Public Health Assessments
What is a public health assessment?
A public health assessment reviews available information about hazardous substances at a site. It evaluates whether exposure to chemicals might harm people. A public health assessment considers all environmental issues related to actual or possible human exposure. A Public Health Assessment is not the same thing as a medical exam or a community health study. A public heath assessment can be prepared by either the Tennessee Department of Health, Environmental Epidemiology Program, or the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
A public health assessment uses three primary sources of information:
- environmental data, such as measurements of chemicals and the pathways that people could come into contact with them;
- health data, including available information on community-wide rates of illness, injury, disease, or death compared with national and state rates; and
- community concerns, such as information from the general public about how the site may have affected their health or quality of life
A Health Assessment often includes:
- statement of Issues
- child health considerations
- public health action plan
- tables and figures
- maps and photos
A public health assessment considers:
how much (the concentration) of a hazardous substance is present at a site;
whether people have been or might become exposed to the hazardous substance;
what exposure pathways,such as breathing, touching, eating, or drinking, are present at the site or in the community;
what harm (the toxicity) a hazardous substance might cause to people;
whether living or working near a hazardous waste site might affect people’s health; and
other dangers to people, such as unsafe buildings, dangerous objects, abandoned mine shafts, or other physical hazards.
Assessments for Downloads
A list of public health assessments and consultations conducted by the Environmental Epidemiology Program can be viewed by clicking here.