Translating biomonitoring data into risk management and policy implementation options for a European Network on Human Biomonitoring
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Environmental health: a global access science source. - London
, p. S2,1-S2,12
University of Antwerp
Background The "European Environment & Health Action Plan 20042010" originates from the concern of the European Commission on the well-being of individuals and the general population. Through this plan, the Commission has set the objectives to improve the information chain for a better understanding of the link between sources of pollution and health effects, to better identify existing knowledge gaps, and improve policy making and communication strategies. Human biomonitoring (HBM) has been included as one of the tools to achieve these objectives. As HBM directly measures the amount of a chemical substance in a person's body, taking into account often poorly understood processes such as bioaccumulation, excretion, metabolism and the integrative uptake variability through different exposure pathways, HBM data are much more relevant for risk assessment than extrapolations from chemical concentrations in soil, air, and water alone. However, HBM primarily is a stepping stone between environmental and health data, and the final aim should be an integrated and holistic systematic risk assessment paradigm where HBM serves as a pivotal point between environment and health, on the one hand leaning on environmental data to provide detailed information on the sources and pathways of pollutants that enter the human body, and on the other hand clarifying new and existing hypotheses on the relationship between environmental pollutants and the prevalence of diseases. With the large amount of data that is being gathered in the different national survey projects, and which is expected to become available in Europe in the near future through the expected European Pilot Project on HBM, a framework to optimize data interpretation from such survey projects may greatly enhance the usefulness of HBM data for risk managers and policy makers. Results This paper outlines an hierarchic approach, based on the stepwise formulation of 4 subsequent steps, that will eventually lead to the formulation of a variety of policy relevant risk reduction options. Conclusion Although the usefulness of this approach still needs to be tested, and potential fine-tuning of the procedure may be necessary, approaching the policy implications of HBM in an objective framework will prove to be essential.