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Cerna M.,National Institute of Public Health | Cerna M.,Charles University | Maly M.,National Institute of Public Health | Rudnai P.,National Institute of Environmental Health | And 24 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2015

Objective: Phthalates and their metabolites are classified as endocrine modulators. They affect the hormonal balance in both children and adults.The aim of this publication was to compare the urinary levels of phthalate metabolites in selected populations of the Czech Republic (CZ), Slovakia (SK), and Hungary (HU) in relation to the sources of phthalate exposure identified by means of questionnaire (personal care products, floor and wall coverings, plastic toys, and some kinds of foods). Methods: Data were obtained through the twin projects COPHES (COnsortium to Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) and DEMOCOPHES (DEMOnstration of a study to COordinate and Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) from 2009 to 2012. The target groups were children aged 6-11 years old and their mothers up to 45 years of age. The metabolites of phthalates (monomethyl phthalate (MMP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monobenzyl phthalate (MBzP), mono-cyclohexyl phthalate (MCHP), mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (5OH-MEHP), and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (5OXO-MEHP)) were analysed in first morning urine samples. After enzymatic glucuronide cleavage, the urine sample analyses were performed using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS) in one laboratory that qualified in the External Quality Assessment exercises organised by COPHES. Results: Significant differences in phthalate exposure between countries were revealed for children only but not for mothers. The concentrations of 5-OH-MEHP (P<0.001), 5OXO-MEHP (P<0.001), and their sum (P<0.001) were the highest in SK compared to CZ and HU. The health based guidance values for the sum of DEHP metabolites 5-OH MEHP and 5OXO-MEHP established by the German Commission for biomonitoring of 300. μg/L and 500 μg/L for women adults and children, respectively, were only exceeded in one mother and three boys. A significant difference was also found for MEP (P=0.0149), with the highest concentrations detected in HU. In all countries, the increasing frequency of using personal care products significantly elevated the concentrations of MEP. Conclusion: Some differences were observed between countries in the concentrations of individual urinary phthalate metabolites in children. However, the questionnaire results give no direct explanation for the differences between the countries except the variation in using personal care products. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source

Castano A.,Institute Salud Carlos III ISCIII | Cutanda F.,Institute Salud Carlos III ISCIII | Esteban M.,Institute Salud Carlos III ISCIII | Part P.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | And 54 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2015

The toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) in humans is well established and the main source of exposure is via the consumption of large marine fish and mammals. Of particular concern are the potential neurodevelopmental effects of early life exposure to low-levels of MeHg. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women, children and women of childbearing age are, as far as possible, protected from MeHg exposure.Within the European project DEMOCOPHES, we have analyzed mercury (Hg) in hair in 1799 mother-child pairs from 17 European countries using a strictly harmonized protocol for mercury analysis. Parallel, harmonized questionnaires on dietary habits provided information on consumption patterns of fish and marine products. After hierarchical cluster analysis of consumption habits of the mother-child pairs, the DEMOCOPHES cohort can be classified into two branches of approximately similar size: one with high fish consumption (H) and another with low consumption (L). All countries have representatives in both branches, but Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Sweden have twice as many or more mother-child pairs in H than in L. For Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia the situation is the opposite, with more representatives in L than H.There is a strong correlation (r=0.72) in hair mercury concentration between the mother and child in the same family, which indicates that they have a similar exposure situation. The clustering of mother-child pairs on basis of their fish consumption revealed some interesting patterns. One is that for the same sea fish consumption, other food items of marine origin, like seafood products or shellfish, contribute significantly to the mercury levels in hair. We conclude that additional studies are needed to assess and quantify exposure to mercury from seafood products, in particular. The cluster analysis also showed that 95% of mothers who consume once per week fish only, and no other marine products, have mercury levels 0.55. μg/g. Thus, the 95th percentile of the distribution in this group is only around half the US-EPA recommended threshold of 1. μg/g mercury in hair. Consumption of freshwater fish played a minor role in contributing to mercury exposure in the studied cohort.The DEMOCOPHES data shows that there are significant differences in MeHg exposure across the EU and that exposure is highly correlated with consumption of fish and marine products. Fish and marine products are key components of a healthy human diet and are important both traditionally and culturally in many parts of Europe. Therefore, the communication of the potential risks of mercury exposure needs to be carefully balanced to take into account traditional and cultural values as well as the potential health benefits from fish consumption. European harmonized human biomonitoring programs provide an additional dimension to national HMB programs and can assist national authorities to tailor mitigation and adaptation strategies (dietary advice, risk communication, etc.) to their country's specific requirements. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Schindler B.K.,Ruhr University Bochum | Schindler B.K.,PROOF ACS GmbH | Esteban M.,Institute of Health Carlos III ISCIII | Koch H.M.,Ruhr University Bochum | And 48 more authors.
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health | Year: 2014

