Fact Sheets

Learn where chemicals are found and possible ways to reduce exposure

An example of a fact sheet

For chemicals measured by Biomonitoring California and some other chemicals, we prepare fact sheets that briefly describe:

  • Where a chemical is found
  • Possible health concerns of the chemical
  • Possible ways to reduce exposure to the chemical

These fact sheets are included in the packet given to project participants when they receive their individual test results.  Fact sheets are available for the chemicals listed below.  Click on a chemical name to view a fact sheet, or click on the pdf icon to download a fact sheet.

Fact Sheets

Arsenic

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Arsenic is found in soil and water in some areas, and in some foods. It occurs naturally and from human activity. Arsenic compounds were used extensively as pesticides and wood preservatives, but these uses have been mostly phased out. There are different forms of arsenic, some of which may cause health problems and others that are not a health concern.

Arsenic is found in:

  • Some foods, including:
    • Seafood, especially shellfish. The form of arsenic in seafood is not considered to be a health concern.
    • Rice and foods with rice-based ingredients, such as some hot and cold cereals, some infant formulas, and rice cakes. Rice plants can take up arsenic from water or soil.
    • Hijiki seaweed (short, black, noodle-like seaweed).
  • Drinking water sources in some places, such as parts of the Central Valley and some areas in Southern California.
  • Some pressure-treated wood used in outdoor structures, such as decks and playground equipment. Arsenic-treated wood was phased out in 2004.
  • Cigarette and other tobacco smoke.
  • Some herbal medicines and other traditional remedies, especially from China and India.
  • Some herbicides in limited use at golf courses, cotton farms, and sod-growing facilities.

Possible health concerns of some forms of arsenic:

  • May harm the developing fetus.
  • May harm the nervous system and affect learning in children.
  • May contribute to cardiovascular disease and affect lung function.
  • Can increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to forms of arsenic that may affect health:

  • Include plenty of variety in your and your child’s diet.
  • If you have an infant, breastfeed if you can. Include alternatives to rice-based foods in your infant’s diet.
  • Do not burn older pressure-treated wood (manufactured before 2004), and avoid using it for home projects.
  • Have children wash their hands after they play on or around older wooden play structures or decks. If you own such a structure or deck, apply a sealant or coating every one to two years.
  • Because arsenic can collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • If your water comes from a private well, have it tested for metals, including arsenic. (If your water comes from a public water supplier, it is already tested regularly for arsenic.)

Biomonitoring California webpage on Arsenic.

Benzophenone-3 (Oxybenzone)

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Benzophenone-3 (BP-3; oxybenzone) is used in many sunscreens and some other personal care products to protect skin from sun damage. BP-3 is also added to packaging and some consumer products, such as cosmetics and paints, to protect the products from sun damage.

BP-3 is found in:

  • Many sunscreens.
  • Sun-protective personal care products, such as some lotions, lip balms, and cosmetics.
  • Some perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, and nail polish.
  • Plastic packaging for some food and consumer products.
  • Some protective coatings, such as varnish and oil-based paint.

Possible health concerns of BP-3:

  • BP-3 may interfere with the body’s natural hormones.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to BP-3:

  • Wash off sunscreen and sun-protective products once you are out of the sun.
  • Eat more fresh food and less packaged food, which might help reduce exposure to benzophenone-3 from some plastic packaging.

Importance of sun safety:

Sun exposure is known to damage skin and increase cancer risk. Applying a broad spectrum sunscreen is one of the most important ways to protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. You should also:

  • Reduce or avoid exposure to direct sunlight when UV rays are strongest, usually between 10 am and 4 pm. When possible, stay in the shade.
  • Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and long sleeves and long pants if possible.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Benzophenone-3 (Oxybenzone).

Bisphenol A (BPA)

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BPA is used to make protective coatings, like the linings in metal food cans that prevent rust and corrosion.  Some receipts, such as from cash registers or gas pumps, may contain BPA.  BPA is also used to make a hard plastic called polycarbonate.

BPA is found in

    • The coatings inside some food and drink cans.
    • Some hard plastic food and drink containers, which might be labeled with the number “7” or “PC” on the bottom.
    • Some older plastic baby bottles and sippy cups.  Use of BPA in these products officially ended in the U.S. in July 2012.
    • Some plastic stretch wrap used to cover or package food.
    • Some receipts, such as from cash registers or gas pumps.

Possible health concerns of BPA

  • May affect the fetus and infant, including possible changes in development and behavior.
  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May affect reproductive function.
  • Might increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to BPA

  • Eat more fresh food and less canned food.
  • Use glass or stainless steel containers to store food and liquids.
  • Avoid using plastic containers for hot food or drinks.  Avoid microwaving plastic containers.
  • Breastfeed your infant if you can.  For bottle-feeding, use glass bottles. 
  • Wash your and your children's hands before eating or drinking. BPA can get on your hands from items you touch, like receipts.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Bisphenol A (BPA).

Bisphenol F (BPF)

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Bisphenol F (BPF) is used to make hard plastic parts for household appliances, vehicles, and other items. It is also used in protective coatings, like linings in some drink cans and dental sealants. BPF can be formed from a naturally occurring chemical in yellow/white mustard seeds during production of some yellow mustard.

BPF is found in:

  • Some protective coatings used inside drink cans; on laminate flooring and concrete; and inside water tanks.
  • Hard plastic parts used in various items, such as household appliances; cars, airplanes, and other vehicles; and medical devices.
  • Some dental sealants.
  • Some yellow mustard.
  • Building materials, like sealants, adhesives, and grout.

Possible health concerns of BPF:

  • BPF may interfere with the body’s natural hormones.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to BPF:

  • Avoid canned drinks.
  • If you eat mustard, choose a variety of types and brands. BPF hasn’t been found in any mustard made from brown or black seeds, and it’s not in all types of yellow mustard. Because it’s formed during production and is not intentionally added, BPF won’t be listed on the ingredient label.
  • Because BPF can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Bisphenol F (BPF).

