Chemicals in the human body are not a problem

A new U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report confirms what the Competitive Enterprise Institute's (CEI) work on chemical risk has long maintained: Trace levels of manmade chemicals in the human body are no cause for alarm. And despite activist hype to the contrary, the levels of chemicals in our bodies are actually going down.

The study, the third of its kind, measured 148 environmental chemicals – a chemical compound or element present in air, water, food, soil, dust or other environment media – or their metabolites in the blood and urine samples of participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2002. According to researchers:

  • Chemical exposures are going down, particularly among the chemicals that activists claim are the most dangerous.
  • There is a significant decline in exposure to second-hand smoke; compared with median levels for 1988-1991, 1999-2002 levels have decreased 68 per cent in children, 69 per cent in adolescents and about 75 per cent in adults.
  • Blood lead levels in children continue to decrease; in the early 1990s, nearly 4.4 per cent of children,1-5 years old, had elevated blood lead levels, from 1999-2002, only 1.6 per cent of children had elevated blood lead levels.

    But the researchers suggest the need for more research into health effects of exposure to low levels of cadmium, which could result from cigarette smoking, says CEI.

    Overall, the researchers found that the level of chemicals in our bodies is decreasing and the presence of chemicals doesn't mean that there is a health risk. Humans are actually living longer, healthier lives than ever before in large part because we have chemicals to clean our water, disinfect our hospitals and grow our food, says CEI.

    Source: Jody Clarke, CDC Report: Chemicals in Human Body Not a Problem, Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 22, 2005; based upon: National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2005.

    For text:,04701.cfm

    For CDC Report summary:

    For more on Chemicals and Health Risks:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 16 August 2005
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