Toxicology Program

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Toxicology Program was created in 1986 to carry out the Department's responsibilities under the Environmental Toxicology Act. The primary duties mandated through the act are to:

  • assess the health effects of exposure to hazardous substances or conditions in the environment
  • respond to citizen concerns or inquiries about the potential for health problems related to these exposures
  • identify actions necessary to mitigate or prevent adverse health effects
  • develop health advisories

Staff interpret laboratory results from environmental and biological samples and advise individuals or communities of health risks associated with exposures related to:

  • hazardous waste sites 
  • methamphetamine labs
  • chemicals in schools
  • soil, food, water or air contamination
  • short-term and long-term chemical exposure
  • indoor air quality
  • consumption of fish from Illinois waters

Staff also can investigate complaints of potentially harmful substances in homes, schools, and other environments.

Educational materials are continually being developed to inform the public, health professionals, and public health officials about exposure to toxic chemicals. These materials include:

  • educational fact sheets for health professionals and citizens on hazardous substances or conditions 
  • health assessments and consultations for hazardous waste sites
  • public health workshops focusing on areas of environmental concern
  • comprehensive reports on environmental issues

Toxicology staff consists of environmental health specialists in the central office in Springfield and in six regional offices. The training and experience of these professionals include:

  • chemistry and biology 
  • environmental and medical toxicology
  • environmental and occupational health 
  • industrial hygiene
  • environmental risk assessment
  • hazardous materials and emergency response
  • health and science education

Regional staff conducts field investigations with support available from the central office staff. Staff members also are available as speakers and facilitators upon request.

For more information, contact the central office or the regional office nearest you.

Hazardous Waste Site Assessments and Health Consultations

The Program reviews information about hazardous substances at waste sites and evaluates whether exposure to these substances might cause harm. This written evaluation is called a public health assessment. A follow-up document may be written on the site if new information or sampling data becomes available. This written document is called a health consultation.

Fish Advisories

Because some fish have become contaminated with chemicals, Illinois has established fish advisories for certain bodies of water in the state. These advisories are developed by the Illinois Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program (IFCMP), which consists of staff from the departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Public Health, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Indoor Air Quality and Healthy Homes

Program staff frequently receive requests for consultation and assistance in addressing indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns from the public, other department staff, and local, state, and federal agencies. Most requests regarding IAQ come from individuals concerned about their residence, but Program staff also receives requests related to nonresidential buildings. These include day care centers, schools, prisons, health care facilities, private businesses, and state, county, and city offices.