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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


Hazardous waste and toxic substances in the environment are a matter of both public concern and public health. Of particular interest to many communities are waste treatment facilities and abandoned hazardous waste sites. In response to concerns about such sites, the U.S. Congress enacted the Superfund Act of 1980, which requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with the states, to identify hazardous waste sites and clean up those deemed most hazardous to human health and environmental quality. The act also created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to investigate the health of persons who are potentially at risk from hazardous substances released into the environment.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the ATSDR is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As its primary duty, in cooperation with state and local health departments, the ATSDR conducts health assessments of communities that are at risk from hazardous waste and toxic substances. The agency also develops and distributes toxicologic profiles of known toxic substances, conducts epidemiologic investigations and health surveillance programs, responds to emergency chemical events, coordinates toxicologic research on specific toxic substances, and provides environmental health training for physicians and other health care providers.

Barry L. Johnson

(see also: Environmental Determinants of Health; Environmental Protection Agency; Hazardous Waste; Toxicology; Toxic Substances Control Act )


Johnson, B. L. (1999). Impact of Hazardous Waste on Human Health: Hazard, Health Effects, Equity, and Communications Issues. Boca Raton, FL: Lewis Publishers.

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