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What You Can Expect From ATSDR

  1. What is ATSDR?
  2. What ATSDR will do
  3. What ATSDR does not do

What is ATSDR?

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal public health agency in Atlanta, Georgia. The agency's mission is to prevent harm to human health and diminished quality of life from exposure to hazardous substances found at waste sites, in unplanned releases, and in other sources of pollution present in the environment. ATSDR identifies communities where people might be exposed to hazardous substances in the environment.  The agency also determines how hazardous a site is and recommends actions that need to be taken to safeguard the health of community members. ATSDR works with communities, environmental groups, tribal governments and local, state, and other federal agencies to protect the public health.

ATSDR will, as appropriate, do the following: 

  • Involve communities and tribes when responding to their environmental public  health concerns;

  • Be independent, objective and make public  health decisions based on current available science;

  • Review and assess environmental, health and community information  and data;

  • Contact the relevant federal, tribal, state, and local health and environmental agencies, and always the communities, while investigating a hazardous waste site or release;

  • Collect additional data through exposure investigations, limited/targeted environmental sampling, and health studies to assess health impacts;

  • Provide and explain the results of our evaluations, medical consultations, and investigations to communities and tribes;

  • Provide environmental health education for health care providers, communities, and tribes;

  • Provide emergency response assistance for acute hazardous materials accidents;

  • Refer individuals to specialists in environmental medicine for health care followup;

  • Incorporate public comments received on ATSDR draft documents into finalized documents;

  • Refer public health issues or problems to other federal, tribal, state or local governmental entities when they do not fall within ATSDR's area of responsibility.

ATSDR does not:

  • Conduct large-scale site- or release-related environmental sampling (responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies);

  • Enforce regulations (ATSDR is an advisory, nonregulatory public health agency);

  • Provide medical treatment and health care services.

This page updated March 21, 2008