Sometimes, critical data needed for a health assessment or consultation are missing or not available. In such cases, ATSDR might conduct an exposure investigation. Exposure investigations involve the collection and analysis of environmental contamination data and biologic tests (when appropriate). The goal is to determine whether people have been exposed to hazardous substances. An exposure investigation is one approach used to better characterize past, current, and possible future human exposures to hazardous substances and to evaluate both existing and possible exposure-related health effects.
Exposure investigations may include
- Biomedical testing (urine and blood samples), which can show current and possibly past exposure to a contaminant, or
- Environmental testing of soil, water, or air. Testing is done where people live, spend time, play, or might come in contact with contamination
Exposure dose reconstruction analyses use environmental sampling and computer models to estimate contamination levels that people may have been exposed to in the past, or may be exposed to in the future. Modeling helps in estimating potential exposures and assisting in conclusions on how exposures might affect a person’s health.