There are numerous opportunities for the use of biomonitoring. Well-designed and properly conducted studies can enable scientists and medical professionals to identify and understand exposure trends and any associative or causal effects of disease.
However, biomonitoring data can be detrimental if misinterpreted and sensationalized. It is essential that biomonitoring data be placed in proper context and that specialists in key scientific disciplines like toxicology and pharmacokinetics participate in interpreting the results. Through adoption of a scientific, objective and inclusive approach, the utility of biomonitoring can be maximized for the benefit of public health and the environment. The following recommendations are intended to fulfill that goal:
Government biomonitoring programs should be prioritized by genuine health risks and potential exposures. This would help to ensure that public resources are deployed in the most productive manner.
All government biomonitoring programs should undergo nongovernmental peer review prior to implementation. This would help to ensure the integrity of the research.
Government biomonitoring programs should be conducted in consultation with qualified scientists in the private sector. Such oversight may help protect research from political manipulation.
Greater research is necessary to understand the interplay between exposure and health effects. The proper interpretation of biomonitoring data requires epidemiologic and toxicologic assessments.
Biomonitoring should not be commissioned for the specific purpose of advancing a particular policy. Doing so would undermine the credibility of biomonitoring in general.
Because biomonitoring can be easily misunderstood by the public and policymakers, it is incumbent upon researchers to ensure their methodologies are closely aligned with their specific research questions and any intended use of the biomonitoring data. The costs to human health and well-being can be particularly high when biomonitoring studies are not carefully designed.
Biomonitoring data should be released only within proper scientific context — that is, accompanied by disclosure of the research methodology; discussion of the findings’ relation to the larger body of scientific understanding; and with complete protection of the privacy of the test subjects.