Bisphenol S (BPS)

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Bisphenol S (BPS) is part of polyethersulfone (PES) plastic, which is used to make hard plastic items and synthetic fibers for clothing and other textiles. BPS may also be used to make colors last longer in some fabrics. It is a common replacement for BPA in some types of paper receipts, and is also in protective coatings inside some food cans. Consumer products marketed as “BPA-free” might contain BPS.

BPS is found in:

  • Hard PES plastic in a variety of items, such as:
    • Baby bottles.
    • Microwave-safe dishes and containers.
    • Parts of electronics, like screens for mobile phones and calculators.
    • Heat-resistant parts used in automobile engines, industrial machinery, medical equipment, and other applications.
  • Some clothing, including baby socks and onesies, sportswear, and raingear.
  • Fabrics used for blankets, curtains, pillows, and furniture upholstery.
  • Coatings in some food cans and nonstick pans.
  • Some receipts printed on smooth shiny paper, such as from cash registers or gas pumps.

Possible health concerns of BPS:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • Might affect the reproductive system.
  • Might harm the developing fetus and infant.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to BPS:

  • Eat less canned food and more fresh food.
  • Choose glass or stainless steel containers for storing food and drinks.
  • Avoid microwaving plastic containers.
  • Breastfeed your infant if you can. For bottle-feeding, use glass bottles.
  • Read labels on clothing and other fabrics, and avoid items made from “polyethersulfone” or “PES” fabric.
  • Choose an electronic receipt, or no receipt, when possible. If you work as a cashier or otherwise frequently handle receipts, wear nitrile gloves.
  • Because BPS can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Bisphenol S (BPS).

Cadmium

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Cadmium is a metal that is found in nature and is used in many industries and products.

Cadmium is found in:

  • Cigarette and other tobacco smoke.
  • Some cheap metal jewelry, including some charms.
  • Rechargeable batteries labeled NiCd or NiCad.
  • Metal plating and solder.
  • Some red, yellow, and orange decorative paints, which may be used on glassware and pottery.
  • Some foods, including:
    • Fish and shellfish from contaminated water.
    • Potatoes, root vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, and rice grown in contaminated soil.
    • Certain organ meat, such as liver and kidney.

Possible health concerns of cadmium:

  • May harm the developing infant and child.
  • May harm the reproductive system in men.
  • Can damage the lungs and kidneys.
  • Can increase cancer risk.
  • Can weaken bones.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to cadmium:

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car, or around your child.
  • Do not let children wear or play with cheap metal jewelry or charms.
  • Do not let children handle rechargeable batteries labeled NiCd or NiCad.
  • Properly recycle batteries (see below).
  • If you do any welding or metalworking, or work with cadmium in other ways:
    • Be sure that your work area is well ventilated, and use proper protective equipment.
    • Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
    • Keep children away from welding fumes and other metal vapors and dusts.
  • Because cadmium can collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • Include plenty of variety in your and your child’s diet. Eat a well-balanced diet with enough iron, which can help reduce the amount of cadmium that your body absorbs. 

Biomonitoring California webpage on Cadmium.

Cobalt

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Cobalt is part of vitamin B12, which is essential to keep the body’s nervous system and red blood cells healthy.  It is safe to ingest cobalt when it is part of vitamin B12, and it is normal and healthy to have some cobalt in your body as a result. Cobalt metal and cobalt compounds other than vitamin B12 can be toxic. Cobalt metal is used in alloys that resist wear and corrosion. Some blue pigments in paint, glass, and other products contain cobalt compounds.

Cobalt metal and cobalt compounds, other than vitamin B12, are found in:

  • Metal alloys used in a variety of applications, such as:
    • Some artificial joints for the hip and knee.
    • Hard metal tools, including cobalt-tungsten carbide tools, for drilling, cutting, and grinding hard materials like stone or concrete.
    • Some rechargeable batteries.
  • Blue pigments used for many products, including paint, glass, candles, and dish detergents.

Possible health concerns of cobalt metal and cobalt compounds, other than vitamin B12:

  • Can harm the heart, thyroid, and nervous system.
  • Can cause sensitivity in the lungs and skin, including allergies.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to cobalt metal and cobalt compounds, other than vitamin B12:

  • If you have a metal hip or knee replacement, follow your doctor’s advice for monitoring metals, including cobalt, in your blood.
  • If you work with cobalt or cobalt-based tools, like cobalt-tungsten carbide tools:
    • Be sure that your work area is well ventilated, and use proper protective equipment. 
    • Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
  • Avoid taking dietary supplements containing cobalt in forms other than vitamin B12.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Cobalt.

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)

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2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is widely used to control weeds in agriculture, recreational areas, lawns and gardens, and along roadsides and railroad tracks.

2,4-D is found in

  • Some home lawn products labeled as weed killers and for “weed and feed” use.
  • Commercial weed control products used along roadsides and railroad tracks, and in recreational areas such as golf courses, athletic fields, and parks.
  • Some herbicides for crops such as wheat, almonds, and some citrus and stone fruits.

Possible health concerns of 2,4-D

Scientists are still studying how 2,4-D might affect people’s health.  There is concern that 2,4-D:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May harm the developing fetus.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to 2,4-D

  • Use non-chemical methods to control weeds, such as regular mowing and hand-weeding.
  • If you choose to use a weed killer, spot-treat problem areas and follow warning statements on the label.  After application:
    • Remove shoes before entering your house; remove clothes that are soiled during application and launder them separately.
    • Limit access to 2,4-D treated areas, at least until the product has completely dried; for children and pets, limit access for one to two days or longer if possible.
    • Look for posted notices that indicate an area (such as a park or athletic field) has been treated with a weed killer and follow any precautions on the notice.

Biomonitoring California webpage on 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

Diesel Exhaust

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Diesel exhaust is a mixture of thousands of chemicals, including 1-nitropyrene (1-NP). These chemicals are released as gases or particles (such as black soot) from vehicles and machinery that run on diesel fuel. Vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel produce similar exhaust.

