Proceedings of a Workshop
Measuring Personal Environmental Exposures
Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief
Increased access to personal biological testing and advances in personal sensor technologies are enabling members of the public to gather data about their individual and their communities’ environmental exposures. The members of the public who are using these devices and are gathering data are private users wanting to learn about their personal exposures, citizen scientists wanting to engage in research and learn more about their communities, or people working with researchers at an institution doing community-based participatory research. These trends are enhanced by the growing value that society places on open and transparent research and data sharing. They also raise a wide range of questions about how data on individual or community-based environmental exposures can be used to inform decisions about health and policies at the level of the individual, a research institution, a private company, a regulatory body, or society at large.
On November 16–17, 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (the National Academies’) Standing Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions held a 2-day workshop to explore the implications of producing and accessing individual- and community-level environmental exposure data in the United States. The workshop brought together a multidisciplinary group, including environmental health researchers, social scientists, business and consumer representatives, science policy experts, and other professionals to discuss the topic. The workshop was sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief summarizes the discussions that took place at the workshop, with emphasis on the comments from invited speakers.
PERSONAL BIOLOGICAL TESTING
Increased access to biological testing, such as the various types of genetic testing or metabolomics to learn about body chemistry, facilitate the analysis of biological samples and the generation of personal data related to health, disease, and environmental exposures. Mass spectrometry is the technique most often used to profile the human metabolome (small molecule metabolic products) and the response to environmental stimuli. Examples of genetic testing include genome sequencing and DNA methylation analysis. Gene sequencing can provide information on a person’s genetic makeup and can reveal the presence of genetic markers that may signal susceptibilities to certain health conditions, such as breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease. DNA methylation, a process that can change how DNA is expressed without changes in DNA sequence, can provide insights about environmental exposures.
The recent advances in genetic testing and metabolomics give the ability “to measure things in incredible detail at a level that has never been possible before,” said Michael Snyder of Stanford University, who delivered one of the keynote talks of the workshop. Snyder has been at the forefront of discovering the utility of collecting detailed data, from his own blood and other biospecimens, in an effort to understand what it means to be healthy. The cost of
sequencing a person’s entire genome is around $2,000 and is dropping steadily, said Snyder. Interpreting the data costs much more—at present about $15,000—but that cost will probably also decline over time, he said.
Snyder’s lab can detect approximately 20,000 molecules involved in metabolic processes, including proteins; RNA molecules involved in gene transcription; and cytokines involved in cell signaling and often associated with immune responses. His current research includes a study of 100 people who are sampled at regular intervals to assess disease risk and monitor disease states. Snyder said that his group is trying to make the biological data it collects in its research efforts openly accessible without providing information about the identities of the subjects. He argued that making as much of the data collected from research as accessible as possible will help facilitate discovery by others in the scientific community and advance personalized medicine.
David Ewing Duncan, a writer with interest in new scientific discoveries and their implications, was one of the first people to have his entire genome sequenced in 2001. Since then, he has been tested for hundreds of chemicals and genes associated with diseases, emotions, and other traits. His experiences have been documented in articles in Wired and National Geographic magazines and in the book Experimental Man: What One Man’s Body Reveals About His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World (Wiley, 2009). Following his testing, he learned that he retains trace quantities of the chemicals found at the Superfund site near where he grew up in Kansas. He also learned that the levels of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in his body are 50% higher than the median in the general population, he is a hyper-metabolizer of the blood thinner warfarin, and he metabolizes caffeine quickly. Duncan said that the vast majority of data acquired (at least 98%) from sequencing his genome are not yet useful because scientists cannot yet interpret them.
The information beginning to be available from genetic testing can have important practical consequences for sensitive individuals, Snyder and Duncan agreed. For example, the ability of genetic testing to identify individual sensitivity to the neurotoxicant mercury, which occurs in approximately 20% of the population, may help those people make better decisions about potential sources of exposure, such as receiving dental fillings and consuming certain fish, Duncan said. Similarly, Snyder pointed out that a person with a genetic predisposition to Parkinson’s disease should perhaps be counseled not to work with pesticides because of the association between exposure to pesticides and the disease.
