The Danish contribution to the European DEMOCOPHES project: A description of cadmium, cotinine and mercury levels in Danish mother-child pairs and the perspectives of supplementary sampling and measurements.
Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an important tool, increasingly used for measuring true levels of the body burdens of environmental chemicals in the general population. In Europe, a harmonized HBM program was needed to open the possibility to compare levels across borders. To explore the prospect of a harmonized European HBM project, DEMOCOPHES (DEMOnstration of a study to COordinate and Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) was completed in 17 European countries. The basic measurements performed in all implemented countries of DEMOCOPHES included cadmium, cotinine and phthalate metabolites in urine and mercury in hair. In the Danish participants, significant correlations between mothers and children for mercury in hair and cotinine in urine were found. Mercury in hair was further significantly associated with intake of fish and area of residence. Cadmium was positively associated with BMI in mothers and an association between cadmium and cotinine was also found. As expected high cotinine levels were found in smoking mothers. For both mercury and cadmium significantly higher concentrations were found in the mothers compared to their children. In Denmark, the DEMOCOPHES project was co-financed by the Danish ministries of health, environment and food safety. The co-financing ministries agreed to finance a number of supplementary measurements of substances of current toxicological, public and regulatory interest. This also included blood sampling from the participants. The collected urine and blood samples were analyzed for a range of other persistent and non-persistent environmental chemicals as well as two biomarkers of effect. The variety of supplementary measurements gives the researchers further information on the exposure status of the participants and creates a basis for valuable knowledge on the pattern of exposure to various chemicals.