EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)
- Fate & Transport
- Calculation Tools
Contaminated media to which people might be exposed include air, water and sediment, soil and dust, food, aquatic biota, and consumer products. Food products (e.g., grains, fruits, vegetables) can become contaminated as a result of ambient pollutants in the air being deposited on plants, adsorbed onto or absorbed by the plants, or dissolved in rainfall or irrigation waters that contact the plants. Plants growing in contaminated soil can take up the chemicals from soil pore water through their roots, and the chemicals could then be transported into plant tissues. Meat and dairy products from animals used as sources of food can become contaminated if grazing or foraging animals consume contaminated soil, water, or feed crops and bioaccumulate the contaminants in their tissues. Pesticides, soil additives, and fertilizers that are applied to agricultural areas or gardens can also contaminate food products (see Pesticides Module of the Chemical Classes Tool Set in EPA-Expo-Box). Another potential type of food is human milk, relevant for one population life stage—nursing infants (see the module on Lifestages in the Lifestages and Populations Tool Set of EPA-Expo-Box).
Human exposure to contaminants in food occurs by direct ingestion. Various tools are available for evaluating sources and releases of food contaminants, fate and transport processes, and potential exposure concentrations. Exposure factors, calculation tools, and guidance for assessing exposure to contaminants in food are also discussed in this module. For additional information related to the consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish, refer to the Aquatic Biota Module of the Media Tool Set in EPA-Expo-Box.