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Exposure Assessment Methods


Exposure assessment is a multi-disciplinary field central to deciding whether and how to use resources for reducing workplace exposures, and to defining exposure-response relationships in epidemiologic studies. Rapid, inexpensive measurement tools and improved data analysis methods are needed for the collection of adequate exposure data and for effective intervention. At least three major gaps in current methods will drive development of exposure assessment methods in the next decade: (1) the lack of sufficiently precise exposure assessments to support accurate epidemiologic studies in the complex environments of today's workplaces, (2) the lack of practical measurement techniques that can be applied at reasonable cost in many workplaces where hazards may exist, and (3) the lack of validated methods for measuring relevant exposure and total dose data directly from biological samples obtained by relatively noninvasive techniques.

A. Develop computer models to extrapolate information from historical data of limited exposure measurements to apply to large study populations, and to incorporate short-duration but high-intensity exposures such as leaks or spills into the models.

B. Develop easy-to-use, direct-reading instruments and test kits to measure exposures rapidly and inexpensively in a variety of workplaces for routine monitoring, evaluating the success of control technologies, and providing data for research studies.

C. Improve the measurement of low concentrations of chemicals and biomarkers in biological specimens such as blood, urine, saliva and sweat so that such concentrations can be linked to internal dose at the target organs.

D. Design laboratory analytical methods for inexpensively measuring numerous chemicals in a single sample.

E. Formulate exposure survey designs and methods for exposure data analysis to obtain more meaningful data for health risk assessments.

F. Improve exposure assessment methods so that at-risk workers can be identified.

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