Exposure (epidemiology)

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Exposure ( lat. Expositio "exposure", "representation") is a factor to which a group of people is exposed. An exposure represents the sum of all environmental influences that affect an object or a living being. These influences can be biological, chemical or physical in nature. In medicine and toxicology in particular , exposure refers to the exposure of living beings to harmful environmental influences such as pathogens , toxic chemical elements or compounds or physical influences such as heat, noise or radiation. A miner, for example, is exposed to stone dust, a passive smoker to cigarette smoke.

Exposure does not necessarily have to lead to illness, but it is a possible cause of damage to health or illness. However, exposure can also have a protective effect. For example, regular physical activity represents exposure that has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system.

Importance of Exposure Detection

The investigation of diseases with regard to possible exposure is helpful in medicine, more precisely in epidemiology , in order to uncover connections between a disease and a person's exposure to environmental influences. These findings are intended to control health problems with the help of targeted preventive measures against exposure.

To find out whether there is a causal relationship between exposure and the disease, different study designs are used and exposed and non-exposed subjects are compared. For illnesses such as chickenpox, sunburn, or an aspirin overdose, the effect between exposure and illness is easy to determine. It is more difficult with diseases that have a long latency period , i.e. that only occur significantly later after they have been influenced by the risk.

The measure of a certain amount of exposure is the dose . The lowest known dose of an influence that leads to a harmful or undesirable effect is referred to in toxicology as the Lowest Known Toxic Dose , “TD Lo ”; a dose that leads or can lead to the death of an individual is called the Lethal Dose , "LD". In the case of gaseous chemical compounds, the concentration is given as a measure of exposure instead of the dose , from which the terms “TC Lo ” (Lowest Known Toxic Concentration) and “LC” (Lethal Concentration) follow.

Intake routes

The type of ingestion (incorporation) can for example be oral (i.e. through the mouth, also known as ingestion ), inhalation (through breathing ), dermally (through skin contact), intravenous , intramuscular or intraperitoneal (i.e. through the abdominal cavity).

See also


  • Spiros Vamvakas, Wolfgang Dekant: Toxicology. An introduction for chemists, biologists, and pharmacists . 2nd Edition. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 978-3-8274-2673-4 (reprinted without changes in 2010).
  • Stefan Gabriel, Ulrike Koch, Dorothea Koppisch, Roger Stamm, Marco Steinhausen: New challenges for the determination, documentation and evaluation of exposure data on hazardous substances . In: Hazardous substances - Keeping air clean, Vol. 72, Issue 1/2 (2012), pp. 12-20, ISSN  0949-8036
  • Ruth Bonita, Robert Beaglehole, Tord Kjellström: Introduction to Epidemiology. 2nd Edition. Hans Huber Verlag, Bern 2008, ISBN 978-3-456-84535-7
  • Leon Gordis: Epidemiology. Fourth edition. Sauders Elsevier, Philadelphia 2009
  • Robert H. Fletscher, Suzanne W. Fletscher. Clinical epidemiology. Basics and application. 2nd Edition. Publisher Hans Huber, Bern 2007
  • Oliver Razum, Jürgen Breckenkamp, ​​Patrick Brzoska: Epidemiology for Dummies. WILEY-VCH Verlag, Munich 2009

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Pschyrembel: Clinical Dictionary. Edition 260.Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2004
  2. Entry on exposure. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on September 23, 2011.
  3. Oliver Razum, Jürgen Breckenkamp and Patrick Brzoska: Epidemiology for Dummies. WILEY-VCH Verlag, Munich 2009, p. 24
  4. Leon Gordis: Epidemiology. Fourth edition. Sauders Elsevier, Philadelphia 2009, p. 8
  5. ^ Robert H. Fletscher and Suzanne W. Fletscher: Clinical epidemiology. Basics and application. 2nd Edition. Verlag Hans Huber, Bern 2007, p. 110