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Hazardous Materials

hazardous material workers inspecting a barrel

Environmental health practitioners help ensure that the proper controls are in place and are maintained to prevent chemical releases. When releases do occur, practitioners respond to limit human exposure and minimize the impact on the environment.

Because of terrorism concerns, practitioners must be prepared to respond not only to unintentional releases but to intentional releases as well.

This section provides key information on preventing and preparing for chemical releases.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Resources on Chemicals and Hazardous Materials – agency responsible for assessing the health of people living near hazardous waste sites

  • Medical Management Guidelines – guidelines for healthcare professionals involved in acute exposures resulting from chemical incidents
  • ToxFAQs – answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about exposure to hazardous substances
  • Toxicological Profiles – detailed information about 275 hazardous substances

CDC Chemical Agents List – list of chemicals and toxicants of concern

CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Emergency Response Resources – emergency response topics

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Links to information from outside CDC

Environmental Practice and Response Fundamentals (University of Minnesota, Center for Public Health Preparedness) – online training to build skills needed by environmental health professionals to operate in different emergency situations

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – information about preparing for and responding to chemical releases

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

HazMat Transportation Incidents: Using the Emergency Response Guidebook (University at Albany, State University of New York, Center for Public Health Preparedness) – ERG training increases public health workers awareness of hazardous materials being used in or transported through their communities

National Library of Medicine – information about disaster and emergency preparedness and response grouped in related categories:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Emergency Management Center (EMC) – conducts applied research and assists in the development of emergency planning capabilities

The Twin Cities Metro Advanced Practice Center – tools and resources for preparedness that can be used by public health departments nationwide, including

U.S. National Response Team (NRT) – interagency organization responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents:

Suggested Resources:

2008 Emergency Response Guidebook – Provides responders with information to quickly identify the specific or generic classification of the hazardous material and how to protect themselves and the general public during the initial response phase.

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist 2003 TLVs® and BEI's® – guide to evaluate and control workplace exposures to chemical substances and physical agents

Field Management of Chemical Casualties Handbook, 2nd Ed. [PDF - 427 KB] (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense [USAMRICD]) – information to order the handbook

Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook, 4th Ed. (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID]) – information to order the handbook

Medical Management of Chemical Casualties Handbook, 3rd Ed. (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID]) – information to order the handbook

World Health Organization (WHO):

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