Lifecourse Environmental Exposures

Carla Costa

Coordinator:

Integrated Member (PhD)
Lifestyle and lifetime exposure to environmental contaminants are important risk factors for the development of many chronic diseases and premature ageing.

However, most of the studies developed so far are essentially focused on the health effects of exposures to a single chemical compound, with few studies considering simultaneous exposure to different chemical compounds. Thus, it becomes necessary to move from the “one exposure, one disease” model to a more integrated approach, closer to the concept of the expossome, which allows for a better understanding of how genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors interact to drive (or prevent) diseases throughout life.

In the coming years, the Lab intends to thoroughly characterise the environmental exposures to different chemical compounds present in the environment, at different stages of life, mainly those characterised by a higher susceptibility (in utero period and childhood). Besides compounds with recognized toxic effects, such as tobacco smoke, PAH, PBDE, and phthalates, among others, the team also aims to address other emerging issues, such as population exposure to e-waste and micro/nanoplastics.

Assessing and interpreting the risks arising from environmental exposures, as well as communicating the relevant risks, will enable the implementation of more effective Public Health policy interventions.

In fact, understanding how different risk factors affect human health, quantifying the impact of these factors on the population and characterising and evaluating their possible interactions remain as priority challenges, present on the agendas of different international bodies.

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