Personal assessment of the external exposome during pregnancy and childhood in Europe

Publication authors

Donaire-Gonzalez D, Curto A, Valentín A, Andrusaityte S, Basagaña X, Casas M, Chatzi L, de Bont J, de Castro M, Dedele A, Granum B, Grazuleviciene R, Kampouri M, Lyon-Caen S, Manzano-Salgado CB, Aasvang GM, McEachan R, Meinhard-Kjellstad CH, Michalaki E, Pañella P, Petraviciene I, Schwarze PE, Slama R, Robinson O, Tamayo-Uria I, Vafeiadi M, Waiblinger D, Wright 8, Vrijheid M, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ.


The human exposome affects child development and health later in life, but its personal external levels, variability, and correlations are largely unknown. We characterized the personal external exposome of pregnant women and children in eight European cities. Panel studies included 167 pregnant women and 183 children (aged 6-11 years). A personal exposure monitoring kit composed of smartphone, accelerometer, ultraviolet (UV) dosimeter, and two air pollution monitors were used to monitor physical activity (PA), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), black carbon, traffic-related noise, UV-B radiation, and natural outdoor environments (NOE). 77% of women performed the adult recommendation of ≥150 min/week of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA), while only 3% of children achieved the childhood recommendation of ≥60 min/day MVPA. 11% of women and 17% of children were exposed to daily PM2.5 levels higher than recommended (≥25μg/m3). Mean exposure to noise ranged from Lden 51.1 dB in Kaunas to Lden 65.2 dB in Barcelona. 4% of women and 23% of children exceeded the recommended maximum of 2 Standard-Erythemal-Dose of UV-B at least once a week. 33% of women and 43% of children never reached the minimum NOE contact recommendation of ≥30 min/week. The variations in air and noise pollution exposure were dominated by between-city variability, while most of the variation observed for NOE contact and PA was between-participants. The correlations between all personal exposures ranged from very low to low (Rho < 0.30). The levels of personal external exposures in both pregnant women and children are above the health recommendations, and there is little correlation between the different exposures. The assessment of the personal external exposome is feasible but sampling requires from one day to more than one year depending on exposure due to high variability between and within cities and participants.