Federal Environment Ministry and VCI continue successful cooperation
Since 2010, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the German Chemical Industry (VCI) have been working together on the further development of human biomonitoring. This joint project aims at developing new methods to detect and measure chemicals in the human body. Since this is a complex and lengthy process, the cooperation has now been extended by another five years to 2025. The project partners want to develop methods to measure for the first time up to 50 chemicals which can enter the human body through food, air, cosmetics or consumer products. Doing so will make it possible to reliably measure the levels of these substances in the human body.
As in the years before, relevant substances have been selected this year with the help of a high-level group of experts from research, industry and scientific agencies. These substances are the biocidal substances piperonyl butoxide (PBO), 5-chloro-2-(4-chlorophenoxy)phenol (Diclosan) and Fipronil, and 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol (2,4-DTBP) which is a degradation product of a frequently used additive for food contact materials. In 2020, three additional substances will be selected, to reach the target of 50 substances as planned.
Methods have already been developed for 22 substances. The analytical methods have been and will be published in recognised, international scientific journals thus making them available and usable worldwide. Work is currently underway on 21 further substances. For four of the selected substances, the method development process could not be successfully concluded because of analytical difficulties. Due to the complexity of the task, methods will not be fully developed by the end of 2020. Both sides, BMU and VCI, have thus agreed to extend their successful cooperation.
The cooperation between the BMU and VCI focusses on chemicals for which no suitable analytical methods are available so far, but which the general population might be exposed to or which might have an impact on human health. The reliable measurement of a detectable quantity in the human body is an essential pre-requisite for evaluating whether the levels might pose a risk to human health. VCI has taken on responsibility for developing the detection methods. The application of these methods in appropriate studies is the responsibility of the BMU, which works on this in close cooperation with the German Environment Agency (UBA). Testing is conducted, for example, in the German Environmental Survey (GerES) and in the Federal Environmental Specimen Bank (UPB).
Progress made in the BMU/VCI project was part of the reason why Germany has been asked to coordinate an EU-wide programme on human-biomonitoring with the acronym HBM4EUUnder this initiative, the European Commission supplies a co-fund of 50 million euros between 2017 and 2021 to bring together and advance human-biomonitoring activities in the EU member states and a couple of associated countries. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is leading and successfully managing this complex project and is also incorporating the results of the BMU/VCI cooperation into this work.