HBM4EU will form a bridge between science and policy, ensuring that our research explores current policy questions and delivers answers that help policy makers to protect human health.
Policy makers, stakeholders and scientists will together shape the strategic direction of HBM4EU activities. This transparent and collaborative approach will ensure our research generates knowledge that addresses genuine societal concerns.
Knowledge will be actively and effectively communicated to policy makers, so that they might design targeted and effective policy measures to reduce human exposure to chemicals, as well as evaluting the effectiveness of existing policies.
Prioritization and input to the annual work plan
In developing priorities for the first annual work plan, the HBM4EU consortium implemented an exercise to prioritise substances for action, taking into account both national and EU level policy needs for knowledge on chemical exposure and health outcomes.
We are building on the experience gained with the first prioritisation exercise and refining our approach to increase transparency and make it open to stakeholders.
The first step in 2017 involves requesting input from EU policy makers, the HBM4EU National Hubs and the Stakeholder Forum regarding their needs for new knowledge on human exposure to chemicals and the resulting health impacts. Input includes nominating specific substances or groups of substances for monitoring and research, and may involve a focus on specific vulnerable groups or highly exposed populations.
This process provides the information basis for the second step, the prioritisation of substances. The Strategy for the prioritisation of substances is currently under development, and will set out the procedures by which substances will be identified for inclusion under HBM4EU. Recognising the importance of establishing a process that is transparent, accountable and legitimate, we are consulting stakeholders, policy makers and the HBM4EU National Hubs on the design of the strategy.
Two rounds of prioritisation will be undertaken during the project, from 2017 to 2018 and from 2019 to 2021.
In parallel to the prioritisation process, we are also establishing a Rapid Response Mechanism. This mechanism will allow policy makers to efficiently channel new and urgent needs for information to the HBM4EU partners.
HBM4EU results will provide scientific support to decision makers to better protect health of European citizens. Activities under this Work Package will enhance the interpretation of internal chemical exposure levels in terms of risks to health, and promote the use of human biomonitoring data in chemical risk assessment.
The results of research into health effects will be integrated with human biomonitoring data to derive new and consolidate existing health-based human biomonitoring guidance values at European level. Human biomonitoring data reflect aggregated exposures, and as such can reduce the uncertainties inherent in chemical risk assessment strategies. We will develop strategies for the use of human biomonitoring data in exposure assessments. Risk assessment experts from HBM4EU will closely interact with national and European risk assessment committees to ensure acceptability of the new strategies.
With the aim of addressing policy needs in a wider context, a multi-criteria decision tool will be developed to support the interpretation of results and their use in policy making. A participatory approach that captures the concerns of the scientific community, stakeholders and policy makers will be used to identify options for policy actions and measures to reduce exposure. The approach will be piloted at EU level and in three partner countries.
We will develop indicators of exposure to chemical pollutants based on human biomonitoring data. Such indicators can inform our understanding of how chemical internal exposure varies over time and space in the European population and shed light on possible implications for health.
Sustainability and capacity
This initiative will span over 5 years from 2017 to 2021. HBM4EU partners are dedicated to exploring options for a sustainable HBM4EU beyond 2021. In support of this goal, we will develop options for an operational architecture, consult a broad range of stakeholders regarding their priorities and investigate funding opportunities.
This will include an assessment of the possible political and institutional anchorage of such an initiative at EU and national levels, as well as logistical and financial aspects. We will collaborate with relevant international bodies and EU initiatives, and will reach out to all European countries.
The sustainability of the human biomonitoring initiative in Europe will depend on the successful achievement of the main objectives of the programme, namely:
• the establishment of a European human biomonitoring platform;
• the implementation of environment and health research studies; and
• the use of new knowledge generated under HBM4EU by policy makers.
Activities under this work package therefore depend on the successful implementation of the whole project. A list of performance indicators will be established against which to measure success. Effective collaboration with the National Hubs and the involvement of all partners countries are important conditions for success.
Sustainability will only be achieved with the support of political actors and stakeholders. In securing this support, we will interact closely with the work on prioritisation and the translation of results into policy. A dedicated HBM4EU Ambassador will actively engage with key stakeholders to promote the achievements of this initiative and galvanise political will.
We are now working towards understanding the longer-term needs and expectations of stakeholders and invite a broad range of stakeholders from national, EU and international institutions, non-governmental organisations representing environmental, health and consumer priorities, scientific and research bodies as well as trade unions and representatives of industry, to support us in planning for a sustainable future for Human Biomonitoring in Europe.