New detection methods for everyday chemicals

BMUB and chemicals association continue cooperation on human biomonitoring

BMUB and chemicals association continue cooperation on human biomonitoring

Detection of chemicals in everyday products, such as flame retardants and plasticisers, is being further improved. The Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency are working together with the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) to develop the necessary methods. These three organisations have been cooperating together in this field since 2010. The new methods are validated by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Up to 5 important chemicals are selected every year for which new detection methods are developed. The chemicals selected for 2016 are the flame retardant TCDP, the UV filter Uvinul A Plus, avobenzone (used in many cosmetic products), the plasticiser dibutyl adipate (DBA, used in PVC and in cosmetics) and the fuel additive named a,a’-(1-methylethylene-diimino)di-o-cresol.
The new methods are validated by the DFG and also published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, thus making them available worldwide.

In parallel, the Human Biomonitoring Commission (HBM), an independent expert body at the Federal Environment Agency, derives human biomonitoring values (HBM values) for the selected chemicals. These values enable health and toxicological evaluations of obtained data regarding levels of exposure.

With the help of the methods developed as part of the BMUB-UBA-VCI cooperation, experts can now measure the plasticisers DINCH and DEHTP and the fragrance Lysmeral in the human organism. In tests involving human specimens in which the new methods were already used, the levels of exposure found were significantly lower than the HBM-I value. According to current scientific knowledge, if a HBM-I value is exceeded, detrimental effects on health cannot be ruled out.

Developing analytical methods is both work- and cost-intensive, but it enables significant new findings to be made on real exposure of the public to major industrial chemicals. Up to now, it has been necessary much too often to resort to model assumptions, which can easily over - or underestimate health risks.

There is a high level of international interest in the new methods, especially as they are being developed for substances which may be increasingly used by the general public or that could be particularly relevant for health. This interest was evident at the second International Conference on Human Biomonitoring in April 2016, where the existing results of the BMUB-UBA-VCI cooperation were presented. At the conference, Japan voiced its interest in measuring individual substances in a large birth cohort that would comprise 100,000 Japanese children.

More information

The Federal Environment Ministry and the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) have been cooperating on the development of new methods for measuring chemicals in the human body since 2010. To date, 14 detection methods have already been developed for industrial chemicals which could not previously be measured in the human organism. Work is currently underway on 17 further methods. Every year, a joint steering committee of this project selects up to 5 new substances for which new methods are then developed.

01.09.2016 | Press release No. 205/16 | Chemical Safety