Human biomonitoring of environmental chemicals: Current use and future directions
Cheryl Khoury, Kate Werry
Chemicals are everywhere – in air, soil, water, products and food – and can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. Human biomonitoring evaluates the actual levels of chemicals or their breakdown products in the human body. These measurements can be done in blood, urine or other tissues and fluids, such as hair, nails and human milk. Human biomonitoring data can be used in by public health professionals, researchers, risk assessors and risk managers to evaluate exposures and develop policies to protect the health of Canadians.
For more than fifteen years, Health Canada has led a strong, multi-faceted human biomonitoring program that includes coordinating studies, conducting research, and leveraging expertise of scientists in Canada and internationally. An opportunity to shape the future of this program is arising from changes in legislation, the evolution of the field, and new priorities.
In this presentation we describe the value of human biomonitoring data and how they can be used. We also introduce our vision for the future of human biomonitoring in Canada. We describe the initiatives that Health Canada could undertake to improve our understanding of the long-term impacts of environmental chemicals on the health of all Canadians. This includes specific emphasis on national and disproportionately impacted populations, biomarkers of exposure and effect, data analysis, and tools to disseminate findings. This seminar is intended to provide a basis for discussion on the future direction of the program.
Cheryl Khoury has worked at Health Canada for over 20 years. She has experience in the risk assessment chemicals and air pollutants, as well as human biomonitoring. Currently, she manages a team of scientists who are interested in the exposure and health effects of environmental chemicals in people living in Canada who may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals.
Kate Werry is a senior evaluator in the National Biomonitoring Section in the Population Studies Division of Health Canada. She has 20 years of experience investigating environmental chemical exposures. Currently, she works on the human biomonitoring component of Canadian Health Measures Survey with a focus on the communication and dissemination of results.