The Minnesota Health Department is among six in the nation receiving a federal grant to expand its program to track children’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. The department’s Jessica Nelson says over five years they’ll move the voluntary testing systematically through different areas of the state. “For every year we’ll work with one non-Twin-Cities-metro region of the state and with one Twin Cities metro county,” she says.
The voluntary program uses urine samples to test for different metals found in drinking water, air pollution, some foods and some products. “We’ll be testing for some kinds of pesticides that are used to control pests in and around the home and also in agriculture. We’ll be testing for phthalate chemicals which are found in personal care products, toys and some foods.” Nelson says they’ll also look for presence of flame-retardant chemicals used in certain products.
The department works with local public health officials, school districts and parents to recruit children age three to six as voluntary participants in the testing program.