The Danish contribution to the European DEMOCOPHES project: A description of cadmium, cotinine and mercury levels in Danish mother-child pairs and the perspectives of supplementary sampling and measurements

Thit A. Mørck, Flemming Nielsen, Jeanette K.S. Nielsen, Janne F. Jensen, Pernille W. Hansen, Anne K. Hansen, Lea N. Christoffersen, Volkert D. Siersma, Ida H. Larsen, Linette K. Hohlmann, Mette T. Skaanild, Hanne Frederiksen, Pierre Biot, Ludwine Casteleyn, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, Gerda Schwedler, Argelia Castaño, Jürgen Angerer, Holger M. Koch, Marta EstebanGreet Schoeters, Elly Den Hond, Karen Exley, Ovnair Sepai, Louis Bloemen, Reinhard Joas, Anke Joas, Ulrike Fiddicke, Ana Lopez, Ana Cañas, Dominique Aerts, Lisbeth E. Knudsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Human biomonitoring (HBM) is an important tool, increasingly used for measuring true levels of the body burdens of environmental chemicals in the general population. In Europe, a harmonized HBM program was needed to open the possibility to compare levels across borders. To explore the prospect of a harmonized European HBM project, DEMOCOPHES (DEMOnstration of a study to COordinate and Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) was completed in 17 European countries. The basic measurements performed in all implemented countries of DEMOCOPHES included cadmium, cotinine and phthalate metabolites in urine and mercury in hair. In the Danish participants, significant correlations between mothers and children for mercury in hair and cotinine in urine were found. Mercury in hair was further significantly associated with intake of fish and area of residence. Cadmium was positively associated with BMI in mothers and an association between cadmium and cotinine was also found. As expected high cotinine levels were found in smoking mothers. For both mercury and cadmium significantly higher concentrations were found in the mothers compared to their children. In Denmark, the DEMOCOPHES project was co-financed by the Danish ministries of health, environment and food safety. The co-financing ministries agreed to finance a number of supplementary measurements of substances of current toxicological, public and regulatory interest. This also included blood sampling from the participants. The collected urine and blood samples were analyzed for a range of other persistent and non-persistent environmental chemicals as well as two biomarkers of effect. The variety of supplementary measurements gives the researchers further information on the exposure status of the participants and creates a basis for valuable knowledge on the pattern of exposure to various chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-105
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
COPHES is coordinated by BiPRO GmbH, Germany, in cooperation with the University of Leuven, Belgium and is funded by DG Research in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013), Project number 244237.

Funding Information:
DEMOCOPHES is coordinated by the Federal Public Service, Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, Belgium and co-funded under the LIFE+ Programme (LIFE09/ENV/BE/000410). The Danish Environmental Protection Agency, Board of Health and Food Safety Agency co-financed the DEMOCOPHES and covered the expenses of supplementary blood sampling and analysis of biomarkers of exposure. The biomarkers of effect were financed from the supplementary funding of the PhD program of Thit Aarøe Mørck.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


  • Biomarkers of effect
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Mother-child pairs


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