collected during an exposure investigation help
determine whether people have been exposed
and, if so, the extent of the exposure. The results
of exposure investigations are used to make
public health decisions and to recommend
appropriate public health actions.
In fiscal year 2000, ATSDR
found 423 different
substances in completed
exposure pathways at sites.
The focus of an exposure investigation is to
identify and test residents with the highest
potential for exposure. An exposure investiga-
tion is not intended to be a study or a complete
characterization of a site. Rather, it is a transi-
Village of Tanapag, Saipan
tional activity designed to provide information
After World War II, about 50 to 60 capacitors
that will allow ATSDR to carry out its public
that had been used during the war were left in
health activities more efficiently and effectively.
the Village of Tanapag in Saipan, one of the
Follow-up activities to exposure investigations
islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern
may include recommendations for additional
Mariana Islands (CNMI). The abandoned
sampling, an epidemiologic study, medical
capacitors were scattered throughout the village
evaluations, health education, or more rapid
and were used for a variety of purposes, includ-
public health action to reduce exposure.
ing boundary markers, headstones, road blocks,
The following criteria are used to determine
whether an exposure investigation should be
When the capacitors were removed in the early
1990s, a few were discovered to have leaked
Can an exposed population be identified?
fluids containing polycholorinated biphenyls
Are critical data needed to determine whether
(PCBs). In response to the community's concern
a public health hazard exists?
Department of Public Health (DPH) petitioned
Can the needed information be provided by
ATSDR in 1999 to perform a public health
an exposure investigation?
assessment. Community members were con-
How would the exposure investigation's
cerned for their current safety and wanted to
results impact public health decisionmaking?
know if their past exposures might cause illness.
ATSDR conducted 20 exposure investigations in
The Army Corps of Engineers, with oversight
fiscal year 2000. Following are three examples
from EPA, was responsible for the soil cleanup.
of these investigations.
24 chapter 1