East Bay Body Burden Study Collaboration

Investigator: John Balmes, MD
Sponsor: Global Community Monitor

Location(s): United States


This project seeks to understand the connection between 70 children living within a mile of industrial facilities in west Berkeley and west Oakland, CA and their exposure to heavy metals. Air monitoring since 2007 in these areas has shown the presence of several metals -- lead, manganese, cadmium, nickel -- at levels that may exceed national and international health-based guidelines.
This project will measure concentrations of these metals in biological and environmental samples and assess whether there is a pattern of exposures related to distance from emission sources. Participants’ blood will be tested for manganese in the west Berkeley area and cadmium and lead in the west Oakland area because these metals were detected in air samples specific to these areas; there are also industrial sources of emissions of the metals to be studied in each area. Study team staff will take wipe samples of the settled dust in participants’ homes. In a subset of 6 participant homes 24-hour air monitoring for the metals of interest will also be done. Participant residential addresses will be geocoded. Blood, dust, and air sample results will be mapped using GIS methods.  The concentrations of metals in blood and dust samples will also be compared to those reported in relevant studies and levels listed in health-based guidelines. All results will be shared with participants.

This study is a collaboration between the Global Community Monitor (GCM) organization and UCSF. Ruth Breech of GCM and other GCM staff under her direct, immediate supervision will recruit and communicate with all subjects, perform air monitoring, and collect, store, and destroy data. CHORI Pediatric Clinical Research Services Unit will perform blood draws, with no other involvement. John Balmes, Mark Miller, and Derrick Lung of UCSF will assist with study design, data analysis, and publication.