A Practical Approach for Evaluating Environmental Risk

by Gretchen Mikeska, C-E Environmental Inc, United States,
Andrew Baldwin, C-E Environmental Inc, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Environmental Engineering


Risk management and assessment techniques are increasingly being used to project public health risks at hazardous wastes sites. Few studies have quantitatively evaluated the environmental risk at a site and what role that risk plays in specifying site remediation plans. Such a study, referred to as a biota study, was performed for a Superfund Site, where PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are the primary compound of concern. The biota study was conducted using a four-phased approach that combined a small data base of field results with a food web depicting organism interactions. It was then possible to assess the relative concentration of PCBs at each trophic level and determine if site conditions presented a significant environmental risk to the ecosystem. The biota study demonstrated that environmental risk concerns would be addressed if site remediation plans were based on public health risks alone. The integration of a literature review with a focused field program, proved to be a cost-effective approach for evaluating environmental risk.

Subject Headings: Public health and safety | Waste sites | Site investigation | Risk management | Health hazards | PCB | Field tests

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