≡ Menu

Which chemicals contaminate our bodies? The EU Biomonitoring initiative is trying to find out

On Monday 20th November CHEM Trust participated in a stakeholder workshop on the prioritisation of substances for a major European-wide research programme investigating which chemicals are contaminating our bodies. The European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) is a joint effort of 26 countries and the European Commission, co-funded by the EC research programme Horizon 2020.

Running from 2017 to 2021 the main aim of the initiative is to coordinate and advance the measurement of the presence of chemicals in the European population. HBM4EU is expected to provide better evidence of the actual exposure of citizens to chemicals and the possible health effects.

CHEM Trust is one of the selected stakeholder organisations of HBM4EU, and we are participating in discussions on the design of the research and the important question of what chemicals to look for. Unfortunately, the complexity of chemical analysis means that there is always a limit on how many chemicals can be investigated at one time, so deciding these priorities is very important. In order to achieve this the project is doing a multi-stage prioritisation process. The second priority list is expected in spring 2018.

Current priority chemicals

The current priority chemicals and groups of chemicals for the project include many chemicals that CHEM Trust has previously highlighted as a concern, e.g. in our CHEM Trust report `No brainer` on the impact of chemicals on childrem`s brain development. The full list is here:

  • Phthalates and DINCH
  • Bisphenols
  • Per and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS)
  • Flame retardants
  • Cadmium and chromium VI
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Aniline family
  • Chemical mixtures
  • Emerging substances

More information about the hazards, exposures, research gaps and policy needs for these chemicals can be found in the project’s comprehensive scoping document.

CHEM Trust’s proposals

All stakeholders were invited to nominate chemicals or group of chemicals as potential priorities for the next years of research in the project. For this second prioritisation round CHEM Trust proposed the following 5 substance groups (see our briefing “CHEM Trust priority substances for the EU Human Biomonitoring Initiative HBM4EU” for more details):

  1. Bisphenols
  2. Per and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS)
  3. Flame retardants
  4. UV filters (oxybenzones)
  5. Methoxycinnamates

Ninja Reineke, CHEM Trust’s senior policy advisor, who attended the meeting, said:

“CHEM Trust is happy to be involved in this important project. It’s an unfortunate reality that our bodies are contaminated by synthetic chemicals, and we need to know more about which chemicals are present and then act to control their use.

The main added value this project can bring to EU society is to provide data needed for new regulation to address threats to human health and our ecosystems.”