HBM4EU aims to generate new knowledge on human exposure to chemicals in Europe and the resulting impacts on human health. This knowledge should support the efforts of policy makers to enhance chemical safety in Europe, as well as serving the needs of a range of stakeholders. Our results should be used to generate positive impacts for European society in terms of improved health.
The selection of substances to be the subject of research activities under HBM4EU represents a critical step towards achieving these objectives. In order to secure the legitimacy, credibility and societal relevance of our work, HBM4EU partners consulted policy makers, scientists and stakeholders on the strategy for the prioritisation of substances for both monitoring and research activities under the project.
At the same time, the nominations of the different parties invited to participate in the strategy for the prioritisation of substances do not have the same weight in the process.
As a Horizon 2020 project, HBM4EU addresses societal challenges to health and wellbeing for European citizens. It is a principle objective of the project to bridge the divide between science and policy at European level and to generate results that meet the knowledge needs of European Union (EU) policy makers. Priority was therefore given to the nomination of substance by the members of the EU Policy Board, with the aim of delivering on this key objective. In addition, 70% of the funding for HBM4EU comes from the European Commission, given the Commission a key stake in the project.
Input from the National Hubs was also highly valued, and helps us to ensure that the project also serves the knowledge needs of national policy makers and to establish whether national and European level priorities are aligned. The National Hubs provide 30% of the funding for HBM4EU and so have a voice in shaping the strategic direction of the research.
Selected substances will be the subject of research at European level. It is therefore important that HBM4EU addresses knowledge gaps on chemical exposure and resulting health impacts that have relevance at European level and generates results that benefit European society. Substances that are exclusively of local or national concern were therefore not considered.
We also requested input from members of the Stakeholder Forum. This valuable input allowed us to assess the social relevance of research activities on nominated substances, and drew in additional evidence and knowledge. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that the nominations submitted by members of the Stakeholder were given a lower weight in the prioritisation strategy.
As such the strategy for the prioritisation of substances was not based entirely on scientific evidence. It was also guided by an imperative to produce knowledge in support of policy making at European level.
The resulting 2nd list of HBM4EU Priority Substances reflects a broad consensus on the principle substances and substance groups and addresses some of the concerns of all parties involved.