Chemicals / Health
Cooperation on human biomonitoring between German Environment Ministry and VCI continues to bear fruit
++ New analytical methods to be developed for 5 chemicals++ Detection methods for 14 substances already elaborated.
Since 2010 the German Ministry of the Environment (BMUB) and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) have been cooperating in the development of new methods for measuring chemicals in the human body. Up until now, 14 detection methods for industrial chemicals have already been elaborated; previously, it was not possible to detect these chemicals in the organism. Work is in progress on further 17 methods. Every year, a joint steering committee selects up to 5 new substances for which the methods development is launched.
In 2016, these are the flame retardant TDCP, the UV filter Uvinul A Plus, avobenzone which is used in many cosmetic products, dibutyl adipate (DBA; a PVC plasticizer and a skin care substance in cosmetics), and a fuel additive named α,α‘-(1-methylethylene-diimino)di-o-cresol.
The project is planned to stretch across 10 years (2010-2020). Detection methods are to be developed for the first time for up to 50 chemicals, driving forward human biomonitoring (HBM). Next, these new methods can be put into practice in the testing exercises at the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB; for finding out about time trends in exposures) and within the German Environmental Survey (GerES) by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). The study GerES V is currently determining representative data for the age group from 3 to 17 years.
In parallel to the above, the HBM Commission (an independent expert panel at the UBA) is deriving so-called HBM-I values for selected substances: These values enable a health evaluation of the obtained data. Where the new methods were already used in tests involving human specimens from the ESB, the measuring results were clearly below the HBM-I value. If an HBM-I value is exceeded, health effects cannot be ruled out according to the current state of scientific findings.
The new methods are validated by the independent organization Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). They are also published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, so that they are available worldwide. In this manner, the project bears fruit also beyond the borders of Germany. For example, with the help of the new methods now experts can measure the plasticizers DINCH and DEHTP or the fragrance lysmeral in the human organism.
There is great interest internationally in the new methods, even more so as they are developed for substances that might be increasingly taken up by the general population or that could be of special relevance to health. The strong interest also became evident at the International Conference on Human Biomonitoring in Berlin. This event was jointly organized by BMUB and UBA and made a platform for the presentation of existing results from the described cooperation. For example, Japan voiced interest in measuring individual substances in a huge birth cohort that would comprise 100,000 Japanese children.
The development of analytical methods is work- and cost-intensive, but these methods bring significant new findings on the real burdens of major industrial chemicals on the public at large. So far, it is all too often necessary to resort to model assumptions where health risks can be easily over- or underestimated.
- Publicaton on the cooperation between VCI and BMUB: „New human biomonitoring methods for chemicals of concern - the German approach to enhance relevance", published in„International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health" (Autoren: Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Ulrike Fiddicke, Gabriele Leng, Jürgen) Angerer, Birgit Wolz)
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