Step 4: Stakeholder workshop on prioritisation

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On 20 November 2017, a Stakeholder Workshop on Prioritisation was held in Brussels, organised by EAA and AGES. The aim of the workshop was to discuss priorities for future research under HBM4EU and to capture stakeholder reflections on the societal relevance of HBM4EU generating new knowledge on the substances on the short list.

The workshop provided a forum for discussion of stakeholder priorities, with a particular focus on the societal concerns related to the substances and groups. The background note and agenda for the stakeholder workshop can be downloaded here.

Workshop participants included a broader range of stakeholders than the HBM4EU Stakeholder Forum, so opening up the discussion to additional stakeholders. Members of the EU Policy Board and HBM4EU partners involved in the prioritisation strategy participated.

In introduction, the EEA briefly presented the prioritisation strategy and the short list, with an explanation of the ranking process. EAA and AGES then facilitate a discussion on the substances on the short list, in order to better understand the priorities of stakeholders and the reasoning behind these priorities.

In terms of the methodology used to structure the discussions, the 23 substances and groups on the short list were listed on a flip chart. Each participant then received three stickers and was asked to mark the substances that s/he considered most important, as a means of prioritising substances for general discussion. Participants prioritised the following 10 substances for discussion:

  1. Pesticides authorized in the EU and metabolites: 9 votes
  2. Glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine]: 6 votes
  3. Siloxanes: 5 votes
  4. Mercury and mercury compound: 4 votes
  5. Arsenic acid and its inorganic metabolites: 4 votes
  6. Nanomaterials: 4 votes
  7. Lead and its compounds: 4 votes
  8. UV absorbers and filters: 4 votes
  9. Diisocyanates: 3 votes
  10. Mycotoxins: 3 votes

Participants then had the possibility to discuss the 10 substances and groups in smaller groups, reflecting on the following questions:

  • What is the concern from a stakeholder perspective?
  • Which knowledge gaps should be filled?
  • How can HBM4EU address the concern?
  • What kind of outputs and results do you expect from HBM4EU?
  • How would you, as a stakeholder, use the results?

Results from groups discussions were captured in the presentation on the 10 substances prioritised for discussion.

Key messages emerging from the workshop are listed below.

  • Research on the prioritised substances under HBM4EU should explicitly address the knowledge gaps identified by stakeholders and policy makers.
  • Multiple exposure pathways and vulnerable population groups such as workers and children are of utmost concern.
  • Monitoring occupational exposure and comparing exposure levels against reference values for the general population can be used to improve worker protection.
  • The large group of nominated substances and substance groups necessitates a ranking procedure based on risk.
  • HBM4EU should develop, harmonise and validate analytical methods for prioritised substances.
  • HBM4EU should improve data quality, guarantee harmonized approaches to data production and analysis and generate reliable results.
  • Results should be fed into policy review processes for the different pieces of legislation on chemicals, and stimulate the better alignment of legislation, where relevant.
  • HBM4EU has a role in providing consumer advice and informing citizens about chemical safety.

The Report of the stakeholder workshop on prioritisation can be downloaded here.


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.