Policy and the importance of the exposome

What is the exposome?

The exposome can be defined as the measure of all the exposures an individual has in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. An individual’s exposure begins from conception, during pregnancy and from birth onwards.

The study of the human exposome (an emerging area of research) will enable a better understanding of the cause of many common diseases and ultimately improve disease prevention and health promotion.

What is the European Human Exposome Network?

The European Human Exposome Network is the world’s largest network of projects studying the impact of environmental exposure on human health. It brings together 9 research projects, from 126 organisations across 24 countries, receiving €106 million from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. Each project has a different focus, addressing exposures including, for example, air quality, noise, chemicals, urbanisation and their health impacts such as cardiovascular diseases, mental health and respiratory disease amongst others. The projects’ results will contribute to advancing the European Green Deal’s ambition, providing new evidence for better preventive policies.

Why is it so important to policymakers?

The Exposome Network materialised following three decades of work towards better integration of environment and health in research. The European Green Deal is the European Commission’s number 1 priority on the political agenda. All new policies will work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of ensuring a fairer Europe and leaving no one behind. It is believed that environmental exposures disproportionately affect the health of those who are most deprived. The Network’s studies of the exposome and the research outcomes will offer the opportunity to make inequality more visible, enabling policymakers to effect real change for the benefit of all citizens.