The Exposome

A new-to-me concept: the equivalent of the genome, but for environmental exposures rather than genes. Not an easy idea, but interesting.

Issues/problems/initial thoughts:

  • The difference between internal/external exposures. Role of intermediaries (metabonomics, proteomics etc). Most definitions seem to focus on the ‘internal chemical environment’, presumably because more easily measured, compared to external exposures.
  • At the internal end, there’s the fuzzy boundary with genomics (epigenetics etc)
  • Unlike the genome, it is open-ended and effectively unbounded (if a chemical or other exposure exists, it could potentially be part of the human exposome).
  • It is dynamic, constantly changing over short and longer timescales, and differs widely between individuals and groups (but: possible to estimate ‘population exposomes’ for clearly defined population groups? Possible to envisage estimation of individual exposomes through measurement of biomarkers and detailed questionnaires of occupational, housing, social and lifestyle histories… so not very far from what researchers and doctors do already, but more systematic/all-encompassing rather than research topic, disease or complaint-specific)



Christopher Wild’s original paper:

Visualise with the graphic here (need more and better!):

CDC has good summary:

Science article (paywall):


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