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The BCERF program on the Cancer Risks of Environmental Chemicals in the Home and Workplace closed on March 31, 2010. No further updates will be made to this web site. Please go Cornell University’s eCommons web site to access BCERF’s archived research and educational materials (

Biomonitoring and
Environmental Monitoring

What is Biomonitoring?

Biomonitoring is the direct measurement of a chemical in human tissue or fluids.

Recent advances in technology have made it possible for researchers to detect low levels of many environmental chemicals in small samples of blood, urine, or other sources (including toenails, hair, breast milk, and fat).

Researchers are now able to track exposures to a wide variety of chemicals in the general population.

What is Environmental Monitoring?

Environmental monitoring is the periodic or continued measurements of chemicals in samples such as soil, water, and air.

Similar advances have made it possible to track contaminants in smaller samples and at smaller concentrations.

How Do These Fields Relate to Cancer Risk Factors?

Our ability to detect chemicals has improved rapidly but interpretations of the new data are just emerging. Detecting a chemical in a sample does not mean there is a definite link between that chemical and possible cancer risks. However, the type and amount of information now possible for examination is vastly improved and may allow scientists to uncover new relationships.

dot Resources on Biomonitoring and Environmental Monitoring