Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Overview ATSDR

ATSDR is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services concerned with the effects of hazardous substances on human health. ATSDR is charged with assessing the presence and nature of health hazards at specific Superfund sites, as well as helping prevent or reduce further exposure and the illnesses that can result from such exposures. ATSDR is an oversight agency created to ensure that public health protection and environmental regulation work hand in hand.

ATSDR functions include public health assessments of National Priority List (NPL or Superfund) hazardous waste sites; petitioned health consultations or assessments concerning specific waste sites or industrial facilities that US citizens have requested further action upon; the conduct of health studies (including surveillance and registries) to determine the long-term impact of these facilities; response to emergency releases of hazardous substances, applied research in support of public health assessments, information development and dissemination, and education and training concerning hazardous substances. ATSDR also prepares toxicological profiles for hazardous substances found at National Priorities List sites, as well as at federal sites administered by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

ATSDR has seven goals:

  • 1. Protect the public from environmental hazards and toxic exposures.
  • 2. Promote healthy environments.
  • 3. Advance the science of environmental public health.
  • 4. Support environmental public health practice.
  • 5. Educate communities, partners, and policy makers about environmental health risks and protective measures.
  • 6. Promote environmental justice and reduce health disparities associated with environmental exposures.
  • 7. Provide unique scientific and technical expertise to advance public health science and practice.
  • Authority

      Unlike the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ATSDR is an advisory, nonregulatory agency. ATSDR conducts research on the health impacts of hazardous waste sites and provides information and recommendations to federal and state agencies, community members, and other interested parties. However, ATSDR is not involved in cleanup of those sites, nor can ATSDR provide or fund medical treatment for people who have been exposed to hazardous substances.