Industrial Hygiene
5 Steps to Successful Exposure Assessments
By Jerome E. Spear, CSP, CIH

The better our understanding of exposures and the risks they pose, the more assurance we have that we are controlling the most important (highest risk) exposures first. Control efforts (such as engineering, work practice, or personal protective equipment) are often costly to implement and maintain. Therefore, it is critical that those efforts be appropriately prioritized, deployed, and managed. Implementing a systematic exposure assessment and control process, allows prioritization of exposure monitoring and control efforts to use limited funds wisely. The strategy is cyclic in nature and is used most effectively in an iterative manner that strives for continuous improvement (Ignacio and Bullock, 2006). The basic steps include the following:
  1. Gather information and data to characterize the project site (or facility), process, operations, work force, and environmental agents.
  2. Define similar exposure groups (SEGs) by process, task, environmental agents, and engineering controls.
  3. Make your best "judgment" on the exposure profile for each SEG based on available information.
  4. Determine the acceptability of exposure and/or need for additional exposure monitoring.
  5. Collect additional data and re-assess the exposure profiles as needed.
1) Gather Available Information and Data
The first step in assessing exposures to environmental agents is to have a thorough understanding the processes, tasks, and contaminants to be studied. Information may be obtained through...
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