Exposure science in an age of rapidly changing climate: challenges and opportunities

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Abstract

Climate change is anticipated to alter the production, use, release, and fate of environmental chemicals, likely leading to increased uncertainty in exposure and human health risk predictions. Exposure science provides a key connection between changes in climate and associated health outcomes. The theme of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Society of Exposure Science—Exposures in an Evolving Environment—brought this issue to the fore. By directing attention to questions that may affect society in profound ways, exposure scientists have an opportunity to conduct “consequential science”—doing science that matters, using our tools for the greater good and to answer key policy questions, and identifying causes leading to implementation of solutions. Understanding the implications of changing exposures on public health may be one of the most consequential areas of study in which exposure scientists could currently be engaged. In this paper, we use a series of case studies to identify exposure data gaps and research paths that will enable us to capture the information necessary for understanding climate change-related human exposures and consequent health impacts. We hope that paper will focus attention on under-developed areas of exposure science that will likely have broad implications for public health.

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