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Environ Health Perspect. 1996 May;104 Suppl 3:479-83.

Human biomonitoring: research goals and needs.

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  • 1Division of Extramural Research and Training, National Institute of Environment Health Sciences 27709, USA.


Epidemiological studies have taken advantage of a number of strategies to monitor human populations for mortality, incidence, and exposure to hazardous environmental agents. These studies have been compromised by the lack of individual exposure assessment data that precisely quantified internal dose. As methods improve in analytical chemistry and molecular biology, direct biological monitoring of exposed populations is possible. Biomarkers have been developed and validated in exposed populations that quantify individual exposure, susceptibility, and early markers of health effects and can be used to study relationships between exposures and environmentally induced diseases. This paper provides background on the state of the art of human populations monitoring and, through a series of case studies, provides examples of novel biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, and effect that highlight new opportunities for biomonitoring. Prevention of human disease due to environmental contaminants can be accomplished by implementing strategies such as those discussed to monitor exposure and early health effects in human populations.

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