Relevance of exposome research for policy

Research into the relationship between the living environment and health often focuses on understanding the effects of a single aspect of the living environment on a specific disease. In exposome research, the influence of a number of aspects is assessed at the same time. It is about physical environmental factors (such as air pollution, medicines and green spaces in the living environment), social environmental factors (such as level of education and family composition), behaviour (such as dietary habits and physical activity) and substances that are formed in the body itself (for example, as a result of metabolism, ageing or immune responses).

The Health Council of the Netherlands believes that this integrated approach provides opportunities to develop more effective preventive and health-promoting strategies, for instance because the research sheds light on the accumulation of, and interactions between, various environmental factors. Exposome research also has the potential to detect new risks, for example resulting from the introduction of certain innovations.

The results of this type of research can deliver health benefits, provided health and environmental policy and the exposome research are aligned. The Health Council of the Netherlands is making recommendations for better use of the results of exposome research for policy purposes.