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From the water we drink, swim or bathe in, the air we breathe, to the consumer products we apply in/on our bodies and our surrounding environments, to the soil we use to grow our food, we are exposed to environmental agents in every aspect of human life and activity. Exposure assessment is a branch of environmental science that attempts to characterize how these contaminants behave in the environment and subsequently result in human exposure.  The goal of an exposure assessment applied in the traditional environmental health context is to quantitatively measure how much of an agent can be absorbed by an exposed population, in what form are they exposed, at what rate is exposure occurring, and how much of the absorbed amount is actually available to produce a biological effect

This module is intended to provide an introductory overview to exposure assessments. This module offers a basic understanding of the steps and key considerations involved in designing and conducting an exposure assessment, mainly in the context of epidemiological studies.

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, users will be able to:

  • Describe the basic concepts and role of exposure assessment in several different contexts
  • Discuss a conceptual model for the relationship between source, receptor, and health outcome
  • Explain the importance of designing an exposure assessment strategy according to specific well-defined objectives
  • Summarize the different types of exposure indices and describe the strengths and limitations of each
  • Identify the issues that should be considered when designing a study, and explain why each is important
  • Compare and contrast systematic and random error and describe the potential effects of each type
  • Describe some of the methods involved in air, dermal, noise, and biological monitoring