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Understanding How Humans Are Exposed to Environmental Contaminants

Exposure to environmental contaminants can have serious health consequences for humans. For that reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with monitoring the impacts of such exposures on people.

When an environmental incident occurs, it can taint the surrounding air and land, or cause water contamination that the EPA must respond to. The EPA also monitors those who were exposed to the contaminants to evaluate how the exposure affects their health.

Environmental contamination incidents may involve physical pollutants, biological agents, radiological poisons, or chemicals, such as pesticides.

When accidents taint the environment, the danger is most obvious, but environmental dangers can be present in seemingly harmless and commonplace settings where people work and play.

The testing performed to keep track of such exposures goes a long way towards keeping researchers informed about hazardous contaminants and how it poses dangers to humans.

How is Contaminant Exposure Measured?

The EPA measures and monitors contamination levels that result from an exposure to environmental contaminants by attempting to obtain readings in the environment, and at the point of contact with a human subject, and by testing the subject to determine the contaminant levels present in the body. There are four main ways to obtain these measurements, which include:

  • Environmental measurements: The EPA measures or estimates concentrations of contaminants present in the air, water, and land. The collection of this data gives the agency an indication of how much of a contaminant is in the environment but does not specify how much of it encounters people.
  • Exposure models: The EPA uses exposure models, which use environmental contaminant concentration levels along with information on personal work habits and life routines to estimate the amount of exposure. Factors include how much time an individual spends outdoors and activities. These factors can indicate how individuals are exposed in certain environments, and it helps to identify the contaminates.
  • Personal monitoring devices: Often used to identify workplace exposures, the use of a personal monitoring device allows a user to go about the activities of a normal day while the device collects data on encountered contaminants.

Biomonitoring: Biomonitoring is performed on the person who was exposed, this determines the level of contaminants in the body and its health effects. The biomarkers in the body are commonly found in the blood or urine, though it can also be measured in other samples, such as exhaled air, hair, nails, stool, breast milk, or biopsied tissue. These tests can identify environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants that accumulate in the body.

If an individual is exposed to a contaminant and becomes ill, he or she may be able to file an environmental toxic tort claim with an experienced lawyer.

Wilmington Environmental Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Represent People Exposed to Environmental Contaminants

If you were exposed to toxins while working or living near a site that has environmental contamination, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Wilmington environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have the experience to go after those responsible for your injury or illness. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.

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Since our founding, Jacobs & Crumplar has represented those injured physically, mentally, and emotionally by companies and the government. We are deeply troubled by the senseless killing of George Floyd and the injustice shown to countless others over the years. Consistent with our tradition, Jacobs & Crumplar stands in solidarity with all those working to eliminate systemic racism and with those who have been victimized by prejudice. Building a better society requires us all to play an active role.