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Toxic Substances Glossary

additive effecta biologic response to exposure to multiple substances that equals the sum of responses of all the individual substances added together [compare with antagonistic effect and synergistic effect].
antagonistic effect1) a biologic response to exposure to multiple substances that is less than would be expected if the known effects of the individual substances were added together [compare with additive effect and synergistic effect].
2) антагонистский эффект (связан со снижением энергосодержания, составной молекулы, полученной в результате химической реакции, в сравнении с суммой энер
synergistic effect1) a biologic response to multiple substances where one substance worsens the effect of another substance. the combined effect of the substances acting together is greater than the sum of the effects of the substances acting by themselves [see additive effect and antagonistic effect].
2) синэргетический эффект (связан с увеличением энергосодержания составной молекулы, полученной в результате химической реакции, в сравнении с суммой эне
no public health hazarda category used in atsdr`s public health assessment documents for sites where people have never and will never come into contact with harmful amounts of site-related substances.
public health hazarda category used in atsdr`s public health assessments for sites that pose a public health hazard because of long-term exposures (greater than 1 year) to sufficiently high levels of hazardous substances or radionuclides that could result in harmful health effects.
no apparent public health hazarda category used in atsdr`s public health assessments for sites where human exposure to contaminated media might be occurring, might have occurred in the past, or might occur in the future, but where the exposure is not expected to cause any harmful health effects.
urgent public health hazarda category used in atsdr`s public health assessments for sites where short-term exposures (less than 1 year) to hazardous substances or conditions could result in harmful health effects that require rapid intervention.
adverse health effecta change in body function or cell structure that might lead to disease or health problems
potentially responsible party (prp)a company, government, or person legally responsible for cleaning up the pollution at a hazardous waste site under superfund. there may be more than one prp for a particular site.
physiologically based pharmacokinetic model (pbpk model)a computer model that describes what happens to a chemical in the body. this model describes how the chemical gets into the body, where it goes in the body, how it is changed by the body, and how it leaves the body.
delayed health effecta disease or an injury that happens as a result of exposures that might have occurred in the past.
community assistance panel (cap)a group of people from a community and from health and environmental agencies who work with atsdr to resolve issues and problems related to hazardous substances in the community. cap members work with atsdr to gather and review community health concerns, provide information on how people might have been or might now be exposed to hazardous substances, and inform atsdr on ways to involve the community in its activities.
public health actiona list of steps to protect public health.
geographic information system (gis)a mapping system that uses computers to collect, store, manipulate, analyze, and display data. for example, gis can show the concentration of a contaminant within a community in relation to points of reference such as streets and homes.
case studya medical or epidemiologic evaluation of one person or a small group of people to gather information about specific health conditions and past exposures.
exposure-dose reconstructiona method of estimating the amount of people`s past exposure to hazardous substances. computer and approximation methods are used when past information is limited, not available, or missing.
substance-specific applied researcha program of research designed to fill important data needs for specific hazardous substances identified in atsdr`s toxicological profiles. filling these data needs would allow more accurate assessment of human risks from specific substances contaminating the environment. this research might include human studies or laboratory experiments to determine health effects resulting from exposure to a given hazardous substance.
public meetinga public forum with community members for communication about a site.
cluster investigationa review of an unusual number, real or perceived, of health events (for example, reports of cancer) grouped together in time and location. cluster investigations are designed to confirm case reports; determine whether they represent an unusual disease occurrence; and, if possible, explore possible causes and contributing environmental factors.
health consultationa review of available information or collection of new data to respond to a specific health question or request for information about a potential environmental hazard. health consultations are focused on a specific exposure issue. health consultations are therefore more limited than a public health assessment, which reviews the exposure potential of each pathway and chemical [compare with public health assessment].
medical monitoringa set of medical tests and physical exams specifically designed to evaluate whether an individual`s exposure could negatively affect that person`s health.
public health advisorya statement made by atsdr to epa or a state regulatory agency that a release of hazardous substances poses an immediate threat to human health. the advisory includes recommended measures to reduce exposure and reduce the threat to human health.
case-control studya study that compares exposures of people who have a disease or condition (cases) with people who do not have the disease or condition (controls). exposures that are more common among the cases may be considered as possible risk factors for the disease.
analytic epidemiologic studya study that evaluates the association between exposure to hazardous substances and disease by testing scientific hypotheses.
biologic indicators of exposure studya study that uses (a) biomedical testing or (b) the measurement of a substance [an analyte], its metabolite, or another marker of exposure in human body fluids or tissues to confirm human exposure to a hazardous substance [also see exposure investigation].
teratogena substance that causes defects in development between conception and birth. a teratogen is a substance that causes a structural or functional birth defect.
mutagena substance that causes mutations (genetic damage).
exposure registrya system of ongoing followup of people who have had documented environmental exposures.
disease registrya system of ongoing registration of all cases of a particular disease or health condition in a defined population.
