Human biomonitoring in Israel: Past, present, future

Tamar Berman*, Yona Amitai, Shlomo Almog, Elihu D. Richter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first human biomonitoring (HBM) studies in Israel in the 1970s and 80s focused on measuring exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine insecticides in the general population and organophosphate pesticides in agricultural workers. In the late 1990s, a regional human biomonitoring study found differences in blood lead levels in children from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. Taken together with data on time trends in lead emissions in Israel, the study indicated the benefits from phasing out of leaded gasoline. More recently, a pilot study in pregnant women in Jerusalem, conducted in collaboration with the US-CDC, found widespread exposure to phthalates, organophosphate pesticides, and the carbamate bendiocarb. Creatinine-adjusted total dimethyl (DM) metabolite concentrations were between 4 and 6 times higher than populations of pregnant women in the United States. The Israel Ministry of Health is currently collaborating with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Al Quds University to study exposures to phthalates and organophosphates in pregnant women in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Israel Ministry of Health has also begun the first National Biomonitoring Study to measure exposures to bisphenol A, phthalates, organophosphates, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein, and cotinine in the Israeli adult population. This study is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. Until recently, HBM programs in Israel were targeted at selected occupational groups (workers potentially exposed to metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and cholinesterase inhibitors) and naval divers potentially exposed to environmental contaminants. The future of HBM in Israel lies in extending such programs to measuring exposures in representative samples of the general population, increasing international collaboration in this field, developing analytical capacity and expertise, and increasing use of human biomonitoring studies in forming and evaluating environmental health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-141
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Environment
  • Exposure
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Israel
  • Occupational
  • Population


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