Marieta Fernandez – University of Granada (UGR), Spain

Biomarkers of effect: implementation in occupational studies as a proof of concept  – 28 April – 12:50 pm CEST

Demonstration of causal associations between chemical exposures and adverse health outcomes is highly relevant for environmental epidemiology. To show the added value of complementing exposure biomarkers with effect biomarkers, biomarkers of biological response were implemented in the three EU-wide human biomonitoring (HBM) studies under HBM4EU, focusing on hexavalent chromium, diisocyanates and E-waste management. A structured approach, based on review of published studies, was followed to disclose the most mechanistic-based and informative effect biomarkers. Results were obtained for well characterised (e.g., oxidative stress, genetic damage), and promising new biomarkers (e.g., metabolomics, epigenetic biomarkers). This proof-of-principle is significantly contributing to the early identification of work-related health hazards, higher risk groups and to improve chemical risk assessment. The implementation of effect biomarkers in the HBM4EU aligned studies will additionally prove their value as early, predictive indicators of adverse effects from general population exposure to chemicals, also supporting the implementation of more effective preventive interventions.

Mariana Fernández holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Granada (UGR, 2001); expert in Epidemiology and Clinical Research by the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP) (EASP, 2004) and Master in Radiology and Physical Medicine from the University of Granada (UGR, 2007).

Prof. Fernández leads a multidisciplinary research group of experts in human toxicology, clinicians and epidemiologists, which pays special attention to the development of biomarkers of human exposure to endocrine disruptors and the study of their effects on human health. Her activity is reflected in more than 190 scientific publications, and in the continuous participation, from 1994 to the present, in numerous European, national and regional research grants. She has also written 25 book chapters (11 international books), and tutored 15 doctoral theses. WP14 lead: Effect Biomarkers of the European project HBM4EU (Human Exposure Biomonitoring Initiative).


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.