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In 2003, the European Commission adopted a European Strategy on Environment and Health.1 It was followed by the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004–2010,2 which proposes an integrated information system on environment and health as well as a coordinated approach to human biomonitoring (HBM) in European Union Member States to render more efficient the assessment of the environmental impact on human health. In the preparation of this Action Plan, HBM has been defined as “monitoring activities in human beings, using biomarkers, which focus on environmental exposures, diseases and/or disorders and genetic susceptibility, and their potential relationships”.
HBM is increasingly being used for health tracking, monitoring of trends and public health management purposes. The data produced through biomonitoring can support efforts to improve public health by indicating trends in chemical exposures, identifying disproportionately affected and particularly vulnerable communities, linking environmental exposures and pollution-related disease, assessing the effectiveness of current regulations, and setting priorities for legislative and regulatory action.
In the USA the Committee on Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants established by the National Research Council of the National Academies in 2006 highlighted that human biomonitoring faces challenges in particular with regards to the improvements of study design, interpretation of biomonitoring data for public health, and the communication of study results to participants, policy-makers and the public.3 The potential limits for environmental public health were well expressed by Needam et al4 in 2007: “we …
Funding: The Ministry of Health, Youth, Sport and the Voluntary Sector supported this event.
Competing interests: None.