Friday, February 11, 2011

Exposure to Pollution and Public Health - a review

Exposure Science: A View of the Past and Milestones for the Future (10 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect 118:1081-1090, 01 August 2010)

This broad review of the history of exposure science discusses several leading edge tools and applications such as GPS mapping and biomonitoring, as well as carefully delineating the differences between environmental science, environmental health science and exposure science. In the air pollution-health field, as noted in the article, exposure is often used as a substitute for actual monitoring.

Key Quotes:

“environmental science includes understanding the sources of toxicants and the processes that release and transport them though air, water, soil, or food and has applications to sustainability. Environmental health science describes the processes and effects that occur after the human body has received a toxicant, including mechanistic research in toxicology as well as epidemiology or clinical practice.. neither directly addresses the fundamental issues of whether and how human contact with toxicants occurs after release into the environment or workplace”

“exposure science provides information and tools to bridge or to directly link the above disciplines by quantifying and characterizing the conditions for contact with toxicants”

“Global positioning system (GPS) is a tool that can help track subjects in observational exposure studies..These data can be used as inputs to exposure models to understand the significance of human activities and behaviors on contact and estimate distributions of exposure.. GPS data are coupled with personal monitoring, microenvironmental monitoring, and activity-pattern data”

“The National Ambient Air Quality Standards ..are usually indirectly related to exposure, because the levels are taken at a monitoring site designed to be representative of the general location of an urban or suburban population and not meant to represent actual high or low exposures or provide near-fenceline estimates of pollutant impacts”

“in the absence of mechanistic or observational exposure data, environmental-quality data (e.g., air and water) are used as surrogates for exposure for established health standards. Thus, most of the health standards are defined in terms of the environmental media concentrations and are indirectly related to exposure”
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