Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale


In our daily lives, we are constantly exposed to chemical substances. Thanks to human biomonitoring (HBM), we can assess whether and to what extent these substances enter our bodies. By measuring the concentration of chemicals in body fluids or tissues, biomonitoring can provide valuable information on environmental health effects and, in some cases, help address potential health risks.

After 3 years of work, COPHES and the feasibility study DEMOCOPHES have been able to demonstrate that a more coordinated and harmonised approach to HBM in Europe is possible and can become an important tool to monitor the exposure of Europeans to chemical substances and address potential health effects that may derive from it.

In 2009, European scientists and stakeholders from 35 institutions in 27 European countries began work towards setting up a European-wide human biomonitoring framework. Funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, COPHES developed harmonised protocols allowing the collection of comparable HBM data throughout Europe. Its twin project, the feasibility study DEMOCOPHES, was launched one year later to test this hypothesis and to win information on levels and major determinants of exposure in Europe, as well as to establish protocols for the translation of HBM results into concrete policy recommendations.

The study measured biomarkers for mercury, cadmium, phthalates, bisphenol A as well as environmental tobacco smoke in human hair and urine from around 120 mother-child pairs in the 17 participating countries, in total almost 4000 samples. This is the first time that we have information on the distribution of chemicals in 17 EU countries which are comparable between the countries and with international data.

Starting / Ending Date

2009 – 2012

Project Coordinator

BiPRO GmbH, Munich – Germany


Funder: European Coordination Action on Human Biomonitoring – Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale – FP7

Staff from Department of Public Health

Project Partners

  • Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Austria
  • Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium
  • Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium
  • CEFIC, Belgium
  • Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Belgium
  • Federal Office of Public Health, Switzerland
  • Ministry of Health represented by State General Laboratory (SGL), Cyprus
  • National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Czech Republic
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (DGUV), Germany
  • Umweltbundesamt (UBA), Germany
  • National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEH), Hungary
  • University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark
  • Health Protection Agency, UK
  • National Institute for Health Development (NIHD), Estonia
  • Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), Spain
  • National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland
  • Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS), France
  • National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF), Greece
  • Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health (IMROH), Croatia
  • Health Service Executive (HSE), Ireland
  • Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Italy
  • Vytautas Magnus University (VDU), Lithuania
  • Centre de Recherche Public – Gabriel Lippmann (CRP-GL), Luxembourg
  • Environmental Health Sciences International (EHSI), Netherlands
  • National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Netherlands
  • National Institute of Public Health Norway (NIPH-NO)
  • Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine (NIOM), Poland
  • Institute of Preventive Medicine, Lisbon Faculty of Medicine (AIDFM / IMP), Portugal
  • Environmental Health Center (EHC), Romania
  • Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI), Slovenia
  • Karolinska Institutet (KI-IMM), Sweden
  • Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic (UVZ SR)
  • BiPRO GmbH, Munich, Germany
  • FPS Health, Food chain safety and environment, Belgium
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium