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Health

Our work centers around protecting the public against environmental health hazards. We conduct experimental research and also commission research with the goal of gaining insight into the origin and scope of environmental degradation that could potentially affect human health. These efforts are largely driven by an interdisciplinary approach involving collaboration between experts in the fields of hygiene, medicine, the natural sciences, and epidemiology. These researchers analyze the impact of environmental pollutants on the human body, and in doing so combine this knowledge with data on water, soil and air pollution.

This approach seeks to shed light on the extent to which human beings are affected by environmental contaminants. These experts investigate the health risks entailed by exposure to such contaminants by collaboratively sifting through and evaluating data from the fields of human biomonitoring, environmental medicine, toxicology, and microbiology. A prime example of this interdisciplinary approach are the health issues that arise when people spend time indoors (indoor air quality). Another key issue is the impact of noise on human health. The UBA also works on the following ...

... Development and standardization of assay methodologies for chemical and microbiological contaminants in waterbodies and indoor air, and the related issue of quality assurance.

... Gathering data on and assessing human exposure to chemical, physical and microbiological environmental contaminants.

... Environmental hygiene issues, which are crucially important in built-up areas.

... Health related environmental monitoring through our Kinder-Umwelt-Survey (“Children and the environment survey”) and the human specimen bank

... Bathing water hygiene, including elaboration of a national bathing water report for the EU.

... The health aspects of EU directives concerning air and bathing water quality.

... Guidelines for indoor air quality, together with a health oriented assessment of construction-product emissions.

... International cooperative efforts such as the work of the WHO Collaborating Center for Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Control concerning outdoor and indoor air quality in Europe.

The outcomes of our work find their way into environmental hygiene practice and are constantly used as a basis for the elaboration of various standards and regulations in Germany and elsewhere. The UBA is also actively involved in the Aktionsprogramm Umwelt und Gesundheit (APUG; Environmental and Health Action Program), which is being conducted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Ministry of Health.

2nd International Conference on Human Biomonitoring: Results

participants of the conference in a lecture hall

Which pollutants are people exposed to nowadays and which have diminished as a result of environmental legislation? This was one of the topics more than 300 experts from 33 countries discussed on the 2nd International Conference on Human Biomonitoring in April 2016 in Berlin. The presentations, the conference proceeding and impressions from the conference are found on the conference website. read more

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Environmental medicine

A blood sample is taken from someones arm.

The environmental medicine discipline aims to prevent the occurrence of environmental complaints and diseases in people. The cause of suffering is not always the same. Diagnosis and treatment often require cross-disciplinary cooperation and experience. read more

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2nd International Conference on Human Biomonitoring, Berlin 2016

Logo: Human Bio Monitoring with a pictogram of the Brandenburger Tor and the logos of the Bundesumweltministerium and the Umweltbundesamt

Science and policy for a healthy future – this is the slogan of the International Conference on Human Biomonitoring taking place for the second time in Berlin, Germany. Experts from the fields of science, politics, authorities, industry and associations are invited to discuss aspects of human biomonitoring for science as well as for environmental policy. read more

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Nanomaterial

white aerosol can sprays in front of black background

Nanotechnology deals with the production and application of processes and nanomaterials composed of structurally definable particles on a scale of 100 nanometres (1 nm = 10-9 m) or less in at least one dimension; in other words, more than 1,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. At this scale physical and chemical properties of materials change, and this change can be applied in a variet... read more

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Formaldehyde

Gronspanplatten gestapelt

Formaldehyde may be contained in wood-based materials, e.g. for construction and furniture, as a constituent of adhesives, and is considered to be carcinogenic. Here are answers to key questions from the perspective of indoor air hygiene. read more

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Indoor air hygiene

livingroom with armchairs, dining table, carpet, lamps, pictures and potted plants

People in developed countries spend the majority of their lives indoors, on average about two thirds in their home. However, the quality of indoor air is not always beneficial to human health. read more

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Background paper “Pharmaceuticals in the Environment”

Tabletten werden aus Behältnis geschüttet

How do pharmaceuticals get into the environment? Can residues of pharmaceuticals in water and soil harm plants, animals or even human health? What is being done to prevent this, and what can I do? The Federal Environment Agency’s background paper, which is now also available in English, sheds light on these and other questions surrounding the topic of pharmaceuticals in the environment. read more

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The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment