environmental exposures

Definition of environmental exposure

environmental exposure

(en-VY-run-MEN-tul ek-SPOH-zher)
Having contact with chemical, biological, or physical substances found in air, water, food, or soil that may have a harmful effect on a person’s health. Examples of environmental exposures include UV radiation from the sun and cigarette smoke, radon, or other forms of air pollution. A person may also be exposed to harmful substances by swallowing food or water that is contaminated with bacteria or pesticides or by absorbing harmful chemicals through the skin. The amount of harm caused by an environmental exposure depends on the amount of the exposure, the way a person is exposed, and how long a person is exposed. Some types of environmental exposures may increase the risk of certain diseases, such as lung disease, heart disease, and cancer, and may also lead to birth defects.

Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms