Biomonitoring at Bressoux: call for volunteers

Starting in July, the Institut Scientifique de Service Public (ISSeP) will be carrying out a new biomonitoring program among the residents of Bressoux, collecting urine and blood samples to detect the presence of heavy metals.

Remember that last January, the results of an initial biomonitoring study carried out among the residents of the Coin de terre (shared vegetable garden) in Bressoux revealed a high level of heavy metals in the population.

At this stage, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established between frequentation of Le Coin de terre and/or consumption of these vegetables, and the impregnation rate of this population.

With a new study, the aim is to be able to compare results and check whether the Land Corner lands are decisive in the impregnations revealed by the 2018 campaign.

Today, ISSeP is calling for volunteers from the neighborhood. This recruitment campaign is being carried out in collaboration with the city of Liège, which is distributing an “all-box” in Bressoux, and with the press, which is getting in touch with the population. This new study is being conducted in partnership with Liège University Hospital.

To participate, volunteers must therefore be people who do not frequent
le Coin de terre. Participation in the study is free of charge, and four urine and blood sample collection dates are available in July and August.

Conditions for taking part in the study :

  1. Have lived in Bressoux for at least 2 years;
  2. Do not visit the Coin de terre de Bressoux site;
  3. Do not consume fruit and/or vegetables from the Coin de terre de Bressoux area;
  4. Be at least 18 years old;
  5. Only one person per household is allowed to participate.

Samples will be taken at the Club des pensionnés de Bressoux, rue Général de Gaulle 65, 4020 Liège.

ISSeP is looking for 100 volunteers who must make an appointment with one of the study leaders and be available on one of these four dates to take samples and answer a questionnaire:

  • In July: Wednesday, July 10, Wednesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 31
  • August: Wednesday, August 7

Contacts for appointments: or Patrick Maggi: 04/229.82.10, Ingrid Ruthy: 04/229.82.80, Suzanne Remy: 04/229.82.99

The results remain confidential and will only be used for the purposes of this study. Participants will receive their personal results. They can choose to receive them by post or through their GP.

About :

Why human biomonitoring at Bressoux?

The field campaign, named Sanisol, had been carried out in collaboration with Le CHU de Liège and Sciensano, between July 2 and September 24, 2018 on the Coin de terre de Bressoux (CTB) site. Environmental data (soil and vegetables) and biological data (blood, urine and hair of gardeners/consumers) were acquired thanks to the participation of people who frequent the site and/or consume the fruit and vegetables grown there. These results showed widespread contamination with high levels of lead and even very high levels of speciated cadmium and arsenic. This high impregnation was partly attributed to the Coin de terre site on the basis of statistical analysis.

According to the 2018 ISSeP report, 80% of Land Corner beneficiaries reside in Bressoux. In the absence of current evidence incriminating this collective kitchen garden as the main cause of the high or very high impregnation of the control group, and without knowing how to delimit the boundaries of the polluted soils, the search for a control group sharing the same geographical area as the control group seems relevant. The study area therefore remains that of Bressoux.

Legend: Study area representing (left; red dots) the location of BTC beneficiaries and (right) the geographical extent of the Bressoux locality. The red rectangle in the center of both images represents the Coin de terre and its surroundings.

What will be specifically measured in the 2019 survey?

Compared to the 2018 campaign, the 2019 control biomonitoring focuses immediately on metals and their biomarkers for which adverse health effects can be expected when their vigilance or intervention thresholds are exceeded. These include lead in blood (PbS), cadmium in urine (CdU) and arsenic (speciated – AsU andAsspécU) in urine. Creatinine will also be measured to account for diuresis and correct for arsenic concentrations in the urine. A cotinine assay will also be carried out to identify people exposed to tobacco (active and/or passive), which has a major influence on cadmium concentrations. Finally, copper, zinc and molybdenum will also be measured for comparison with the control group, although they do not present a high health risk.

Today, with the 2018 study, what links can be made between frequentation of the Coin de terre and heavy metal contamination?

The statistical analysis carried out by comparing the 2018 questionnaire data with the impregnation data shows statistically significant associations and/or trends pointing to different variables in connection with the Earth Corner (site frequentation, consumption of certain vegetable categories) as being associated with the blood lead levels and cadmiuria measured in the study population.

Statistical analysis has also led to a number of hypotheses, including that of the importance of other sources of domestic exposure: the lead levels measured can also be explained by the consumption of tap water, the quality of which in the Bressoux district remains lower than in the rest of the city of Liège, and by other intrinsic individual factors (smoking, gender, etc.).

Today, it is essential to be able to assess the importance of this link by looking at a control population. It was therefore necessary to carry out a biomonitoring campaign including residents of the commune of Bressoux who have no connection with the Coin de terre, either in terms of frequentation or consumption of the fruit and vegetables grown there.

Project managers :

  • Patrick Maggi : 04/229.82.10
  • Ingrid Ruthy : 04/229.82.80
  • Suzanne Remy : 04/229.82.99

Press contact: Sophie Sleypenn – – 04 229 83 49