Risk Assessment -- a cost-saving partner to remedial investigations
Risk assessment -- either human health or ecological -- is a tiered process that includes the following general steps:
- Exposure assessment – involves identifying potential routes of exposure, characterizing the populations exposed and determining the frequency, duration and extent of exposure;
- Hazard identification – determines whether a substance causes adverse effects and identifies those effects
- Dose-response assessment – describes the relationship between the level of exposure and the likelihood and/or severity of an adverse effect; and
- Risk characterization – combines information from the previous three steps to describe the type and magnitude of risks to exposed populations. The resulting risks are then compared to the risk management criteria promulgated in regulations.
Contaminants in groundwater and surface water can pose risks to human health and the environment via a number of potential exposure pathways. Distilled to the most basic elements, concentrations of constituents of concern in environmental media collected at a site are compared to literature-derived toxicity information and within the context of the appropriate exposure parameters, a determination is made whether existing or presumptive risks are acceptable by a regulatory paradigm. The results may serve as the nexus for cost savings and the judicious use of finite resources for mitigation by focusing remedial activities on media and populations most at risk.
Call me at 206-451-4133, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how your projects could benefit from a risk assessment approach.