Diesel exhaust comes from:

  • On-road vehicles that run on diesel fuel, such as semi-trailer trucks, light-duty trucks, and some buses and passenger cars.
  • Diesel-powered freight and passenger trains, and cargo and cruise ships.
  • Heavy-duty equipment, such as bulldozers and tractors, used for construction, agriculture, landscaping, mining, and similar types of work.
  • Diesel-powered generators

Possible health concerns of diesel exhaust:

  • Can make asthma worse and contribute to other respiratory diseases, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • May harm the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections.
  • May make allergic reactions to dust, pollen, and other allergens worse.
  • Can make existing heart conditions worse.
  • Can increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to diesel exhaust:

  • When walking, riding a bike, or exercising outdoors, choose areas away from roadways whenever possible, or side streets with less traffic. Avoid busy highways and paths near train routes.
  • When in heavy traffic, keep vehicle windows closed and put the air on recirculate (look for this symbol or check your manual: Image of a vehicle air recirculation button ).
  • Always start and operate diesel engines in a well-ventilated area.
  • If you have a diesel car or truck, don’t idle inside garages, especially garages attached to your home.
  • Install backup and portable diesel-powered generators well away from your home, so that exhaust does not come in through open windows or doors.
  • If possible, use a high-efficiency filter in your home’s central heating and air system.
  • Consider buying a portable air cleaner (or “air purifier”) that can remove small particles from the air in your home (see below).
  • Because chemicals from diesel exhaust can collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • Report diesel trucks in California if they are:
    • Idling where “No idling” signs are posted, or idling for more than five minutes.
    • Not following designated truck routes.
    Call 1-800-363-7664 or fill out the form at this link: www.arb.ca.gov/enf/complaints/icv.htm

Biomonitoring California webpage on Diesel Exhaust.

N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET)

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DEET is used to repel biting insects, primarily mosquitos and ticks. 

DEET is found in

  • Insect repellent products in many forms, such as sprays, sticks, lotions, and towelettes.

Possible health concerns

DEET is a widely used insect repellent with very little indication of health concerns when used as directed.  However, there is some information that DEET:
    • May increase the potential for some pesticides to affect the nervous system if you apply DEET and spray pesticide(s) in your house or yard at the same time.

Possible ways to reduce exposure

  • Reduce your use of insect repellents by wearing long sleeves, long pants, socks, and a hat.  Tightly-woven materials are more protective.  Use mosquito netting when appropriate.

  • Reduce mosquitos around your home and garden by:
      • Installing or repairing screens on windows and doors.
      • Emptying standing pools of water, such as in buckets, wheelbarrows, and tarps.

  • If you use products containing DEET:
      • Always read and follow all directions on the label.
      • Use just enough DEET to cover exposed skin and, if needed, the outside of clothing.  Using more repellent does not increase its effectiveness.
      • Apply sprays in well-ventilated areas or outside.  Do not spray directly onto your face.  Spray on hands first and then apply to face.
      • Do not apply on cuts or irritated skin.
      • Parents should apply DEET to children’s skin.  Do not apply to children’s hands or allow children to handle DEET products.  Do not use on infants younger than 2 months of age.
      • Wash off DEET once it is no longer needed.
      • Wash clothing sprayed with DEET before wearing it again.

  • If you use both DEET and sunscreen:
      • It is generally recommended to apply sunscreen first. Follow directions on how often to reapply the two products.
      • Wash off DEET and sunscreen when they are no longer needed.

Biomonitoring California webpage on N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET).

Lead

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Lead is a metal that is found in nature and is used in many industries and products. 

Lead is widespread in the environment and is found in:

  • Chipped and peeling paint and dust in and around homes built before 1978 (when lead was banned in house paint).
  • Bare soil around homes built before 1978, or near roadways.
  • Job sites or hobby areas, such as construction and painting sites, shooting ranges, and recycling facilities for electronics, batteries, and scrap metal.
  • Some candies and spices from Mexico and Asia.
  • Some traditional remedies, especially brightly colored remedies like Azarcón and Greta.
  • Many consumer products, including:
    • Some ceramic dishes and pottery, and some pewter and crystal pitchers and goblets.
    • Some baby bibs, electrical cords, purses, garden hoses, and other products made of vinyl or imitation leather.
    • Some toys, art supplies, costume jewelry, cosmetics, and hair dyes.
    • Some brass faucets, fishing weights and sinkers, and curtain weights.

Possible health concerns of lead:

  • Can affect brain development and contribute to learning problems in infants and young children.
  • Can increase blood pressure, decrease kidney and brain function, and cause reproductive problems.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to lead:

  • Keep children away from chipped and peeling paint. Use a certified professional if you plan to permanently remove or seal lead-based paint.
  • Cover bare soil with grass, bark, or gravel, especially around homes built before 1978 and homes near roadways.
  • If you work with lead or do house renovation, use proper protective equipment. Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
  • Use cold water for drinking and cooking to reduce the release of lead from some faucets and old pipes.
  • Because lead can collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with enough calcium, iron, and vitamin C, which can help reduce the amount of lead that your body absorbs.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Lead.

Manganese

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Manganese is an essential nutrient that we get mainly from food. It is normal and healthy to have some manganese in your body. Manganese is also a metal used in many industries and products. You might be exposed to higher levels of manganese through jobs that involve working with metals, such as welding.

Manganese is found in:

  • Certain foods, such as nuts, grains, beans, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Some drinking water sources.
  • Certain metal alloys, such as steel.
  • Some welding rods.
  • Certain chemicals used in agriculture to kill fungus.

Manganese is an essential nutrient

  • Some manganese is needed to support many vital processes in the body, such as building bones and healing wounds.

Possible health concerns of too much manganese:

  • May be associated with learning and behavior problems in children.
  • Can harm memory, thinking, mood, coordination, and balance in adults.

Possible ways to avoid exposure to too much manganese:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with enough iron, which can help you maintain a healthy level of manganese.
  • If you do any welding or metalworking, or work with manganese in other ways:
    • Be sure that your work area is well ventilated, and use proper protective equipment.
    • Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
    • Keep children away from welding fumes and other metal vapors and dusts.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Manganese.

Mercury

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Mercury is a metal that is found in nature. It is released into the environment when coal is burned, by some industries, and from past use in gold mines. Mercury builds up in certain types of fish.

Mercury is found in:

  • Certain types of fish and seafood. This is the most common source of exposure to mercury.
  • Some imported face creams used for skin lightening, anti-aging, or acne.
  • Some herbal medicines and other traditional remedies, especially from China and India.
  • Silver-colored dental fillings.
  • Glass thermometers, older barometers, and blood pressure gauges.
  • Fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

Possible health concerns of mercury:

  • Can affect brain development and cause learning and behavior problems in infants and children who were exposed in the womb.
  • Can harm the nervous system and kidneys.
  • May affect the heart.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to mercury:

  • Choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, tilapia, trout, canned light tuna, sardines, anchovies, and oysters.
  • Avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bluefin and bigeye tuna, tilefish, king mackerel, and marlin.
  • Do not use imported face creams for skin lightening, anti-aging, or acne unless you are certain that they do not contain mercury.
  • Properly recycle CFL bulbs (see below).
  • Properly clean up broken thermometers, CFL bulbs, and other items containing mercury (see below). Do not let children play with silver liquid from items like mercury thermometers.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Mercury.

Molybdenum

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Molybdenum is an essential nutrient that we get mainly from food. It is normal and healthy to have some molybdenum in your body. Molybdenum is also a metal used in various industries and products. For example, a compound called molybdenum trioxide is used to make metal alloys like steel more durable. Molybdenum trioxide is also used as a flame retardant in some plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). You might be exposed to higher levels of molybdenum or molybdenum compounds through certain jobs, like working with steel.

Molybdenum is found in:

  • Certain foods, including legumes (beans, lentils, and peanuts), nuts, rice, and liver.
  • Some dietary supplements.
  • Metal alloys used in a variety of applications, including:
    • Some artificial joints for the hip and knee.
    • Welding supplies and equipment.
  • Flame retardants in some plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

Molybdenum is an essential nutrient

  • A small amount of molybdenum is needed to support many important processes in the body, such as metabolism and protecting cells from damage.

Possible health concerns of too much molybdenum, or of molybdenum trioxide:

  • Too much molybdenum:
    • May cause gout-like symptoms, such as joint pain.
    • Might contribute to reproductive problems.
  • Molybdenum trioxide may increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to avoid exposure to too much molybdenum, or to molybdenum trioxide:

  • If you work with molybdenum or molybdenum trioxide, or do any welding or metalworking:
    • Be sure that your work area is well ventilated, and use proper protective equipment.
    • Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
    • Keep children away from welding fumes and other metal vapors and dusts.
  • If you have a metal hip or knee replacement, follow your doctor’s advice for monitoring metals, including molybdenum, in your blood.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Molybdenum.

4-t-Octylphenol

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4-t-Octylphenol is an industrial chemical used to make rubber products, such as tires.  It is also used to make detergents and other products, such as adhesives and inks.

4-t-Octylphenol is found in

  • Rubber products, like tires.
  • Recycled rubber products, including artificial turf for athletic fields and playgrounds and rubber gardening mulch.
  • Some detergents, adhesives, inks, paints, and varnishes.

Possible health concerns of 4-t-octylphenol

Scientists are still studying how 4-t-octylphenol may affect people’s health.  There is concern that 4-t-octylphenol:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May affect the reproductive system.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to 4-t-octylphenol

  • Based on studies conducted so far, exposure to 4-t-octylphenol is expected to be very low for most people. 
  • No actions are suggested to reduce exposure.

Biomonitoring California webpage on 4-t-Octylphenol.

Organochlorine Pesticides

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Organochlorine pesticides were once widely used in agriculture and for home pest control.  Most organochlorine pesticides, including all those measured by Biomonitoring California, are no longer used in the U.S.  These pesticides have spread through the environment and take a long time to break down. 

Organochlorine pesticides are found in

  • Some high-fat dairy products, such as butter and high-fat cheeses like cream cheese and American cheese.
  • Some high-fat meats, such as some ground beef.
  • Some fatty fish, such as catfish, salmon, and canned sardines.*

*Fatty fish are an excellent source of healthy fats (like "omega-3" fatty acids).

Possible health concerns of organochlorine pesticides

  • May affect the developing fetus, possibly leading to later changes in learning and behavior.
  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May have effects on reproduction, such as decreased fertility.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to organochlorine pesticides

Organochlorine pesticides have been decreasing in the environment and food because they are no longer used in the U.S.  You might further reduce your exposure by:

  • Including plenty of variety in your diet.
  • Trimming off skin from fish and fat from meat and cooking it on a rack to let fat drain off.
  • Washing your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, cleaning your floors regularly, and dusting with a damp cloth.  This is because organochlorine pesticides may be in dust and soil from past use.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Organochlorine Pesticides.

Organophosphate Pesticides

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Organophosphate pesticides are used in commercial agriculture to control pests on fruit and vegetable crops.  They are also used in home gardens, for flea control on pets, and in some no-pest strips.  In the past, organophosphates were widely used inside homes to control other pests like termites and ants, but these uses have been discontinued. 

Organophosphate pesticides are found in

  • Some flea and tick collars, shampoos, sprays, and powders for dogs and cats.
  • Some garden pest control products and no-pest strips.
  • Some fruits and vegetables.  Small amounts of organophosphate pesticides found in these foods come from agricultural pesticide use. 
  • Air and dust in areas where organophosphate pesticides are used, such as some farms or home gardens.
  • Some treatments for head lice.

Possible health concerns of some organophosphate pesticides

  • May affect the nervous system.
  • May harm the developing fetus, possibly affecting later learning and behavior.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to organophosphate pesticides

  • Use pesticide-free methods for pest prevention in your home and garden.  If you choose to use pesticides, consider baits and traps instead of sprays.  Always follow directions for use, storage, and disposal.
  • To help control fleas without pesticides, comb pets with a flea comb, regularly bathe pets with pesticide-free shampoo, and wash pet bedding.
  • If a pesticide is needed for flea control, consider safer spot-on treatments or oral medications for your pet.  Ask your veterinarian about the safest choices.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Consider choosing organic or pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.
  • Because pesticides can be in dust, wash your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, clean your floors regularly, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Organophosphate Pesticides.

