Skip to Content
Environmental Epidemiology

Public Health Assessments

What is a public health assessment?

A public health assessment reviews available information about hazardous substances at a site. It evaluates whether exposure to chemicals might harm people. A public health assessment considers all environmental issues related to actual or possible human exposure. A Public Health Assessment is not the same thing as a medical exam or a community health study. A public heath assessment can be prepared by either the Tennessee Department of Health, Environmental Epidemiology Program, or the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Click here for a printable version of this fact sheet.

A public health assessment uses three primary sources of information:

  • environmental data, such as measurements of chemicals and the pathways that people could come into contact with them;
  • health data, including available information on community-wide rates of illness, injury, disease, or death compared with national and state rates; and
  • community concerns, such as information from the general public about how the site may have affected their health or quality of life

A Health Assessment often includes:

  • background
  • statement of Issues
  • discussion
  • child health considerations
  • conclusions
  • recommendations
  • public health action plan
  • references
  • tables and figures
  • maps and photos
  • certification

A public health assessment considers:

  • how much (the concentration) of a hazardous substance is present at a site;
  • whether people have been or might become exposed to the hazardous substance;
  • what exposure pathways,such as breathing, touching, eating, or drinking, are present at the site or in the community;
  • what harm (the toxicity) a hazardous substance might cause to people;
  • whether living or working near a hazardous waste site might affect people‚Äôs health; and
  • other dangers to people, such as unsafe buildings, dangerous objects, abandoned mine shafts, or other physical hazards.

Assessments for Download

A list of public health assessments and consultations conducted by the Environmental Epidemiology Program can be viewed by clicking here.