Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1994;20 Special issue:46-58    pdf  pdf

Biological monitoring today and tomorrow.

by Aitio A

Biological monitoring is important in the assessment of both occupational exposure to chemical agents and the health risks involved. For some chemicals data from biological monitoring can be reliably translated into health risks, while for the majority it only indicates uptake. Several workplace chemicals can be analyzed from biological specimens, but no interpretation of health risk or exposure is possible. For such chemicals, comparing the results to data from similar industries may help to determine whether smaller levels of exposure are possible. The biggest problem with most biological monitoring is that no good interpretation is immediately available. This statement is equally true for classical specific analytical chemical analyses, nonspecific assays of exposure, and almost all effect monitoring. Health-based interpretation of biological monitoring will never become possible unless biological monitoring is performed (even in the absence of immediate interpretation) and the results are stored for future analysis in a retrievable and usable form.