What is human biomonitoring?

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  5. What is human biomonitoring?

People are exposed to a complex mixture of chemicals in their daily lives through the environment, consumer products, food and drinking water and at work. Human biomonitoring allows the measurement of exposure to chemicals by measuring either the substances themselves, their metabolites or markers of subsequent health effects in body fluids or tissues.

Human biomonitoring provides a useful tool for assessing cumulative exposure to complex mixtures of chemicals. By collecting data from a representative sample of individuals under continuous surveillance programmes, health practitioners are able to evaluate the exposure of the general population to chemicals over time. Information on human exposure can be linked to data on sources and health effects, in order to inform research on exposure-response relationships in humans.


The HBM4EU project was launched in 2016 with the aim of improving the collective understanding of human exposure to hazardous chemicals and developing HBM as an exposure assessment method. The project had €74m in funding and jointly implemented by 120 partners from 28 participating countries – 24 EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Israel and the European Environment Agency. One of its aims was to ensure the sustainability of HBM in the EU beyond 2021. The project ended in June 2022. The website will not be updated any longer, except the page on peer reviewed publications, but will be online until 2032.