Revisiting trichloroethylene contaminated hazardous waste sites after new science indicates the need for a lower health guideline.

Author:Jackson, Diane
Position:DIRECT FROM ATSDR
 
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Editor's Note: As part of our continuing effort to highlight innovative approaches to improving the health and environment of communities, the Journal is pleased to publish a bimonthly column from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ATSDR is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and shares a common office of the Director with the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances.

The purpose of this column is to inform readers of ATSDR's activities and initiatives to better understand the relationship between exposure to hazardous substances in the environment and their impact on human health and how to protect public health. We believe that the column will provide a valuable resource to our readership by helping to make known the considerable resources and expertise that ATSDR has available to assist communities, states, and others to assure good environmental health practice for all is served.

The conclusions of this column are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of ATSDR, CDC, or HHS.

Diane Jackson is an environmental health scientist with the Office of the Associate Director for Science in ATSDR's Division of Community Health Investigations. She has more than 30 years of experience with ATSDR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in environmental emergency response and environmental health.

As knowledge of chemical toxicity increases, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) modifies its evaluations to apply the best available science to protect public health. In January 2013, ATSDR finalized its Toxicological Profile addendum for trichloroethylene (TCE), which adopted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) reference dose of 0.0005 mg/kg/day as its chronic oral minimal risk level (MRL) and the reference concentration of 2 [micro]g/[m.sup.3] as its chronic inhalation MRL. As a result, ATSDR and U.S. EPA reduced the health guideline for TCE in inhaled air from 536 [micro]g/[m.sup.3] to 2 [micro]g/[m.sup.3], a 99.6% reduction. Health guidelines are drawn from the epidemiologic and toxicological literature with added uncertainty factors to ensure that...

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