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J Epidemiol Community Health 65:191-198 doi:10.1136/jech.2008.085597
  • Essay

Reporting results of human biomonitoring of environmental chemicals to study participants: a comparison of approaches followed in two Canadian studies

  1. William Fraser3
  1. 1Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, Health Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  2. 2Physical Health Measures Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  3. 3Centre de Recherche du CHU Sainte Justine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Douglas A Haines, Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, Health Canada, 269 Laurier Avenue West, 8th Floor, PL 4908D, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9, Canada;doug.haines{at}hc-sc.gc.ca
  • Accepted 6 February 2010
  • Published Online First 13 July 2010

Abstract

Biomonitoring is used increasingly as an indicator and quantitative measure of exposure; however, there is a large gap in interpreting and communicating biomonitoring results to study participants. Two separate, national biomonitoring initiatives are under way in Canada; the household recruitment-based Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) and the clinic recruitment-based Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study. The CHMS provides participants with the option to receive all their results, but this option is not provided to MIREC participants. The approach to reporting results to participants depends on the availability of reference ranges and guidelines for which tissue concentrations may be interpreted as being elevated or associated with increased health risks, how participants are recruited, unique vulnerabilities of the population, legislation governing access to personal information, and decisions of research ethics committees. It is the researchers' responsibility to present the best case for their approach and, once the decision has been made, to inform participants about access to their results through the consent process.

Footnotes

  • Funding Health Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committees at Health Canada and the Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Montréal, Canada.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.