Utah Biomonitoring

Rocks of every color can be found in Utah's 13 national parks and monuments or 43 state parks, as well as along Utah scenic highways and byways. Utah is the 13th largest state , but with a population of three million, it is among the least densely populated states in the nation. Most of the population lives along the "Wasatch Front" - a geographic area in northern Utah created by the Wasatch Mountain Range (a part of the Rocky Mountains) and the Great Salt Lake. Outside of the Wasatch Front, the remaining population live in small rural communities or on scattered farms and ranches.

Utah is the second most arid state in the nation and receives most of its water supply from an annual average of 13 inches of precipitation per year (some of which it shares with neighboring states). Utah's drinking water comes from approximately 1,850 sources that are a mix of surface water (lakes, reservoirs, or rivers) or ground water (wells or springs) sources. Most Utah residents get their water from one of Utah's 978 public water systems. However, about 0.3% of Utah's population is on private drinking water systems. In Utah, there is minimal regulation of private drinking water wells once the well is put into operation.

 

Utah has a little over 54.3 million acres of land. About 20% of Utah's land is farmland and three percent is crop land. Agricultural land require the employment of agricultural chemicals, often in close proximity to rural communities or farm homes. Golf is a popular past time in Utah, with about 120 golf courses found throughout the state. In addition, Utah culture actively promotes home and community gardening. Organic gardening is increasingly popular, however, garden chemicals are often used to manage pests and promote growth.

Many types of mosquitoes in Utah are able to transmit arboviral infections such as viral encephalitis. As a result, Utah has an active mosquito abatement program.

In Utah, we are interested in understanding how much exposure Utah residents experience to heavy metals, certain industrial chemicals and pesticides described in the consortiums list of chemicals of concern. Depending on what we discover from this biomonitoring project, we may take action to promote public health policy to reduce some environmental exposures.

Previous to the formation of the 4CSBC, Utah participated in the Rocky Mountain Biomonitoring Consortium (RMBC) and the Western Tracking and Biomonitoring Collaborative (WTBC). One of the activities explored by Utah as part of participating in those consortiums was the feasibility of using neonatal blood spots to assess exposure to cadmium, lead and mercury. Utah has a passive blood lead surveillance program for children and adults that started in 1995 and has been ongoing since. In addition, Utah conducts biomonitoring of fish tissues for toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate in fish, and issues fish consumption advisories when necessary.

As part of the 4CSBC, Utah is investigating environmental exposures to the chemicals of concern throughout the state. Participants include any Utah resident 3 years of age or older that is able to provide a urine sample. All participants provide a urine sample and answer questions about their everyday exposure to chemicals from various sources, including dietary sources. Most of the questions in this questionnaire have been standardized for use by the other states in the 4CSBC. For more information on the methodology, please refer to the tool kit. Urine samples are shipped to the Utah Public Health Laboratory for testing. One advantage of the 4CSBC is shared laboratory testing capacity, so aliquots of Utah samples may be shipped to one of the participating state labs for the additional lab work. Information about Utah participants are kept confidential and not shared with the other states. However, aggregated statistics will be shared and used to evaluate regional exposure concerns.

The Utah Environmental Public Health Tracking Network UEPHTN provides epidemiology support for Utah's biomonitoring program. In addition, the UEPHTN is assisting with private well water testing.

Without willing participation of Utah residents in this program, we would not be able to conduct biomonitoring activities. We are appreciative of our past, current, and future biomonitoring participants. Your participation helps the Utah Department of Health explore important environmental public health questions about exposures to chemicals in Utah.

A 2016 progress report on Utah's participation with the 4CSBC was published as a Special Edition in the Utah Health Status Report, December 2016.

A 2018 progress report on Utah's findings about heavy metal exposures was published as the Breaking News article (on page 2) in the Utah Health Status Report, January 2018.

A map showing the sampling locations in Utah can be found here: Utah Biomonitoring Sample Collection Map.

Last update: March 21, 2018