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Journal Articles International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health Year : 2023

Mixture risk assessment and human biomonitoring: Lessons learnt from HBM4EU


Unintentional chemical mixtures that are present in the environment are of societal concern as the (environmental) chemicals contained therein, either singly or in combination, may possess properties that are hazardous (toxic) for human health. The current regulatory practice, however, is still largely based on evaluating single chemical substances one-by-one. Over the years various research efforts have delivered tools and approaches for risk assessment of chemical mixtures, but many of these were not considered sufficiently mature for regulatory implementation. This is (partly) due to mixture risk assessment (MRA) being very complex because of the large number of chemicals present in the environment. A key element in risk assessment is information on actual exposures in the population of interest. To date, information on actual personal (internal) mixture exposures is largely absent, severely limiting MRA. The use of human biomonitoring data may improve this situation. Therefore, we investigated within the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) various approaches to assess combined exposures and MRA. Based on the insights and lessons learnt in the context of the HBM4EU project, conclusions as well as recommendations for policy development regarding chemical mixtures and for further research were drafted. These conclusions and recommendations relate to both exposure and adverse health effects in humans. The recommendations were discussed with stakeholders in a workshop held in October 2021. There was considerable support and agreement with the spirit, scope and intention of the draft recommendations. Here we describe the lessons learnt on mixture risk assessment through the HBM4EU project and present the final recommendations. Overall, HBM4EU results demonstrated the potential of human biomonitoring as an instrument to obtain insight into the real-life mixtures the human population is exposed to. Also, HBM4EU results demonstrated that chemical mixtures are of public health concern. In the majority of the cases, it was possible to identify risk drivers, i.e. chemicals that contribute more strongly than others to the health risk. The novel approaches to identify co-occurrence patterns demonstrated clusters of co-occurring chemicals; chemicals in these mixture clusters are regulated independently under different legislative frameworks. Moreover, HBM4EU data and expertise can support a science-based derivation of a Mixture Assessment Factor and gauge potential impacts on the population's exposure to chemicals. While further expansion is needed on various aspects of the mixture activities carried out in the context of HBM4EU, application of available methodologies for mixture risk assessment should already be implemented to the degree possible.
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hal-04382988 , version 1 (09-01-2024)


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Mirjam Luijten, Jelle Vlaanderen, Andreas Kortenkamp, Jean-Philippe Antignac, Robert Barouki, et al.. Mixture risk assessment and human biomonitoring: Lessons learnt from HBM4EU. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2023, 249, pp.114135. ⟨10.1016/j.ijheh.2023.114135⟩. ⟨hal-04382988⟩
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