- Everyday Chemical Exposures
- Chemicals and Breast Cancer
- Environmental Justice
- Water Research
- Health and Environmental Mapping
- Communities with High Breast Cancer Rates
- Research Updates
When we asked women to open their homes to us to collect samples for the Household Exposure Study, we asked them, too, if they wanted to receive the results for their own home; 116 of 120 women said, “yes.” Open communication with study participants, while always protecting the privacy of their personal information, is part of our approach to research as a partnership of scientists, activists, policymakers, physicians, and the people who generously participate in our research.
We carefully prepared written summaries and graphs for each woman, reporting her own results in the context of others in the study, government health guidelines, and broader research. We assembled fact sheets about the study and tips on reducing exposures at home.
There are important questions about each woman’s results that we cannot answer though; because science does not yet know the health implications of many of the chemicals we detected, and we may not know where they came from or how to reduce the levels. Often, researchers are reluctant to tell study participants their own results when the medical implications may be uncertain. Some scientists worry that participants will be unduly worried or confused.
To investigate the implications of learning personal exposure results and to inform ethical and effective report-back in future studies, we interviewed women in the Household Exposure Study about their experience. Results will help researchers across the country and around the world, as science increasingly moves toward finer and finer detail in understanding the exposure of individuals to myriad chemicals every day.