About: Canadian biomonitoring dashboard

  • Last updated: 2024-05-08

Information on human biomonitoring and how to use the Canadian Biomonitoring Dashboard.

This dashboard shows levels of environmental chemicals in the Canadian population, as measured through the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS).

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Definitions

Term Description
Geometric mean Shown as bars in the figures. The average level of the chemical biomarker in the population.
50th percentile Shown as bars in the figures. The middle level of the chemical biomarker in the population. Half of the population had levels below the 50th percentile and half had levels above it.
95th percentile Shown as circles in the figures. Represents a higher level of the chemical biomarker in the population. 95% of the population had levels below the 95th percentile and only 5% had levels above it.
95% confidence interval (95% CI) Shown as vertical and horizontal lines (also known as error bars) around each bar and circle in the figures. Indicates the variability of the result. A narrow interval (smaller error bar) represents higher confidence in the result and a wider interval (larger error bar) represents lower confidence in the result.
Limit of detection (LOD) Shown as dashed lines in the figures. Represents the lowest level at which a chemical biomarker can be reliably measured.
Detection frequency Only shown in the data table. The percent of the population with a level of the chemical biomarker at or above the LOD.
Below the limit of detection (<LOD) Appears as a missing result in the figures. Indicates that the result was too low to be detected.
Not available (NA) Appears as a missing result in the figures. Indicates that the result is not available because the chemical biomarker was either not measured or not calculated in the population group or collection period.
Not calculated (NC) Appears as a missing result in the figures. Indicates that a geometric mean was not calculated since more than 40% of samples were below the LOD.
Suppressed (F) Appears as a missing result in the figures. Indicates that the result was not released because it was too unreliable.
Suppressed (X) Appears as a missing result in the figures. Indicates that the result was not released because there were not enough participants to ensure confidentiality.

Instructions for using the dashboard

Select a chemical biomarker from the dropdown menu at the top of the Results page. Click the dropdown menu to show the list of available biomarkers and begin typing to search the list. Click on a biomarker from the list or press enter to select it. Click the plus sign icon for advanced search options. Use these options to filter the list of available biomarkers by chemical group, chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS RN).

Once you’ve selected a biomarker, figures are automatically generated. They show the levels (also known as concentrations) of that biomarker in the Canadian population by collection period. The first figure shows the level for the total Canadian population, the second figure shows the level by age group, and the third figure shows the level by sex. These figures show geometric means for all available collection periods for that biomarker.

Use the dropdown menus to display specific collection periods or to select another matrix, unit or statistic (such as the 50th or 95th percentile). The matrix is the medium in which a biomarker is measured, such as blood, urine or hair. Some biomarkers are measured in more than one matrix. The unit of measurement may change depending on the matrix you select.

Figures first appear in colours that colour blind users can access. Click the paint brush icon to change the figure colour scheme to shades of blue or grey. Click the refresh icon to reset the dashboard.

A data table is displayed below the figures. It shows the data in each figure, as well as extra information such as the number of samples and the detection frequency.

In some cases, figures are not generated for a selected biomarker. This is due to insufficient data. In these cases, the following message will appear: “Results are not available (NA), not calculated (NC), below the limit of detection (<LOD), or suppressed (F or X) for this chemical biomarker. See the data table below for more information.”

In other cases, figures are generated when a biomarker is selected but some results (bars or circles) are missing. In these cases, the following note will accompany the figures: “One or more results are not shown. See the data table below for more information.”

Interpreting the results

Exercise caution when comparing biomonitoring results across collection periods. Because the age ranges sampled and the LOD can change over time, you should review this information in the data table before making conclusions.

In specific cases, such as for cadmium and triclosan measured in urine, the analytical method used to measure chemicals has changed over time. Results for cadmium and triclosan in urine should not be directly compared across collection periods.

Use caution when comparing creatinine-adjusted results for chemical biomarkers measured in urine. Creatinine levels differ by age and sex. We recommend that you only compare creatinine-adjusted levels for the same age group or sex across collection periods. Do not compare creatinine-adjusted levels across age groups or between sexes.

For more information on considerations for interpreting the biomonitoring data, please see the Sixth Report on Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals in Canada.

Human biomonitoring

Human biomonitoring is the measurement of environmental chemicals in body fluids or tissues. This includes the parent compounds or their breakdown products, also known as metabolites.

An environmental chemical is a chemical substance, either human-made or natural, that is present in the environment and which humans may be exposed to through air, water, food, soil, dust or consumer products.

The primary purpose of human biomonitoring is to estimate chemical exposure levels within a population. This information helps scientists, health professionals and policy makers evaluate exposures and develop policies to protect the health of people in Canada. Data from multiple collection periods can be used to track changes over time and assess the effectiveness of risk management actions. For new chemicals, national data are an important baseline, or starting point, for future monitoring and research.

Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)

National human biomonitoring data come from the CHMS. The CHMS is an ongoing national survey led by Statistics Canada, in partnership with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The CHMS is Canada’s most comprehensive, direct health measures survey, and is designed to represent the Canadian population.

Through personal interviews and the collection of physical measurements and biological samples, the survey provides data on indicators of:

The human biomonitoring component of the CHMS measures environmental chemicals in blood or urine. Data are collected in 2-year collection periods (also known as cycles).

Chemicals were selected for inclusion in the survey based on one or more of several considerations, including:

Chemicals can be rotated in or out of different collection periods. In some cases, chemicals have been measured in multiple collection periods to track changes over time or obtain a larger number of samples necessary for data analysis. In other cases, chemicals were removed and may be added back in later collection periods.

Suggested citation

Health Canada. 2023. Canadian Biomonitoring Dashboard. Ottawa, ON. Available: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/biomonitoring.

More information

For questions or comments about the Canadian Biomonitoring Dashboard, contact us at biomonitoring-biosurveillance@hc-sc.gc.ca.

For more information on human biomonitoring and other Health Canada biomonitoring programs, visit Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals.

For more information on the CHMS and accessing data from the CHMS for research purposes, visit Statistics Canada's Canadian Health Measures Survey and Statistics Canada's Research Data Centres.

National biomonitoring data from the CHMS are also available on the following platforms

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