Human Biomonitoring Commission (HBM Commission)

A rubber glove coated hand removes a test tube out of a  test tube rack.Click to enlarge
The commission advises the Federal Environment Agency in questions of human biomonitoring.
Source: angellodeco / Fotolia.com

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an important tool in environmental medicine to assess and evaluate the level of internal exposure of the general population, population groups and individuals to environmental toxins.

Principle considerations

The mandate of the “HBM Commission” of the German Federal Environment Agency is to advice the president and staff of the agency on all HBM related issues.

The members of the HBM Commission  are scientists, experts from Federal Government and German States (Länder) authorities, universities, public health institutes and clinical institutions, who are appointed due to their expertise by the president of the Federal Environment Agency for 3 years in each case (at last in 2016). In addition to the regular members, the HBM Commission has permanent guests, representing the Working Group of the Health Ministries of the States (AOLG), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment as well as staff members of the Federal Environment Agency. If necessary the HBM Commission invites further guests as experts on specific topics.

As basis for its work, the HBM Commission defined the term "human biomonitoring" and  described the possibilities as well as the requirements of HBM. This requirements include aside from sound chemical-analysis also a careful collection of the human samples and a thorough documentation of the test persons information.

To achieve a harmonized assessment of humans internal exposure to pollutants, the HBM Commission determines guidance values (reference and HBM values) for selected substances according to defined criteria. The procedure for the guidance value derivation is laid down in a monograph about the individual chemical substance and is published as statement of the HBM Commission . The monographs contain furthermore information on the use, occurrence and distribution of the relevant chemical substance in the environment, the pathways of human intake, human toxicokinetics and internal exposure as well as health relevance.

A short version of the particular HBM value derivation can be taken from the fact sheet. The deduction of HBM-values on the basis of the Canadian BE values (Biomonitoring Equivalents) is documented solely as fact sheet. An overview in table form about the reference values and the HBM values can be found on this page, right side under links.

The HBM Commission takes also a stand on HBM issues currently discussed in the public or among experts.

Current Human Biomonitoring (HBM) values. last  update June 2012
Current Human Biomonitoring (HBM) values for blood and/or urine
Source: Umweltbundesamt hbm-werte_engl_stand_2017_02_06_2.pdf