Under congressional mandate, ATSDR is required to conduct public health assessments for certain contaminated waste sites. At these sites, the agency may conduct a wide range of activities. One important activity is to evaluate the extent to which people may come into contact with hazardous substances in soil, groundwater, surface water, air, and food. To characterize potential exposures to soil contaminants, ATSDR considers several factors, such as the nature and extent of contamination, whether people have access to contaminated areas, and the amounts of soils they ingest.
With the growing number of sites where levels of soil contamination may be of public health concern, particularly among children who exhibit soil-pica behavior, ATSDR decided to convene a panel with expertise on the scientific, cultural, behavioral, and medical factors related to soil-pica behavior. The panelists' findings will be used to focus on how ATSDR evaluates the public health implications of exposure to soil contaminants.