• Development, by federal agencies that support human and environmental exposure science, of educational programs to improve public understanding of exposure-assessment research, including ethical considerations involved in the research. The programs would need to engage members of the general public, specialists in research oversight, and specific communities that are disproportionately exposed to environmental stressors.
Participatory and Community-Based Research Programs
To engage broader audiences, including the public, the committee suggests the development of more user-friendly and less expensive monitoring equipment to allow trained people in communities to collect and upload their own data in partnership with researchers. Such partnerships would improve the value of the data collected and make more data available for purposes of priority-setting and informing policy. One approach might include implementing a system of ubiquitous sensors (for example, through the use of cellular telephones, GPS, or other technologies) in two American cities to evaluate the feasibility of such systems to develop community-based exposure data that are reliable. Potential issues of privacy protection would need to be considered.
Exposure information is crucial for predicting, preventing, and reducing human health and ecosystem risks. Exposure science has historically been limited by the availability of methods, technologies, and resources, but recent advances present an unprecedented opportunity to develop more rapid, cost-effective, and relevant exposure assessments. Research supported by such federal agencies as EPA and NIEHS has provided valuable partnership opportunities for building capacity to develop the technologies, resources, and educational structure that will be needed to achieve the committee’s vision for exposure science in the 21st century.