APHL has launched the National Biomonitoring Network (NBN), a formal, national network of regional, state and local laboratories conducting high quality human biomonitoring science for use in public health practice and in response to environmental emergencies. The network marks the culmination of seven years of intensive work by APHL to implement plans to advance state biomonitoring science, policy and practice.
Biomonitoring—a process that measures chemical contaminants and their metabolites in people—provides unique exposure information to inform environmental health decisions, guide consumer choices and evaluate public health interventions.
Advances in analytical technology and increased testing capacity at environmental public health laboratories have encouraged many states to develop biomonitoring programs. Recognizing the value of this information, some states are beginning to incorporate biomonitoring into routine public health practice.
With state programs an expanding source of biomonitoring data, states need to be able to produce comparable data and to share this information with their partners. The NBN offers a framework for doing this by providing guidance and sharing best practices in community engagement, program design, harmonization of analytical methods, quality management, results reporting, risk communication, and data comparability and sharing.
The NBN is guided by a Network Steering Committee of diverse subject matter experts in epidemiology, toxicology, analytical chemistry, data analysis, data management and communication, representing multiple states and federal agencies. Within this initial administrative structure are workgroups focusing on Membership, Study Design and Methodology. Their priorities are:
Development of a membership structure, requirements and benefits
Guidance and best practices for emergency response, targeted and surveillance biomonitoring
Harmonization of testing methods to ensure data comparability
Yet to be formed are work groups on outreach, communication, results reporting, data analysis and data management.
Over time, the NBN plans to explore options for development of a national repository of high quality biomonitoring data to be accessible to health officials, researchers and communities investigating environmental health concerns or evaluating the efficacy of public health policy.