Author(s): A Alimonti & D Mattei
ers for human biomonitoring
A Alimonti & D Mattei
People are continuously exposed to thousands of natural and man-made chemicals
through the environment, food habits and lifestyles.
Using modern analytical
technology it is now possible to measure a large number of chemicals and their
metabolites present in the human organism (in blood, tissues, urine, hair, etc.).
biomonitoring is a procedure well known since 1927 when the first paper on the use
of the analysis of lead in urine in exposed workers was published.
biomonitoring is largely used to control the health risk of people occupationally and
Programmes on the biomonitoring are currently in
progress in the USA  and in Europe .
The biomonitoring evaluates the
human exposure by comparison with appropriate reference values and goes by the
knowledge of the relationship between environmental exposure and deriving
degree of adverse health effects.
When a health risk is revealed, legislators may
decide to ban a product or restrict its usage to applications with lower risks for
Biomonitoring techniques are becoming, in fact, common tools for
decision-makers in the health and environmental field.
can be considered suitable tools to measure the impact of a contaminant on an organism,
characterized by its interaction with the endogenous molecules.
able to point out biochemical, genetic, morphological or physiological changes in the
organism who suffers from a particular stress situation – due to occurrence of heavy
metals, pesticides, etc.
Biomarkers suggest the occurrence of toxicological events
much earlier than the emergence of those effects that can be evaluated.
definition is: “…a change, produced by a contaminant, at biochemical or cellular
level of a process, a structure or a function that can be measured in a biological
This change provides information (qualitative, semi-quantitative or
quantitative) about the chemical source, and on the correlation between the biological
effects and the environmental contamination levels.
A contaminant can
cause primary toxicity at biochemical and molecular levels (alterations in enzymatic
activity, DNA level, etc.), and, secondly, through cascade events can cause
toxicity at cellular, tissue or organism levels.
A few homoeostatic responses to a
chemical damage represent some possible biomarkers that can be applied for toxicological
investigations [4, 5].
Selection of appropriate biomarkers is a critical
point, which depends upon the state of scientific knowledge and can be influenced
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Paper DOI: 10.2495/978-1-84564-002-6/06
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