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Exposure Assessment for Biological Agents in Environmental Epidemiology 

Exposure Assessment for Biological Agents in Environmental Epidemiology
Chapter:
Exposure Assessment for Biological Agents in Environmental Epidemiology
Source:
Exposure Assessment in Environmental Epidemiology (2 ed.)
Author(s):

Dick Heederik

and Heike Schmitt

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199378784.003.0011

This chapter provides an overview of assessment methods for biological agents. Classical viable sampling techniques have many limitations because they affect viability of sampled organisms and because of the upper limit of detection (overgrowth). The emergence of molecular methods have created new opportunities for application in environmental epidemiological studies. Molecular methods can be combined with most sampling techniques. Measurement of infectious agents, by use of molecular methods, gives insight in transmission routes and may lead to unraveling exposure response relations for these agents. An alternative approach has been measurement of microbial constituents, such as bacterial endotoxins, muramic acid, and glucans. Exposure to these agents has been associated with protective effects of immunological diseases such as allergies and asthma. The role of microbial diversity in the environment is a novel topic in environmental epidemiological studies and application of metagenomic techniques to characterize microbial communities in environmental studies is just starting.

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