Human biomonitoring data enables evidence-informed policy to reduce internal exposure to persistent organic compounds: A case study

Ann Colles, Dries Coertjens, Bert Morrens, Elly Den Hond, Melissa Paulussen, Liesbeth Bruckers, Eva Govarts, Adrian Covaci, Gudrun Koppen, Kim Croes, Vera Nelen, Nicolas Van Larebeke, Stefaan De Henauw, Tine Fierens, Griet Van Gestel, Hana Chovanova, Maja Mampaey, Karen Van Campenhout, Ilse Loots, Willy BaeyensGreet Schoeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Human biomonitoring (HBM) monitors levels of environmental pollutants in human samples, which often is a topic of concern for residents near industrially contaminated sites (ICSs). Around an ICS area in Menen (Belgium), including a (former) municipal waste incinerator and a metal recovery plant, increasing environmental concentrations of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were observed, causing growing concern among residents and authorities. The local community succeeded in convincing the responsible authorities to investigate the problem and offer research funding. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were measured in two consecutive HBM studies (2002–2006 and 2010–2011), in the context of the Flemish Environment and Health Study (FLEHS), as well as in soil and locally produced food. Meanwhile, local authorities discouraged consumption of locally produced food in a delineated area of higher exposure risk. Ultimately, HBM and environmental data enabled tailored dietary recommendations. This article demonstrates the usefulness of HBM in documenting the body burdens of residents near the ICS, identifying exposure routes, evaluating remediating actions and providing information for tailored policy strategies aiding to further exposure reduction. It also highlights the role of the local stakeholders as an example of community-based participatory research and how such an approach can create societal support for research and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5559
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Dioxins
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Participation
  • PCBs
  • POPs
  • Science-to-policy

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