Parabens

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Parabens are used as preservatives in many personal care products, and in some medications and foods. They are also used as antimicrobials in some paper products, like baby wipes, and some natural and synthetic fabrics.

Parabens are found in:

  • Personal care products, including some:
    • Cosmetics, such as mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, and foundation.
    • Facial cleansers and scrubs.
    • Moisturizers, lotions, and sunscreens.
    • Shampoos, conditioners, and shaving creams.
  • Baby products, such as some lotions, baby wipes, and diaper rash ointments.
  • Some household products, such as some stain removers and pet shampoos.
  • Some clothing and other textiles, such as some sportswear, bedding, and upholstery fabric.
  • Some over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Some food, such as some jams and jellies; sauces and syrups; and packaged tortillas, trail mix, and baked goods.

Possible health concerns of parabens:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • Might decrease fertility.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to parabens:

  • Check labels on personal care products and other items, and avoid those with “paraben” in the ingredient names.
  • Consider choosing cosmetics, personal care products, and baby products that use natural preservatives, such as vitamin C (label might list “ascorbate” or “ascorbic” ingredients).
  • Try natural oils for skin and hair, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil.
  • For infants, consider using plain washcloths instead of baby wipes, and wash their skin with ordinary soap and water.
  • Because parabens can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Parabens.

Perchlorate

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Perchlorate is an ingredient in rocket fuel and explosives.  It also occurs naturally in dry regions, such as in the Southwestern U.S.  Industrial uses of perchlorate have led to contamination of soil, groundwater, and drinking water in some areas of California.  Perchlorate lasts a long time in the environment and can accumulate in various crops.

Perchlorate is found in

  • Solid fuel for rockets and missiles.
  • Road flares, fireworks, explosives, and matches.
  • Some drinking water sources, near areas where perchlorate contamination has occurred.
  • Some fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.
  • Some milk and some powdered infant formula. 

Possible health concerns

Perchlorate can interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to use iodide.  This can decrease production of thyroid hormone, which:
  • May affect brain development in the fetus and infant.
  • May affect a child’s ability to learn.
  • May increase risk factors for heart disease.

Possible ways to reduce exposure

  • If you live in an area where perchlorate contamination is a concern and your water comes from a private well, consider having it tested for perchlorate.  (If your water comes from a public water supplier, it is already tested regularly for perchlorate.)
  • Include plenty of variety in your and your children’s diets.

Importance of healthy levels of iodide

Maintaining a healthy level of iodide in the body is important.  A good way to get the right amount of iodide is through your diet, by eating foods like seafood, dairy products, and eggs.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Perchlorate.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)

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PFASs are used to make various products resistant to oil, stains, grease, and water. These chemicals are very long lasting and have spread through the environment.

The group "perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)" includes perfluorochemicals (PFCs). See the current list of designated chemicals for other example chemicals in the group PFASs.

PFASs are found in:

  • Some food, such as:
    • Some meat and seafood, because some PFASs in the environment can accumulate in animals, fish, and shellfish.
    • Some vegetables grown with water that contains PFASs.
    • Food in certain grease-repellent packaging, including some fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out boxes, and cardboard containers for frozen foods.
  • Some textiles, such as stain-resistant carpets, water-repellent outdoor fabrics, and leather.
  • Certain stain- and water-repellent sprays; sealants for granite and other natural stone tiles or countertops; cleaning products; lubricants; polishes; and waxes.
  • Some personal care products, such as some skin creams, eye makeup, and dental floss.
  • Some nonstick cookware.
  • Drinking water sources affected by releases of PFASs into the environment.

Possible health concerns of some PFASs:

  • May harm the fetus and child, including effects on growth and development.
  • May affect the immune system and liver function.
  • May increase the risk of thyroid disease.
  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to PFASs:

  • Include plenty of variety in your and your child’s diet, and limit how often you eat foods in grease-repellent wrappers and containers.
  • Avoid products labeled as stain- or water-resistant, such as carpets, furniture, and clothing.
  • Check labels of household and personal care products, and avoid those with “fluoro” ingredients. Contact the manufacturer if you can’t find the ingredients on the label.
  • If you choose to use protective sprays, sealants, polishes, waxes, or similar products, make sure you have enough ventilation and follow other safety precautions.
  • Because PFASs can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) .

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs)

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PFCs are used to make various products resistant to oil, stains, grease, and water. These chemicals are very long lasting and have spread through the environment.

PFCs are found in:

  • Some food, such as:
    • Some meat and seafood, because some PFASs in the environment can accumulate in animals, fish, and shellfish.
    • Some vegetables grown with water that contains PFASs.
    • Food in certain grease-repellent packaging, including some fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out boxes, and cardboard containers for frozen foods.
  • Some textiles, such as stain-resistant carpets, water-repellent outdoor fabrics, and leather.
  • Certain stain- and water-repellent sprays; sealants for granite and other natural stone tiles or countertops; cleaning products; lubricants; polishes; and waxes.
  • Some personal care products, such as some skin creams, eye makeup, and dental floss.
  • Some nonstick cookware.
  • Drinking water sources affected by releases of PFASs into the environment.

