Blood and urine levels of long half-life toxicants by nativity among immigrants to the United States

Sci Total Environ. 2011 Dec 15;412-413:109-13. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.09.077. Epub 2011 Nov 14.


One's place of birth is a major determinant of his or her exposure to environmental toxicants. By understanding biological burdens of long half-life toxicants by race and nativity we can better understand geographic variation in toxicant distribution. We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2006) biomonitoring data to examine differences in blood and urine levels of long half-life environmental toxicants of foreign-born relative to US-born people by race/ethnicity. We log transformed blood and urine measures of 51 environmental toxicants. We then used "seemingly unrelated regression," a robust technique for making multiple comparisons across a group of variables with correlated error terms, to examine differences in blood and urine toxicants by nativity and race. We found that, compared to native-born Americans, the foreign-born are generally more likely to be exposed to metals (p<0.001) and organochlorine pesticides (p<0.001), but less likely to be exposed to dioxin-like compounds (p<0.001) or polyflourinated compounds (p<0.001). While levels of toxicants varied greatly by region of birth, US-born participants had consistently higher levels of dioxin-like compounds and polyflourinated compounds.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / classification
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Environmental Pollutants / classification
  • Environmental Pollutants / urine*
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Population Groups
  • Regression Analysis*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Toxicology / methods*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants