Biomonitoring Lab

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Biomonitoring Laboratory - Developing Capabilities for Analyzing Environmental Pollutants in Human Biosamples

Following an open Request for Proposals in 2016, which were reviewed by an international panel of experts, EHF established the first National Human Biomonitoring Laboratory in Israel in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The Human Biomonitoring Laboratory, which is part of the National Public Health Laboratory, began operation in 2018 and offers services to researchers, physicians and professionals in government ministries. The method for measuring cotinine (nicotine metabolite) in urine has already been developed and methods for measurement of biomarkers of exposure to heavy metals and pesticides are currently being developed.

In order to fully understand the extent to which people are exposed to environmental pollutants we not only need information about the levels of pollution in the environment, but also about the levels of pollution in people. Analyzing environmental pollutants in human biological samples (biomonitoring) can be informative in many ways.  This includes the assessment of individual exposure to environmental chemicals, the identification of changes at the cellular or molecular level before a clinical diagnosis, the determination of permissible exposure levels of the general population, the comparison of chemical exposure levels among different populations, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing public exposure to certain chemicals. Such data can help not only in setting priorities for improving policy but also have been shown to be effective in raising public awareness. National biomonitoring programs have been implemented in many countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Belgium and Germany. Similar to most European countries, there is no legislation in Israel that requires biomonitoring in the general population but there have been a number of biomonitoring studies that have been carried out in recent years.  In 2016 the first government biomonitoring survey was conducted by the Ministry of Health as part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey (MABAT).

Developing local capabilities to measure environmental pollutants in human biosamples will not only provide information on exposure levels of the Israeli population, but will also reduce the dependence of those conducting biomonitoring studies on the costly analyses performed in laboratories abroad. Development of these capabilities is accompanied by an International Scientific Advisory Committee, including:

Dr. Antonia Calafat, Chief of the Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch at the Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, USA

Professor Thomas Göen, Director of Laboratory, Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (IPASUM), Erlangen, Germany

Dr. Holger Koch, Scientific Head of the Human Biomonitoring Laboratories at the Institute for Prevention and Occupational Medicine (IPA) of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) Institute of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany


Scientific Advisory Committee’s Visit

The first visit of the Scientific Advisory Committee intended to evaluate the progress of the National Public Health Laboratory’s work to develop abilities to analyze environmental pollutants in human biosamples took place during February, 2019.
The Committee visited the National Public Health Laboratory’s facilities and met with the lab’s personnel. As part of the visit a workshop on biomonitoring entitled “Biomonitoring Workshop – Local and International Overview” was held. Participants in the workshop included the Committee members as well as professionals in the field of biomonitoring from Israel.
For further details on the National Laboratory:

Dr. Efrat Rorman – Head of the Laboratory
69 Ben Zvi  St., Tel Aviv
Phone: 03-5158686  Fax: 03-6826996