Human Bio-monitoring (HBM) is an analytical approach which focuses on directly measuring the volume of toxic chemical compounds present in the body. Often, these measurements are done from blood and urine.
HBM is an important tool for assessing human exposure to environmental substances and in some cases their potential health risks. It is seen as an essential element in a strategy for environmental health impact assessment.
The way the chemicals accumulate in air, soil or water may be quite different from their behaviour in the human body. Analysis of environmental chemicals in human tissues is the most effective way of knowing which environmental chemicals we should be most wary of.
Developing a coherent approach
In different Member States, a substantial number of human bio-monitoring projects are running and significant resources are devoted to these efforts.
To support this work the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) helped create COPHES - the Consortium to Perform Human Bio-monitoring on a European Scale - in December 2009.
COPHES is a pilot project which aims to apply standardised methods for human bio-monitoring which can be used Europe-wide. It aims to develop a functional framework which allows data on human bio-monitoring data throughout Europe which are fully comparable and re-usable.
The framework will also develop a roadmap for integrating bio-monitoring data with other environmental health information and will address the ethical aspects of the collection and storage of human material and data.
For the COPHES project, the Institute contributes to the work package on "Horizon Scanning" which aims to evaluate the applicability of new approaches in human bio-monitoring.