Wastewater-based epidemiology for the assessment of population exposure to chemicals: The need for integration with human biomonitoring for global One Health actions

Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Frederic Béen, Lubertus Bijlsma, Werner Brack, Sara Castiglioni, Adrian Covaci, Bice S Martincigh, Jochen F Mueller, Alexander L N van Nuijs, Temilola Oluseyi, Kevin V Thomas

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3 Citations (SciVal)


WBE has now become a complimentary tool in SARS-CoV-2 surveillance. This was preceded by the established application of WBE to assess the consumption of illicit drugs in communities. It is now timely to build on this and take the opportunity to expand WBE to enable comprehensive assessment of community exposure to chemical stressors and their mixtures. The goal of WBE is to quantify community exposure, discover exposure-outcome associations, and trigger policy, technological or societal intervention strategies with the overarching aim of exposure prevention and public health promotion. To achieve WBE's full potential, the following key aspects require further action: (1) Integration of WBE-HBM (human biomonitoring) initiatives that provide comprehensive community-individual multichemical exposure assessment. (2) Global WBE monitoring campaigns to provide much needed data on exposure in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and fill in the gaps in knowledge especially in the underrepresented highly urbanised as well as rural settings in LMICs. (3) Combining WBE with One Health actions to enable effective interventions. (4) Advancements in new analytical tools and methodologies for WBE progression to enable biomarker selection for exposure studies, and to provide sensitive and selective multiresidue analysis for trace multi-biomarker quantification in a complex wastewater matrix. Most of all, further developments of WBE needs to be undertaken by co-design with key stakeholder groups: government organisations, health authorities and private sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131009
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Early online date14 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge support from the EU Interwaste Project ‘Synergising International Research Studies into the Environmental Fate and Behaviour of Toxic Organic Chemicals in the Waste Stream’ (Grant agreement ID: 734522). L. Bijlsma acknowledges that the project that gave rise to these results received the support of a fellowship from “la Caixa” Foundation (ID 10 0 010434). The fellowship code is LCF/BQ/PR21/11840012. He also acknowledges grant RYC2020-028936-I funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 and by “ESF Investing in Your Future”. Support from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/V028499/1) is also appreciated.

Data availability
No data was used for the research described in the artic


  • Human Biomonitoring (HBM)
  • Human chemical exposure
  • Mass spectrometry
  • One Health
  • Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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