The epidemiological management of the Human Biomonitoring project’s pilot study carried out jointly by the IUMSP and the SWISS TPH


A joint SWISS TPH and IUMSP epidemiological management

The Federal Council has just agreed to the launch of the Human Biomonitoring project’s pilot study (large national cohort), which will last four years. Participants will be recruited at the CHUV and in Basle (Swiss TPH).

The project is lead by the FOPH and the Swiss Biobanking Platform (Christine Currat, Vincent Mooser, Nicole Probst-Hensch), with a joint Swiss TPH (Nicole Probst-Hensch) and IUMSP (Murielle Bochud) epidemiological management.


Current situation

In May 2017, a report assessing the current situation of biomonitoring in Switzerland and its future prospects was delivered to the Federal Council. In response to the parliamentary intervention Moser 08.3223, a first report published in 2009 by the Federal Council, provided an overview of the HBM projects in Switzerland carried out up to then. The new report takes stock on the current situation and offers prospects for the future.

Between 2010 and 2012, Switzerland participated to the DEMOCOPHES european study, aiming to coordinate biomonitoring in Europe. Each of the 17 participating countries recruited up to 120 mother-child couples who were invited to give urine and hair samples which were analysed for several known chemicals. Besides, the mothers filled in a questionnaire about behaviours or habits relevant for the exposure to those substances.

There are also several studies such as SAPALDIA and CoLaus, which associate biomonitoring data to clinical examination and questionnaires about lifestyle, dietary habits and socio-economic factors. A regular follow-up of the volunteers can bring to light risk factors and behaviours for known diseases.

However, initiatives in this field remain specific, limited in the number of participants and in follow-up duration. They are often linked to a particular issue such as the transplant cohort study (STCS). There is thus no study providing a global and representative image of the Swiss population’s exposure to chemicals.

A national programme?

In collaboration with academic researchers, the FOPH plans to establish a national programme to collect health data as well as human biomonitoring data. This multidisciplinary follow-up study would give an overview of the health status, chemical exposure, and the presence of dietary deficiencies in the general adult population.

The goals of this programme are not only to provide reference health data for the Swiss population, but also to better understand the impact of the environment and certain habits on our health and thus support the health policy.

Pilot phase

With the May 2017 report to the Federal Council, the go-ahead is given to a four-year pilot phase. This preparatory phase aims at verifying the feasibility of a national initiative, validating the required infrastructures and procedures. It should also allow the evaluation of the volunteers’ participation. The pilot phase will rely on the Swiss Biobanking Platform (SBP), a structure set up by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Source: FOPH  (the FOPH page allows also to download the Intermediate report to the Federal Council on biomonitoring (in French only) and to access other interesting links and documents)


In the media (in French): RTS, 19h30 news, 22 Mai 2017: Mesurer la sensibilité à la pollution et aux produits chimiques (Measuring sensibility to pollution and chemicals)



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