COPHES/DEMOCOPHES has its origins in the European Environment and Health Action Plan of 2004 to "develop a coherent approach on human biomonitoring (HBM) in Europe". Within this twin-project it was targeted to collect specimens from 120 mother-child-pairs in each of the 17 participating European countries. These specimens were investigated for six biomarkers (mercury in hair; creatinine, cotinine, cadmium, phthalate metabolites and bisphenol A in urine). The results for mercury in hair are described in a separate paper. Each participating member state was requested to contract laboratories, for capacity building reasons ideally within its borders, carrying out the chemical analyses. To ensure comparability of analytical data a Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) was established which provided the participating laboratories with standard operating procedures (SOP) and with control material. This material was specially prepared from native, non-spiked, pooled urine samples and was tested for homogeneity and stability. Four external quality assessment exercises were carried out. Highly esteemed laboratories from all over the world served as reference laboratories. Web conferences after each external quality assessment exercise functioned as a new and effective tool to improve analytical performance, to build capacity and to educate less experienced laboratories. Of the 38 laboratories participating in the quality assurance exercises 14 laboratories qualified for cadmium, 14 for creatinine, 9 for cotinine, 7 for phthalate metabolites and 5 for bisphenol A in urine. In the last of the four external quality assessment exercises the laboratories that qualified for DEMOCOPHES performed the determinations in urine with relative standard deviations (low/high concentration) of 18.0/2.1% for cotinine, 14.8/5.1% for cadmium, 4.7/3.4% for creatinine. Relative standard deviations for the newly emerging biomarkers were higher, with values between 13.5 and 20.5% for bisphenol A and between 18.9 and 45.3% for the phthalate metabolites. Plausibility control of the HBM results of all participating countries disclosed analytical shortcomings in the determination of Cd when using certain ICP/MS methods. Results were corrected by reanalyzes. The COPHES/DEMOCOPHES project for the first time succeeded in performing a harmonized pan-European HBM project. All data raised have to be regarded as utmost reliable according to the highest international state of the art, since highly renowned laboratories functioned as reference laboratories. The procedure described here, that has shown its success, can be used as a blueprint for future transnational, multicentre HBM projects. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH. Source

Smolders R.,Flemish Institute for Technological Research | Den Hond E.,Flemish Institute for Technological Research | Koppen G.,Flemish Institute for Technological Research | Govarts E.,Flemish Institute for Technological Research | And 44 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2015

In 2011 and 2012, the COPHES/DEMOCOPHES twin projects performed the first ever harmonized human biomonitoring survey in 17 European countries. In more than 1800 mother-child pairs, individual lifestyle data were collected and cadmium, cotinine and certain phthalate metabolites were measured in urine. Total mercury was determined in hair samples. While the main goal of the COPHES/DEMOCOPHES twin projects was to develop and test harmonized protocols and procedures, the goal of the current paper is to investigate whether the observed differences in biomarker values among the countries implementing DEMOCOPHES can be interpreted using information from external databases on environmental quality and lifestyle.In general, 13 countries having implemented DEMOCOPHES provided high-quality data from external sources that were relevant for interpretation purposes. However, some data were not available for reporting or were not in line with predefined specifications. Therefore, only part of the external information could be included in the statistical analyses. Nonetheless, there was a highly significant correlation between national levels of fish consumption and mercury in hair, the strength of antismoking legislation was significantly related to urinary cotinine levels, and we were able to show indications that also urinary cadmium levels were associated with environmental quality and food quality. These results again show the potential of biomonitoring data to provide added value for (the evaluation of) evidence-informed policy making. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source

Casteleyn L.,Catholic University of Leuven | Dumez B.,Catholic University of Leuven | Becker K.,Federal Environment Agency UBA | Kolossa-Gehring M.,Federal Environment Agency UBA | And 42 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2015

In 2004 the European Commission and Member States initiated activities towards a harmonized approach for Human Biomonitoring surveys throughout Europe. The main objective was to sustain environmental health policy by building a coherent and sustainable framework and by increasing the comparability of data across countries. A pilot study to test common guidelines for setting up surveys was considered a key step in this process. Through a bottom-up approach that included all stakeholders, a joint study protocol was elaborated.From September 2011 till February 2012, 17 European countries collected data from 1844 mother-child pairs in the frame of DEMOnstration of a study to COordinate and Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale (DEMOCOPHES).11http://www.eu-hbm.info/democophes (last accessed October 15 2014). Mercury in hair and urinary cadmium and cotinine were selected as biomarkers of exposure covered by sufficient analytical experience. Phthalate metabolites and Bisphenol A in urine were added to take into account increasing public and political awareness for emerging types of contaminants and to test less advanced markers/markers covered by less analytical experience. Extensive efforts towards chemo-analytical comparability were included.The pilot study showed that common approaches can be found in a context of considerable differences with respect to experience and expertize, socio-cultural background, economic situation and national priorities. It also evidenced that comparable Human Biomonitoring results can be obtained in such context. A European network was built, exchanging information, expertize and experiences, and providing training on all aspects of a survey. A key challenge was finding the right balance between a rigid structure allowing maximal comparability and a flexible approach increasing feasibility and capacity building. Next steps in European harmonization in Human Biomonitoring surveys include the establishment of a joint process for prioritization of substances to cover and biomarkers to develop, linking biomonitoring surveys with health examination surveys and with research, and coping with the diverse implementations of EU regulations and international guidelines with respect to ethics and privacy. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source

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