Workshop Report/Summary

Measuring Personal Environmental Exposures: Proceedings of a Workshop, in Brief (2017)

This workshop was held November 16-17, 2016 at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Keck Building, located at 500 5th St. NW Washington DC, 20001.

Advances in personal sensor technologies and increased access to personal biological testing and public web-based information such as pooled community-level data, among other emerging capabilities, increasingly enable people and communities to collect and use data about their own environmental exposures. These trends are enhanced by the growing value that society places on open and transparent data and research. The increased availability and accessibility of personal environmental exposure data raises a wide range of questions about why and how lay publics assess the collected data to inform personal decisions about their health. Such questions include: What motivates someone to gather their own environmental exposure data? How do these data inform their personal decisions? What are the implications of data gathered in this manner for risk communication and engagement practices of the science community? Do government, academic, or commercial research institutions that provide public access to these new technologies and capabilities have a responsibility to communicate and engage with individuals or communities about the implications of their data and any potential risks?

This workshop explored the nuanced implications of citizen access to individual-level environmental exposure data. The workshop brought together environmental health researchers, social scientists, business and consumer representatives, science policy experts, and other professionals at the forefront of emerging technologies, ethics, science communication, and public engagement. Workshop participants provided an overview of the trends, tests, technologies, and other emerging capabilities that enable access to individual-level environmental exposure data, and discuss their implications for risk communication, public engagement, decision making, among other key considerations for both scientists and citizens.