Recently Statistics Canada released their Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada; in the US a similar report is regularly published by the CDC called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. The Canadian report has generated a lot of media attention, specifically regarding bisphenol A (BPA) being measured in 91% of the population. However, the reporting typically doesn’t include any context or information about what this really means – a chemical being detected in a urine sample doesn’t automatically mean it is causing any harm. This is partly because most journalists don’t have the appropriate background to actually understand what they are reporting on when it comes to environmental exposures (or science in general); I suspect sensationalism may also contribute.
The Canadian and US reports actually both do a decent job of providing some background information about the chemicals measured, unlike similar reports published by groups like Environmental Defence that skimp on the background/context (again likely related to a desire for sensationalism). However, even the government reports often don’t have enough information to establish whether what is being measured in the population is really of concern or not.