Image: ©Rijksoverheid

Monitoring programme for exposure to chemicals

The exposure of Dutch citizens to chemicals is estimated instead of monitored. Consequently, the government has insufficient knowledge of this exposure and lacks data that are necessary to verify and improve the efficacy of chemical management policies. The Health Council of the Netherlands therefore recommends that the government invests in a structural biomonitoring programme.

To help estimate our exposure to chemicals, there are structural monitoring programmes that measure chemicals in for instance air, (drinking) water, and consumer products. If and to what extent chemicals actually end up in the human body can only be determined through biomonitoring. However, in the Netherlands, biomonitoring is only done sporadically, often in response to public concern about a specific exposure. Consequently, there is a lack of important data that are necessary to verify and improve the efficacy of government policies.

The council recommends setting up a biomonitoring programme consisting of regular, recurring monitoring cycles that measure selected chemicals in representative groups of voluntary participants. This will generate data on the exposure of citizens to different sources of chemicals at the same time, and help to identify at-risk groups within the population. The government will be able to follow trends in the exposure of citizens and gain insight in the exposure levels of citizens living in areas of concern. The biomonitoring programme allows the government to better protect citizens against harmful exposure.