Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options

5.1 Activities Contributing to Exposure and Ingestion of Soil/Dust: Dr. Natalie Freeman

Historical Document

This Web site is provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ONLY as an historical reference for the public health community. It is no longer being maintained and the data it contains may no longer be current and/or accurate.

Dr. Freeman opened the discussion on how to identify soil-pica children by showing video footage from her observational studies on how children come into contact with soils and household dusts. The video showed children engaging in various behaviors that contribute to exposures, such as putting objects in their mouths, playing with pets, handling food, eating after playing outdoors, sucking thumbs, cleaning fingernails, playing in sandboxes, and engaging in other hand-to-mouth activities. Dr. Freeman explained that the extent of exposure depends on many factors, such as where children play, what they wear, and how often they wash their hands. She noted further that the number of times a day children wash their hands is often less than parents think, primarily because parents often do not oversee this behavior. Dr. Freeman added that exposures can occur even when children are relatively inactive. Specifically, she stated that mouthing behavior was often greatest during periods of "down time," such as just before children take naps or while they watch television.

Dr. Freeman acknowledged that this particular research project did not attempt to quantify the amounts of soil ingested by the various activities, but she indicated that exposures may be significant. Citing a research project from the 1980s as an example, she noted that as much as 10,000 mg of soil can adhere to certain types of candies, when dropped outdoors (reference not provided). In conclusion, she emphasized that the various activities that contribute to exposures to soil and dust are typical children's behavior, and do not involve direct consumption of soils. Though she has not quantified these exposures, Dr. Freeman suspected that the cumulative effect of the various behaviors can lead to substantial ingestion of soils in some children (e.g., those who play vigorously outdoors, and who frequently engage in mouthing behavior, and who rarely wash their hands).

Top of Page

Contact Us:
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
    4770 Buford Hwy NE
    Atlanta, GA 30341-3717 USA
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
    Email CDC-INFO
  • New Hours of Operation
    8am-8pm ET/Monday-Friday
    Closed Holidays The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #