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  • About The Norwegian Environmental Biobank

Article

About The Norwegian Environmental Biobank

We are exposed daily to environmental toxicants; substances from air, food, water and consumer products that can be harmful to our health. Environmental toxicants are considered one of the main threats to the health of future generations. The environmental biobank monitors how much of the relevant environmental toxicants and other unwanted substances we are exposed to and examines the extent to which these can increase the risk of health problems.

Miljøbiobanken er en delstudie av Den norske mor, far og barn undersøkelsen (MoBa).
The Environmental Biobank , the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Study (MoBa).

We are exposed daily to environmental toxicants; substances from air, food, water and consumer products that can be harmful to our health. Environmental toxicants are considered one of the main threats to the health of future generations. The environmental biobank monitors how much of the relevant environmental toxicants and other unwanted substances we are exposed to and examines the extent to which these can increase the risk of health problems.


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What is an environmental biobank?

In the Environmental Biobank, we collect blood and urine samples from people living in Norway. "Bio" indicates that the samples are biological, in this case blood and urine samples. "Bank" means that the samples are stored. These samples are distributed in small tubes that are frozen and then stored for a long time. The samples are made available for research and health surveillance.

Who submits samples?

In 2016, we invited about 9,000 mothers, fathers and children in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) to submit samples and answer a questionnaire. About 1,800 people participated (around 660 mothers and their children, and 500 fathers).

In 2021, we will start a new round of sample collection for the Environmental Biobank, where we invite everyone who participated in the previous collection, as well as other families from MoBa (mother, father and child).

What are samples used for?

The Environmental Biobank studies trends over time, geographical differences and variation between individuals. Samples and questionnaires collected for the Environmental Biobank are also used in studies that can contribute to more knowledge about:

  • how we are exposed to environmental toxicants
  • groups who are exposed to particularly large amounts of environmental toxicants
  • new types of environmental toxicants that should be monitored
  • the associations between environmental toxicants and health

This knowledge can be used by the health authorities in health monitoring and is useful in connection with risk assessments of environmental toxicants. In addition, we can monitor whether the diet provides sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Why is the Environmental Biobank important?

Environmental toxicants are considered one of the biggest threats to the health of future generations. With the help of information and biological samples collected by the Environmental Biobank, we can identify health threats at an early stage.

We hope that many of those who submit samples also will submit samples in the future. In this way, it is possible to monitor how levels of nutrients, environmental toxicants and other unwanted substances in our body change over time. If we find levels that are worrying, this should be followed up with political measures, and in the long run we will be able to see if the measures have an effect.

The Environmental Biobank - A time capsule with information about environmental toxicants and our health

Environmental toxicants are considered one of the main threats to the health of future generations and being able to detect such health threats is therefore important. Samples from the Environmental Biobank can be used in ongoing projects, but the majority of the samples will be stored for a long time as so-called time capsules for use in future analyses. In this way, we can learn more about environmental toxicants and their effects on our health over time. Development of new and more sensitive analytical methods will increase the value of the samples in the Environmental Biobank in that it will be possible to perform both better and additional analyses on previously collected samples.

Use of samples collected in 2016-17

A small proportion of the samples collected in 2016-17 from children have been used for analysis of several known environmental toxicants, but the main part of the sample will be stored for a long time as so-called "time capsules". The same will apply to the samples collected in 2021.

The environmental toxins that have been analyzed are:

  • per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • pesticides
  • flame retardants
  • phthalates
  • bisphenols
  • parabens

The results from the analyses of these environmental toxicants are linked to data from the questionnaires that were completed at the same time as the samples were taken, as well as information from other MoBa questionnaires.

The results have been used in three research projects so far:

CATCHUP: A project funded by the Research Council of Norway that investigates whether exposure to mixtures of environmental toxicants in vulnerable life periods (pregnancy and early childhood) may impact growth, weight development and metabolic disorders in childhood.

NON-PROTECTED:  A project funded by the Research Council of Norway that investigates whether the level of the environmental toxicants PFASs in the body may impact responses to childhood vaccines, and the role of the intestinal microflora.

European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU): A project funded by the EU that, among other things, examines levels of several environmental toxicants in children and young people from a number of European countries. The Norwegian data are obtained from the Environmental Biobank.

Contact information

If you have any questions, contact us by e-mail:

If urgent, please call Project manager Line Småstuen Haug: +47 91 65 01 25.