The workshop included detailed discussions on two of the growing number of personal sensors available today that can enable people to learn more about their exposure to several agents, including chemicals, air particulate matter, and noise in their daily lives: AirCasting and Speck. Both of these sensors allow for the collection of data on levels of airborne fine particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). Studies have shown that exposure to PM2.5 has detrimental effects on lung function and can exacerbate preexisting conditions such as asthma and heart disease. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a dedicated webpage1 to inform members of the public about the capabilities of the different air quality sensors and assist them with deciding which sensor, if any, meets their needs. The webpage also compares the results from one sensor to data collected by research grade or federally owned equipment.
Other personal sensors that can collect important data and have a bearing on health mentioned at the workshop include activity and heart rate monitors, such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch, and ones that measure blood pressure, blood glucose, temperature, and radiation exposure. The focus of this workshop on air sensors reflects the status of the sensor field, in which the air sensors are the most technologically advanced; there are other personal sensors whose technology is still in early phases. The two specific case studies presented were also chosen because of the difference in their developers—a nonprofit group of concerned and engaged community members and citizen scientists, and a research institution aiming to improve its data-gathering capabilities. While the users of these technologies are currently researchers, these tools could be utilized by anyone interested in learning about his or her environment who can overcome the costs of the devices.
AirCasting is a platform developed by the nonprofit group HabitatMap2 that allows smartphones to record and map environmental exposure data by pooling and grouping data from sensors used by others in the area. AirCasting was
initially developed to facilitate efforts to monitor outdoor PM2.5 levels in the heavily polluted Newtown Creek Superfund site in Brooklyn, New York. The creek runs through the largest industrially zoned area in New York City (NYC) and bears a legacy of pollution dating back to when the city was an industrial powerhouse in the mid-19th century. The tool is now being used throughout the country by concerned citizens, university researchers, and regulatory organizations.
AirCasting gives users real-time PM2.5 measurements in their immediate vicinity by using a crowdsourcing approach that allows groups of people using different sensing instruments, including wearable devices, to transmit data that can be amassed together. Although the AirCasting platform can use data from any device, HabitatMap also offers its own personal air quality–sensing device, AirBeam, for collecting PM2.5 data, which are transmitted via a smartphone to the AirCasting platform. AirBeam uses open source coding that allows anyone to verify, reproduce, and improve on the device without intellectual property restrictions. It costs $250 and weighs 7 ounces.
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health began using AirCasting to aid in collecting air pollution data. The platform enabled Columbia researchers to involve many members of the public in data collection, said Michael Heimbinder of HabitatMap. “Researchers adopted the platform because it was low cost and solved some of their data management and communication issues,” he explained. AirCasting was also used to collect data on truck emissions in NYC. It showed elevated levels of PM2.5 up to seven times higher than ambient levels in some communities. The increased PM2.5 levels were believed to be due to an inefficient commercial waste collection system by private carting companies, which led to uncontrolled truck traffic in some areas in the city. Heimbinder mentioned that, following that study, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that the city would establish commercial waste collection zones that would address, among other things, concerns raised by the data.
Speck Sensor was created by Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab to monitor indoor PM2.5. It can collect information about particulate pollution from a wide variety of sources, including smoking, cooking, and vacuuming, as well as the particulates spewed into outdoor air by cars, which can enter the indoors through doors, windows, and ventilation systems. At 5.8 ounces, Speck Sensor weighs a little less than HabitatMap’s AirBeam and costs about $150.
Gabrielle Wong-Parodi of Carnegie Mellon University led a project intended to evaluate Speck Sensor’s potential to change the user’s behavior when he or she has information about PM2.5 indoor exposure. The project involved arranging for Speck Sensors to be made available for borrowing at 16 public libraries throughout Pittsburgh, overcoming concerns of access associated with requiring participants to purchase the sensor. In this way, they were able to remove the cost barrier that could prevent interested people from participating. Wong-Parodi and colleagues performed interviews to collect and then analyze the users’ reactions to the information they collected using the sensors. Some users were surprised to discover that certain activities, for example grilling cheese, frying bacon, and using the vacuum cleaner, were major sources of airborne particles. Others reported that the solutions suggested on Carnegie Mellon University’s website to reduce PM2.5 exposure (e.g., turning off a microwave vent and installing a window exhaust fan) were helpful and successful in reducing the amount of airborne particles produced during these activities.
By enabling members of the public to investigate sources and identify hot spots of particle emissions, the device allows them to become “air quality detectives,” pointed out Wong-Parodi. The fact that they could take action to reduce their exposure to airborne particles made them feel empowered, Wong-Parodi said. In the process of using the sensor, people may also be motivated to share their knowledge and data with others.
