Science Inventory

A Proposal for Assessing Study Quality: Biomonitoring, Environmental Epidemiology, and Short-Lived Chemicals (BEES-C) Instrument


LaKind, J., J. Sobus, M. Goodman, D. Barr, P. Furst, R. Albertini, T. Arbuckle, G. Schoeters, C. Tan, J. Teeguarden, R. Tornero-Velez, AND C. Weisel. A Proposal for Assessing Study Quality: Biomonitoring, Environmental Epidemiology, and Short-Lived Chemicals (BEES-C) Instrument. ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 73(2014):195-207, (2014).


The National Exposure Research Laboratory’s (NERL’s) Human Exposure and Atmospheric Sciences Division (HEASD) conducts research in support of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. HEASD’s research program supports Goal 1 (Clean Air) and Goal 4 (Healthy People) of EPA’s strategic plan. More specifically, our division conducts research to characterize the movement of pollutants from the source to contact with humans. Our multidisciplinary research program produces Methods, Measurements, and Models to identify relationships between and characterize processes that link source emissions, environmental concentrations, human exposures, and target-tissue dose. The impact of these tools is improved regulatory programs and policies for EPA.


The quality of exposure assessment is a major determinant of the overall quality of any environmental epidemiology study. The use of biomonitoring as a tool for assessing exposure to ubiquitous chemicals with short physiologic half-lives began relatively recently. These chemicals present several challenges, including their presence in analytical laboratories and sampling equipment, difficulty in establishing temporal order in cross-sectional studies, short- and long-term variability in exposures and biomarker concentrations, and a paucity of information on the number of measurements required for proper exposure classification. To date, the scientific community has not developed a set of systematic guidelines for designing, implementing and interpreting studies of short-lived chemicals that use biomonitoring as the exposure metric or for evaluating the quality of this type of research for WOE assessments or for peer review of grants or publications. We describe key issues that affect epidemiology studies using biomonitoring data on short-lived chemicals and propose a systematic instrument – the Biomonitoring, Environmental Epidemiology, and Short-Lived Chemicals (BEES-C) Instrument - for evaluating the quality of research proposals and studies that incorporate biomonitoring data on short-lived chemicals. Quality criteria for three areas considered fundamental to the evaluation of epidemiology studies that include biological measurements of short-lived chemicals are described: 1) biomarker selection and measurement, 2) study design and execution, and 3) general epidemiological study design considerations. We recognize that the development of an evaluative tool such as BEES-C is neither simple nor non-controversial. We hope and anticipate that the instrument will initiate further discussion/debate on this topic.


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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/01/2014
Record Last Revised: 11/26/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 295755