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The science of human exposures to contaminants in the environment 

The science of human exposures to contaminants in the environment
Chapter:
The science of human exposures to contaminants in the environment
Author(s):

Paul J. Lioy

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199218707.003.0053
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date: 20 June 2019

The basic principles of the emerging field of exposure science are outlined and discussed, and the methods used to define human contact with chemical, biological, or physical agents found in the environment are described. The chapter provides several definitions and describes approaches to conducting research on exposure and its ultimate assessment for various applications in environmental health. The discussion of exposure science touches on the strategies for measuring exposure for single or multiple routes of entry into the body. The chapter also highlights the methods needed to collect samples from various points of entry into the body, and the types of methods needed for collecting samples either indirectly (microenvironmental) or directly (biological markers) to quantify exposure. A discussion on the ways human behaviour and human activities can increase or decrease contact with various agents, including pesticides, and how this information improves the assessment of exposure is included. Further, the process continuum that leads from the source of an agent to the exposure and eventual health effects is discussed. The exposures can be derived from single or multiroute contacts with an environmental contaminant associated with one or more media (air, soil, etc.) or route of entry into the body (inhalation, ingestion). Finally, there is a brief discussion of the opportunities for modelling exposure and dose, a brief description of the use of various approaches to analyse data, and a few illustrations of the uncertainties that must be addressed within an analysis.

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