Hanna Tolonen – Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)

The benefits of combining HBM and health data – results from HBM4EU – 28 April – 2:35 pm CEST

Combining human biomonitoring (HBM) data with health data allows to study possible associations between environmental exposures and their health effects. It is important to have a wide information about health determinants, including environmental exposures and more traditional socio-demographic and biological determinates, to obtain a holistic understanding of the risks.

Cross-sectional HBM studies and health surveys use similar infrastructure and have same target group, general population or a specific population sub-group(s). Therefore, combining these two study types is technically possible and cost-effective. Combined surveys will provide wider information source, often larger sample size, use of already existing survey infrastructure, and better publicity.

In some countries, health data can also be obtained through linking HBM studies to administrative health registers such as hospitalization data or mortality data. This is a cost-effective way to collect health information with good coverage. This allows transfer of cross-sectional studies into cohorts with follow-up information on health outcomes.

Adjunct Professor (public health) Hanna Tolonen has a PhD in public health and epidemiology, MSc in Statistics, and degree on Specialist Qualification in Management. She is working as a Research Manager in the Department of Public Health and Welfare in the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). She is a vice-president of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) section on Public Health Monitoring and Reporting. She has worked over 20 years in the field of health information, especially on standardization of health examination surveys. In HBM4EU she is leading the work package on Linking HBM, health studies and registers and is a member of the Management Board and Ethics Board.



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.