California Region Exposure Study I (CARE-LA)

Project Timeline: 9/1/2017 through 6/30/2018

The CARE studies were designed to better understand Californians’ exposures to chemicals and their exposure pathways, and trends in both the type and levels of these chemicals and toxins stored in their bodies. Carried out by Biomonitoring California, within the California Department of Public Health’s Environmental Investigations Branch, these studies measure and compare the environmental chemicals found in at-risk communities disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards, certain at-risk occupations, or the general population. The first of eight planned studies, CARE-LA was launched in 2018 and focused on Los Angeles County, home to approximately 28% of the state’s population and a region of notable ethnic, racial, and linguistic diversity.

In collaboration with Biomonitoring California, SF staff helped mobilize environmental justice organizations and other groups working with California communities disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards to determine their community’s concerns and health priorities. SF staff helped carry out surveys to stakeholders, including environmental justice organizations, community groups, and Tribes focused on environmental and public health issues. Further recruitment led to conducting group listening sessions or one-on-one interviews with 60 individuals about specific environmental hazards of concern in their communities and how biomonitoring projects could support efforts to promote community health and improve local policies. Common environmental and health problems were identified and helped inform study design and strategies for building trust and establishing partnerships within these communities. 

SF supported recruitment of study participants via a study website (designed and implemented by SF’s technical team) and through randomized household mailings, outreach to community organizations, and general outreach using email, listservs, and social media. Additionally, SF helped set up recruitment events specifically designed to engage potential participants living in communities affected by asthma as a result of poor air quality due to exhaust fuel. In collaboration with Biomonitoring California, SF staff identified, interviewed, and recruited 430 residents of Los Angeles County who participated in the first phase of the study.  All study participants donated blood and urine samples and completed surveys to identify potential sources of exposure to chemicals, we collected the samples, recorded all source data in the data management system, and transmitted the samples to the CDPH laboratory.

After samples were analyzed, SF helped to provide participants with their laboratory results and summary data on the entire study. We also held community meetings to discuss study findings with the general public.