Results from the first ever public survey on the exposome

The first 100 responses from the “Your Exposome” citizen science quiz are in! Launched in December 2023, this 5-minute, on-line quiz aimed to understand ordinary people’s concerns about the effect of the environment on their health, and to gather feedback on exposome research topics.

Air pollution and diet were the top concerns – with 80% of respondents worried about these exposures. Also high on the list were viruses, household chemicals and water quality.

The participants’ comments revealed a general malaise. As one person put it: “All environmental factors impact us to some degree. Living in a big city and being exposed to so much can be concerning.” Another stated: “All food is processed nowadays and at work you just sit around for hours on hours”. Another theme was the difficulties of measuring exposures: “I’m not sure how to assess the quality of the local tap water. I’m also very unsure on the impact of cleaning products I use on my health.”

The tone of the responses underlines the urgency and relevance of research into environmental exposures. In that regard, there was better news for scientific researchers. The most interesting research topic was judged to be HEAP’s pilot project to measure the personal exposome with wearable “exposometer” devices. Participants also gave a thumbs up to the idea of using consumer purchase data to understand how our diet affects our health. Top scorers for “potential social impact” were studies targeting improvements to diet and exercises, and a study to assess the effectiveness of community vaccination campaigns.

The quiz results also issue a clear challenge to science communicators. Around 40% of respondents had never heard of the exposome, or were unsure what it meant, so there is much more work to do.

The“Your Exposome” quiz remains open to the public.
January 30, 2024