Lab Matters Fall 2016 - Page 24

environmental health Carin Huset analyzes samples for a MDH PFAS biomonitoring study Christina Rosebush, MPH and Carin Huset, PhD Protecting Communities: Minnesota Biomonitoring and Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking by Christina Rosebush, MPH, epidemiologist, Minnesota Department of Health; Carin Huset, PhD, research scientist, Minnesota Department of Health; and Gynene Sullivan, MA, senior communications specialist, APHL P ublic health officials at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) work across programs to conduct biomonitoring in vulnerable populations and communicate results to legislators, local health officials, and the community. In response to growing public concern about exposures to environmental chemical contaminants such as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), mercury, and arsenic, the state legislature created Minnesota Biomonitoring (MN Biomonitoring) and Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking (MN Tracking) in 2007 to gather and share data with the public on chemical exposures in people. Biomonitoring studies are coordinated by MN Biomonitoring and the MDH Public Health Laboratory. MN Tracking integrates study results with national biomonitoring data on a publicly available web-based portal. This approach was used by MDH to track long-term serum levels of PFASs in a community in the East Metro, a suburban area east of Minneapolis–St. Paul, and communicate results to the public. Responding to PFAS Exposure PFASs have been used for decades to manufacture products and coatings that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. In 2005, the state discovered PFASs in some drinking water sources in the East Metro. Filtration systems were installed to lower PFAS levels in contaminated public and private wells, but community members were concerned about past exposures. MDH tested serum levels of eight PFASs in the same 149 East Metro residents in 2008, 2010 and 2014. The MDH Public Health Laboratory developed methods for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluoropentanoic acid (PFPeA), perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS). The final study also measured perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) levels. 22 LAB MATTERS Fall 2016 DIGITAL EXTRA: Visit the MN Tracking Portal and read more about MN Biomonitoring. The studies found that the public health interventions to reduce drinking water exposure to PFASs were working. Serum levels of the most frequently detected PFASs declined substantially. On average, individual levels of PFOS declined by 45%, PFOA by 59%, and PFHxS by 34% over six years. The studies found that years drinking unfiltered water before the intervention was the most important predictor of serum PFAS levels in long-term residents. PFAS data are displayed on the portal maintained by MN Tracking, along with data on six other chemicals: mercury, cotinine, arsenic, lead and cadmium. Most data are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing health survey that is representative of the US population and includes biomonitoring for hundreds of chemicals. NHANES is a rich data source for tracking trends over time and highlighting disparities by age, sex, income and race/ethnicity. State-specific data from MN Biomonitoring studies are also displayed. For many chemicals of concern, including PFASs, guidance for safe and unsafe levels in the body does not exist. Co-displaying local and national data helps portal visitors compare exposure levels in study participants to levels found in the general US population. Biomonitoring for the Future MN Biomonitoring continues to develop its capacity to track chemical exposure trends, as well as its ability to share study results to promote actions that reduce chemical exposures in Minnesotans. Ongoing studies focus on pregnant women, children and disadvantaged communities. This work includes MN Family Environmental Exposure Tracking, a current project that is measuring metals in pregnant women and newborns in Minneapolis–St. Paul. Biomonitoring work supports the MDH vision for health equity in Minnesota, where all communities are thriving and all people have what they need to be healthy. PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org