Wong-Parodi noted that many of the participants expressed interest in better understanding the link between exposure measurements and health issues. For example, a user concluded that the breathing difficulties of a nephew who probably suffered from asthma or allergies could relate to the high levels of airborne particles in her home. The project is expanding to other libraries across the country.
TRANSFORMING ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE SCIENCE
The increasing use of personal biological testing and personal sensors by both trained professionals and members of the public has helped to create “an opportunity to transform exposure science to advance human and ecosystem health,” according to the National Academies’ 2012 report Exposure Science in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. This report also touched on how the increased granularity of some of the new sensors combined with their relatively low price and ease of use allows for the capture of information that could not be obtained with previous generations of sensors.
The potential of the kinds of data that can be collected via personal sensors, especially when combined with increased access to personal biological testing and public Web-based information such as pooled community-level data,
is enormous, Snyder said. He is enthusiastic about the potential for coupling data captured by personal sensor technologies with data from detailed studies of biochemical processes such as the ones he conducts. He believes that everyone should have access to these data, if they want them.
This new information is changing the way risk assessment is currently done. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta of EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory noted that risk assessment is typically driven by information on a hazard and not actual exposure measurements; this is likely to change in the future.
Personal sensor tools may allow citizens to identify issues that researchers might be unaware of otherwise, predicted Phil Brown of Northeastern University. Linda Birnbaum of NIEHS noted environmental scientists and institutions may use data from personal sensors to respond more nimbly to emerging issues and disasters. As Amy Pruden of Virginia Tech put it, “empowering citizens with data can help avoid the Flint [Michigan] of the future,” referring to the high levels of lead discovered in the city’s water supply after the state switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the local Flint River in 2014.
The new tools bring with them the potential for greatly expanded data interoperability, if data collected by the personal sensors are combined with data collected by regulatory agencies, said Ann Bostrom of the University of Washington. Database integration efforts are already under way to allow these data to be readily linked together.
Gary Ginsberg of the Connecticut Department of Public Health predicted that the devices may also help researchers collect valuable data on nonregulated sources of air pollution. In his state, the tools could be used to monitor asphalt recycling operations and outdoor wood boilers both of which produce visible plumes of particulate matter.
Workshop participants discussed a number of challenges related to the use of new tools for collecting personal data on environmental exposures. These challenges are discussed in the following sections.
Many workshop participants noted that it is important to have quality checks in place to ensure that the data collected by members of the public using the different sensor tools are accurate. Edmund Seto of the University of Washington, who is managing one of the NIEHS-funded Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities projects, demonstrated the validity of the community-based, personal sensor tools when discussing his study that involved a request that the California Air Resources Board co-locate an air monitor. When comparing the community-based sensors and the government-provided monitor, Seto and colleagues noted the closeness in results. Participants also discussed checks related to device calibration and data evaluation. Some workshop participants noted that it is currently not well documented whether and how tool manufacturers, regulators, researchers, and other users perform these quality checks. The approaches are likely to vary depending on the available resources and the goals of the users, Bostrom said.
Ginsberg pointed out that sensing devices used by government agencies are calibrated in the factory and need to be recalibrated over time. The Speck Sensor is calibrated in the factory and it comes with recommendations for how to keep it operating properly. However, it is unclear how the need for recalibration would come to the attention of users. Miranda Loh of the Institute of Occupational Medicine pointed out that how sensors operate in the environment can also be an issue. Factors such as shielding and airflow may impact the sensors’ performance. Data obtained from some air quality sensors are evaluated by organizations, including EPA’s Office of Research and Development and California’s South Coast Air Management District.
The issues related to quality checks will receive greater attention “once there is an effort to create a community of device developers who have standards for evaluation that are widely shared,” Bostrom suggested. Standards of practice for testing may also “percolate up” from the user community, observed Gary Miller of Emory University. Kimberley Thigpen Tart of NIEHS raised the question of whether the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs to address the issue of quality checks for environmental monitoring sensors and issue guidance. Seto pointed out that the quality assurance plans developed for environmental monitoring projects may help with generating information about best practices related to quality checks.
Linking Data with Health Effects
Lindsay Stanek of EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory’s Computational Exposure Division observed that another challenge related to the use of new tools for collecting personal data on environmental exposures is trying to
FIGURE 1 A map of Barcelona was overlaid with the routes (in blue) children take from home to school. The map demonstrates the different areas of the city the children move through on their way to school, emphasizing that an air sensor in a single location would not adequately capture their exposure along their route.
