Arizona Biomonitoring Program

Nicknamed “the Valentine State” due to receiving statehood on February 14, 1912, Arizona is the most recent state to join the lower 48 and boasts the largest population (6.7 million people) among the Four Corners states. Arizona hosts a variety of ecosystems, including alpine tundra (in Flagstaff, AZ), desert, coniferous forest, and grassland, and the state’s elevation ranges between 70 feet above sea level (along the Colorado River) to 12,633 feet above sea level (at Humphreys Peak). With such diversity, it’s no wonder so much of Arizona’s population frequents the great outdoors!

Arizona is known for “5 C’s,” all of which are of historical importance to the state. These are:

Four of these “5 C’s” have a relationship with the chemicals currently being “biomonitored” by the 4 Corners States Biomonitoring Consortium. What are some examples? Read on!

Preparing for a camping trip or a hike to enjoy Arizona’s climate typically involves applying some kind of insect repellent to help keep unwanted pests – like ticks and mosquitoes – at bay. Many hikers also apply sunscreen as a protection against the intense amount of sun that can be experienced while on the trail. Some hikers carry their water in plastic bottles.

What do these products – insect abatement spray, sunscreen, and plastic bottles – have in common? They all may contain components that may affect human health (such as pyrethroids, in the bug spray, and phthalates in the sunscreen and plastic bottles). Phthalates may also be found in other personal care products – such as soap, lotion, and hair products—as well as in plastic food containers, like bottles and carry-out boxes.

Arsenic, uranium, and other metals occur naturally in the groundwater in Arizona. Copper mines (as well as mines used for other metals, stones, and products) can increase the concentration of these metals in groundwater. With approximately 89,000 private domestic water wells across the state, many Arizona residents rely on groundwater for domestic purposes (including cooking, drinking, and using for showering, bathing, and brushing teeth).

The 4 Corners States Biomonitoring Consortium is inviting private well owners to participate in the project. Urine samples are analyzed for six different metals of interest (arsenic, cadmium, manganese, mercury, selenium, and uranium). Tap water samples are also analyzed for these six metals; in addition, because the Arizona Department of Health Services Laboratory is EPA-certified as a drinking water lab, we are able to offer well owners an additional 13 metals to be tested for in tap water samples (including copper, lead, nickel, and zinc).

Finally, Arizona, like Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, is heavily agricultural. Cotton, citrus, and other crops are important parts of Arizona’s economy. However, farming (as well as home gardening and landscaping) can often involve the use of pesticides. In addition to testing for heavy metals, phthalates, and pyrethroids, the 4 Corners States Biomonitoring Consortium will also be offering a biomonitoring test to evaluate exposure to pesticides.

We are very excited to be a part of such an important and useful project! All Arizona residents over the age of 6 years old are eligible to participant (please note that the heavy metals biomonitoring is only offered to private well owners). Please check out our website for more information on participating and for details on how to sign up.

Arizona Habitats

Arizona's 5 Cs

Arizona's Natural Heritage

 

Page updated: July 27, 2016