Frequently Asked Questions

The Biomonitoring NY Project will measure the levels of approximately 40 environmental chemicals and metals in New York State residents. These chemicals include per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pesticides, and metals. New York State is one of six states that received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct this five-year, statewide project.

Biomonitoring NY will collect and publish reports and data about blood and urine levels of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pesticides, and heavy metals in adult New Yorkers. Data and reports published through this effort will protect participant confidentiality and provide up to date baseline data about environmental exposures in adults.

The primary goal of the project is to characterize the range of typical levels of approximately 40 chemicals and metals in blood and urine of New Yorkers. The project will invite approximately 2,000 eligible randomly selected adults across four regions of New York State to participate.

What do we know about these environmental chemicals?

  • PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide range of industries; in consumer products such as food packaging, stain and water repellants, cleaning products, personal care products and paints; as well as in firefighting foam. PFAS are widely found in the environment and can stay in the human body for years.
  • Pesticides are substances used to kill, repel, or control pests such as unwanted plants or animals. Pesticides include herbicides for destroying weeds and other unwanted vegetation, insecticides for controlling a wide variety of insects, and fungicides used to prevent the growth of molds and mildew. Because of the widespread use of agricultural chemicals in food production, people are exposed to low levels of pesticide residues through their diets.
  • Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium are elements that are linked to harmful health effects and can build up in the body as a result of industrial exposure, air or water pollution, food, improperly coated food containers, or the ingestion of lead-based paints.

Who is eligible for this study?

An adult aged 20 years or older who:

  • Received an invitation packet in the mail and lived at that residence for at least 6 months of that past year.
  • Signs the consent form agreeing to participate.

You do not need to be a United States citizen to participate. If you speak Spanish, we can provide translation for you.

How can people participate?

Participants are selected randomly and not based on any known exposure. Selected participants will receive a welcome letter from DOH with information about the project including steps to enroll in the project.

What will participants be asked to do?

Participants will be asked to complete a screening questionnaire, consent form and brief questionnaire either online or by phone. Once that is completed, each participant will receive a laboratory test order and information about steps to have their blood and urine sample collected.

What questions will participants be asked on the questionnaire?

Participants will be asked questions such as age, residential and job history, as well as questions about lifestyle and household. The total phone interview should take 20-25 minutes.

If there are answers that people don’t know or questions that make them uncomfortable, participants can answer “I don’t know” or “prefer not to answer”.

Why do participants have to sign a consent form?

The signature on the consent form tells us that people understand and agree to participate in this project. We are required to have a signed consent before we measure the levels of the chemicals in blood and urine. Participants may consent either online or over the phone. If they choose to consent over the phone, the project staff will mail a postage-paid paper copy for them to sign and return by mail. Participants will also receive a copy of the informed consent form for their records in the invitation packet.

How will blood and urine be collected?

We will provide participants with a convenient way to give blood and urine samples. The nurse will collect a small amount of blood (about 4-5 teaspoons). Participants do not need to skip meals before submitting their sample.

What will be measured in the blood and urine?

New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory will test the blood sample for eleven PFAS; PFBuS, PFHxS, PFOS, PFHpA, PFOA, PFNA, PFDeA, PFUA, PFDoA, PFOSA, and Me-PFOSA-AcOH. In addition, we will also test blood for cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium.

The urine sample will be tested for pesticides; organophosphates, phenoxy acids, and pyrethroids. Urine will also be tested for metals; arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, cesium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, platinum, selenium, tin, thallium, tungsten, and uranium.

We will not be measuring any medications or drugs. We will not be doing any analysis of DNA or genes.

How will personal information be handled?

Personal information will be protected to conceal each participant’s identity. Personal results will not be shared with doctors, insurers, or any other federal or state agencies. Access to identifiable personal information will be strictly limited to only those New York State Department of Health study staff who must access that information. All data will be stored on secure file servers.

How will participants get their results?

We will mail PFAS, pesticides and metals test results to each participant, which may take more than one year to receive. If any test results are concerning, we will contact the participant as soon as possible. NYSDOH project staff will be available to discuss results with participants. We will also provide participants with additional resources for more information.

How are we using this information?

Results from this project will be used to further the understanding of what we know about exposure to environmental chemicals. Group-level results will be presented in scientific publications, reports, and presentations. At the end of the 5-year project, a de-identified public use dataset will be created. All results will be published in a way to protect participant confidentiality so that participants cannot be identified.

COVID-19 Precautions

COVID-19 safety precautions will ensure that study staff, participants, and members of the public are protected from COVID-19 during all aspects of the project. Research activities will occur pending an approved evaluation of COVID-19 infection rates. A monitoring plan to examine COVID-19 metrics on at least a weekly basis will be implemented and all appropriate New York State COVID-related guidance will be followed.

Are there any costs to participate?

This is a project paid for by the CDC at no cost to participants. The blood and urine tests and results are free.

Should participants expect to find these chemicals in their bodies?

National biomonitoring has shown that most people have detectable levels of the chemicals we are testing for in their blood or urine. Participating in biomonitoring can provide a person with information about how levels in their body compare with levels in the general U.S. population. However, detecting a chemical in a person’s blood or urine does not mean that person is likely to have a health effect. Scientists continue to study health effects associated with many of these environmental chemicals. We recommend that participants discuss individual health concerns with their health care provider.

Can participants change their mind after signing the consent form?

Participation is voluntary, so even if a participant chooses to participate now, they may change their mind and leave the project at any time. There is no penalty for refusal or withdrawal from this project.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about this project, please contact the Biomonitoring NY Project Coordinator: Phone - 518-402-7950; Email -