Andromachi Katsonouri – Head, Human Biomonitoring and Control of Industrial Products Laboratory, Cyprus
Mother’s exposure to mercury – 28 April – 12:25 pm CEST
HBM4EU-MOM – intervene to control prenatal exposure to mercury using biomonitoring and fish consumption advice in Southern Europe and the Artic
Pregnant women are vulnerable with regards to exposure to mercury, a potent developmental neurotoxicant. In Europe, the primary source of exposure to mercury relates to fish consumption, but at the same time, fish provides essential nutrients for optimal foetal brain and eye development. Suitable dietary advice for pregnancy is very important, yet, many European countries do not have official guidelines. Even where such guidelines exist, they are not effectively communicated to pregnant women in an appropriate way. To address this gap, the HBM4EU-MOM study (“Methylmercury-contrOl in European expectant Mothers through suitable dietary advice for pregnancy”) is implemented in five countries with high fish consumption (Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain), with the participation of ~650 pregnant women. Preliminary results confirm geographic variability of mercury exposures, associated with fish consumption patterns. Many pregnant women consume fish without being aware of specific guidelines and several exceeded the current health-based guidance values. The impact of providing dietary advice aimed at reducing mercury exposure during pregnancy, is currently under evaluation. HBM4EU-MOM results will feed into European policies for public health protection.
Dr. Andromachi Katsonouri is the head of the Human Biomonitoring Laboratory and Control of Consumer Products Laboratory at the State General Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Cyprus. She has been involved with the efforts to harmonize and advance the use of human biomonitoring as a policy support tool in Europe since 2004. Under the frame of the European Human Biomonitoring initiative, HBM4EU, she is the chemical group leader for mercury, task leader for communication with participants and the National Hub Contact Point for Cyprus. She also designed and coordinates the ongoing HBM4EU-MOM study, which investigated prenatal exposures to mercury in five countries and fish consumption advice to pregnant women for mercury control. She was responsible for the implementation in Cyprus of the DEMOCOPHES harmonized European HBM study and was the chair of an international conference under the frame of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2012, for the first public announcement of the results.
Andromachi is also engaged with the official governmental monitoring and control programs for the chemical safety of consumer products. She is a member of ECHA’s Working Group for Analytical Methods for REACH and served as Head of the Ecotoxicology Laboratory (2007-11) and Deputy Head of the Environmental Chemistry II Laboratory (2004-07) at her institute.
Before joining the public sector, Andromachi was at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cyprus. She was a Fulbright Scholar in the USA and holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the School of Chemical Sciences of the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. She did her post-doctoral trainings at the University of Gothenberg and Stockholm University in Sweden. She is the recipient of several academic awards and recognitions.
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.