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When a soil or groundwater contamination problem is discovered, the attention of the public and of regulatory agencies focuses on the potential effects on human health. However, human exposure to a chemical at some minimal concentration must occur before an adverse effect on human health is realized. The exposure assessment quantifies this exposure; an exposure assessment is the determination or estimation of the magnitude, frequency, duration, and routes of exposure.
This paper addresses the basic elements and applications of the exposure assessment. First, this paper will define and discuss the six basic elements of an exposure assessment. Second, this paper will discuss the usefulness of the exposure assessment in evaluating remedial actions to be implemented at hazardous waste sites. Third, this paper presents an actual case study, involving an existing Superfund site, in which an exposure assessment was performed to select a cost-effective remedial action plan that provided the greatest benefit at an acceptable risk.
human exposure, exposure pathways, exposure analysis, risk-benefit analysis, hazardous wastes, Superfund, remedial investigations, feasibility studies
Senior scientist, E. C. Jordan Co., Southfield, MI
Civil engineer, Kennedy/Jenks Engineers, San Francisco, CA