HBM4EU is bridging science and policy, exploring current questions to deliver answers that help policy makers protect human health. Our evidence will support policy makers at different stages of the policy cycle, including inception and design, implementation and evaluation.
Translating results into policy
For HBM4EU results to be used by policy makers, they must:
- answer specific policy-relevant questions;
- clearly communicate science; and
- be delivered at the right moment.
To meet these criteria, HBM4EU partners are actively identifying openings in regulatory processes on chemicals where we might feed in evidence, in collaboration with the EU Policy Board.
HBM4EU input to policy processes
Interpreting human biomonitoring results
It is crucial to the robust application of science in policy-making that the results of human biomonitoring activities are interpreted with a clear understanding of how aspects of study design, such as sample size, analytical methods and statistical tools, influence results.
HBM4EU is developing a process for the joint interpretation of HBM results between regulators, scientists and stakeholders, to foster consensus around results and their translation into targeted policy measures. HBM4EU partners have already engaged in dialogue with decision makers and stakeholders on how to interpret human biomonitoring results for use in policy-making, with a focus on phthalates and bisphenols.
Going forward, HBM4EU scientists stand ready to work in partnership with risk assessors and risk managers to ensure a robust and reliable interpretation and application of HBM4EU results. We are also developing tools to decision-makers to guide the interpretation of HBM results. Human biomonitoring guidance values have been consolidated by experts for DEHP for the general population and for workers, and for Hexamoll® DINCH® for the general population. More guidance values are in the pipeline.
HBM4EU has produced a report on current practice with the use of human biomonitoring in chemical risk assessment. The report identifies HBM as a tool to survey the real-life body burden of humans resulting from ‘total’ exposure to chemicals via different routes, which may be controlled under distinct legislative frameworks. The report presents examples of the advanced use of HBM and provides recommendations for the better inclusion of HBM in human risk assessment and health impact assessment.
Achieving impact with our messaging requires clear communication. We are working on ways to visualise evidence on human exposure to chemicals. This involves exploring options for an indicator on chemical exposure in the European population.
Buekers, J., David, M., et al. (2018). Development of Policy Relevant Human Biomonitoring Indicators for Chemical Exposure in the European Population. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(10), 2085.
Ganzleben, C., Antignac, J. P., et al. (2017). Human biomonitoring as a tool to support chemicals regulation in the European Union. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 220(2 Pt A), 94.
HBM4EU Priority Substance Groups
Selecting substances to be the subject of research activities under HBM4EU was a key step. To secure the legitimacy, credibility and societal relevance of our work, HBM4EU partners consulted policy makers, scientists and stakeholders when developing and implementing the strategy for the prioritisation of substances for monitoring and research activities. The process for the prioritisation of chemicals has been fully documented on the HBM4EU website, making the process accountable and transparent to external interested parties.
We have run two rounds of prioritisation, with the resulting two lists of HBM4EU priority substances shown below. Scoping documents are available for each substance group, with further information on hazards, exposure and legislative status, as well as relevant HBM4EU activities.
The list of HBM4EU priority substances that are the subject of research under HBM4EU includes a number of chemicals that are either recognised or suspected to show endocrine disrupting properties, including bisphenols, phthalates, per-and poly fluorinated compounds, and several flame retardants.
In parallel to the prioritisation process, we have also established a Rapid Response Mechanism. This mechanism allows policy makers to channel emerging needs for information to the HBM4EU partners. We are currently working on a request from the Directorate General for Health and Food safety for information on human exposure to copper.
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.