Possible health concerns of some PFASs:

  • May harm the fetus and child, including effects on growth and development.
  • May affect the immune system and liver function.
  • May increase the risk of thyroid disease.
  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to PFASs:

  • Include plenty of variety in your and your child’s diet, and limit how often you eat foods in grease-repellent wrappers and containers.
  • Avoid products labeled as stain- or water-resistant, such as carpets, furniture, and clothing.
  • Check labels of household and personal care products, and avoid those with “fluoro” ingredients. Contact the manufacturer if you can’t find the ingredients on the label.
  • If you choose to use protective sprays, sealants, polishes, waxes, or similar products, make sure you have enough ventilation and follow other safety precautions.
  • Because PFASs can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Perfluorochemicals (PFCs).

o-Phenylphenol

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o-Phenylphenol is used as a disinfectant by healthcare facilities, schools, and various businesses.  It may be added as a preservative to some products, such as paints and leather.  o-Phenylphenol is also used on some citrus fruit and pears to control fungus, although this use has declined considerably in recent years.

o-Phenylphenol is found in

  • Commercial disinfectants used in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, veterinary clinics, barber shops, agricultural operations, and other industries.
  • Other items, such as:
      • Some paints, adhesives, leather, and textiles, as a preservative.
      • Some beverage cans.
      • The surface of some citrus fruits and pears, in small amounts from agricultural fungicide application.
      • Some freshly cut wood treated for fungus.
      • A few household pest control products with added disinfectant.
      • A few personal care products, such as cleanser for sensitive skin.

Possible health concerns of o-phenylphenol

  • Might have an effect on the body’s natural hormones.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to o-phenylphenol

The use of o-phenylphenol has been declining and exposures for most people are expected to be very low.  If you think you might be exposed to o-phenylphenol in the ways listed above, here are some actions you can take:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or preparing food.
  • Wash all citrus fruit and pears before eating.
  • Clean your floors regularly and use a damp cloth to dust, because o-phenylphenol might be found in dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on o-Phenylphenol.

Phthalates

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Phthalates are added to vinyl to make soft and flexible plastic products, such as shower curtains.  Phthalates are also found in scented products, coatings like nail polish and paint, and a variety of other consumer goods.

Phthalates are found in

  • Products made from flexible vinyl plastics, sometimes called “PVC” or labeled with the recycling symbol “3”, including:
      • Shower curtains, flooring, and coverings on wires and cables.
      • School lunchboxes, binders, backpacks, modeling clay, and some soft plastic and inflatable toys.
      • Some plastic food packaging and some plastic containers.
      • Tubing and gloves used in food processing and medical care.
  • Fragrances in some candles, air fresheners, and personal care products like lotions, perfumes, hair products, and deodorants.
  • Some nail polish, paint, floor finishes, caulk, and adhesives.
  • Some medications and dietary supplements.

Possible health concerns of some phthalates

  • Can interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • Can affect development in the fetus, infants, and children.
  • Can decrease fertility.
  • May contribute to allergies and asthma.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to phthalates

  • Choose non-plastic alternatives when possible.  Otherwise, avoid flexible vinyl plastics, sometimes called “PVC” or labeled with a “3”.
  • Eat more fresh food and less processed and packaged food.
  • Choose products that do not list “fragrance” on the ingredient label.
  • Because phthalates come out of products and collect in dust, wash your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, clean your floors regularly, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Phthalates.

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

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PBDE flame retardants were commonly added to furniture, infant products, and electronics for many years. U.S. production of some PBDE mixtures ended in 2006, and the last PBDE mixture was phased out in 2013. Products made before these phase-outs can still contain PBDEs. These chemicals have spread through the environment and take a long time to break down.

PBDEs are found in:

  • Polyurethane foam in furniture, pillows, motor vehicle seats, and baby products like changing table pads that were manufactured before 2006.
  • Some hard plastic casings for electronics, such as TVs and computers, and some electrical wires and cables manufactured before 2013.
  • Some fabric backing used in upholstery and draperies manufactured before 2013.
  • Carpet padding made from recycled polyurethane foam.
  • Some items made from black recycled plastic, including some children’s toys, hair clips, and cooking utensils.
  • Dust in homes, offices, and cars that contain products made with PBDEs.
  • Some foods, including fatty fish, some shellfish, high-fat meat and poultry, and egg yolks.

Possible health concerns of PBDEs:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May harm the developing fetus and infant, which may include effects on later learning and behavior.
  • May decrease fertility.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to PBDEs:

  • Because PBDEs can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • Replace upholstered furniture that is torn or has crumbling foam.
  • Avoid using carpet padding made from recycled polyurethane foam.
  • Avoid black plastic products whenever possible. Choose materials like wood or stainless steel instead. 
  • Include plenty of variety in your diet.
  • Trim off skin from fish and fat from meat, and cook these foods on a rack to let fat drain off.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs).

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

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PCBs were once widely used to insulate electrical equipment and as plasticizers.  PCBs were banned in the late 1970s but are still in some old equipment and products.  They have spread through the environment and take a long time to break down.

 Also see Hydroxy-PCBs.

PCBs are found in

    • Some foods, including:
      • Some fatty fish, like salmon and canned sardines. (Fatty fish are still good to eat. These fish are an excellent source of healthy fats [like "omega-3" fatty acids] and protein.)
      • Some meat, such as high-fat ground beef.
      • Some dairy products, such as milk.
      • Some eggs.
    • Some products and building materials made before 1980, such as:
      • Caulk in older buildings, including schools.
      • Some old fluorescent light fixtures.
      • Some paint, wood floor finishes, plastics, and foam or fiberglass insulation.
    • Certain pigments and dyes used in paints, paper products, plastics, and other items.

Possible health concerns of PCBs:

  • Can harm the developing fetus and infant, possibly affecting growth and learning.
  • Can interfere with the body’s natural hormones and affect the immune system.
  • May decrease fertility.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to PCBs:

  • Include plenty of variety in your diet.
  • Trim off skin from fish and fat from meat, and cook these foods on a rack to let fat drain off.
  • Because PCBs may be in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

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PAHs are formed when materials like gasoline, diesel, tobacco, and wood are burned. They also form when foods are grilled, barbecued, smoked, fried, or roasted.

Hydroxy-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (hydroxy-PAHs) are measured as indicators of exposure to the various PAHs.

PAHs are found in:

  • Exhaust from cars, trucks, and buses, as well as road dust.
  • Exhaust from gas burners, unvented gas fireplaces, and kerosene heaters.
  • Tobacco and marijuana smoke, including from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes; and chewing tobacco.
  • Wood smoke, such as from fireplaces, wood stoves, campfires, and wildfires.
  • Smoke from grilling, or burning cooking oil or food.
  • Food that has been grilled, barbecued, smoked, fried, or roasted, and some teas.
  • Liquid smoke seasonings and flavorings.

