of emerging demands for exposure information are EPA’s Premanufacturing Notice requirements and the European Union’s program for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. The industries that market chemicals and the government agencies that regulate them need more and better exposure information to conduct screening and regulatory assessments.
Another example is the increasing need to address long-term health effects of low-level exposures to chemical, biologic, and physical stressors over years or decades, such as low-level radiation exposure. A dearth of exposure data contributed to uncertainty in communicating the radiation risk posed by the Fukushima incident in Japan to policy-makers and the public. Previous opportunities to reduce uncertainties through the collection of more and better exposure data have been missed, including opportunities in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear incident, which spewed radionuclides over a large swath of Europe (Normile 2011). There were few systematic or sustained applications of exposure-science techniques in the collection of radiation-exposure data at Chernobyl (UNSCEAR 2011).
Growing efforts to collect, organize, and evaluate medical-surveillance data in the absence of corresponding efforts to assemble, evaluate, and track exposure data present another example of the need for data. The paucity of exposure data has been observed repeatedly—in the followup of health effects in veterans of the Gulf War (IOM 2000), in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Tracking Program (CDC 2011a), and in the monitoring of the health of volunteers and professionals after exposures to the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill (IOM 2010; King and Gibbons 2011).
The committee defined the complex and overlapping needs for exposure information in four broad categories: health and environmental science, market, societal, and policy and regulatory (illustrated schematically in Figure 4-1). Health and environmental sciences require reliable quantitative data on human and ecosystem exposures. Market demands require the identification and control of exposures resulting from the manufacture, distribution, and sale of products and the provision of services (for example, energy, transportation, and health care). Societal demands arise from the aspirations of individuals and communities—relying on an array of health, safety, and sustainability information—for example, to maintain local environments, personal health, the health of workers who make consumables, and the health of the global environment. Policy-makers drive the need for exposure science when they require knowledge to inform their actions—particularly the setting of policies directed at mitigating environmental risks and avoiding hazards in cost-effective ways. Policy-makers need to establish a balance among the different science (health), market, and societal demands as they establish regulations and set budgetary priorities. The remainder of this chapter explores the four categories of needs for exposure science information. The committee recognizes that many of these demands can conflict. For example, individuals and communities may have different goals