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Project Overview and Research & Training Objectives:
A-TEAM’s main research goal was to further understanding of how and to what extent consumer chemicals enter humans, and of how we can best monitor the presence of such chemicals in our indoor environment, diet, and bodies. A-TEAM's vision was that such enhanced understanding of the underpinning science will lead to more effective approaches to monitoring human exposure to chemicals within Europe, thereby improving assessment of risk associated both with recent and current-use consumer chemicals, as well as those under development, and leading ultimately to more sustainable approaches to the use of chemicals.

A-TEAM’s principal objectives were to provide robust scientific information that will allow better understanding of:
(1) how we can identify at an early stage, chemicals likely to accumulate in Europeans;
(2) how to monitor chemicals in our external environment in a way that best reflects what accumulates in the body;
(3) the relative importance of different exposure pathways to overall exposure for selected consumer chemicals of toxicological concern;
(4) how contact with chemicals in our external environment translates into their presence in our bodies and how best to monitor this presence

The aim of A-TEAM’s Training Programme was to increase the knowledge base and experience of a cohort of trainees (12 early stage researchers (ESRs) and 3 experienced researchers (ERs)) in the different research areas relevant to assessment of human exposure to consumer chemicals and to develop their transferable skills for future careers in the private sector, public sector, or the regulatory community. Our training vision was thus to develop a cohort of young scientists with the necessary depth and breadth of experience combined with the research and transferable skills required to communicate and work effectively across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries.

Summary of Work Conducted:
All trainees have undergone extensive training in both project-specific and complementary skills, both at their host organisations and at other partners during secondments. Project-specific research skills acquired by trainees include training in operation of environmental sampling and laboratory equipment, such as air samplers, in vitro biological assay techniques, and a variety of chromatographic-spectroscopic instruments. Trainees have gained experience of presenting their research results by active participation in a variety of national and international conferences, workshops, and symposia. This culminated in their collective organisation and implementation of the A-TEAM conference over 2 days in April 2016 in Birmingham, UK - see

In terms of network-level training, A-TEAM provided 12 ESRs and 3 ERs with 5 Advanced Training Courses (ATCs). These ATCs are as listed below:
1. Interdisciplinary Ways of Working: Challenges and Opportunities:
2. Techniques for Monitoring Organic Chemicals in the Environment:
3. Techniques for Assessment of Human Exposure to Organic Chemicals used in Consumer Goods
4. Modelling External and Internal Exposure to Organic Chemicals:
5. The Role of Science outside Academia: Communication with other Stakeholders

Main Results Achieved:
The main scientific achievements of the A-TEAM project are listed below:
• The successful completion on time of a major campaign to collect samples of indoor air, indoor dust, diet, as well as blood, hair, urine, and fingernails from 61 adult human volunteers in Oslo, Norway. These samples have been used to develop our understanding of the best ways via which human exposure to consumer chemicals may be monitored.
• Development of mathematical modelling and experimental approaches to screening newly-developed consumer chemicals for their potential for human exposure.
• The establishment and validation of the protocols and methods required for in vitro study of the human dermal uptake of consumer chemicals. The magnitude of this achievement is indicated by the fact that this is the first application of these in vitro experimental models to study human dermal uptake of consumer chemicals. The work conducted in A-TEAM has provided important insights into the importance of this hitherto understudied pathway of human exposure to chemical contaminants, in particular the role of dermal contact with goods and materials containing chemicals.
• The use of in vitro models to elucidate the human metabolism of phosphate flame retardants (PFRs). This has led to the identification of potentially suitable metabolites for use in future biomonitoring studies of PFRs.
• The development and validation of non-invasive approaches to human biomonitoring. This is important as a significant barrier to monitoring the presence of chemical contaminants in humans (especially young children) is the invasive nature of conventional techniques that require analysis of blood samples, which presents practical and ethical issues. Several A-TEAM fellows have explored the suitability of alternatives such as hair, nails, saliva and urine as alternatives to blood for chemical biomonitoring purposes. Particularly successful appears the use of urine, nails, and hair to monitor human exposure to plasticisers such as phthalate diesters and their replacements, along with PFRs where monitoring of PFR metabolites (see above) in urine appears promising.

To date, the results of A-TEAM's research activities have been disseminated to the scientific community via a total of 36 publications in peer-reviewed journals. A substantial additional number of such publications are anticipated over the coming 12-18 months. Dissemination also occurred via numerous presentations by A-TEAM fellows and their supervisors at national and international conferences and workshops. A particular highlight in this context was the A-TEAM conference organised by the Fellows in Birmingham, UK April 13-14 2016.

A-TEAM's results will benefit policy-makers by providing a sounder scientific basis on which human exposure to potentially harmful chemicals used in everyday applications may be monitored. This will have concomitant benefits for public health. A-TEAM's insights into the potential for using non-invasive matrices such as hair and nails (rather than blood) to monitor human exposure to chemicals will be of particular benefit as it opens up the possibility of easier and more ethical monitoring of exposure of young children. Industry benefits from A-TEAM's insights into how consumer chemicals transfer from the goods within which they are incorporated to humans, as such knowledge can facilitate design of products and chemicals such that such transfer is minimised or prevented entirely. An additional major impact of A-TEAM is its benefits for the future careers of its trainees. This has wider socioeconomic benefits as result of its contribution to human capital within Europe. The skills sets acquired by A-TEAM Fellows have not only enabled them to achieve the research objectives of their individual projects and of A-TEAM as a whole, but has equipped them with knowledge that they will be able to exploit throughout their careers. The consequence is that society will benefit far into the future from A-TEAM alumni in the area of chemicals exposure and risk assessment, and related areas.

In summary, as well as delivering a cohort of 15 highly-trained early career scientists, the scientific results of A-TEAM have furthered our understanding of how chemicals used in everyday consumer goods and materials, transfer into humans, and how we can most effectively and ethically monitor their presence in our bodies.

Further information:
More detail about the activities of A-TEAM may be obtained by contacting the co-ordinator Professor Stuart Harrad at the University of Birmingham, UK ( and/or by visiting the project Facebook page website