The European Human Exposome Network (EHEN) website features a dedicated page with blogs and opinion pieces contributed by the nine EHEN projects on challenges and opportunities in the field of exposome research. In the latest EHEN blog, LongITools explores the urban exposome and some of the initiatives which focus on creating healthier urban environments, as well as how the EHEN projects are helping to improve and support urban health.
In a world where over 55% of the population currently resides in urban areas—a figure expected to rise to 68% by 2050—understanding the relationship between health and increasingly urbanised environments is crucial.
While life in an urban area offers many advantages, it also presents unique health challenges. For example, an alarming 91% of urban residents breathe polluted air, and insufficiently planned urban transport systems can lead to a range of issues, including road traffic injuries, air and noise pollution, and obstacles to safe physical activity. Moreover, factors present in urban settings, such as varied pollution types, urban heat islands, a shortage of green spaces, and inadequate walking and cycling infrastructure, not only exacerbate non-communicable diseases like heart disease, asthma, cancer, and diabetes but are also associated with higher rates of mental health disorders.
Understanding the Urban Exposome
The urban exposome is a term gaining attention in the world of public health. Simply put, it means looking at all the things people are exposed to within their environment that can affect their health. This includes not only issues such as air pollution and noise but also factors like access to green spaces, the quality of homes, and how cities are built and designed. By understanding all these factors together, we can get a better picture of how urban areas and particularly cities influence health.
Challenges in Unravelling the Urban Exposome
There are several challenges involved in unpicking the urban exposome. Read about them and more in the full blog on the EHEN website.