registrya systematic collection of information on persons exposed to a specific substance or having specific diseases [see exposure registry and disease registry].
cancer riska theoretical risk for getting cancer if exposed to a substance every day for 70 years (a lifetime exposure). the true risk might be lower.
cas registry numbera unique number assigned to a substance or mixture by the american chemical society abstracts service [external link].
plumea volume of a substance that moves from its source to places farther away from the source. plumes can be described by the volume of air or water they occupy and the direction they move. for example, a plume can be a column of smoke from a chimney or a substance moving with groundwater.
public health assessment (pha)an atsdr document that examines hazardous substances, health outcomes, and community concerns at a hazardous waste site to determine whether people could be harmed from coming into contact with those substances. the pha also lists actions that need to be taken to protect public health [compare with health consultation].
minimal risk level (mrl)an atsdr estimate of daily human exposure to a hazardous substance at or below which that substance is unlikely to pose a measurable risk of harmful (adverse), noncancerous effects. mrls are calculated for a route of exposure (inhalation or oral) over a specified time period (acute, intermediate, or chronic). mrls should not be used as predictors of harmful (adverse) health effects [see reference dose].
background levelan average or expected amount of a substance or radioactive material in a specific environment, or typical amounts of substances that occur naturally in an environment.
reference dose (rfd)an epa estimate, with uncertainty or safety factors built in, of the daily lifetime dose of a substance that is unlikely to cause harm in humans.
public availability sessionan informal, drop-by meeting at which community members can meet one-on-one with atsdr staff members to discuss health and site-related concerns.
public comment periodan opportunity for the public to comment on agency findings or proposed activities contained in draft reports or documents. the public comment period is a limited time period during which comments will be accepted.
radioisotopean unstable or radioactive isotope (form) of an element that can change into another element by giving off radiation.
metaboliteany product of metabolism.
comparison value (cv)calculated concentration of a substance in air, water, food, or soil that is unlikely to cause harmful (adverse) health effects in exposed people. the cv is used as a screening level during the public health assessment process. substances found in amounts greater than their cvs might be selected for further evaluation in the public health assessment process.
toxic agentchemical or physical (for example, radiation, heat, cold, microwaves) agents that, under certain circumstances of exposure, can cause harmful effects to living organisms.
dermal contactcontact with (touching) the skin [see route of exposure].
environmental media and transport mechanismenvironmental media include water, air, soil, and biota (plants and animals). transport mechanisms move contaminants from the source to points where human exposure can occur. the environmental media and transport mechanism is the second part of an exposure pathway.
national priorities list for uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (national priorities list or npl)epa`s list of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the united states. the npl is updated on a regular basis.
superfund amendments and reauthorization act (sara)in 1986, sara amended the comprehensive environmental response, compensation, and liability act of 1980 (cercla) and expanded the health-related responsibilities of atsdr. cercla and sara direct atsdr to look into the health effects from substance exposures at hazardous waste sites and to perform activities including health education, health studies, surveillance, health consultations, and toxicological profiles.
in vitroin an artificial environment outside a living organism or body. for example, some toxicity testing is done on cell cultures or slices of tissue grown in the laboratory, rather than on a living animal [compare with in vivo].
uncertainty factormathematical adjustments for reasons of safety when knowledge is incomplete. for example, factors used in the calculation of doses that are not harmful (adverse) to people. these factors are applied to the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (loael) or the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (noael) to derive a minimal risk level (mrl). uncertainty factors are used to account for variations in people`s sensitivity, for differences between animals and humans, and for differences between a loael and a noael. scientists use uncertainty factors when they have some, but not all, the information from animal or human studies to decide whether an exposure will cause harm to people [also sometimes called a safety factor].
biologic monitoringmeasuring hazardous substances in biologic materials (such as blood, hair, urine, or breath) to determine whether exposure has occurred. a blood test for lead is an example of biologic monitoring.
mg/m3milligram per cubic meter; a measure of the concentration of a chemical in a known volume (a cubic meter) of air, soil, or water.
mg/kgmilligram per kilogram.
mg/cm2milligram per square centimeter (of a surface).
chronicoccurring over a long time [compare with acute].
national toxicology program (ntp)part of the department of health and human services. ntp develops and carries out tests to predict whether a chemical will cause harm to humans.
receptor populationpeople who could come into contact with hazardous substances [see exposure pathway].
special populationspeople who might be more sensitive or susceptible to exposure to hazardous substances because of factors such as age, occupation, sex, or behaviors (for example, cigarette smoking). children, pregnant women, and older people are often considered special populations.
hazardous wastepotentially harmful substances that have been released or discarded into the environment.
public health hazard categoriespublic health hazard categories are statements about whether people could be harmed by conditions present at the site in the past, present, or future. one or more hazard categories might be appropriate for each site. the five public health hazard categories are no public health hazard, no apparent public health hazard, indeterminate public health hazard, public health hazard, and urgent public health hazard.
