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What can we do to make our environment healthier?

What can we do to make our environment healthier?

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Modern life is characterized by constant exposure to environmental chemicals, including pesticides in food and cosmetics. The effects can be separated to improve the health of both humans and the planet.

Environment



26 January 2022

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Kyle Ellingson

MICHAEL SNYDER carries four watches, two on each wrist. A Stanford University geneticist, California, he isn’t obsessed with time only with buying us all a little more of it. The watches monitor his movements and vital signs like heart rate and temperature. He also carries a small walkie-talkie to collect any airborne chemicals or viruses he encounters.

Snyder is trying answer an age-old question. How does our environment affect our health and well-being? We are all exposed to harmful substances every time we breathe, eat or drink, wash our bodies, dress, go to work, or climb into bed.

Between 9 and 12 millions people die prematurely each year from the cumulative effects of these exposures, mainly water and air pollution and synthetic chemicals. Our ignorance of what is actually happening is astounding. “For most exposures, probably the things you’re breathing right now, we’re not really sure what they’re doing,” says Snyder.

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He and others are now trying to lead a revolution in understanding what makes us sick. “It might sound similar to what has been done in the past, but now we’ve got this big concept,” says Michelle Bennett at the US National Cancer Institute Center for Research Strategy. Its name, Exposomics, is big. It aims at measuring everything we are exposed too throughout our lives and linking it to our health. Is it possible?

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