Studying the determinants of exposure: a review of methods

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1999 Jan-Feb;60(1):57-72. doi: 10.1080/00028899908984423.


To better understand where, when, and how to control occupational exposures, it is vital that hygienists understand the factors that contribute to elevated or reduced exposure levels. Over the last two decades a burgeoning literature examining the determinants of exposure has developed, yet to date the methods used in this regard have rarely been summarized in texts or elsewhere. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the techniques used to study the predictors of workplace exposures. Both experimental and observational studies are examined, and the advantages and limitations of each are discussed. Fundamental study design features are reviewed. These include the selection and measurement of factors potentially related to exposure, as well as the measurement of exposure itself. Decisions reached by investigators in selecting the number of sites and workers, the number of repeated observations per worker, and the duration of sampling are discussed. Also examined are issues that commonly arise in the course of data analysis of exposure determinants. These include transformation of exposure variables, correlation of predictor variables, empirical model building, and interpretation of results. Finally, methods employed to evaluate the validity of findings are summarized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Models, Statistical
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Research Design