SOURCE: Edmund Seto, University of Washington.
link the exposure data with health effects. One of the issues with this linkage is that there are few examples demonstrating a direct comparison between the data collected by devices used by regulatory groups and those collected by individuals. State and national particulate matter regulations are based on average levels of exposure over the course of a day or a year. Personal sensors on an individual or in his or her home typically measure exposures via a spot sample, though these devices are capable of collecting samples over longer ranges of time. Orme-Zavaleta urged the creation of better partnerships between the different data collectors to gather and make sense of the emerging data. Such a need was outlined by Seto, who discussed the results of a study he led on black carbon, the sooty material produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuel and biomass and emitted from various sources, including diesel engines and coal-fired power plants. His team used personal sensors to obtain measurements of schoolchildren’s daily exposure to black carbon and compared those to modeled estimates at their homes and schools in Barcelona. Seto and colleagues showed that the modeled estimates correlated well with black carbon estimates at a particular location, that is, at home or school. However, they did not capture the exposure the children were getting during their commutes between home and school. The use of modeled estimates is akin to the data regulators collect from conventional, nonmobile monitoring systems.
Actionable Data or Merely More Information
Duncan, Snyder, and Wong-Parodi presented examples in which an individual may take action on the basis of a particular result or read out from biological testing or a sensor technology, respectively. Duncan and Snyder suggested actions such as a person mitigating their exposure to a chemical suspected of being linked to a particular pathway, whereas Wong-Parodi and others at Carnegie Mellon University suggested solutions to reduce particulate matter exposure during cooking and other household exposures. However, in panel discussions other participants raised concerns over the type of confidence that can be assigned to data coming from any one test or sensor. In particular, a participant who identified herself as an employee at EPA asked the panel of speakers for their guidance on how EPA should respond to concerned citizens who have such test results and call EPA for assistance in identifying actions they can take to reduce their risk. It remained unclear throughout the workshop when and what type of data would be needed prior to a community member taking an action in response to that information, partly as these concerns and actions are going to be highly dependent on the individual’s health, environment, and predisposition to certain outcomes.
A fourth challenge discussed at the workshop related to the use of new tools for collecting personal data on environmental exposures is data privacy, with concerns generated by both institutions that support research that uses these tools and members of the public.
Data from environmental health studies are not typically reported back to study participants. Privacy concerns are major drivers for the policies of institutional review boards tasked to review and approve biomedical research. These boards often prohibit sharing environmental exposure data with study participants to ensure the subjects’ privacy and preclude any harm that could result from the release of the data. Brown argued that in his experience, reporting data to study participants could help with both recruiting them for a study and motivating them to continue to be part of the study longer term. He also noted that personal sensor technologies will likely be game changers because they can be used in projects that do not include institutional review board permissions, such as when members of the public engage in their own research. As a result data could be shared among individuals and within communities without the need for formal approval to do so.
Seto and Baruch Fischhoff of Carnegie Mellon University were among the workshop participants who urged for careful consideration of how the data are amassed and made available to study participants. Both personal sensing devices and personal biological testing can provide an intrusive window into how people behave, which raises the stakes for how privacy, security, and other ethical issues are handled.
Marian McCord of North Carolina State University observed that providing information to people who have little or no ability to control their exposures, such as people or communities located downwind from toxic emissions sources, could have unintended consequences. Projects aiming to detect lead or arsenic in a property’s soil or water or downwind exposure to a potential carcinogen can generate data that could be viewed as threatening to property owners, Ginsberg pointed out.
Distinguishing between sharing community- versus individual-level exposure data is important. Judy Qualters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pointed out that a recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled “Data for Health: Learning What Works” found that people think differently about data when used for individual health versus when thinking about community health. The study presents findings from observations made during five “Learning What Works” events held in diverse cities across the country: Charleston, South Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; and San Francisco, California. Attendees included a broad spectrum of individuals, from health care providers to researchers to community service providers to business leaders interested in using data to improve their health and the health of their communities. During these events, when people spoke about their individual health, they acknowledged that they did not always engage in healthy behaviors. However, when speaking about community health, attendees emphasized the importance of people taking responsibility for their own health.
