People are exposed to a multitude of environmental toxicants through the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, and the products we use in our home or on our bodies. Scientists are working to understand the implications of these complex chemical mixtures, which can sometimes produce health effects greater than each chemical would alone.
For example, exposure to ozone and aldehydes, which are components of smog, produces greater health effects than would be predicted based on each chemical alone. Similarly, smokers who are also exposed to radon or asbestos have a greater risk of developing lung cancer.
What NIEHS is doing
Historically exposure research has studied the health effects of single chemicals at specific times, but there is growing effort by NIEHS funded scientists to develop methods to study environmental exposures in ways that more closely represent the mixture of exposures that we experience in modern life.
They are examining how these mixtures interact in cells, animals, and humans to determine health effects. Efforts are being made to develop innovative statistical methods for assessing health effects of mixtures and to characterize real-life exposures.
The NIEHS Superfund Research Program also supports research of mixtures on human health and the environment.
For additional information on what NIEHS grantees are doing, visit our Who We Fund tool.
- April 3-4, 2018 - Understanding the Combined Effects of Environmental Chemical and Non-Chemical Stressors: Atherosclerosis as a Model
- June 2016 - Advances in Epidemiological Approaches to Assessing Health Effects of Environmental Mixtures. Pre-conference workshop at the 2016 Congress of the Americas meeting
- June 13-24, 2015 - Statistical Approaches for Assessing Health Effects of Environmental Chemical Mixtures in Epidemiology Studies
- September 26-27, 2011 - Advancing Research on Mixtures: New Perspectives and Approaches for Predicting Adverse Human Health Effects
Danielle J. Carlin, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
P.O. Box 12233Mail Drop K3-04Durham, N.C. 27709