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A Toxics-Free Future

Monitoring Mother Earth by Monitoring Mothers' Milk

Sharyle Patton, Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center

2009

Biomonitoring, the analysis of human fluids and tissues for the presence of environmental chemicals and their by-products, indicate that all inhabitants of the globe carry hundreds of environmental chemicals within their bodies. Breastmilk biomonitoring, when implemented with sensitivity and a profound sense of responsibility for the health of infants and mothers, can create data indicating how levels of toxic chemicals in human bodies may rise or fall in response to public health policies. Breastmilk monitoring implemented in the absence of consultations with those individuals and communities being tested and without substantive support measures for breastfeeding may turn breastfeeding mothers away from breastfeeding. Governments, researchers and communities of concern need to determine how to best craft the complex message that will ensure breastmilk data will be used to decrease levels of toxic chemicals in all our bodies rather than decrease the number of women who breastfeed.

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