Presentation Open Access

Measuring the Environmental Exposome (ISES2020)

Schymanski, Emma

Invited presentation for the ISES 2020 Virtual Meeting scheduled for September 21 & 22, 2020, in "The Chemical Space in Exposure Assessments" symposium organised by Oliver Fiehn, Tom Metz and David Wishart


The environment and the chemicals to which we are exposed is incredibly complex, with over 100 million chemicals in the largest open chemical databases and over 70,000 in household use alone. Detectable molecules in complex samples can now be captured using high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), which provides a “snapshot” of all chemicals present in a sample and allows for retrospective data analysis through digital archiving. However, there is no “one size fits all” analytical method, and scientists cannot yet identify most of the tens of thousands of features in each sample, leading to critical bottlenecks in identification and data interpretation. Defining the chemical space to search, the analytical methods to use, prioritizing efforts to find significant environmental chemicals or potentially toxic substances responsible for observed biological/toxic effects as well as their metabolites will be the key to the exposomics challenge, which involves reconciling highly complex samples with expert knowledge and careful validation. This talk will cover European and worldwide community initiatives to help connect knowledge on chemistry and toxicity with measured data and environmental observations to measure the “environmental exposome” - from compound databases to spectral libraries and retrospective screening. It will touch on the challenges of data curation, deposition and communication between resources, with a focus on recent activities to capture and exchange European environmental knowledge for community (re)use. Finally, it will show how interdisciplinary efforts and data sharing can facilitate research in exposomics and beyond. The work to be presented is a massive collaborative effort for which we are extremely grateful and various contributors will be acknowledged throughout the talk.

Keywords (≤ 5): exposome, environment, high resolution mass spectrometry, cheminformatics, non-target screening

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