Last changed: 12/06/12
Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an important tool in environmental medicine to assess and evaluate of the level of internal exposure of the general population, population groups and individuals to environmental toxins.
In 1992, the German Human Biomonitoring Commission was established as a joint activity of the Federal Health Office (Bundesgesundheitsamt), represented by its Institute for Water, Soil and Air Hygiene WaBoLu), and the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt). The goal is to clarify fundamental and practical issues related to HBM. In 1994 WaBoLu became part of the Federal Environment Agency. Consequently, since then the HBM Commission was run exclusively by the Federal Environment Agency. The Commission’s mandate is to support the Federal Environment Agency in its work by providing experts advice
The commission members appointed every three years (last in 2010). The members represent scientific authorities at the level of Federal Government and German States (Länder), universities, public health institutes and clinical institutions. In addition to regular members, the Commission invites permanent guests, representing the Working Group of the Health Ministries of the Länder (AOLG), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security, Robert Koch Institute, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and staff members of the Federal Environment Agency, and advisory guests, i.e. experts who give advise on specific issues.
As a basis for its work, the Commission has defined the term "human biomonitoring" and described the possibilities of HBM. In addition to the sound use of chemical-analysis, HBM also includes minimum requirements that need to be followed inter alia a careful sampling and documentation of information.
To achieve a harmonised assessment of internal exposure to substances in environmental medicine, the Commission has developed criteria for the derivation of different guidance values: reference and HBM values. Based on these criterias, the Commission draws up monographs on individual substances and derives reference and human biomonitoring (HBM) values if the data base for a pollutant is sufficient to do so. The monographs contain information on the following aspects: occurrence, use and distribution in the environment; pathways of intake and toxicokinetics; indications as to possible exposure related factors; internal exposure; and health relevance. This information serves as a basis to derive the reference and HBM-values.
Up to now, the Commission has derived and updated HBM-values for cadmium, mercury, thallium, PCP, DEHP, bisphenol A and PCB in body liquids (urine and blood).
In addition, it has established reference values
In addition to these activities, the Commission comments on current HBM-related topics currently discussed among specialists in the field of environmental medicine.
Up to now, position papers have been published on the following subjects: