The EU needs a structure for coordination and decision-making in order to ensure that Human Biomonitoring (HBM) can be an effective preventive tool in protecting public health, while governments can use HBM measurements to improve EU and national legislation. These were among the issues highlighted during a Cyprus Presidency Conference entitled “Human Biomonitoring (HBM): Linking Environment to Health and Supporting Policy”, held in Larnaca on October 23 and 24.
Human Biomonitoring (HBM) has been defined by the European Commission as "monitoring activities in human beings, using biomarkers that focus on environmental exposures, diseases and/or disorders and genetic susceptibility, and their potential relationships".
Since it provides a direct measure of the levels of environmental chemicals in the human body, HBM has proven to be an important tool for the protection of human health. In combination with other findings, human biomonitoring can be used to assess whether the level of exposure of the public to environmental pollutants is acceptable or whether measures need to be taken.
The human biomonitoring projects “COPHES” and “DEMOCOPHES”, which prove that a European wide measurement of chemicals in people across Europe using a coordinated and harmonised approach is feasible, provide comparable results for the first time. The projects looked at certain chemicals of concern for health in the hair (mercury) and urine (cotinine, phthalate metabolites, cadmium) of almost 4000 mothers and their children in 17 European countries at the same time, in the same way. Six countries also measured bisphenol A in urine.
The levels of chemicals in peoples bodies varied greatly across Europe, showing different exposures (from air, water, food, indoor, consumer products etc) and different living habits.
Based on the current health guidance values used in the projects, the levels found are generally not a matter of high concern.
Ministry of Health