Introduction

The main environmental problem targeted by CROME-LIFE is the assessment of the impact on human health due to exposure to chemical agents originating either from environmental contamination (air, soil, water), or from consumer products (food contact materials, construction materials, cosmetics, clothes, etc.) through multiple routes, namely inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact in five distinct areas of southern Europe (Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Spain).

The pollutants which will be studied in CROME-LIFE may affect human health in different ways:

  • Exposure to metals such as Hg and Pb linked to neurotoxicity and As, that may be responsible for increased incidence of testicular, lung and breast cancer, skin lesions as well as a decline in the quality of sperm and advent of type II diabetes in several countries (the endocrine-disruptor hypothesis).
  • Organic substances such as PCBs and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PBDEs can be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Pesticides (e.g. organochlorine and organobromine compounds) have been linked to a wide range of adverse health effects.

 

CROME-LIFE addresses some of the main outstanding issues in environmental health highlighted in the EU Action Plan (i) to improve awareness and knowledge among the general population on environmental health issues (ii) to contribute to the translation of research findings into actions and (iii) to provide more robust basis for policy actions trough more accurate exposure data.

 

CROME-LIFE will improve our overall understanding on:

  • Human biomonitoring (HBM), a widely considered powerful tool for assessing pollution and its associated effects on a personal level acting as a trigger for actions at population/policy level knowing what one is being exposed to and how, is essential information to guide the decision.
  • Quantitative estimates of chronic exposure and links to biologically effective dose.
  • The comprehensive association between biomonitored values and observed health effects, by investigating associations that go beyond linear statistical models of exposure and effect.
  • providing realistic exposure descriptive metrics, considering that biologically effective dose is the actual dose manifesting toxicity and initiating biological responses ending up to adverse effects.

 

At local scale, CROME-LIFE will address the following problems:

  • In Greece and Croatia currently there is no established human biomonitoring system organised by the competent national and local/regional authorities for public health protection. The results of the project will provide the necessary framework for sampling, laboratory analysis and data interpretation of coupled environmental and human biomonitoring data for improved exposure and health risk assessment with relevance to environmental contaminants.
  • In Italy/Latium region the data generated by the biomonitoring studies will be integrated with biomarkers and health outcomes in order to obtain a protocol for the evaluation and reduction of risks derived from the exposure to toxic metals/metalloids (arsenic, in particular) in environment/diet.
  • In Slovenia, according to the Act on Chemicals the monitoring of presence of chemicals and their breakdown products in people and organisms shall be conducted in professionally justified intervals of time. This activity is currently entrusted to the CROME-LIFE partner JSI. The results of the project with regard to both environmental and human biomonitoring will be directly used by the institutions in charge of implementing such protocols at the national level.
  • In Spain, and in particular, in Menorca and Valencia there is a need to identify the environmental exposure routes of Hg and organochlorine/organobromine pollutants into human population. The CROME-LIFE campaigns will provide strategic information on the predominant mechanisms determining the human intake of these pollutants. This will be translated into integrated environmental-human biomonitoring protocols that will be embodied in the protocols followed by the competent authorities.