Further advances in human biomonitoring

Together, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB) and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) are developing new methods of measuring chemicals in the human body. The focus of this human biomonitoring is on substances which may have a higher absorption rate in the population, or may be of particular relevance to human health. Analysis methods for up to fifty such substances are to be developed by 2020. The BMUB and the VCI are cooperation partners in this project.

It will only be possible to accurately assess exposure of the population to the main industrial chemicals when analysis methods are available for as many chemical substances as possible. Up to now, all too often model assumptions have had to be used as a basis and these can easily lead to over- or underestimating health hazards. The Human Biomonitoring Commission, an independent group of experts at the Federal Environment Agency, assesses the toxicological and health impacts of the concentrations detected. Just because a substance is detected in the body does not necessarily mean this has any relevance for human health.

In cooperation with the VCI, each year new substances are selected for which detection methods for human biomonitoring are to be developed for the first time. For 2015 climbazole, octisalate, 7-hydroxycitronellal and tinuvin 328 have been selected. They are used in anti dandruff products, sunscreens, fragrances and as UV absorbers in plastics. Selection is based on recommendations by a high-level group of experts from science and research, industry and relevant authorities.

Since 2010 new detection methods have been developed for ten substances - DINCH, DPHP, MDI, HBCD, 4-nonylphenol, 4-tert-octylphenol, NMP, NEP, 2-MBT and 4 MBC. Work on methods for other substances is underway. The new methods of analysis are now being validated by the German Research Foundation, an independent body of experts. All the substances selected for the project are used in consumer goods, for instance as plasticisers, UV filters in cosmetics, solvents or flame retardants. The new analytical methods are now being applied in two screening measures - In the Federal Environment Agency's fifth German Environmental Survey 2014-2017 (GerES V) and on samples from the Environmental Specimen Bank. Initial results are expected to be available in 2018, after conclusion of the project. The VCI is responsible for developing the detection methods, with support and advice from the high-level group of experts referred to above. The BMUB is responsible for applying the methods, working in close cooperation with the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Scientific papers have already been published on some of the methods.


Human biomonitoring (HBM) provides reliable scientific data on exposure of the population to chemicals from consumer goods. Measurements are taken to ascertain whether and to what extent substances are absorbed by the human body, whether any population groups suffer particularly high exposure and whether provisions under chemicals legislation have achieved the desired decline in exposure rates.

13.08.2015 | Press release No. 200/15 | Chemical Safety