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Barbara Brooks received her Ph.D. in Toxicology from Cornell University in 1986. After conducting postdoctoral research in molecular genetics at St. Mary’s Medical School in London and UCLA, she joined the Hawaii Department of Health as the State Toxicologist. She has prepared numerous health risk assessments for Hawaii on health effects from toxic air pollutants, chemically‑contaminated fish, petroleum contaminated soil, and exposure to pesticides in food. Her primary responsibility is to oversee activities related to the identification, control and prevention of environmental disease, illnesses and injury. Dr. Brooks manages the statewide surveillance data for heavy metals including lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and pesticides. Clinical lab reports are provided to the state electronically. Dr. Brooks is responsible for reviewing clinical lab results and consulting with the patient’s physician on the appropriate clinical tests to determine the source of environmental exposure. She provides consultation with physicians, laboratories and other health professionals on the interpretation of heavy metal and pesticide results. Additionally, she provides recommendations on necessary interventions to prevent further exposure to environmental contamination. Additionally, in collaboration with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,Dr. Brooks has assessed the levels of arsenic in urine of people living on former sugarcane land contaminated with elevated levels of arsenic. She recently was the Principal Investigator for a biomonitoring study that measured mercury levels in the hair of women and children attending the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). The heavy metal surveillance data on mercury and the hair mercury data from the WIC participants show that Hawaii residents have higher levels of mercury in blood and hair due to fish consumption. This work has assisted the state in targeting education and outreach activities for healthy fish consumption.
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