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From environment and health data to policy-making: the case of DDE in Belgium

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One of the key challenges in environment and health research is the measurement and interpretation of this complex relation, whereas one of the key challenges in environment and health policy-making is the translation of environment and health data to policy measures. In this paper, we describe a process in which these two challenges are integrated: the interpretation of human biomonitoring results for policy-making. We present work of the Flemish Centre for Health and Environment, working directly for the Flemish government. The Centre investigates the relation between environmental pollution and human health by measuring pollutants and health effects in (over 4000) Flemish inhabitants. A major challenge concerns the translation of these human biomonitoring data to policy measures. For this purpose, medical, environmental and social experts and policy representatives cooperatively developed an action plan. Part of this action plan is expert and stakeholder consultation. In 2006, a first pilot on measurements of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) (a metabolite of DDT) was concluded: with respect to two Flemish regions, the results were further investigated and discussed as a basis for policy measures. We present the results of this pilot, the policy response and the conclusions about the process of translating environment and health data to policy-making.

Keywords: policy-relevant research, human biomonitoring, expert consultation, stakeholder consultation, environmental data, health data, policy-making, Belgium, environmental pollution, human health, DDE measurement

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