Human biomonitoring pilot study DEMOCOPHES in Germany: Contribution to a harmonized European approach

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Gerda Schwedler, Margarete Seiwert, Ulrike Fiddicke, Sissy Ißleb, Jürgen Hölzer, Julia Nendza, Michael Wilhelm, Jürgen Wittsiepe, Holger M. Koch, Birgit K. Schindler, Thomas Göen, Jörg Hildebrand, Reinhard Joas, Anke Joas, Ludwine Casteleyn, Jürgen Angerer, Argelia Castano, Marta Esteban, Greet Schoeters, Elly Den Hond & 5 others Ovnair Sepai, Karen Exley, Louis Bloemen, Lisbeth E. Knudsen, Marike Kolossa-Gehring

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an effective tool to assess human exposure to environmental pollutants, but comparable HBM data in Europe are lacking. In order to expedite harmonization of HBM studies on a European scale, the twin projects COPHES (Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale) and DEMOCOPHES (Demonstration of a study to Coordinate and Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale) were formed, comprising 35 partners from 27 European countries.
In COPHES a research scheme and guidelines were developed to exemplarily measure in a pilot study mercury in hair, cadmium, cotinine and several phthalate metabolites in urine of 6–11 year old children and their mothers in an urban and a rural region. Seventeen European countries simultaneously conducted this cross-sectional DEMOCOPHES feasibility study.
The German study population was taken in the city of Bochum and in the Higher Sauerland District, comprising 120 mother-child pairs. In the present paper features of the study implementation are presented. German exposure concentrations of the pollutants are reported and compared with European average concentrations from DEMOCOPHES and with those measured in the representative German Environmental Survey (GerES IV).
German DEMOCOPHES concentrations for mercury and cotinine were lower than the European average. However, 47% of the children were still exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) outside their home, which gives further potential for enhancing protection of children from ETS.
Compared with samples from the other European countries German participating children had lower concentrations of the phthalate metabolites MEP and of the sum of 3 DEHP-metabolites (MEHP, 5OH-MEHP and 5oxo-MEHP), about the same concentrations of the phthalate metabolites MBzP and MiBP and higher concentrations of the phthalate metabolite MnBP. 2.5% of the German children had concentrations of the sum of 4 DEHP-metabolites and 4.2% had concentrations of MnBP that exceeded health based guidance values, indicating reasons for concern.
Continuous HBM is necessary to track changes of pollutant exposure over time. Therefore Germany will continue to cooperate on the harmonisation of European human biomonitoring to support the chemicals regulation with the best possible exposure data to protect Europe’s people against environmental health risks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Volume220
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)686-696
Number of pages11
ISSN1438-4639
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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