The Use of Biomonitoring Data in Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessments

  • Publication Date :
  • Publication Type : Journal Article
  • Author(s) : Albertini R, Bird M, Doerrer N, Needham L, Robison S, Sheldon L, Zenick H
  • Journal Name : Environmental Health Perspectives

Environmental Health Perspectives. 2006;114(11):1755-1762

Abstract: Biomonitoring uses analytic methods that permit the accurate measurement of low levels of environmental chemicals in human tissues. However, depending on the intended use, biomonitoring, like all exposure tools, may not be a stand-alone exposure assessment tool for some of its environmental public health uses. Although biomonitoring data demonstrate that many environmental chemicals are absorbed in human tissues, uncertainty exists regarding if and at what concentrations many of these chemicals cause adverse health outcomes. Moreover, without exposure pathway information, it is difficult to relate biomonitoring results to sources and routes of exposure and develop effective health risk management strategies. In September 2004, the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and International Council of Chemical Associations co-sponsored the International Biomonitoring Workshop, which explored the processes and information needed for placing biomonitoring data into perspective for risk assessment purposes, with special emphasis on integrating biomarker measurements of exposure, internal dose, and potential health outcome. Scientists from international governments, academia, and industry recommended criteria for applying biomonitoring data for various uses. Six case studies, which are part of this mini-monograph, were examined: inorganic arsenic, methyl eugenol, organophosphorus pesticides, perfluorooctanesulfonate, phthalates, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Based on the workshop and follow-up discussions, this overview article summarizes lessons learned, identifies data gaps, outlines research needs, and offers guidance for designing and conducting biomonitoring studies, as well as interpreting biomonitoring data in the context of risk assessment and risk management.

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