Human biomonitoring studies gather important data for research that helps governments and policy-makers understand our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and manage the potential health risks caused by exposure to these chemicals in our environment.
The information that human biomonitoring programs collect can be used to:
- identify chemicals that are present in our bodies
- identify groups of people that have higher levels of exposure
- check if efforts to reduce exposure to certain chemicals are working
- identify areas for future research
Research shows that exposure to some chemicals can lead to cancer, birth defects, problems in a child’s development and heart and breathing problems. Some chemicals can also cause hormonal changes in your body that can lead to disease.
Biomonitoring studies can identify if:
- Strictly controlled or banned chemicals are still in our environment or in our bodies.
- Some chemicals are able to be passed from mother to child inside the womb and through breast milk.
- Vulnerable groups of people, such as children and pregnant women, are at risk of becoming ill from exposure to chemicals in the environment.
Informing decisions and further research
If a chemical is found in the body, it does not necessarily mean that it will cause a disease.
Tracking exposure over time through biomonitoring helps researchers and policy-makers:
- identify changes in exposure
- understand the link between exposure of certain chemicals and the development of disease
- decide on policies that are needed to better control exposures to certain chemicals