Applied exposome programme: exposures interacting with our health

Our health is impacted by the environment in which we grow up, live, work, enjoy sport, sleep and relax. The combination of exposures over our lifetime constitutes a major risk factor for the development of disease. This has given rise to the concept “exposome”; the totality of exposures people experience during their lifetime and how their bodies respond to them. 

Read more about the Exposome and our programme

Download whitepaper

TNO is working together with partners on technology and methods to monitor and interpret these exposures, relate them to health effects and to develop effective methods of prevention.


Many common disorders are closely linked to exposures that range from lifestyle factors to chemical exposures, social interactions and stress. Collectively, these exposures have a huge impact on health in society. Many exposures can potentially be modified to prevent disease. Unfortunately,  we often can’t explain why one person will develop a certain disease while another won’t, due to the complex interrelation between exposures and effects. The exposome concept can help bridge this gap in knowledge.


Exposome programme

Since people spend a large part of their lives at work, occupational exposure is an important factor. Exposures at work are higher and more complex than outdoors or in home environments, and working is closely related to lifestyle and behaviour (e.g. diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption) and socio-economic status.

We apply the exposome concept to occupational exposures in order to develop evidence-based and effective preventive measures that enhance workplace health. We do this by developing sensors and sensor-based methods for obtaining personal exposure profiles throughout the working day, providing better insights into who is exposed, where a person is during higher exposures and what the reasons for this exposure are.


Exposome profiles

The contribution of occupational exposures to the total burden of disease is similar in magnitude to air pollution or obesity, for example. We want to know:

  • why one person becomes ill and another doesn’t under the same circumstances
  • how different exposures combined may lead to effects on health
  • what the early signs of the negative effects of exposures are.

That is why we develop models and biomarkers to characterise the internal exposome (doorlink pagina). In addition, we further develop and apply exposome methods, e.g. sensors, passive sampling, data mining, and (non-invasive) biomonitoring methods in large groups of workers, in the EU EPHOR project that we coordinate.


Thanks to our multidisciplinary nature and our in-house experts ranging from sensor developers to exposure scientists and from systems biologists to behavioural scientists, we are able to unravel the exposome.

Together with partners from industry and research, we work in partnerships that are essential for taking this field further, towards applications. We have a strategic partnership with the NIOSH in the US and HSE in the UK and with the Utrecht Exposome Hub on exposome research. If you would like to know more about our exposome activities or collaborate with us, please get in touch.  

Learn more about our exposome activities and business opportunities

Get in touch with Anjoeka Pronk

TNO Insights

EXPOSOME: connecting the dots for effective prevention of disease

12 March 2018
Our (work) environment has an important, and potentially avoidable, impact on our health. Knowledge about the precise effects of exposures in our environment is still limited. The concept 'exposome' –... Read more
TNO Insights

This is how we trace harmful substances even faster

31 August 2016
TNO has developed a method for rapidly detecting exposure to benzene. This is a nice example of personalized sensing, a type of sensor system that is used to better manage environmental impacts on people.... Read more

Dr. ir. Anjoeka Pronk


Stay up to date with our latest news, activities and vacancies collects and processes data in accordance with the applicable privacy regulations for an optimal user experience and marketing practices.
This data can easily be removed from your temporary profile page at any time.
You can also view our privacy statement or cookie statement.