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Environmental and Workplace Health

Second Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada

Order an electronic or accessible copy of the Second Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada

Human biomonitoring of chemicals is the measurement of a chemical or its components in blood, urine and other tissues, and indicates how much of a chemical is present in a person. It is an important part of the Government of Canada's actions on chemicals under the Chemicals Management Plan.

Health Canada's Second Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada presents national biomonitoring data on the Canadian population's exposure to chemicals, collected as part of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). The national data will be used for future monitoring and research and to track trends in levels of chemicals in Canadians over time. It will improve our understanding of chemical exposure in people and help with the development of policies to protect the health of Canadians.

These data enable scientists, health professionals and policy makers to:

  • Establish baseline levels of chemicals in the Canadian population.
  • Compare levels of chemicals among different populations.
  • Identify priority chemicals for which further action should be taken to protect the public's health.
  • Assess the effectiveness of health and environmental risk management actions.
  • Support future research on potential links between exposure to certain chemicals and specific health effects.
  • Contribute to international monitoring programs.

The presence of a chemical in a person's body does not necessarily mean that it will affect a person's health. A variety of factors, such as the chemical's toxicity, the amount to which a person is exposed and how often a person is exposed, must be considered to determine health risk. For chemicals such as lead or mercury, scientific studies have provided a good understanding of the health risks associated with elevated levels in blood. However, for many chemicals, further research is needed to understand what health effects, if any, are related to different levels of these chemicals in blood or urine.

Biomonitoring data from current and future cycles of the CHMS and other monitoring initiatives will provide valuable information for the Government of Canada's assessment and management of environmental chemicals, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of Canadians.

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