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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Banking of human tissue for biomonitoring and exposure assessment: utility for environmental epidemiology and surveillance.

  • Author(s): Goldman, L R
  • Anton-Culver, H
  • Kharrazi, M
  • Blake, E
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Human tissue banking could provide a tool to address a number of public health concerns. We can potentially use it to monitor trends in human exposures, serve as an early warning system for new environmental exposures, assess low-level exposures around hazardous waste and other point sources of pollutants, evaluate the effectiveness of regulatory programs, and study etiologies of diseases (e.g., childhood cancer and birth defects) that are likely to be related to the environment. This article discusses opportunities to establish human tissue banks in connection with pre-existing public health surveillance programs for cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes. This is a cost-effective way to conduct surveillance and enhances the ability to carry out epidemiologic studies. The article also discusses ethical issues that are particularly important for public health practice. One is the issue of risk communication and the need to explain risks in a way that provides people with the information they need to determine appropriate action on the individual and community levels. Second is the issue of environmental justice. We recommend early involvement of communities that are likely to be involved in tissue-banking projects and full explanation of individual and group social risks from their participation.

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