Risk Assessment: Engineering Tool

by Wayne Tusa, Dir.; Environmental Risk Management Div., Dynamac Corp., Ft. Lee, NJ,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 2, Pg. 59-61

Document Type: Feature article


In factoring in human-health impacts when tackling an environmental problem, risk assessment is often the best approach. Its use is growing fast. The technique increasingly is being used in evaluating risk of civil engineering activities, particularly those related to environmental engineering, and most particularly to cleanup of hazardous waste dump sites. The two major, conflicting goals of such a cleanup are (1) to mitigate adverse health impacts to a degree sufficient to meet health standards (if any, and often there are none for the chemicals present), and (2) to do so at minimum cost. Steps in the risk assessment process, difficulties in undertaking each step, and weaknesses in today's technology and public-participation programs are described. Information from an interview with a key EPA official shows how that agency uses risk assessment to allay neighbor fears about hazardous waste site cleanups, and at the same time to avoid spending millions of dollars beyond the amount necessary.

Subject Headings: Occupational safety | Waste sites | Risk management | Waste treatment | Hazardous wastes | Site investigation | Health hazards | Recycling

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