July 29, 2019
MDH wins CDC grant to expand program for measuring children’s chemical exposures
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is among six health departments nationwide to win a new cooperative grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will allow Minnesota to expand its biomonitoring program for measuring children’s exposures to chemicals of concern.
Biomonitoring tests chemicals in people and is an increasingly important tool in public health. Statewide biomonitoring can help identify groups at risk for potentially harmful chemical exposure, and inform and evaluate policies and programs that reduce those exposures. According to Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm, the new CDC grant will help accelerate efforts to protect children from exposure to harmful chemicals.
“As we learn more about potential health impacts of chemicals in our environment, it’s important to have a deeper understanding of who may be exposed to what, and at what levels,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “We are excited about this opportunity to develop a clearer picture of these exposures. The results will help inform families, address concerns and contribute to healthier people and neighborhoods.”
In recent years, MDH has successfully conducted a number of community projects that provided important information about exposures in several Minnesota communities. However, the impact of these efforts was limited by geographic scope and laboratory capacity. The new five-year grant will increase the department’s ability to conduct biomonitoring statewide and identify exposure disparities and risk factors. MDH will work with local public health, school district partners and parents to recruit, with parental consent, 3- to 6-year-old children and will move recruitment systematically through different regions of the state. Participation in the program is voluntary.
Information from biomonitoring can serve as the foundation for meaningful public health action that protects Minnesota residents and communities from health effects of those exposures. It will also allow MDH to play a larger role in the growing national network of state and federal partners working to expand biomonitoring.
The targeted funding will amount to just over $4 million for the five years. Using CDC methods and technical support, MDH will test participants’ urine for different chemicals that may affect child development, including:
- Metals found in drinking water, air pollution and some foods and products.
- Pesticides used to control pests in agriculture and around the home.
- Phthalates found in personal care products, toys and some foods.
- Flame retardants found in household products like furniture and toys.
More information on biomonitoring activities can be found on the Minnesota Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People page on the MDH website.