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Environ Health Prev Med. 2009 Nov;14(6):307-18. doi: 10.1007/s12199-009-0101-1. Epub 2009 Aug 15.

Past, present, and future of environmental specimen banks.

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Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida Konoe, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan,


Environmental specimen banks are an essential part of the infrastructure of environmental sciences. They have various functions: (1) evaluation of governmental environmental policy-making and regulations; (2) a resource for animal health evaluation; (3) research tools to investigate time trends in ecosystems; (4) detection of newly emerging chemicals in the time trends; (5) validations of computer models for environmental phenomena; (6) source identification of contaminants; (7) a tool for food safety; (8) evaluation of genetic selection pressure due to environmental changes. In this review paper, we present a detailed description of the Kyoto University Human Specimen Bank (history, protocol and questionnaires) and provide brief outlines of other representative environmental specimen banks. We then review two illustrative cases in which environmental specimen banks have unveiled insidious contaminations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and perfluorooctanoic acids. Finally, we give a perspective of new functions for environmental specimen banks in the next 20 years.

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