The ISSeP Environment-Health Unit (CES) supports the Government and Administration of the Walloon Region in the development and evaluation of public policies in the field of the environment and environmental health. It participates in the assessment, management and prevention of health risks caused by nuisance due to human activities and by pollution of environmental media (air, soil, dust, etc.) by chemical substances (heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs, endocrine disruptors, etc.). It provides technical support and scientific expertise through recurring grants and research projects (regional, national or European funding). The approaches used by CES include methods for assessing health risks from environmental contamination, biomonitoring of populations (general or exposed) and spatial modeling of environmental and socio-health data.

Improving health risk assessment

For several years now, CES has been actively involved in developing health risk assessment methods for various environmental management applications. In particular, it has taken charge of drafting methodological guides for risk assessment within the framework of impact studies. It coordinates a committee that brings together ISSeP, SPAQuE, AwAC, SPW ARNE CPES and DAS to determine the Toxicological Reference Values to be used in human health risk assessments in Wallonia(https://bdvtr.issep.be/). It is continuously improving the Walloon Code of Good Practice on health risk assessment in the context of the Soil Decree. It also contributes to updating the standards of this decree. For pollutants not standardized (PNN) in this Soil Decree, a protocol for selecting physico-chemical parameters has been drawn up as part of the process of defining limit values for human health for these PNN. A database of over 400 substances is available at https://sol.environnement.wallonie.be/home/documents/le-coin-des-specialistes-experts-laboratoires/polluants-non-normes-pnn.html

The CES supports the SPW in managing health risks due to diffuse contamination by heavy metals, by cross-referencing biological and environmental exposure data. An environmental health management protocol including a regional strategy for triggering targeted biomonitoring in the event of soil pollution has been drawn up as part of this process.
In the more specific context of fertilizers and the publication of the new European regulation on fertilizers ((EU)2019/1009), CES, together with other partners (SPW-ARNE and CRAW), is contributing its expertise to regulate the use of fertilizing materials in Wallonia.

Biomonitoring programs

In collaboration with Sciensano, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liège, Université Catholique de Louvain and Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc (UCL-CSL), the CES runs the Walloon human biomonitoring program (BMH-WAL), financed by SPW-ARNE. This biomonitoring aims to determine reference values for the exposure of the Walloon population to several environmental and food contaminants (endocrine disruptors, pesticides, metals, persistent organic pollutants, etc.).

A specific “BIOBRO” biomonitoring program has also been launched. The aim of this project is to assess the levels of impregnation with certain pollutants of people living near metal mill sites in Wallonia. This biomonitoring is complemented by investigations into the environmental quality of indoor dust in the vicinity of these installations.

Given the widespread contamination of soils in Wallonia, linked to the former metallurgy industries, CES is studying the influence of inorganic pollutant concentrations (arsenic, lead, cadmium, etc.) in soils on the impregnation of children (BIOSOL biomonitoring) and adults (SANISOL biomonitoring) exposed to these soils.

Information on biomonitoring projects can be found at https://www.issep.be/biomonitoring/.

Developing a Geographic Information System for Environment and Health

CES has developed a Geographic Information System for Environment-Health (SIGEnSa) that contributes to the implementation of the Walloon Environment-Health Plan (Plan ENVIeS 2019-2023). Its aim is to identify, acquire and integrate environmental, population and health data into a GIS in order to locate and prioritize risk areas in Wallonia and analyze environment-health links. The work is structured around several research strands, with the identification of environmental black spots, the characterization of environmental pressures and of places welcoming vulnerable publics, as well as the construction of vigilance indicators around these publics.
At the same time, the ELEnSa research program aims to exploit the data collected and constructed in SIGEnSa from an epidemiological angle, in order to study the links between environment and health. An initial exploratory ecological study was carried out at CES to investigate spatial associations between Walloon residents’ environmental exposure to agricultural pesticides and the incidence of certain cancers.

Contact us:

Pierre Jacquemin : p.jacquemin@issep.be

For Risks : s.crevecoeur@issep.be

For biomonitoring projects : i.ruthy@issep.be

For SIGENSA : S.habran@issep.be

Pesticides e.gismondi@issep.be

For Toxicological Reference Values : e.bouhoulle@issep.be