Human Biomonitoring is the gathering and analysing of samples of human tissues or body fluids (e.g. blood, urine, saliva, breast milk, nails, hair) to identify the presence and levels of chemicals the human body takes up from the environment. This form of monitoring shows populations that are exposed to and potentially affected by pollutants more accurately than estimates based on measurements in soil, water, air, food and consumer products.
In the EU, human biomonitoring has been carried out by individual member state programmes, often in different ways which prevent comparison of data between countries, and conclusions about the European population in general. By contrast, the USA’s annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathers a wealth of data which is representative of the entire population’s exposure to pollutants.
The EU is now conducting a pilot project of coordinated EU-wide biomonitoring, which if successful will start European-level biomonitoring. HEAL is a partner in the project advising on policy matters and communications.