Human biomonitoring projects abroad

Many countries have long-established HBM programmes. Recently, newly initiated multidisciplinary follow-up studies called cohorts link human biomonitoring data to health data. 

HBM programmes

Many countries in Europe and North America conduct periodical HBM programmes (e.g. Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada, USA), giving an overview of the substances the population is exposed to.

HBM Germany

Since 1985 the Federal Environmental Agency runs the nationwide and representative German Environmental Surveys (GerES) to analyse the exposure situation of the German population. The fifth survey, completed in 2017, focused on the exposure of children and teenagers to environmental pollutions.

The data of the surveys provide the base for the Human Biomonitoring Commission to establish reference values (HBM I and HBM II values) of a chemical in a certain body fluid (e.g. urine, blood).

Between 2010 and 2012, Switzerland took part in DEMOCOPHES, the first human biomonitoring study coordinated in Europe. Ever since, several countries formed the new consortium HBM4EU to harmonise human biomonitoring on a European level.

National cohorts

More and more frequently human biomonitoring is integrated in follow-up health surveys to better understand the long-term impact of a given exposure. Many countries implemented multidisciplinary longitudinal studies called cohorts. Those initiatives are often coupled to the creation of biobanks for a standardised conservation and utilisation of the samples.

The UK (UK Biobank), France and Germany have such programmes. CONSTANCES in France and NaKo in Germany include 200’000 volunteers of the general population, periodically undergoing extensive health checks.

Some follow-up studies focus in particular on the unborn child, such as in Denmark and Japan. Before and during pregnancy, HBM data may highlight a possible relation between external influences and a child’s development. Such findings could be taken into account for preventive actions.

Last modification 03.02.2023

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