Why is the modern world making us ill? In this issue, Horizon examines the emerging field of exposomics, which looks for answers in the hidden world around us.
Chronic diseases such as cancer and asthma are on the rise in the developed world, and researchers are zeroing in on the elements in our environment that are to blame.
Horizon speaks to the research projects involved in the EU Exposome Initiative which are assessing the exposure of over 100 000 EU citizens to potential health risks in their surroundings, and finds out how the air inside modern offices could be playing havoc with our health.
We also learn about a study seeking to establish the effects of environment on life expectancy by comparing the health of adult twins, and discover why being too clean could give your children diabetes.
In our September issue, we interview Dr Chris Wild, the cancer scientist who first proposed that the best way to tackle chronic disease would be to study the totality of non-genetic factors that we are exposed to. He explains why more international research collaboration in the field is needed.
Over the last few decades buildings have become cleaner, leaner and increasingly air-tight, spurred on by a drive for energy efficiency. Now, however, scientists are showing that poor ventilation and indoor pollutants are not only linked to discomfort and decreased productivity, but also to allergies and respiratory disorders.
The EU is making important progress in researching the links between environment and disease, but the field needs more collaboration from the rest of the world, according to its pioneering researcher Dr Chris Wild, director of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Parents may one day feed high-strength bacteria to their kids in order to stop them from developing early onset diabetes, after research showed that over-hygienic environments are leading to a rise in incidences of the disease.
The world’s oceans are overfished, polluted and – for something that makes up 70% of the Earth’s surface – still little understood. This month, Horizon looks at some of the science that could help us take better care of our oceans, from robots trash collectors out at sea to finding ways to track the plastic that enters our waters. Plus, we look at how climate change is affecting plans for sustainable aquaculture, tech that can help divers reduce the cost of their dives by more than 50%, and the challenges facing research in the Black Sea.
To mark the European year of cultural heritage, Horizon explores how science is helping to uncover more about our past and to preserve our art, landscapes, buildings and ways of life for the future. We discover why prehistoric humans chose to paint rock art where they did, and how farming techniques from hundreds of years ago could help fight climate change today. Plus, we learn how cultural heritage feeds into European identities and what can be done to prevent the destruction of historical sites during wartime.
Tiny pieces of plastic, now ubiquitous in the marine environment, have long been a cause of concern for their ability to absorb toxic substances and potentially penetrate the food chain. Now scientists are beginning to understand the level of threat posed to life, by gauging the extent of marine accumulation and tracking the movement of these contaminants.
The world’s largest radio telescope, known as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and situated over two continents, will be able to detect the first stars and galaxies emerging from the ‘murk’ at the beginning of the universe and much more besides, according to Professor Phil Diamond, Director General of SKA. He spoke to Horizon at the opening of the Shared Sky art exhibition in Brussels, Belgium on 16 April, where indigenous artists from SKA host nations South Africa and Australia use traditional painting and folk art to explore the themes of astronomy, spirituality and a borderless sky.
Tiny plastic particles could impact human health.
Astronomers could use giant radio telescope from 2025.
The EU’s research chief on his new role.