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What Happens at the End of the Assessment Process?

Throughout the public health assessment process, the health assessor has been evaluating whether any site chemicals or conditions could have harmful effects on people living nearby. The health assessor has been in contact with community members, other agencies, and other people with an interest in the site. Although important findings have likely been shared with people throughout the process, the results of the public health assessment process are reported in a written document.

The type of document that ATSDR issues depends on the needs of the community or on the needs of the agency that requested help. Following are descriptions of some of the primary documents that ATSDR produces.

Public Health Assessment
A public health assessment document is written to report on the results of evaluation of all available information about a site and the communities that may be affected by it.

Health Consultation
A health consultation is written to respond to a specific question or request. The health consultation provides the results of data evaluation that answers the specific question.

Health Advisory
A health advisory is written to alert government agencies and the public about an immediate and significant danger to human health from the release of hazardous chemicals.

Exposure Investigation
An exposure investigation is written to report the results of analysis of environmental and biological samples that ATSDR has collected to verify human contact with a chemical. Exposure investigations are conducted when no data are available to verify human contact with a chemical, but contact is suspected.

Are public health assessment documents always developed for certain types of sites?

ATSDR develops public health assessment activities at each of the sites on or proposed for the National Priorities List, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's list of the most hazardous waste sites in the nation. Otherwise, the type of report that is written depends on the needs of the community or agency requesting help and on the conditions at the site.

View a sample ATSDR Public Health Assessment.

Examples of ATSDR public health assessments.

Example of a health consultation.

What if new information becomes available after the public assessment process is complete?

Often new information is gathered because site conditions change. For instance, more sampling may be conducted or site cleanup may be completed. A new report may be issued to explain the new information and how it affects previous conclusions and recommendations about the site.


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