Possible health concerns of some PAHs:

  • May contribute to asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems.
  • May affect the developing fetus, including effects on growth.
  • May reduce fertility and interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to PAHs:

  • Limit how much you eat grilled, barbecued, smoked, fried, or roasted food. Avoid burned food. Try steaming, boiling, stewing, or poaching your food more often.
  • Take steps to improve indoor air quality:
    • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car, or around your child.
    • Always use an exhaust fan when cooking indoors with an oven, stovetop, gas burner, or hot plate. If you do not have an exhaust fan, open your windows when you cook, and use a portable fan to help move the air outside.
    • If you have a gas oven or gas burners, do not use them to heat your home.
    • If you cook with barbecues and grills, use them outdoors only.
    • Do not idle cars inside garages, especially garages attached to your home.
    • Avoid burning wood, especially for home heating.
  • Because PAHs can collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Pyrethroid Pesticides

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Pyrethroid pesticides are common ingredients in pest control products for the home and garden.  They are also used to control insects on commercial agricultural crops and livestock. 

Pyrethroid pesticides are found in

  • Home and garden pest control products such as roach, ant, fly, and mosquito sprays, traps, and repellents; and termite and flea foggers and bombs.
  • Some tick and flea control products, such as collars and spot-on treatments.
  • Commercial pesticide products used on crops and livestock and for pest control in buildings and landscape maintenance.  Small amounts of pyrethroid pesticides used in agriculture may be found in some foods.
  • Air and dust in areas where pyrethroid pesticides are used, such as homes, gardens, and some farms.
  • Some treatments for head lice. 

Possible health concerns of some pyrethroid pesticides

  • May affect the developing fetus and child, possibly leading to changes in behavior.
  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones and may decrease fertility.
  • Might increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to pyrethroid pesticides

  • Use pesticide-free methods for pest prevention.  If you choose to use pesticides, consider baits and traps instead of sprays.  Always follow directions for use, storage, and disposal. 
  • To help control fleas without pesticides, comb pets with a flea comb, regularly bathe pets with pesticide-free shampoo, and wash pet bedding.
  • If a pesticide is needed for flea control, consider safer spot-on treatments or oral medications for your pet.  Ask your veterinarian about the safest choices. 
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Because pesticides can be in dust, wash your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, clean your floors regularly, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Pyrethroid Pesticides.

Thallium

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Thallium is a metal that is found in nature.  It is used in various specialized applications in electronics, medicine, and research.  Historically, it was used as a rat poison, but this use was banned in 1972 because thallium is very toxic to humans.  Thallium is released into the environment at very low levels from raw materials used by some industries, such as oil and gas operations, cement plants, and steel manufacturers.

Thallium is found in:

  • Components used in electronics, such as semiconductors.
  • Some drinking water sources, such as well water that has been affected by industrial or wastewater discharges. This could include discharges from some oil and gas operations.
  • Air and dust near certain industrial facilities that can release thallium, such as cement plants and steel manufacturers.
  • Cigarette and other tobacco smoke.

Possible health concerns of thallium:

Thallium is highly toxic and can harm many important processes in the body. Thallium:

  • Can harm the nervous system.
  • Can damage vision.
  • Can cause hair loss.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to thallium

  • If your water comes from a private well, have it tested for metals, including thallium.  (If your water comes from a public water supplier, it is already tested regularly for thallium.)
  • If you work with materials that contain thallium or at facilities where thallium may be released into the air, follow all occupational safety guidelines for your industry. 

Biomonitoring California webpage on Thallium.

2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T)

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2,4,5‐T was used in the past to control weeds in forests, parks, pastures, lawns, and along roadsides and railroad tracks. Because of toxicity concerns, most uses were ended in the U.S. in the 1970s. All uses of 2,4,5‐T in the U.S. ended by 1985. Biomonitoring California tests for 2,4,5‐T only because it is included in a laboratory method that measures a group of similar chemicals. We do not expect to find 2,4,5‐T in people’s urine.

2,4,5-T was found in

Weed control products used in the past in forests, parks, pastures, lawns and along roadsides and railroad tracks. All uses of 2,4,5‐T in the U.S. ended by 1985.

Possible health concerns of 2,4,5-T

Weed control products that contained 2,4,5‐T were contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical known to cause cancer and harm the developing fetus. Use of these weed
control products ended because of toxicity concerns, but it is not known whether 2,4,5‐T itself posed health concerns or if toxicity was due to dioxin alone.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to 2,4,5-T

No actions are suggested because 2,4,5‐T is no longer used and does not last a long time in the environment.

Biomonitoring California webpage on 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T).

Triclocarban

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Triclocarban is used to kill bacteria. It was previously a common ingredient in bar soaps labeled as "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial," but this use was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as of September 2017. This is because there are no extra health benefits of using soap with triclocarban compared to ordinary soap, and the wide use of antibacterials poses health concerns. Some other personal care products, like cosmetics, as well as some clothing and pet grooming sprays, may still contain triclocarban.

Triclocarban is found in:

  • Some deodorant bar soap made prior to the FDA ban.
  • Some personal care products, like cosmetics.
  • Some clothing, such as pantyhose.
  • One type of pet grooming spray used to reduce scratching and biting of irritated skin.

Possible health concerns of triclocarban:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May make it harder for antibiotics to fight infections. This is because overuse of triclocarban and other antibacterials may cause changes in bacteria that make them harder to kill.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to triclocarban:

  • Avoid consumer products and personal care products labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial.”
  • Check labels on personal care products and pet sprays, and avoid those that list triclocarban as an ingredient.
  • If you can’t tell from the label whether a product contains triclocarban, contact the manufacturer.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Triclocarban.

Triclosan

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Triclosan is used to kill bacteria. It was previously a common ingredient in liquid soaps labeled as “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial,” but this use was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as of September 2017. This is because there are no extra health benefits of using soap with triclosan compared to ordinary soap, and the wide use of antibacterials poses health concerns. Triclosan is still used in other personal care products, such as some toothpaste and cosmetics, although certain companies are phasing it out. It is also added to many household products and building materials.

