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Public health challenges posed by chemical mixtures.
  • Published Date:
    Dec 1998
  • Source:
    Environ Health Perspect. 106(Suppl 6):1271-1280.
Filetype[PDF - 2.09 MB]


Details:
  • Description:
    Approximately 40 million people live within a 4-mile radius of waste sites that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has assessed to date. Human populations living in the vicinity of such sites are often subjected to complex chemical exposures that may contribute to the total body burden of oxogenous chemicals. Apart from the contaminants found at waste sites, exposure may also include environmental, occupational, and personal agents. Concurrent exposure to chemicals such as welding fumes, indoor air pollutants, tobacco smoke, alcohol, and prescription and nonprescription drugs makes the health assessment of exposure to waste site chemicals a more complex task. Voluntary exposures such as these frequently entail exposures to relatively high chemical concentrations and can usually be well defined and quantified. Conversely, involuntary exposures from waste sites may be at low concentrations and hence difficult to characterize and quantify. Of the approximately 1450 waste sites evaluated by the ATSDR, 530 (37%) had either completed or potentially completed exposure pathways. Results of public health assessments conducted at 167 sites during 1993 to 1995 show that about 1.5 million people have been exposed to site-specific contaminants. At 10% or more of the sites that had either completed or potentially completed exposure pathways, 56 substances were identified. Of these, 19 are either known or anticipated human carcinogens, and 9 are associated with reproductive or endocrine-disrupting effects. In this paper we present important concerns regarding hazardous waste sites including the impact on human health, ecology, and quality of life. To address such human-health related issues, the ATSDR has established a mixtures program that consists of three components: trend analysis to identify combinations of chemicals of concern, experimental studies to identify data that would be useful in the development and implementation of predictive decision support methodologies, and development of assessment methodologies and guidance to provide health assessors with the tools to incorporate the evaluation of multiple-chemical exposure into site assessments.

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