Research Projects



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Currentright arrow Completedright arrow

Biological Monitoring Study of Selected Chemicals of Concern

Environmental pollution such as heavy metals and synthetic chemicals can be found in soil, air, and water around the world.  Every human in the world is exposed to pollution to varying degrees and carries traces in their body.  The past decades have seen many successful efforts to reduce the levels of pollution in our environment, such as better control of industrial waste discharges.  This study will show whether these efforts have been successful and where more work is needed.  In this study, blood and urine samples of 300 adults and 300 children from all over New Zealand will be tested for selected environmental compounds including metals (such as lead, mercury, arsenic), cotinine (indicating exposure to tobacco smoke), additives to consumer products (such as triclosan, fluoride, sunscreen active ingredients, parabens), and components of plastics (such as bisphenol A and phthalates).

The study will provide reference values for levels of environmental chemicals of concern in the general New Zealand population and provide a benchmark for future biological monitoring to establish temporal trends. The biological monitoring programme will also determine the relationships of the chemical concentrations with age, geographic region, ethnicity, gender, diet and lifestyle factors. 


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't Mannetje A, Coakley J, Douwes J. (2018) Report of the Biological Monitoring of Selected Chemicals of Concern. Results of the New Zealand biological monitoring programme, 2014-2016. Technical Report 2017-1. March. pdf icon
't Mannetje A, Coakley J, Douwes J. Where are we at with lead? Current levels, time trend, and determinants of blood lead in New Zealand children and adults. Int J Hyg Environ Health, 2020; 225:113468. link icon
't Mannetje A, Coakley J, Douwes J. Total blood mercury and its determination in New Zealand children and adults. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 2021; 31(2): 289–298 link icon