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Harmonized European human biomonitoring in small countries: Challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in Cyprus and Luxembourg from the DEMOCOPHES study

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Background: To advance human biomonitoring
(HBM) for policy support in Europe, a harmonized
approach was developed (COPHES project, FP7 2009-
2012) and evaluated in 17 countries (DEMOCOPHES
project, Life+, 2010-2012). Cyprus (CY) and Luxembourg
(LU) tested the hypothesis that the COPHES
European Protocol is applicable to small countries.Materials and methods: In 2011-12, the European Protocol
was adopted and tested by CY and LU for the harmonized
biomonitoring of 60 children and their mothers for
cadmium, phthalates and cotinine in urine and for
mercury in scalp hair in two sampling areas (urban, rural).
Results: Both small countries achieved the preset goals
for recruitment, sample collection and analysis, which
allowed for the first time the assessment of children’s
and mothers’ exposures to the selected chemicals in
comparison with other countries. Capacity building
was accomplished and communication actions were
particularly effective, with both countries taking advantage
of their small size to access participants, policy makers,
other stakeholders and the press. Time constrains and
requirements for capacity building were limiting factors.
Conclusion: The COPHES European Protocol for HBM
surveys is attainable in small countries. The following
elements are fundamental in the design of a harmonized
European HBM program, from the perspective of small
countries: (a) consultation with and active involvement
of the implementing countries, (b) flexibility for national
decisions, while not compromising harmonization, (c)
elaboration of standardized methods, procedures and
documents (d) quality assurance mechanisms, (e) means
of training and support.
Physical description
3 - 4 - 2015
30 - 4 - 2015
9 - 3 - 2015
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