Biomonitoring: A Review of EU and US Studies, Public Health Policy and Chemical Regulation

January 24, 2013
11:00 am US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Speaker Slides

Dr. Mortensen: CDC's National Biomonitoring Program (PDF)

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In late 2012, the European Union completed its first pilot biomonitoring study, which tested the blood and urine of 4000 mothers and children in 17 EU countries for biomarkers of several chemicals of concern. The success of this first study is fueling plans to continue biomonitoring on the EU level.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Environmental Health/National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) have conducted ongoing assessments of the US population’s exposures to environmental chemicals since 1999 and have recently issued an update for the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which included results from 2003-2004, as well as data from 1999-2000 and 2001-2002.

This CHE call featured overviews of each program with a focus on how biomonitoring data from each program have informed public health policy and regulation.

Featured Speakers

Dominique Aerts is coordinator of DEMOCOPHES at the Belgian Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment. Since 1998 she has been working at several levels on the development and implementation of the Belgian National Environment and Health Action Plan, in strong collaboration with other authorities in the field. From 2002 until mid 2006 she initiated and led the Environment and Health team at the Environment Administration in the Ministry of the Flemish Community, increasing research for policy and supervising the Flemish Human Biomonitoring Programme. From mid 2006 until 2010 she was manager of the science-policy interface at the Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forest. She obtained her master’s degree in engineering in agricultural and applied biological sciences at the University of Leuven in 1987 and worked for 11 years in and for Latin America with a Belgian nongovernmental organization for development aid (ACT, now TRIAS).

Dr. Ludwine Casteleyn, project leader for the COPHES/DEMOCOPHES (Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European SCALE; Demonstration of a Study to Coordinate and Perform a Human Biomonitoring Study on a European Scale) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

Dr. Mary Ellen Mortensen is the senior medical toxicologist in the Division of Laboratory Sciences at the National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she serves as an expert in pediatrics and medical toxicology, primarily focusing on human exposures to environmental chemicals and toxic substances. A major aspect of her duties involves work on CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. She serves as one of CDC’s representatives to the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the National Children’s Study (NCS), an observational longitudinal study that will enroll and follow a nationally representative sample of approximately 100,000 US children, on whom environmental exposure and other information will be gathered.


Lisette Van Vliet, PhD, senior policy adviser, Chemicals and Chronic Disease Prevention, Health and Environment Alliance, Brussels, Belgium. Dr. Van Vilet covers REACH and other EU chemicals legislation, focusing on endocrine disruptors, phthalates such as DEHP, and mercury. She joined the Health and Environment Alliance in 2005, initially working jointly with the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) and Health Care Without Harm Europe.

Julia Brody, PhD, executive director of the Silent Spring Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Brody is a leader in research on breast cancer and the environment and in community-based research and public engagement in science. Brody’s current research focuses on methods for reporting to people on their own exposures to hormone disruptors and other emerging contaminants when the health effects are uncertain. 

The call was moderated by Sharyle Patton, director of Commonweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center.