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We also compare California's results with Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs) for those compounds for which BEs exist. In general, the results from California are consistent with the biomonitoring levels found across the US via NHANES. A few notable exceptions are levels of flame retardants amongst fire fighters in California, which are higher than observed in NHANES and some persistent organic chemicals amongst a study of breast cancer patients and controls in California which are higher than in the overall adult population in NHANES. The higher levels amongst fire fighters may be a result of fire fighters being exposed to higher levels of flame retardants while fighting fires. The higher levels of the persistent organics amongst breast cancer patients is likely due to this population being older than the mean age in NHANES. Comparisons to BEs indicate that biomonitoring levels in California are all consistently below levels of concern as established by regulatory agencies.

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