Scientists ramp up monitoring of chemicals in people’s bodies
European scientists are joining forces to find out more about the impact of common chemicals on human health, with the aim of providing solid evidence of risk that can feed into new regulations and policies.
Every day we are exposed to a different of chemicals from different as diverse as cars, food, clothing, paints and smartphones. Globally, 4 million tonnes of chemicals are produced every year, but how much we know about their effects on our health varies from substance to substance.Now, 107 organizations from 26 countries have come together to form the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU), with the aim of answering questions in chemical risk assessment to help policymakers,to protect human health.Human biomonitoring involves assessing people’s exposure to chemicals by measuring the amount of natural and synthetic compounds in tissues such as hair and nails, or body fluids such as blood, urine and breast milk. When combined with information about people’s lifestyles and medical histories, it can help uncover information about what chemicals people are exposed to, where they come from and what effects they might have.While this is done already at national level, the idea of HBM4EU is to join up research across the continent, allowing it to be shared between different countries and fed into policy decisions. The project will also carry out new studies into the effects of certain chemicals on people’s health.Speaking at the launch of HBM4EU, which took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 December, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: ‘Chemicals are all around us, in every part of our lives. Stories about chemicals in our houses appear in newspapers and on the internet every day. And the evidence behind these stories, most of the time, is vague or not there. And that is something that we have to fight against. Scientist said the main objective of the initiative was to provide new knowledge by promoting data sharing between countries, developing joint guidelines and standards for how biomonitoring is carried out, and providing access to a network of qualified labs. Scientistsaid that the evidence produced by the project would feed into policy.
‘(In Europe) we have an amazing regulation for chemicals, I would say it is the world’s best. But that regulation cannot be static. Especially in the world we live in, (it) has to continuously take on board scientific evidence. We need that better evidence about people’s exposure to different chemicals in their daily lives to ensure that we do our best to protect public health.’