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Annu Rev Public Health. 2017 Mar 20;38:215-239. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-082516-012802.

Assessing the Exposome with External Measures: Commentary on the State of the Science and Research Recommendations.

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Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Barcelona 08003, Spain; email: ,
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona 08002, Spain.
CIBER EpidemiologĂ­a y Salud PĂșblica (CIBERESP), Madrid 28029, Spain.
McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3Z7, Canada.
Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331; email:
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709; email: ,
Department of Preventive Medicine and Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033; email:
Center for Human Health and the Environment, Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695; email:
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; email:
Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California 94704; email:
Department of Environmental Health Science, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1772; email:


The exposome comprises all environmental exposures that a person experiences from conception throughout the life course. Here we review the state of the science for assessing external exposures within the exposome. This article reviews (a) categories of exposures that can be assessed externally, (b) the current state of the science in external exposure assessment, (c) current tools available for external exposure assessment, and (d) priority research needs. We describe major scientific and technological advances that inform external assessment of the exposome, including geographic information systems; remote sensing; global positioning system and geolocation technologies; portable and personal sensing, including smartphone-based sensors and assessments; and self-reported questionnaire assessments, which increasingly rely on Internet-based platforms. We also discuss priority research needs related to methodological and technological improvement, data analysis and interpretation, data sharing, and other practical considerations, including improved assessment of exposure variability as well as exposure in multiple, critical life stages.


exposome; external exposures; geographic information systems; global positioning systems; remote sensing; smartphones

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