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Monitoring exposure to consumer chemicals

Environmental pollutants enter the human body and can cause long-term morbidities or disease. Emerging evidence indicates that chemicals used in everyday consumer goods and materials also transfer into human bodies with yet unknown consequences.

Fundamental Research

Biomonitoring of chemical exposure is vital for improving risk assessment and employing more sustainable approaches for chemicals’ usage. Presently, we lack the understanding of how and to what extent consumer chemicals or chemicals in our external environment enter our bodies. The EU-funded A-TEAM training network trained a cohort of early-stage researchers in areas relevant to assessment of human exposure to consumer chemicals. The overarching goal was to provide the necessary scientific information to facilitate monitoring of the presence of such chemicals in our indoor environment, diet, and bodies. Trainees obtained a plethora of scientific skills including handling and analysis of environmental samples, in vitro biological assay techniques, as well as operation of laboratory equipment and chromatographic-spectroscopic instruments. They also took advanced training courses on techniques for monitoring organic chemicals in the environment, assessing human exposure to consumer chemicals and modelling this exposure. From a scientific perspective, researchers developed mathematical modelling and experimental approaches to screen newly-developed consumer chemicals for effect on humans. A significant achievement was the generation of an in vitro model for studying consumer chemical uptake by the human dermis. This provided hitherto unknown information about the importance of dermal contact with goods and materials containing chemicals. Significant effort went towards the development of novel approaches for human biomonitoring. Conventional techniques are usually invasive and their application presents with practical and ethical limitations. Scientists validated urine, nails, and hair as promising alternatives to blood for monitoring human exposure to specific chemicals. Taken together, the findings of the A-TEAM study provide a sound scientific basis for monitoring human exposure to potentially harmful chemicals used in everyday applications. A more thorough understanding of the mechanism by which chemicals transfer from goods to humans will help design products that minimise this uptake, with obvious health benefits.


Consumer chemicals, biomonitoring, A-TEAM, modelling, dermis

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