Exposure Pathways Evaluation

Introduction to the Section

What would you do if you heard that the Environmental Protection Agency had found trichloroethylene in the groundwater in your neighborhood?

Your first concern might be whether this chemical could make you and your family sick.

  • In such situations, the health assessor’s job is to determine whether you or others in your community are coming in contact with the chemical. This is important to know because a chemical cannot make anyone sick unless that person eats, drinks, breathes, or touches the chemical.
  • Even then, a person would have to come in contact with the chemical in a way that allows enough of it into the body to result in illness. For example, if you were to touch a lead pipe, your skin would keep the lead from entering your body. But, if you were to breathe dust from lead-based paint during sandblasting, lead particles might get into your body and cause harm.
  • Trichloroethylene is one chemical that can enter a person’s body in a number of ways. It evaporates into air, so it might be inhaled. If it gets into your water supply, it is possible to drink it. A little bit of it can even go through your skin if you touch it.

To find out how, when, and where people are coming in contact with chemicals, health assessors conduct an “exposure pathways evaluation.”

To learn about what this evaluation involves, click through this section.

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Takes about 15-25 minutes.

Page last reviewed: May 31, 2016