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Exposure Science in the 21st Century
on location, such as home address, that is related to exposures. Those techniques have well-known limitations, but they are often the only methods available, particularly for reconstructing historical exposures.
Innovations in science and technology provide opportunities to overcome limitations and guide exposure science in the 21st century to deliver knowledge that is effective, timely, and relevant to current and emerging environmental-health challenges. Personalized medicine1 and telemedicine will increase the pace of innovation in scientific and technologic methods that will benefit the field of exposure science. For example, many new genomic methods for monitoring individual metabolic and exposure phenotypes will be critical for future individualized medicine. In telemedicine, cellular-telephone technologies increasingly contribute to improving diagnostics and patient care and hence to improving our ability to anticipate the effects of exposures (Wootton and Bon-nardot 2010). Similarly, new developments in geographic information science and technologies are leading to rapid adoption of new information obtained from satellites via remote sensing, which provides immediate access to data on potential environmental threats. Improved information on physical activity and locations of humans and other species obtained with global positioning systems (GPS) and related geolocation technologies is increasingly being combined with cellular-telephone technologies. Many of these advances are integrated through powerful geographic information systems (GIS)2 that operate either through stand-alone computing platforms or through the World Wide Web. Biologic monitoring and sensing increasingly offer the potential to assess internal exposures. The convergence of these scientific methods and technologies raises the possibility that in the near future embedded, ubiquitous, and participatory sensing systems will facilitate individual-level exposure assessments on large populations of humans or other species.
The new technologies and methods also may help to operationalize the concept of the exposome (see discussion in Chapter 1). Establishing a more complete record of exposures based on internal biomarkers as theorized in the exposome (Wild 2005) requires tools that can also assess external environmental exposures. Many important exposures lead to no internal biomarkers but can be associated with environmental health risks (Peters et al. 2012) (for example, noise, heat, and electromagnetic fields). There is also a need to continue to link sources to exposures; this is the basis of mitigation efforts to protect public health. The committee envisions that many of the new technologies discussed in this chapter will help to broaden the exposome to the “eco-exposome” concept discussed in Chapter 2, and help to quantify exposure indicators to address those concerns.
1Personalized medicine is an emerging practice of medicine that uses information about a person’s genetic profile and environmental exposures to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease (Offit 2011).
2GIS is defined as a system for performing numerous operations involving the acquisition, editing, analysis, storage, and visualization of geographic data (Longley et al. 2005).