HBM and policy
The need for a European HBM framework is now widely recognised.
The HBM and policy team worked towards an improved use of HBM as tool in European and national environment and health policies. It collected information about priorities and needs and established a draft concept for a sustainable framework for HBM.
Key needs and existing practice, expectations, benefits, operational issues and remaining questions related to the use of HBM as policy tool were collected via a questionnaire from competent authorities and other stakeholders and via literature search. The information collected has been compiled in a report which looks at the potential use of HBM in risk assessment, amongst other issues.
For further information, exchange, promotion of a common understanding and preparation of a concept for a sustainable HBM framework in Europe, the following stakeholder workshops were organised:
- An EU Decision Makers Meeting on the Use of Human Biomonitoring (HBM) for policy making that took place in Munich on 4 May 2011.
- A European Authorities Scientific Expert Meeting on the Use of Human Biomonitoring as a policy tool in mid & long-term perspective, held in Brussels on 2 February 2012.
- An international conference From HUMAN BIOMONITORING to European and national policies: meeting the MS representatives, which was organised in Paris at the Ministry of Health on 17 September 2012.
The programmes, abstracts and speakers' presentations are available for download here.
In addition our team has focused on:
- Bilateral contacts and information exchange with Member States and Commission services
- Participation in public consultations related to the drafting of the 7th Environmental Action Plan.
- Collaboration with other research projects (e.g. EHES, ERA ENVHEALTH)
- Preparation of a session at the final COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project meeting in Cyprus.
Major outcomes of the project work:
It is widely accepted that HBM can be used to support policy making, to evaluate policy effectiveness and to promote more comprehensive health impact assessments of policy options. Improved use of monitoring data including better access for secondary use and better comparability is an important objective in European environmental and health policies. Comparable monitoring data at European scale are considered as key parameter for an effective use of HBM as policy tool.
Integrating HBM as a tool in new EU policy is considered necessary, and identifying its most effective use is seen as a priority.
In this context, the proposal for a concept for a sustainable HBM framework in Europe is being discussed with interest in the EU and Member States, and first steps are being taken in terms of data sharing and regular information exchange.
The proposed concept aims at integrating HBM in public health or environment & health surveillance, comparable to the approaches followed e.g. in the USA and Canada.
The core pillars of the framework are:
- An EU HBM suggestion and coordination platform for guidance and decision making
- A selection procedure for the identification and prioritisation of substances and method
development linked to existing EU law and upcoming threats
- An HBM implementation & enforcement network embedded in Member States.
The starting point could be a data storage & exchange system and a systematic information exchange (platform) between involved authorities, developing into an open-ended decision and management structure over time.
The platform shall enable information exchange and decision making between competent authorities of the European Union, stakeholders and scientists. Existing legislation and conventions could serve as model. A participatory approach in decision making involving social scientists and civil society should be considered in order to ensure high acceptability.
The enforcement network should have mutual exchange and close links to an EU guidance unit for protocol development, quality assurance, data management, data interpretation, communication and translation into policy. Clear organisation from the national to the local level, as well as systematic involvement of the national contact person (NFP) in the EU expert network is crucial.