A Body's Burden: Our Chemical Legacy

What's In You
On-line body burden assessment

Want to know your body's exposure to environmental chemicals? You'll need a fair amount of blood, a high-powered lab, and about $10,000.

Or you can take this quiz.

Of course, no questionnaire can assess your body burden. Only extensive — and expensive — lab analysis can.

But we'll hazard a guess. Questions are culled from a review of scientific articles and interviews conducted by the Oakland Tribune. This quiz attempts only to help you estimate your potential exposure to a handful of everyday environmental chemicals ubiquitous in the environment. Many, many more are out there.

Questions focus on how these compounds MAY get into our body, where we MAY encounter them in our environments, and scientists' best guess of most likely pathways .

It is meant to serve only as an educated guess, not as the final word on your health.

Please answer every question. Results cannot be scored unless every question (there are 35) is answered completely.

  1. How old are you?

    under 25
    25-45
    45-65
    over 65

  2. Are you

    male
    female

  3. Where do you live?

    urban
    suburban
    rural

  4. What percentage of your workday do you spend in an office?

    100
    75
    50
    25
    0

  5. Do you have a computer monitor on your desk at work?

    yes
    no

  6. Do you own a mobile phone?

    yes
    no

  7. Do you often drive a car, take mass transit, fly in an airplane?

    yes
    no

  8. Did you purchase a brand new car within the last six months?

    yes
    no

  9. What percentage of rooms have wall-to-wall carpeting in your house?

    all (except the kitchen)
    three-quarters
    half or less
    none

  10. Do you have vinyl flooring in the kitchen or bathroom?

    yes
    no

  11. Ten questions down!

  12. How often do you vacuum, dustmop, or wet mop?

    once-plus a week
    once a month
    once every few months

  13. Does your vacuum have a HEPA filter?

    yes
    no
    not sure

  14. Do any rooms in your house have wallpaper?

    yes
    no

  15. Do you have a vinyl (plastic) shower curtain?

    yes
    no

  16. Does your house have heavy drapes or "blackout" curtains?

    yes
    no

  17. What are the total hours a day, on average, a television or computer monitor is on in your home?

    15 hours or more
    10 to 15 hours
    three to 10 hours
    three hours or less
    don't own a television

  18. Were any TVs (or computer monitors) purchased before 1997?

    yes
    no

  19. Which items do you have in the house?

    video camcorder yes no
    copier yes no
    fax yes no
    scanner yes no
    printer yes no
    stereo receiver/audio system yes no
    video/DVD player yes no
    hair dryer yes no
    coffeemaker yes no


  20. Select all the upholstered furniture in your house with foam cushions, pillows or pads.

    dining room chairs yes no
    kitchen chairs yes no
    sofa yes no
    family/living room chair yes no
    office chair yes no


  21. Where do you sleep?

    foam futon
    regular mattress
    cotton or all-natural mattress

  22. That's twenty: more than halfway there!

  23. Is your mattress treated with a soil- or stain-protectant?

    yes
    no
    don't know

  24. What types of air fresheners do you use in your home or car?

    electric, with oil cartridges yes no
    ozone-generating air purifier yes no
    passive scented disk yes no
    scented candles yes no


  25. Do you have press-wood furniture (usually assemble-yourself items) in your home or office?

    yes
    no

  26. Do you allow smoking in your house?

    yes
    no

  27. How often do you eat any of the following:
    meat, eggs, dairy, fish?

    Once or more a day
    Few times a week
    Few times a month
    Rarely/never

  28. How often do you wrap or cover leftovers and other items in the refrigerator with plastic wrap?

    always
    often
    sometimes
    never

  29. How often do you eat microwave popcorn?

    once a week
    once a month
    infrequently/never

  30. How often do you eat food from at least one of the following:
    paper plates, movie popcorn buckets, fast-food wrappers and boxes, Chinese take-out containers?

    twice or more a week
    a few times a month
    every so often
    almost never

  31. Do you:

    1. cook with non-stick pots or frying pans?

      regularly
      sometimes
      never
      don't know

    2. use any "natural" products containing fish oil, or take fish oil supplements such as cod liver oil?

      yes
      no

    3. keep cheese or meat wrapped in plastic?

      yes
      no

    4. microwave food or drinks in plastic containers or with a plastic-wrap covering?

      yes
      no

    5. own water- or wind-repellant shoes, coats or other clothing, or wear wind-blocking fleece or fabric?

      yes
      no
      don't know

    6. wear dentures?

      yes
      no

    7. have ant bait stations in the house?

      yes
      no

  32. How often do you use the following personal-care products?
    (Just a reminder: Please make a selection for every product type.)

    shampoo frequently occasionally rarely never
    conditioner frequently occasionally rarely never
    cologne frequently occasionally rarely never
    aftershave frequently occasionally rarely never
    perfume/fragrance frequently occasionally rarely never
    hair spray frequently occasionally rarely never
    hair mousse/gel frequently occasionally rarely never
    hair detangler frequently occasionally rarely never
    hand and body lotions frequently occasionally rarely never
    nail polish frequently occasionally rarely never
    lipstick frequently occasionally rarely never
    lip balm frequently occasionally rarely never
    deodorant frequently occasionally rarely never
    body wash frequently occasionally rarely never
    other cosmetics frequently occasionally rarely never


  33. Just a handful more...

  34. How often do you encounter each of the following?

    plastic squeeze toys for pets frequently occasionally rarely never
    soft plastic children's toys frequently occasionally rarely never
    inflatable beach balls, pool floats, water wings, etc. frequently occasionally rarely never
    vinyl toys or clothing frequently occasionally rarely never


  35. Have you used water- and soil-repellant spray-on products within the last 8 years?

    regularly
    frequently
    occasionally
    never

  36. What cleaners do you use?

    Household cleaners yes no
    Abrasive powders yes no
    Glass and tile cleaners yes no
    Bathroom and toilet disinfectants yes no
    Floor wax, wax strippers, or polish yes no
    Carpet and upholstery cleaners and deodorizers yes no
    General purpose degreasers yes no
    Furniture wax and polishers yes no
    Vinegar or vegetable-based cleaners yes no
    Clothing spot- or stain-removers yes no
    Carpet spot cleaners yes no


  37. Have you worn a cast or waterproof dressing in the past year?

    yes
    no

  38. Have you had an IV recently?

    yes
    no