Providing community-level data can sidestep many privacy concerns that could, for example, impact property values. Wong-Parodi said that people may not want to know about the findings from such projects if those findings suggest that their community is vulnerable or at risk. However, Seto said that some at-risk communities are calling out for more data. An example is a socioeconomically disadvantaged community located near a refinery in Richmond, California, that used the fines levied on the refinery after an explosion to install high-quality sensors before the newer, less expensive personal models were available. He argued that many other communities may exist that recognize the need for and value of monitoring.
An aid to grappling with the challenges with data and privacy may be in building “robust communities of interpretation,” perhaps including authorities such as members of the public health community, said Dawn Nafus of Intel Corporation. Such authorities may help empower members of a community where testing is taking place to press for more data or better evidence—or risk reduction, Fischhoff said. Peter Briss of CDC’s Chronic Disease Center applauded these efforts but cautioned that researchers “should ensure that monitoring or interventions for individual behavior change shouldn’t be the tail that wags the source-reduction dog,” suggesting that efforts to mitigate exposures should not shift toward only mitigating individual exposures at the cost of community or regional efforts. After all, he pointed out, the most cost-effective public health interventions involve environmental policy changes.
A fifth challenge is to effectively communicate data on individual- or community-based environmental exposures, captured by sensor technologies, Fischhoff warned. Ideally, these data and their interpretation should be reviewed by a
team that includes experts on the sensors and the toxicology and health effects of the detected compounds, behavioral scientists, and sociologists, highlighting a need for more multidisciplinary research and practice. If some of this expertise is missing, important information that members of the public need to know may not be communicated effectively, Fischhoff noted. He argued for the benefit of two-way risk communication throughout the process: “Don’t start the process without telling people you are potentially messing with their lives. And don’t try to mess with their lives without listening to them to find out what their priorities and predispositions are.”
How data are presented can have a major impact, Duncan stressed. For example, results from genetic sequencing indicated that he had a 50% increased risk for a brain aneurism. He pointed out that this “sounds slightly scary,” but really just means that he has a 1.5 chance in 200,000 of having a brain aneurism rather than the general population’s risk of 1.0 in 200,000. These comments were echoed by the themes presented by Sara Yeo of the University of Utah, who focused on improving how scientists communicate to the public and explored the various platforms for effective communication. She discussed the need to provide simple-to-understand information that attracts attention, engages the intended audience, and is still credible. She also discussed how successful communication with the public can be beneficial to the scientist’s career, a point that was the subject of a study by Pablo Jensen of the University of Lyon and colleagues published in 2008.
Fischhoff pointed to a number of—what he considers to be—good examples of formulating and reporting the kinds of data likely to be generated by projects launched with the new crop of inexpensive personal sensing devices and through biological testing. A 1999 Institute of Medicine committee on which Fischhoff served produced Toward Environmental Justice: Research, Education, and Health Policy Needs. It identifies three principles that public health research should follow to address environmental justice: “improve the science base, involve the affected populations, and communicate the findings to all stakeholders.” He lauded the 2009 Canadian Standards Organization’s Risk Management: Guideline for Decision-Makers standard for stipulating that risk should be communicated throughout the process. He also commended the U.S. Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management’s Framework for Environmental Health Risk Management, published in 1997, for putting stakeholder engagement at the center of the environmental health risk management process.
Having access to information about reference values, such as levels of pollution documented by state or federal regulators, may be important to help people in the community interpret their data, Bostrom commented. Brown pointed to a number of resources for creating materials that help recipients make sense of data, such as the nonprofit Silent Spring Institute’s Digital Exposure Report-Back Interface, or DERBI, a tool that automates the production of personalized reports for sharing chemical exposure and biomonitoring data with participants in large exposure studies, as well as its DetoxMe phone app and report-back handbook, When Pollution Is Personal: Handbook for Reporting Results to Participants in Biomonitoring and Personal Exposure Studies. Orme-Zavaleta noted that a number of tools intended for use by socioeconomically disadvantaged communities exist that can serve as portals for collecting national data for comparison if they were to be distributed nationally. An example is EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, an environmental justice mapping tool that provides users with publicly available demographic and environmental data collected by agencies, including EPA and CDC. Some of the tools also allow data to be uploaded and used for building scenarios to help in decision making, she said.
However, there was a recurring theme throughout the discussion of “communities of interpretation” that members of different communities would process the data and information differently. Along with the tools suggested above for understanding the data, it was suggested by one participant that citizens need a mechanism or a group they can turn to for assistance in the interpretation of their data. Carefully worded disclaimers may be needed to inform participants of risks and benefits, Pruden added. She also pointed out that people already make important decisions about their diets and dietary supplements with imperfect information.
Overcoming Barriers to Reaching Historically Underserved Communities
Symma Finn of NIEHS pointed out that members of some socioeconomically disadvantaged communities or historically underserved communities, such as immigrants and American Indian tribal nations, may have been exposed to more environmental hazards than the general population in the United States. However, at present, personal sensors and personal biomedical testing are mostly marketed to healthy people of high socioeconomic status, observed Seto and Briss. Many workshop attendees commented on the value of expanding the availability of these sensors to socioeconomically disadvantaged and historically underserved communities.
“It’s our responsibility, from the data we already have, to understand who is most vulnerable and to target funding announcements to solicit research that will address these vulnerable communities,” Finn said. Researchers
receiving funding also need to ensure that the “community is involved and has a say in what questions are answered, how they are answered, and how the information is given back to the communities,” she said. This can help researchers “shift from identifying the vulnerable to enhancing their resilience,” observed John Balbus of NIEHS. Indeed, installing inexpensive personal monitors at such sites could provide important data for regulators, observed Kevin Elliott of Michigan State University.
Finn stressed that efforts to reach out to socioeconomically disadvantaged communities or historically underserved communities will need to overcome barriers such as the more sparse use of smartphones by people in these communities. In addition to the technology barrier, researchers desiring to work with such communities will need to pay particular attention to how they present these tools and devices. For example, packaging can play an important role, Finn pointed out. For an indoor air study involving elders and children in American Indian communities, the elders were reluctant to wear portable sensors until someone in the tribe made beaded cases to contain them that were attached to beaded necklaces. From then on, the elders were very compliant with wearing the sensors, she said. Engaging the communities in this way can help find solutions that fit the members’ values.
Schools may be a good way to sample some of these communities, Elliott suggested. Orme-Zavaleta provided examples of how this approach has worked in the past. One example is EPA’s Village Green project, which involved installing air monitoring systems in park benches. The prototype bench in Durham, North Carolina, has been operating since 2013 at a public library, allowing students and others to access the data and learn about local air quality. A second example is the Discover AQ project, co-funded by EPA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The goal of the project was to assess how satellite observations can be better used for air quality applications. A component of this project involved allowing students in Houston, Texas, to investigate how well measurements on the ground correlated with data captured by satellites and planes equipped with sensors (as well as traditional monitoring equipment).
An open question is how the new sensing devices may be strategically deployed to target those most susceptible to a particular pollutant, asked Melissa Perry of George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. Some people may be more susceptible either due to their genetic makeup or because they are in a vulnerable life stage. This raises the possibility, Perry said, that we are moving toward a future where exposures will need to be controlled for only some individuals who are more susceptible.
Perry observed that many more people are going to play a role in collecting personal exposure data in the coming years and that both competition and collaboration among researchers, sensor developers, and community members will play a role in helping the enterprise move forward. In the process, the scientific and policy communities can do their part to help ensure that sensing devices and information from personalized testing are providing results that are simultaneously valid and usable, precise and representative, and accessible and relevant, Perry said. Perry expressed optimism that researchers will find effective ways to include the needs and perspectives of individuals, communities, and populations, and balance the need for privacy protections with the benefits of open access data.
DISCLAIMER: This Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was prepared by Kellyn Betts, Andrea Hodgson, and Ourania Kosti as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop. The statements made are those of the rapporteurs or individual meeting participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all meeting participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
PLANNING COMMITTEE ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND ENGAGEMENT APPROACHES TO ENHANCE RESEARCH ON AND COMMUNICATION ABOUT INDIVIDUAL ENVIRONMENTAL HEATH DATA: A WORKSHOP David Duncan, Freelance Journalist; Andrew Maynard, Arizona State University; Gary Miller, Emory University; Melissa Perry, George Washington University; Lindsay Stanek, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Kimberly Thigpen Tart, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Sara Yeo, University of Utah
REVIEWERS: To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was reviewed by Phil Brown, Northeastern University; Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University; Michael Jerrett, University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health; Lee Ann Kahlor, The University of Texas at Austin; Lindsay Stanek, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
SPONSOR: This workshop was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
For more information, contact the Board on Life Sciences at (202) 334-3947 or visit http://dels.nas.edu/bls.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Measuring Personal Environmental Exposures: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24711.
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Copyright 2017 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.