In 2004, the Commission launched the Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 which recognises the value of HBM and the relevance and importance of coordinating HBM programmes in Europe.
In some countries, HBM is already used extensively at national and regional level, but the results cannot be easily compared across projects and programmes. Improved comparability would allow for a clearer understanding of exposure of the population to pollutants across Europe and would help identify potential high-exposure populations and relations to possible sources, thus supporting the development of better regulations and preventive actions.
DEMOCOPHES aims at testing “the hypothesis that HBM can be performed in a coherent and harmonised manner throughout Europe, by means of commonly developed protocols, strategies and scientific tools, ensuring reliable and comparable data, whilst also leading to a more effective use of resources”.
More specifically, the DEMOCOPHES project in the participating countries wants to:
- Test the COPHES developed guidelines, protocols and technical procedures for communication, fieldwork, chemical analyses, data handling and processing;
- Gain practical knowledge of accessing study populations, recruitment procedures and response rates;
- Improve the overall performance of national teams and laboratories involved;
- Obtain comparable data on the distribution of specific biomarkers among the defined population in relation to cultural and lifestyle factors through statistical analysis and interpretation;
- Develop practices and guidelines for effective communication and awareness-raising towards participants, stakeholders, wider public and policy-makers.
In December 2009, the COPHES project started to set up the scientific framework for a European project implementing action 3 of the Action Plan, which entails the development of a coherent approach to HBM in Europe.
In September 2010, 21 countries launched the two-year DEMOCOPHES project to demonstrate that a European common approach to HBM is feasible, and to generate, for the first time, comparable European HBM data.