Title of Presentation
The German Environmental Specimen Bank: Archiving Human Samples for Environmental Policy Making since 1985 – Lessons Learned from National and International Human Biomonitoring Activities
André Conrad is environmental engineer and senior scientist at the German Environment Agency (UBA). Since 2013 he is deputy head of the UBA section Toxicology, Health-related Environmental Monitoring. His main responsibilities are statistical data evaluation as well as management and scientific attendance of various research projects. Currently, he is senior research associate for the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB), and co-principal investigator of the German Environmental Survey (GerES). His main research interest is the further improvement of human biomonitoring for environmental health risk quantification and assessment. André Conrad is co-speaker of the Working Group on Environmental Medicine, Exposure and Risk Assessment of the German Epidemiological Society, the German Society for Medical Informatics, Biometrics, and Epidemiology and the German Society for Social Medicine and Prevention. In 2015, he joined the Environment and Child Health International Birth Cohort Group (ECHIBCG). André Conrad is also member of the HBM4EU consortium aiming for a European Joint Programme for monitoring and scientific assessment of human exposures to chemicals and potential health impacts in Europe.
Human biomonitoring (HBM) is a powerful tool in policy making. In this talk, advantages of analysing pollutants in cryo-archived human samples for improving environmental health are demonstrated by way of example of the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB).
Since 1985, the ESB regularly collects human urine and blood samples which are analyzed for a set of substances before being biobanked for later retrospective analysis of changes in the human exposure to emerging contaminants over time. Each year samples from 480 adults (20-29 years) from four cities are collected. Individual physiological parameters (e. g. urinary creatinine) and anthropometric parameters (e. g. body weight) are recorded for each sample donor. Additionally, donors fill in questionnaires on food consumptions and other exposure-relevant behaviours.
Current results of the ESB demonstrate i. a. an increasing trend in Glyphosate exposure and a strong decrease in exposure to Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS). Increasing volumes of 24 h-urine samples and donors’ body-weight are important observations to be considered in exposure time trend evaluation. ESB data allows for analysing associations between HBM data, environmental pollutant levels, anthropometric/physiological parameters, and individual behaviours. Results support the further improvement of HBM study designs and comparability of results. Therefore, ESB experiences are a valuable contribution to a coherent HBM approach in Europe.
The ESB is a key component of the German Health-related Environmental Monitoring Program and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and coordinated by the German Environment Agency (UBA).