Harmonized human biomonitoring in European children, teenagers and adults: EU-wide exposure data of 11 chemical substance groups from the HBM4EU Aligned Studies (2014–2021)

Eva Govarts*, Liese Gilles, Laura Rodriguez Martin, Tiina Santonen, Petra Apel, Paula Alvito, Elena Anastasi, Helle Raun Andersen, Anna Maria Andersson, Lenka Andryskova, Jean Philippe Antignac, Brice Appenzeller, Fabio Barbone, Zohar Barnett-Itzhaki, Robert Barouki, Tamar Berman, Wieneke Bil, Teresa Borges, Jurgen Buekers, Ana Cañas-PortillaAdrian Covaci, Zsofia Csako, Elly Den Hond, Darina Dvorakova, Lucia Fabelova, Tony Fletcher, Hanne Frederiksen, Catherine Gabriel, Catherine Ganzleben, Thomas Göen, Thorhallur I. Halldorsson, Line S. Haug, Milena Horvat, Pasi Huuskonen, Medea Imboden, Marta Jagodic Hudobivnik, Beata Janasik, Natasa Janev Holcer, Spyros Karakitsios, Andromachi Katsonouri, Jana Klanova, Venetia Kokaraki, Tina Kold Jensen, Jani Koponen, Michelle Laeremans, Federica Laguzzi, Rosa Lange, Nora Lemke, Sanna Lignell, Anna Karin Lindroos, Joana Lobo Vicente, Mirjam Luijten, Konstantinos C. Makris, Darja Mazej, Lisa Melymuk, Matthieu Meslin, Hans Mol, Parisa Montazeri, Aline Murawski, Sónia Namorado, Lars Niemann, Stefanie Nübler, Baltazar Nunes, Kristin Olafsdottir, Lubica Palkovicova Murinova, Nafsika Papaioannou, Susana Pedraza-Diaz, Pavel Piler, Veronika Plichta, Michael Poteser, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Loïc Rambaud, Elke Rauscher-Gabernig, Katarina Rausova, Sylvie Remy, Margaux Riou, Valentina Rosolen, Christophe Rousselle, Maria Rüther, Denis Sarigiannis, Maria J. Silva, Zdenka Šlejkovec, Janja Snoj Tratnik, Anja Stajnko, Tamas Szigeti, José V. Tarazona, Cathrine Thomsen, Žiga Tkalec, Hanna Tolonen, Tomas Trnovec, Maria Uhl, An Van Nieuwenhuyse, Elsa Vasco, Veerle J. Verheyen, Susana Viegas, Anne Marie Vinggaard, Nina Vogel, Katrin Vorkamp, Wojciech Wasowicz, Till Weber, Sona Wimmerova, Marjolijn Woutersen, Philipp Zimmermann, Martin Zvonar, Holger Koch, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Marta Esteban López, Argelia Castaño, Lorraine Stewart, Ovnair Sepai, Greet Schoeters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


As one of the core elements of the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) a human biomonitoring (HBM) survey was conducted in 23 countries to generate EU-wide comparable HBM data. This survey has built on existing HBM capacity in Europe by aligning national or regional HBM studies, referred to as the HBM4EU Aligned Studies. The HBM4EU Aligned Studies included a total of 10,795 participants of three age groups: (i) 3,576 children aged 6–12 years, (ii) 3,117 teenagers aged 12–18 years and (iii) 4,102 young adults aged 20–39 years. The participants were recruited between 2014 and 2021 in 11–12 countries per age group, geographically distributed across Europe. Depending on the age group, internal exposure to phthalates and the substitute DINCH, halogenated and organophosphorus flame retardants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), cadmium, bisphenols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), arsenic species, acrylamide, mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol (total DON)), benzophenones and selected pesticides was assessed by measuring substance specific biomarkers subjected to stringent quality control programs for chemical analysis. For substance groups analyzed in different age groups higher average exposure levels were observed in the youngest age group, i.e., phthalates/DINCH in children versus teenagers, acrylamide and pesticides in children versus adults, benzophenones in teenagers versus adults. Many biomarkers in teenagers and adults varied significantly according to educational attainment, with higher exposure levels of bisphenols, phthalates, benzophenones, PAHs and acrylamide in participants (from households) with lower educational attainment, while teenagers from households with higher educational attainment have higher exposure levels for PFASs and arsenic. In children, a social gradient was only observed for the non-specific pyrethroid metabolite 3-PBA and di-isodecyl phthalate (DiDP), with higher levels in children from households with higher educational attainment. Geographical variations were seen for all exposure biomarkers. For 15 biomarkers, the available health-based HBM guidance values were exceeded with highest exceedance rates for toxicologically relevant arsenic in teenagers (40%), 3-PBA in children (36%), and between 11 and 14% for total DON, Σ (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS), bisphenol S and cadmium. The infrastructure and harmonized approach succeeded in obtaining comparable European wide internal exposure data for a prioritized set of 11 chemical groups. These data serve as a reference for comparison at the global level, provide a baseline to compare the efficacy of the European Commission's chemical strategy for sustainability and will give leverage to national policy makers for the implementation of targeted measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114119
Pages (from-to)114119
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Early online date9 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Adults
  • Children
  • Exposure biomarkers
  • HBM4EU
  • Human biomonitoring (HBM)
  • Teenagers


Dive into the research topics of 'Harmonized human biomonitoring in European children, teenagers and adults: EU-wide exposure data of 11 chemical substance groups from the HBM4EU Aligned Studies (2014–2021)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this