Triclosan is found in:

  • Consumer products, including:
    • Housewares, such as cutting boards, serving utensils, storage containers, humidifiers, and vacuum cleaners.
    • Home furnishings, such as mattress and pillow covers, shower curtains, and rugs.
    • Children’s toys and sporting goods, such as exercise, playground, camping, and boating equipment.
  • Some personal care products, including some toothpaste and cosmetics like blush and eyeshadow; and combs, brushes, and razors.
  • Building materials, such as some countertops, caulking, concrete, tiles, flooring, and bathroom fixtures.

Possible health concerns of triclosan:

  • May interfere with the body’s natural hormones.
  • May make it harder for antibiotics to fight infections. This is because overuse of triclosan and other antibacterials may cause changes in bacteria that make them harder to kill.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to triclosan:

  • Avoid personal care products that list triclosan on the label, unless you have a medical reason for using them. For example, toothpaste with triclosan may help prevent gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
  • Avoid products labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial.”
  • For housewares and other consumer products, look for untreated materials, which could include wood, glass, stainless steel, and natural fabrics like wool. If you can’t tell whether a product has been treated with triclosan or other antibacterials, contact the manufacturer.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Triclosan.

Tungsten

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Tungsten is a metal that occurs in nature. Tungsten compounds and alloys are used in many industries due to their hardness and strength. Tungsten compounds are also used as pigments and flame retardants.

Tungsten is found in:

  • Metal components used in a wide variety of products and applications, including:
    • Hard metal tools for construction, metalworking, and drilling.
    • Welding supplies and equipment.
    • Electronics.
    • Ammunition.
    • Sports and hobby equipment, such as fishing weights, darts, golf clubs, and exercise weights.
    • Jewelry, such as wedding bands.
  • Some pigments for ceramic glazes and paints.
  • Some flame retardants for fabrics.

Possible health concerns of tungsten

Hard metal dusts that contain tungsten combined with other known toxic metals like cobalt pose health hazards.  The possible health concerns of exposure to tungsten and tungsten compounds on their own are not well understood.  A US government agency[1] is studying the toxicity of a tungsten compound in laboratory animals, including its potential to affect the immune system or contribute to cancer risk.

 

Possible ways to reduce exposure to tungsten

  • If you work with tungsten or do any welding or metalworking, be sure your work area is well ventilated and use proper protective equipment.  Follow other safe work practices, including washing hands frequently, keeping work dust out of your home, and washing work clothes separately.
 


[1] The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Biomonitoring California webpage on Tungsten.

Uranium

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Natural uranium is a weakly radioactive metal that is found in many types of rock, and low levels of it can end up in some drinking water sources and foods. Enriched uranium is derived from natural uranium, but is much more radioactive. Enriched uranium is used as fuel in nuclear power plants and in nuclear weapons. Depleted uranium, a byproduct of uranium processing, is used in military and medical applications. Depleted uranium can have toxic effects similar to natural uranium, but is less radioactive.

Uranium is found in:

  • Drinking water sources in some places, such as parts of the Central Valley and some areas of Southern California.
  • Some foods, such as root vegetables and leafy greens, grown in areas containing uranium in soil or water.
  • Radiation-shielding equipment containing depleted uranium, used in medical and other applications.
  • Specialized ammunition and other military equipment made with depleted uranium.

Possible health concerns of uranium:

  • Can cause kidney damage.
  • Can increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to uranium:

  • If your water comes from a private well, have it tested for metals, including uranium. (If your water comes from a public water supplier, it is already tested regularly for uranium.)
  • If you work with uranium, follow all occupational safety guidelines for your industry.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Uranium.

Antimony

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Antimony is a metal that is found in nature. One chemical compound of antimony, called antimony trioxide, is added to flame retardants to make them more effective. Antimony compounds are also used to make some types of plastics, glass, pigments, and electronic components. Antimony can be mixed with other metals to make alloys that are resistant to wear and corrosion.

Antimony is found in:

  • Flame retardants used in a wide variety of products, including:
    • Children’s products, such as sleepwear and other clothing, car seats, and toys.
    • Plastic items, such as car dashboards, coatings on electric wires, electrical tape, components of some small appliances like toasters, some tarps, and vinyl flooring.
    • Upholstery fabric, drapes, rugs, and carpeting.
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic used to make a wide variety of food and drink containers, like water and soda bottles; microwavable and ovenproof plastic trays; storage bags; and plastic jars.
  • Metal alloys used in various products, such as car batteries, pipe fittings, bullets, and metal solder for electronics and plumbing.
  • Pewter items, such as plates, beer mugs, and jewelry.
  • Fluorescent light bulb glass; optical glass used in eyeglasses, cameras, and microscopes; and glass screens in old televisions.
  • Some yellow and white pigments used in paint, printing ink, plastic, rubber, and ceramic.

Possible health concerns of some forms of antimony:

  • May contribute to respiratory problems.
  • May affect the heart.
  • May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure to antimony:

  • Because antimony can come out of products and collect in dust:
    • Wash your and your child’s hands often, especially before preparing or eating food.
    • Clean your floors regularly, using a wet mop or HEPA vacuum if possible, and use a damp cloth to dust.
  • Avoid drinking water from plastic water bottles left in hot places, such as a car or garage.
  • Choose glass or stainless steel containers to store food and drinks, and avoid using plastic containers or trays to prepare food in the microwave or the oven.
  • Look for furniture that has “TB117-2013” labels, the new California flammability standard that can be met without using chemical flame retardants. The label should indicate if the furniture contains flame retardants or not.
  • Avoid used furniture with “TB-117” labels, which is more likely to contain chemical flame retardants.

Biomonitoring California webpage on Antimony.

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Upcoming Meetings / Reuniónes futuras

  • November 06, 2019 | Oakland, CA
    Biomonitoring California Scientific Guidance Panel Meeting, November 2019