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EPA ExpoBox

Exposure Assessment Tools by Lifestages and Populations - Occupational Workers


Occupational Workers

Occupational exposures may be direct (occurring in the workplace) or indirect (occurring at home). Indirect occupational exposures include those experienced by family members who may be exposed to occupational contaminants brought into the house by the worker (e.g., on clothing). Thus, workers or family members may be subject to greater exposures than others in the population who do not have this additional burden of exposure (U.S. EPA, 2003).

The magnitude of exposure for an occupational worker will be a function of timeframe of exposure, and timeframes of exposure will vary for different population groups. Timeframe for an occupational worker will depend on occupational mobilityHelpoccupational mobilityAn indicator of the frequency at which workers change from one occupation to another.. Chapter 16 of the Exposure Factors Handbook: 2011 Edition (U.S. EPA, 2011) presents recommended exposure factors for occupational mobility.

Tools applicable to evaluating potential exposures to occupational workers are available from EPA, OSHA, and other agencies (see below). The Indirect Estimation Module in the Approaches Tool Set has additional information and resources for characterizing potentially exposed populations, including occupational workers. Additional tools for specific exposure media and routes of exposure that are relevant to the occupational worker population group are available in the Media and Routes Tool Sets. Also see the modules within the Chemical Classes Tool Set for more information on the toxicity, physicochemical properties, and other characteristics of specific groups of chemicals to which certain occupational workers might be exposed (e.g., pesticides, organics, metals and other inorganic compounds).

The table below provides examples of important considerations specific to assessing occupational exposure; the data supporting these considerations can be found in the tools list.

Important Pathways of Exposure Scenario/Setting Considerations Exposure Factors of Interest
For example
  • Inhalation of dust
  • Dermal exposure to pesticides
For example
  • Timeframe
  • Protective gear
For example
  • Activity level
  • Occupational tenure
  • Inhalation rates
  • Exposed skin
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