Environment Ministry and Chemical Industry Association: Start of cooperation in human biomonitoring

Joint press realease with German Chemical Industry Association (VCI)

Joint press realease with German Chemical Industry Association (VCI)

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) have started their cooperation in human biomonitoring, in order to improve the knowledge of substances taken up by the human organism. The focus is on substances that might involve increasing exposure of the public at large or can have special relevance to human health without, however, being measurable in the human body with currently available methods. Against this backdrop, there are plans to develop over the next 10 years adequate analytical methods for up to 50 jointly selected substances or substance groups and to apply newly developed methods in relevant studies. Joint activities begin with a three-year trial and pilot phase.

The VCI is in charge of the development of detection methods, which the BMU will put to the test in suitable studies. In these efforts, the BMU will closely work with the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

Human biomonitoring is a central information and control instrument in health-related environmental protection: data from human biomonitoring can serve as early warning systems for formerly unnoticed environmental burdens. Risk assessments, which use e.g. medical and toxicological findings, are needed to examine whether or not the detection of substances comes with strains on human health. Furthermore, human biomonitoring provides sound scientific data on whether bans or restrictions of substances of concern have really reduced burdens on the population.

Human biomonitoring is a major instrument of prevention in occupational health and safety in the chemical industry. The VCI has been working in this field for many years and now contributes these experiences to joint activities with the BMU. With its commitment, the chemical industry underlines the great importance of product safety within the chemical industry's "Responsible Care" programme.

As the initial step, the VCI and the BMU have identified the first five substances for the development of measuring methods. These substances are used as plasticizers, flame retardants, plastic stabilizers and additives in propellants and lubricants – namely: "DINCH, DPHP, HBCDD, 2,2‘,6,6‘-Tetra-tert-butyl-4,4‘-methylendiphenol and Dodecylphenol".

Developing new analytical methods is both work- and cost-intensive. But if this can be done over the next years for up to 50 substances, important new findings will give a more realistic picture of burdens from major industrial chemicals. At present, it is all too often necessary to resort to models and estimates, which easily over- or underestimate health risks.

14.05.2010 | Press release No. 068/10