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Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Dec;110 Suppl 6:1057-9.

Public health decisions: the laboratory's role in the Lorain County, Ohio, investigation.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


In 1994 officials from the Ohio Department of Health reported that some residents of Lorain County, Ohio, possibly had been exposed to methyl parathion (MP), a highly toxic restricted-use pesticide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assisted in the investigation by providing epidemiologic and laboratory support to the state and local health departments. Although the initial investigation found MP inside the homes, it was unclear if the residents were exposed. CDC used a new biological monitoring method to measure urinary p-nitrophenol (PNP), the metabolite of MP. This biological monitoring measures the internal dose from exposure to toxic chemicals from all routes. Laboratory analyses demonstrated that the urine of residents contained moderate to high levels of PNP, with median, mean, and highest reported concentrations of 28, 240, and 4,800 g/L, respectively, thus confirming exposure of the residents. Almost 80% of the residents had urinary PNP concentrations above the 95th percentile of the reference range concentrations. This information, combined with other analytical results of air and wipe tests, guided public health officials' decisions about the potential risk in each household. In this article we illustrate the laboratory's role in providing information to assist in making these public health decisions. Furthermore, it illustrates how a multidisciplinary team from various governmental agencies worked together to protect the public's health.

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