In probably the most curious lab sample ever, back in 2004 13 high-ranking European government officials submitted to tests seeking to discover the level of contaminants in their blood. Sure enough, “residues found were from substances including those used in fire resistant sofas, non-stick pans, grease proof pizza boxes, fragrances and pesticides. Some of the chemicals in question were banned decades ago, but many are still in use today.” See the report at http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=9084.
That was then, in Europe. And that’s not all. Earlier that same year, The Washington Post ran a story on the typical environmental chemicals in the body of the average adult U.S. male (“Get a Load of the Mono-2-Ethylhexyl-Phthalate in That Guy,” by Christopher Wanjek, February 3, 2004). The chemicals included lead, PCBs, TCDD (a form of dioxin that can cause skin disease), and Cotinine (secondhand tobacco smoke).
Through a technique called biomonitoring, samples of human blood, urine, and breastmilk can be measured for pollutants. Sweden has been monitoring human milk since 1972 and has banned the use of the chemical polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a common flame retardant. Traces of PBDE have been found in breastmilk.
For the latest information from the United States, specifically the Centers for Disease Control, visit http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport and read The Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals 2009 and the Updated Tables, February 2011. Together, they “are the most comprehensive assessment of environmental chemical exposure in the U.S. population. Since 1999, CDC has measured 219 chemicals in people’s blood or urine. The Fourth Report, 2009, includes the findings from national samples for 1999-2000, 2001-2002, and 2003-2004″ (from the CDC website).