Review of the state of the art of human biomonitoring for chemical substances and its application to human exposure assessment for food safety

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Human biomonitoring (HBM) measures the levels of substances in body fluids and tissues. Many countries have conducted HBM studies, yet little is known about its application towards chemical risk assessment, particularly in relation to food safety. Therefore a literature search was performed in several databases and conference proceedings for 2002 – 2014. Definitions of HBM and biomarkers, HBM techniques and requirements, and the possible application to the different steps of risk assessment were described. The usefulness of HBM for exposure assessment of chemical substances from food source, and for the implementation of a systematic Post Market Monitoring (PMM) approach for regulated chemical substances was evaluated. An inventory of HBM programmes provides detailed information about study design, analytical methods, reference values (RV) and biomarkers used. Environmental monitoring and associations between HBM values and food, as well as coverage of substances and remaining deficits are highlighted. The review of study results provides information on emerging chemicals, higher exposed and particularly vulnerable populations. Conclusions: HBM can bring added value for chemical risk assessment in food safety areas (namely exposure assessment), and for the implementation of a systematic PMM approach. But further work needs to be done to improve usability. Major deficits are the lack of HBM guidance values on a considerable number of substance groups, for which health based guidance values (HBGVs) have been developed, insufficient knowledge regarding exposure sources, and incomplete dietary intake assessment. Recommendations: We recommend to foster development of HBM based guidance values and validated analytical methods/BMs, stronger inclusion of substances of interest for EFSA in European surveys, expanded monitoring of highly exposed and vulnerable subgroups, uptake of EFSA guidance concerning dietary intake assessment, as well as biobanking, surveillance synergies and targeted research, and an EU wide collaborative approach to support the future use of HBM in PMM.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
Number of pages321
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
SeriesEFSA Supporting Publications

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