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Exploring the Exposome

October 12, 2018

Scientists map our exposure to chemicals and microbes.



Mapping our exposure to microbes and chemicals. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We spend our lives in an invisible ocean of bacteria, chemical, pollen and other air-borne material, both living and non-living. Scientists who study it, like Stanford researcher Michael Snyder call it the exposome.


So we’re trying to get a much more complete and accurate picture of what people are exposed to and we think ultimately that will be very very powerful for understanding how that impacts our health.


In the journal Cell, he and his colleagues report outfitting 15 volunteers with devices that sniff out biological agents like bacteria, and chemical ones, like pesticides. They cataloged thousands of microbes and chemicals, that varied based on geography and lifestyle. Snyder says the next step is to outfit thousands of volunteers with the devices to discover how this exposure affects health. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon