Federal Environment Ministry BMU and Chemical Industry Association VCI continue their cooperation in the field of human biomonitoring

Joint press release with the Verband der Chemischen Industrie e.V. (VCI) (Chemical Industry Association)

Joint press release with the Verband der Chemischen Industrie e.V. (VCI) (Chemical Industry Association)

Since 2010 the Federal Environment Ministry BMU and the German Chemical Industry Association VCI have been cooperating in a joint project to increase knowledge on substances that are taken up by the human body. Now, the cooperation partners have decided on five additional substances for which a measurement method is to be developed for the first time. Highly renowned experts from research, industry and relevant authorities advise BMU and VCI on the selection of substances.

The specific five substances are 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone, 2-mercaptobenzothiazole and diphenylmethane-4,4’-diisocyanate. They are used as UV filters in sunscreen products, as solubilising agents for lacquers and plastics, as components of vulcanisation accelerators for rubber products and tyres and form part of one component foams for fixing and insulating window and door frames.

The focus of the cooperation of the BMU and VCI on human biomonitoring is on substances which give rise to a potentially increased exposure of the population or which might be of special relevance to human health, but which up to now could not be measured in the human body. Analytical methods for up to fifty jointly selected substances or substance groups are to be developed in the next ten years; the methods will then be applied during examinations. The cooperation will first undergo a three year pilot phase for testing.

The VCI is in charge of the development of detection methods. Applying the methods in appropriate examinations will be the responsibility of the BMU which will cooperate closely on this with the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

For health related environmental protection human biomonitoring is a key information and monitoring instrument. The data thus obtained can serve as an early warning system for as yet unrecognized exposures. In order to determine whether the detection of a substance also means that it will have detrimental effects on human health a risk assessment has to be carried out which is also based on medical and toxicological findings. In addition, human biomonitoring also provides scientific data on whether bans or restrictions on substances of concern have actually led to a decrease in exposure.

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.

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.

18.08.2011 | Press release No. 104/11