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What is the National Exposure Registry (NER) ?

  • A: The NER is a critical, long-term effort that meets the need for collecting information concerning the potential impact of hazardous substances on human health. It is a listing of persons exposed to hazardous substances. It contains subregistries for specific substances. There are currently four active subregistries-- trichloroethylene (TCE), trichloroethane (TCA), benzene, and dioxin. An important purpose of the National Exposure Registry is to help scientists understand how long-term exposure to hazardous substances may affect human health. This is done by identifying and following the health of individuals who have come into contact with specific substances at selected locations. Another purpose of the Registry is to have a mechanism through which participants can be notified of the results of research related to their exposure.
  • The Registry program carries out its mandate by creating a large database of similarly exposed persons. This database is used to facilitate epidemiologic research in ascertaining any adverse health effects of persons exposed to low levels of chemicals over a long period. All data collected are confidential. Names and addresses are protected under the Privacy Act and are not released without written permission of the registrant.
  • Q: What happens to requests to be added to a subregistry of the NER ?
  • A: Subregistries are site as well as substance specific. Individuals who meet specific eligibility requirements and respond positively when contacted are included. Additional persons are not added after initial baseline interviews are completed.
  • Q: Is the NER database available on the Internet? If not, when will it be available on the Internet?
  • A: Currently, information is not available on the Internet. We expect to have NER information available sometime in 2001.
  • A limited number of hard copies of final technical reports are available to any requestor.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) Subregistry
  • Q: What is TCE?
  • A: Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a colorless liquid at room temperature with an odor similar to ether or chloroform. It is a man-made chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment. TCE is mainly used as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts. It is used as a solvent in other ways, too, and is used as a chemical (building block) to make other chemicals.
  • Q: What is the TCE Subregistry?
  • A: The TCE Subregistry is a substance-specific part of the NER. It is made up of self-reported health information, from people throughout the United States who have been exposed to TCE from the environment.
  • The purpose of the TCE Subregistry is to assess the long-term health consequences to a general population from long-term, low-level exposures to TCE in the environment. Face-to-face interviews were used to collect self-reported information for 25 general health status questions. Using computer-assisted telephone interviewing, the same health questions were asked during the subsequent interviews (Follow-ups 1-3). The health outcome rates for the TCE Subregistry were compared with health outcome morbidity data in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The TCE Subregistry baseline includes 4,986 persons (4,652 living, 334 deceased) at sites in five states who had documented environmental exposure to TCE.
  • In the information collected so far, registrants reported some conditions at a higher rate than the general population. The health conditions reported in excess at one or more of the interview time periods were anemia, diabetes, hearing impairment, hypertension, kidney disease, liver problems, skin rashes, speech impairment, stroke, and urinary tract disorders. These results do not identify a causal relationship between TCE exposure and adverse health effects; the excess reporting of some health conditions might be explained by methodological differences in data collection. The results do, however, reinforce the need to continue the triennial follow-up of registrants.