Partnership to Promote Localized Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure

Environmental Exposure Investigations



Tennessee maintains a Cooperative Agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to protect people from exposure to hazardous substances. Through ATSDR’s Partnership to Promote Localized Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure, known as APPLETREE, the Environmental Epidemiology Program receives federal funding to provide health-based risk assessment and environmental public health education. Our Cooperative Agreement partnership has helped us become a successful, efficient and trusted environmental public health program.

The three objectives of our APPLETREE program are to:

Objective 1:    Identify pathways of exposure to hazardous substances at waste sites and releases;
Objective 2:    Identify, implement and coordinate public health interventions to reduce exposures to hazardous substances at levels of health concern; and
Objective 3:    Provide training to promote and achieve Safe Places for Early Care and Education in Tennessee.

The five outcomes of our APPLETREE program are to:

Outcome 1:    A high percentage of community members, regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders understand the health risks and ATSDR’s recommendations;
Outcome 2:    Regulatory agencies and policy makers adopt and implement site-related recommendations within 12 months after completion of site assessment;
Outcome 3:    Site-related exposures are reduced or eliminated;
Outcome 4:    An increased percentage of people are able to protect themselves from site-related hazards;
Outcome 5:    Exposures related to toxic substances are reduced, eliminated or prevented.

Site-specific investigations

EEP performs environmental investigations. We prepare public health assessments and health consultations based on our findings. These reports present conclusions, make recommendations, and plan corrective actions. Our work is often certified by the ATSDR to ensure it is based on approved methodology and procedures. EEP maintains a list of our viewable and downloadable environmental public health reports.  To view the site-specific investigation map click the following link:

EEP investigates sites where people may be at risk of chemical exposure and takes action to make sure people are safe. An investigation may include these steps:

(1) Investigate ways people may come into contact with chemicals whether in air, water, soil or biota,
(2) Review environmental data,
(3) Determine if people are being dangerously exposed,
(4) Calculate the risks to public health,
(5) Provide recommendations to eliminate hazardous exposures to keep people safe, or
(6) Develop a public health action plan to perform any necessary changes, cleanups or outreach.

EEP frequently assists TDEC’s Division of Remediation in evaluating chemical exposures from former industrial site operations or releases. As of 2013, Tennessee had 15 active Superfund National Priorities List sites, one proposed site, four alternative sites, one removed site and six deleted sites. There are an additional 200 sites listed in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System database. The Division of Remediation has promulgated 100 sites and has investigated more than 1,700 sites that may contain hazardous materials. The Division of Remediation  operates the  Voluntary Cleanup, Oversight and Assistance ProgramDrycleaner Environmental Response ProgramBrownfields Program and Methamphetamine Contamination Cleanup Program.

Sometimes EEP assists TDEC’s Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management with their active facility Resource Conservation and Recovery Act site operations, releases or closures. TDEC’s other divisions may also identify sites of concern that need EEP’s assistance. We provide public health support to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Department of Finance and Administration as well as to the U.S. EPA. EEP may also investigate an environmental site due to public concern.

Sometimes, we may ask a community to help us find out if they have been exposed to chemicals. We may perform an Exposure Investigation to test people for chemicals in their body. Our fact sheet about exposure  (PDF) offers a better understanding of how exposure to a harmful chemical may happen.

 Health education and outreach

Based on data, observation and risk, EEP staff perform outreach and education. We commonly make fact sheets to summarize our site-specific environmental public health investigations. Since analysis of chemicals and health risk can be complex, we try to share simplified fact sheets to make sure all persons can understand our conclusions, recommendations and action plan. We have developed web-based fact sheets to educate about exposure to common chemicals.

To learn more read some of our fact sheets:


Community Stress Resource Center

ATSDR's Community Stress Resource Center has resources about the psychological and social impacts associated with living in a community affected by long-term environmental contamination. The Community Resource Center offers online training for risk assessors as well as helpful materials for understanding the stress of being exposed to environmental pollution.

ATSDR Community Stress Resource Center

 Success stories

Visit our APPLETREE Success Stories webpage to learn more about how are projects have impacted public health and assisted people across Tennessee.

 Contact information

To report environmental concerns in Tennessee, call the Department of Environment and Conservation at 1-888-891-8332. For more information about our program or about a site, call the Department of Health’s Environmental Epidemiology Program at 615-741-7247 or toll-free at 1-800-404-3006, during normal business hours. Reach EEP via e-mail at

 Our partners

Additional resources

Tennessee Environmental Epidemiology Program
List of site-specific publications

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
Brownfield / Land Reuse Health Initiative

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Division of Remediation