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Adult responses to a survey of soil contact-related behaviors


Protocols used to assess human exposure to chemicals in soils at contaminated sites often include a dermal pathway. Use of default parameters to assess dermal exposure to soil can easily lead to risk projections that appear to warrant remedial action. However, because those default parameters are typically highly uncertain, risk estimates based upon them inspire little confidence. To better characterize assumptions regarding dermal exposures, a telephone survey instrument was developed to elicit information on behaviors relevant to assessment of dermal contact with soil and dust. Participation in four activities—gardening, other yard work, outdoor team sports, and home construction or repair involving digging—was investigated. Questions were also asked regarding clothing choices and post-activity bathing practices. The survey was administered to two populations of approximately 450 adult respondents each using random digit dialing. The first was a national (U.S.) sample. The second sample was drawn from counties surrounding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Seventy-nine percent of the regional respondents and 89% of the national respondents reported participating in at least one of the four targeted activities. Responses of doers regarding clothing choices suggest that median fractions of skin exposed during warm-weather activities typically exceed the 25% often assumed. The Hanford sample differed from the national sample in the fraction residing in single-family homes, the fraction describing their residential surroundings as rural, and in ethnic makeup. The Hanford population displayed greater rates of participation than the national sample in three activities that have an obvious link to residence in a single-family dwelling: home repair involving digging, gardening, and other yard work, but differences were not explained entirely by residence type. The regional population also reported greater frequency of participation in multiple activities. In contrast, clothing choices among doers could not be distinguished between the two groups.

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Correspondence to JOHN C KISSEL.

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GARLOCK, T., SHIRAI, J. & KISSEL, J. Adult responses to a survey of soil contact-related behaviors. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 9, 134–142 (1999).

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