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North Kent County Exposure Assessment: Frequently Asked Questions
What is an exposure assessment?
An exposure assessment is used to find out if people in a community have been exposed to certain chemicals in their environment.
Exposure assessments can test for evaluate level of chemicals in contaminated environmental media (for example: soil, drinking water, surface water, air, fish, garden produce, or wild game) that the community may contact, breathe, or swallow. An exposure assessment may use general information on people’s exposure or collect information about how much and often community members have contact, breathe, or swallow the contaminated media. It can tell you about the people’s exposure and how community members, in general, may have exposure to these chemicals in their community.
Exposure assessments can include measuring chemicals in blood or urine and may include a basic survey to assess how people might have come into contact with the chemicals. It can tell you what a person’s current level of exposure is at that the time the assessment is taking place.
An exposure assessment may not show all of the chemicals you may have been exposed to before or measure your past exposure to those chemicals.
What is a health study?
A health study looks for connections between certain health conditions and chemical exposure. It collects information on health conditions and will use information about people’s chemical exposure. This may include measuring the amount of chemicals in body, such as measuring the level in blood, urine, or both.
What can our community learn from exposure assessments or health studies?
In communities where exposure assessments and health studies take place, these efforts can:
- Give participants information about their individual exposures to chemicals.
- Help communities better understand their current exposures to chemicals so they can prevent further exposure.
- Depending on the chemical, there may be ways to inform medical providers and mitigate potential injury.
- Help public health professionals and other researchers understand more about these chemicals and how they may affect health.
- For PFAS, health care providers with patients who are worried about their PFAS results can find the latest guidance at:https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/resources/info-for-health-professionals.html.
Who was able to take part in the NKCEA?
Households in the Rockford and Belmont areas of North Kent County who had PFAS in their drinking water, based on testing by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy as of September 1, 2018.
What did people do as part of the NKCEA?
People who completed the exposure assessment went to a clinic appointment, had their blood drawn, and let MDHHS collect samples of their home’s drinking water. Some of the people lived in the same home, which is why the number of homes with water testing do not match the number of people who were counted in the exposure assessment.
During their clinic appointment, each person was asked questions about ways they might have come across PFAS besides through their drinking water. People also answered questions about things that may have affected the amount of time that it takes for PFAS to leave their body. After that, they were asked to provide a blood sample. Their blood was sent to the MDHHS Laboratory and was tested for PFAS.
Each household included in the exposure assessment also had at least one sample of drinking water collected. If a household had a drinking water filter, both filtered and unfiltered samples of water were collected. All water samples collected were also tested for the same PFAS.
If you have questions about the North Kent County Exposure Assessment, call MDHHS Environmental Health at 844-464-7327.