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EPA ExpoBox

Exposure Assessment Tools by Lifestages and Populations - Residential Consumers


Residential Consumers

In many instances, it is necessary to estimate exposure to residents from the use of consumer products. Examples of consumer products found in U.S. households include cosmetics and other personal care products, cleaning and home maintenance items, furniture, building materials, automotive products, pesticides, and a variety of other items.

See the Consumer Products Module in the Media Tool Set for information relevant to assessing exposure associated with chemicals in consumer products. Also see the Pesticides Module in the Chemical Classes Tool Set for more information on the toxicity, physicochemical properties, and other characteristics of pesticides. The Indirect Estimation Module in the Approaches Tool Set provides additional information and resources for further characterizing potentially exposed populations.

Consumer products may contain toxic or potentially toxic chemicals to which individuals could be exposed directly (e.g., as a result of their use in and around the home) or indirectly (e.g., contaminants that have settled in dust on carpets, floors, clothing, counter tops, or other surfaces). In addition, nonusers (e.g., children) could be passively exposed to the chemicals released from these products.

Children are particularly susceptible via this indirect pathway because certain behaviors (e.g., tendency to mouth objects or hands) and activities like crawling or playing on the floor indoors may increase their contact with contaminant-laden dust. See the Lifestages Module in this tool set for tools that may be useful in evaluating exposures to resident children.

The magnitude of exposure for a residential consumer will be a function of the timeframe of exposure, and timeframes of exposure will vary for different population groups. Timeframe for a residential consumer might depend on population mobilityHelppopulation mobilityAn indicator of the frequency at which individuals move from one residential location to another.. Chapter 16 of the Exposure Factors Handbook: 2011 Edition (U.S. EPA, 2011) presents data and recommended values for population mobility.

Consumer exposure is a key consideration for registration and reregistration of products under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and for evaluation of new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and so EPA has written procedures and developed models for assessment of potential exposures. For example, the 2012 Residential Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) presents scenario-based assessments of exposure to pesticides in residential settings. The EPA (1999) Residential Exposure Assessment report presents a case study that examines potential applicator and post-application exposures associated with residential use of lawn care products.

EPA’s Office of Pollution and Prevention and Toxics developed the Environmental Fate Assessment Screening Tool (E-FAST) to provide screening-level estimates of the concentrations of chemicals released to surface water and other media from consumer products. A consumer exposure module in E-FAST is used to assess residential exposures. These and other tools are provided below that may be useful in evaluating exposures to residential consumers. Additional tools for specific exposure media and routes of exposure that relevant to the residential consumer population group are available in the Media and Routes Tool Sets.

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