The concept of biological monitoring (BM) has gained the special interest of individual scientists and international organizations. Today, when analytical problems have almost ceased due to new laboratory techniques and quality assurance systems, the methods for interpretation of results have become the most important issue. There are important discrepancies regarding the role of biological monitoring of occupational exposure between Europe and the United States. BM has been an important tool of medical health surveillance in the European countries. In the United States it belongs rather to the field of occupational hygiene. It seems that both the approaches can be accepted. More attention should be paid to the development of the truly health-based biomarkers of exposure based on the dose-effect and dose-response relationships. New areas of application of BM of occupational exposure include determination of DNA and protein adducts, unchanged volatile organic compounds in urine, monitoring of exposure to pesticides, antineoplastic drugs, hard metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In the general environment BM is the most valuable tool for acquiring knowledge of current levels of internal exposure to xenobiotics, identifying the hot spots and developments in trends of exposure. BM can provide policy makers with more accurate information on the control measures undertaken. At present, the main areas include heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants and pesticides. BM of chemical exposure has become increasingly important in the assessment of the health risk in occupational and environmental medicine. Therefore it would be worthwhile to include BM in the curricula for the training of occupational hygienists.
2005 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health