Clarity of health risk assessment elements in human biomonitoring and risk assessment studies published between 2016 and 2021
T. Bizjak 1,2
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Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Publication date: 2021-09-27
Public Health Toxicol 2021;1(Supplement 1):A57

Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an area that has been developing rapidly with continuously growing number of scientific publications, especially in the last ten years. HBM has been emphasized multiple times as one of the important new approaches for the assessment of health risks. Nevertheless, the actual value of HBM for the purpose of health risk assessment (HRA) and particularly for informing decision-making remains to be clarified.
The goal of our study was to evaluate the inclusion and clarity of different HRA elements in the recent examples of HRA. The study was a part of research efforts aiming to evaluate the characteristics and issues affecting the success of HRA and risk analysis’ informing of public health decisions (i.e. risk-informed decision-making). As a collaboration organized within the NEUROSOME Innovative Training Network project funded by the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme, it aimed to consolidate the understanding of selected HRA topics among the early stage researchers involved. The appraisal involved ten of the fourteen early stage researches working in the NEUROSOME project. Thirty-six scientific papers dealing with HBM and HRA published between 2016 and 2021 were identified by pre-defined search criteria. Their appraisal was performed with a help of a simple appraisal tool, which focused on the clarity of ten important HRA elements, identified in a prior study by a group of established risk and decision analysis professionals: the assessment context of HRA, dose/exposure—response relationship, exposure setting, exposure sources, exposure duration, exposed population, magnitude of risk, uncertainty of HRA results, options for mitigating/avoiding exposure, and transparency and clarity of the assessment process.
We observed inconsistencies in the understanding of fundamental HRA and risk analysis principles in the publications dealing with HBM and risk assessment. None of the HRA elements has been identified and understood as clear in all the appraised publications. Risk assessment practice should be based on solid, clear and consistent theoretical foundations regardless of the areas of its application.