dermalreferring to the skin. for example, dermal absorption means passing through the skin.
aerobicrequiring oxygen [compare with anaerobic].
anaerobicrequiring the absence of oxygen [compare with aerobic].
environmental mediasoil, water, air, biota (plants and animals), or any other parts of the environment that can contain contaminants.
biomedical testingtesting of persons to find out whether a change in a body function might have occurred because of exposure to a hazardous substance.
dose (for chemicals that are not radioactive)the amount of a substance to which a person is exposed over some time period. dose is a measurement of exposure. dose is often expressed as milligram (amount) per kilogram (a measure of body weight) per day (a measure of time) when people eat or drink contaminated water, food, or soil. in general, the greater the dose, the greater the likelihood of an effect. an "exposure dose" is how much of a substance is encountered in the environment. an "absorbed dose" is the amount of a substance that actually got into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs.
health statistics reviewthe analysis of existing health information (i.e., from death certificates, birth defects registries, and cancer registries) to determine if there is excess disease in a specific population, geographic area, and time period. a health statistics review is a descriptive epidemiologic study.
indeterminate public health hazardthe category used in atsdr`s public health assessment documents when a professional judgment about the level of health hazard cannot be made because information critical to such a decision is lacking.
remedial investigationthe cercla process of determining the type and extent of hazardous material contamination at a site.
exposure investigationthe collection and analysis of site-specific information and biologic tests (when appropriate) to determine whether people have been exposed to hazardous substances.
health investigationthe collection and evaluation of information about the health of community residents. this information is used to describe or count the occurrence of a disease, symptom, or clinical measure and to evaluate the possible association between the occurrence and exposure to hazardous substances.
metabolismthe conversion or breakdown of a substance from one form to another by a living organism.
risk communicationthe exchange of information to increase understanding of health risks.
public health statementthe first chapter of an atsdr toxicological profile. the public health statement is a summary written in words that are easy to understand. the public health statement explains how people might be exposed to a specific substance and describes the known health effects of that substance.
no-observed-adverse-effect level (noael)the highest tested dose of a substance that has been reported to have no harmful (adverse) health effects on people or animals.
prevalence surveythe measure of the current level of disease(s) or symptoms and exposures through a questionnaire that collects self-reported information from a defined population.
prevalencethe number of existing disease cases in a defined population during a specific time period [contrast with incidence].
public health surveillancethe ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data. this activity also involves timely dissemination of the data and use for public health programs.
source of contaminationthe place where a hazardous substance comes from, such as a landfill, waste pond, incinerator, storage tank, or drum. a source of contamination is the first part of an exposure pathway.
point of exposurethe place where someone can come into contact with a substance present in the environment [see exposure pathway].
health promotionthe process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.
exposure assessmentthe process of finding out how people come into contact with a hazardous substance, how often and for how long they are in contact with the substance, and how much of the substance they are in contact with.
dose (for radioactive chemicals)the radiation dose is the amount of energy from radiation that is actually absorbed by the body. this is not the same as measurements of the amount of radiation in the environment.
dose-response relationshipthe relationship between the amount of exposure [dose] to a substance and the resulting changes in body function or health (response).
exposure pathwaythe route a substance takes from its source (where it began) to its end point (where it ends), and how people can come into contact with (or get exposed to) it. an exposure pathway has five parts: a source of contamination (such as an abandoned business); an environmental media and transport mechanism (such as movement through groundwater); a point of exposure (such as a private well); a route of exposure (eating, drinking, breathing, or touching), and a receptor population (people potentially or actually exposed). when all five parts are present, the exposure pathway is termed a completed exposure pathway.
hazardous substance release and health effects database (hazdat)the scientific and administrative database system developed by atsdr to manage data collection, retrieval, and analysis of site-specific information on hazardous substances, community health concerns, and public health activities.
descriptive epidemiologythe study of the amount and distribution of a disease in a specified population by person, place, and time.
epidemiologythe study of the distribution and determinants of disease or health status in a population; the study of the occurrence and causes of health effects in humans.
toxicologythe study of the harmful effects of substances on humans or animals.
body burdenthe total amount of a substance in the body. some substances build up in the body because they are stored in fat or bone or because they leave the body very slowly.
biologic uptakethe transfer of substances from the environment to plants, animals, and humans.
route of exposurethe way people come into contact with a hazardous substance. three routes of exposure are breathing [inhalation], eating or drinking [ingestion], or contact with the skin [dermal contact].
grand roundstraining sessions for physicians and other health care providers about health topics.
in vivowithin a living organism or body. for example, some toxicity testing is done on whole animals, such as rats or mice [compare with in vitro].
community assistance panel
completed exposure pathway
national priorities list for uncontrolled hazardous waste sites
epidemiologic surveillance
reference dose