Table 3-1 Selected Environmental Health Issues and Responsible Federal Departments or Agencies

Environmental Health Issue

Responsible Federal Agency

Potential hazards, occupational or environmental, and accidental exposures

Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Emergency Management Agency

Manufacture, transportation, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals

Department of Commerce (DoC), DoD, DoE, Department of Transportation, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Exposure pathways (including air, water, and soil)

Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, DoC, and EPA


SOURCE: Institute of Medicine, 1997.

independently, few standardized methods for data collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, or reporting exist. The data gathered at the federal level are of various qualities and scopes (Council on Environmental Quality, 1993). The result is a patchwork of data that can be difficult to analyze comprehensively. Efforts are under way to coordinate federal environmental health data. These include the Department of Health and Human Services' Interagency Environmental Health Policy Committee and the National Environmental Data Index.

Examples of the various types of environmental health databases are discussed below. The Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) database is an example of a factual database based on geographic and industrial information. The databases that make up the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) are either bibliographic (with citations and abstracts of the scientific literature) or factual (with data from scientific studies).

Toxic Chemical Release Inventory

Those concerned with environmental health often rely on EPA's TRI for information on the environmental releases of more than 300 toxic chemicals. Facilities are required to report emissions if, among other requirements, they process or manufacture more than 1,300 kilograms (25,000 pounds) of the chemical per year. Data in TRI include facility identification and the extent of environmental releases (including air emissions, water discharges, waste treatment, and releases to underground injection). The TRI database is particularly useful for community organizations in assessing local environmental hazards

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