Critical Issues in Biomonitoring – a Community Forum

October 9, 2004

UCSF Mission Bay Campus San Francisco, CA

This forum will bring together environmental health and breast cancer advocates, academic and community-based researchers, public health professionals, public policy leaders, health educators, ethicists, and community members to facilitate a dialogue on important issues relevant to biomonitoring.

Forum Goals

  • To inform and educate participants from a variety of perspectives on the risks and benefits of biomonitoring
  • To facilitate an interactive exchange of information and concerns related to biomonitoring among participants.
  • To identify opportunities for participants to engage in future decision making activities related to biomonitoring.
  • To identify partnerships interested in collaborating in future community based, participatory research studies using biomonitoring.
  • To develop recommendations and next steps on identified areas of interest and concern related to biomonitoring.

Who should attend?

Community members, community based and advocacy organizations, health care providers, academicians, researchers, industry representatives, state and local government officials and others interested in learning more about biomonitoring, and engaging in stimulating dialogue about the risks and benefits of biomonitoring and the attendant ethical and policy concerns.


We would like to thank the community and scientific members of the Biomonitoring Advisory Board who actively participated in the planning and implementation of this community forum. Without their expertise, their time and their energy, this forum could not have been possible.

  • Paul English, Ph.D MPH
  • Kathy Koblick, MPH
  • Robert A.Hiatt, MD, Ph.D.
  • David Hoffman
  • Janice Barlow, R.N.
  • Peter Flessel, Ph.D.
  • Anh Thu Quach, MPH
  • William Draper PhD
  • Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D
  • Sharyle Patton BA
  • Diana Lee, MPH, RD
  • Fern Orenstein, M.ED

Thanks to Christine Arnesen for her assistance in organizing this Forum.

Human biological monitoring, commonly referred to as biomonitoring, is the measurement of chemicals or their break down products in the human tissues or fluids; for example, in blood, urine, saliva, or breast milk. When combined with other exposure and toxicological information, biomonitoring can advance our knowledge about environmental impacts on health. Biomonitoring has the potential to make a significant contribution to the research on the role environmental factors play in the development of breast cancer. It can help to answer public health questions such as: what are we exposed to and how much; what are the relationships between exposure and disease; are some groups more highly exposed than the general population; how effective are public health regulatory and education programs in reducing exposure to certain chemicals; can biomonitoring help to validate and improve models used to estimate exposure? While biomonitoring can be a useful adjunct to other public health approaches and is considered by some to be the ‘gold standard’ for exposure assessment, there are many uncertainties inherent in the measurements and interpretation of the results.

This Biomonitoring Community Forum will present an arena to discuss both the opportunities and the concerns associated with biomonitoring. It will:

  • present up to date information about the art and science of biomonitoring,
  • provide a forum for participants from a variety of perspectives and with varying expertise an opportunity to discuss the scientific, ethical and public policy issues related to biomonitoring.

Conference Program

Through plenary sessions, panel presentations, question and answer periods and small group discussions, this community forum will provide opportunities among both speakers and participants for dialogue, problem solving and future planning in regard to biomonitoring, community-based, participatory research and environmental health.

Plenary and panel discussants comprise a mix of government, academic, community-based researchers and community advocates. The small discussion groups will be organized according to panel topics.

8:00 am Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 am Welcome: Janice Barlow, Executive Director, Marin Breast Cancer Watch and Honorable Lynn Woolsey
8:30 am Opening Plenary: “Biomonitoring” – Richard Jackson, MD, MPH
9:10 am “Scientific and Laboratory Issues” – Larry Needham, Ph.DQuestions and Answers
9:45 am “Methods, Benefits and Challenges of Biomonitoring in Public Health and in Research” This panel will provide an overview of the complexities of using biomonitoring in public health surveillance and in research studies.

Panelists: Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D.; Paul English, Ph.D MPH; Patrice Sutton, MPH; Mary Wolff, Ph.D

Questions and Answers

11:10 am Break
11:30 am “Engaging Communities in Biomonitoring Research and Advocacy Efforts” This panel will highlight specific approaches aimed at incorporating community participation into biomonitoring research and public policy advocacy.

Panelists: Sharyl Patton, BA; Cliff Johnson, MSPH; Fern Orenstein, M.ED; Romel Pascual, MA; Alicia Salvatore, MPH

1:00 pm Lunch/Keynote Presentation – Assemblywoman Wilma Chan
2:00 pm “Community Research Ethics in Environmental Public Health”
Dianne Quigley, MA, and Lori Copan, RPh, MPH, AE-CQuestions and Answers
3:00 pm Break
3:20 pm Small group discussions focused on deepening participants’ understanding of the issues and developing follow up activities
4:45 pm Evaluation and Closing
5:00 pm Reception

Registration Information

Space at the forum is limited, with attendance restricted to 175 registered participants; therefore early registration is encouraged. The $35 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and post-meeting reception. Payment can be made by check (payable to Marin Breast Cancer Watch), MasterCard or Visa. Registrations postmarked or e-mailed after October 1, 2004, will not be processed.

Transportation and Parking

You are encouraged to carpool or take public transportation. Parking is available at the site for a fee. Driving directions and public transportation schedules can be found at

Forum Sponsorship

Critical Issues in Biomonitoring is sponsored by Marin Breast Cancer Watch, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding the causes of breast cancer through community participation in the research process. This forum is co-sponsored by the Bay Area Breast Cancer and Environment Research Center as part of the Community Outreach and Translation Core activities, by the California Environmental Health Tracking Program, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services.

The forum is made possible by funds received from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Grant # H57/CCH923112-01).

Additional funding support is from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Grant # UO1 ESO12801) and the National Center for Environmental Health, Center of Disease Control (Grant # U50/CCU 922449-01 and # U50/CCU 922449-02).

The contents of the Forum are solely the responsibility of the conveners and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funders

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