World Congress on Risk 2015
19-23 July, 2015, Singapore
Session Schedule & Abstracts
* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.
Environmental Health Risk Assessment (EHRA)
Room: Exploration 16:00–17:30
|Chair(s): Brian Priestly, Peter Di Marco
1 Disciplines in EHRA; the role of ACTRA. Di Marco P.D. (179)|
Abstract: Environmental health (EH) is the branch of public health that aims to prevent disease and illness from physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and related factors that might affect behaviours through the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can affect human health (WHO; http://www.who.int/topics/environmental_health/en/). These factors include air, water, food and soil quality, and communicable diseases.
This presentation briefly describes the three disciplines of environmental health, in particular toxicology and exposure science which underpin risk assessment and management. It will outline the principles of risk assessment (hazard identification, dose response assessment, exposure assessment and risk characterisation) focusing primarily on the process of identifying, quantifying, evaluating and managing the effects in population from exposures to various environmental contaminants and other factors.
The Australasian College of Toxicology and Risk Assessment (ACTRA; http://www.actra.org.au/) was established in July 2006. Its aims are to:
â€¢ advance the study and applications of toxicology and health risk assessment as professional scientific disciplines, and
â€¢ cultivate (and maintain) the highest standards of professional practice and ethics in persons engaged in the sciences of toxicology and health risk assessment.
An important objective in establishing ACTRA was to initiate a process whereby the professional standing and credentials of Australian and New Zealand toxicologists and health risk assessors could receive some type of formal, peer-reviewed recognition. ACTRA has established a professional Register and provides continuing education opportunities through a variety of training programmes and scientific activities to meet this objective.
The role of ACTRA in this process will be illustrated by examples of its roles in providing educational activities and member contributions to the practice of environmental health in Australia.
2 Australian guidance on EHRA, including guidance on stakeholder engagement. Priestly B.G (183)|
Abstract: The Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) is responsible for providing advice to on environmental health policy and the implementation of the National Environmental Health Strategy. enHealth first published national guidance on environmental health risk assessment (EHRA) in 2002, and this guidance was updated in 2012, along with a companion monograph on Australian Exposure Factors guidance. The enHealth guidance documents outline the general principles of EHRA, along with practical guidance on data collections and analysis, how to interpret and integrate toxicity and epidemiology data, and comparisons with international approaches to EHRA. In relation to assessment of contaminated sites, the enHealth guidance is complemented by specific EHRA guidance in the National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure (NEPM), updated in 2013. Both documents emphasise the importance of effective engagement with stakeholders. This presentation will outline an example of community engagement with residents of an Adelaide suburb impacted by trichloroethene (TCE) contamination from an adjacent former industrial site. The example illustrates an engagement process that was initially criticised on the basis of slow and opaque assessments and actions on the part of government agencies, the impact of partisan political interventions in the South Australian Parliament, and the eventual establishment of an interagency task group that developed a more coherent and targeted communication strategy. A further outcome was the establishment of a formal Parliamentary enquiry into the way the issue was managed by the SA Environment Protection Authority, allowing residents, scientists and other stakeholders to make public submissions on the matters.
3 Human Health Risk Assessment for Soil and Groundwater Contamination â€“ A Sustainable Management Tool? Australian Perspectives in Uncertainty and Practicality. Blount A (185)|
Abstract: The assessment of health risks from environmental contaminants in soil and water poses a number of challenges, especially when the more traditional methodologies are adapted. In the management of soil and groundwater contamination, generic guideline criteria as published by regulatory authorities are adopted for the initial assessment of contaminant risks. Significant cost and practicability implications can arise from the HRA process. Generic guidelines are typically intended to present â€˜conservativeâ€™ and highly protective criteria appropriate for the wider community. Site-specific health risk assessment (HRA) may then be used as a means to achieve more sustainable or practical goals for contamination management or clean-up by reducing the level of uncertainty and conservatism in the final criteria. However, the more detailed HRA process may also identify deficiencies in the supposedly â€˜conservativeâ€™ generic guidelines, potentially resulting in more stringent criteria.
The session presents the broad scenarios under which HRA are conducted for soil and groundwater contaminants and describes the Australian framework that seeks to standardise guidance for these challenging assessments. Current practice in Australia offers examples of approaches to uncertainties; of the interaction between guidance from different jurisdictions (national, state, local and quasi-regulatory agencies); and the advantages and challenges of adopting guidance that is not prescriptive.
An example of personnel undertaking maintenance works on waste-water infrastructure is examined, providing a complex intersection of different health risk disciplines including chemical product exposure, occupational health management and the uncertainties of environmental contamination risk assessment. The adoption of conservative assumptions is considered, to address uncertainty and to meet stakeholder expectations, and the individual and cumulative impact of these assumptions upon the risk conclusions is presented.
4 EHRA in relation to air pollution. Drew R (184)|
Abstract: Being able to estimate, or measure, the exposure of people to pollutants in ambient air is a critical element of producing a defensible EHRA. Uncertainty in estimating exposure is due to a number of factors. Emissions are not constant, pollutant dilution is also variable and a personâ€™s exposure depends on which way the wind blows, and for how long, and how well the pollutants in ambient air can penetrate indoors. Inherently the behavioural pattern of an individual influences the extent of their exposure, for example how much time they spend away from the affected area, time outdoors or indoors, or if outdoors whether they are breathing heavily. Exposures are averaged over time. Techniques commonly used for exposure estimation are area wide monitoring, usually for criteria pollutants, or air dispersion modelling. There are uncertainties associated with both.
Characterising the risk is usually achieved by comparing exposure with an acceptable (safe) air guideline for each pollutant. It is important to ensure the time period of the guideline matches the exposure period of concern, and it considers health endpoints of concern. Community health suspicions are not always addressed by the guideline and/or the exposure averaging time chosen for risk characterisation; acute irritancy is an example. In addition communities are often anxious about malodour and the perception it is a â€˜Trojan Horseâ€™ for the adverse health effects they are experiencing.
While the criteria pollutants (SOx, NOx, Pb, CO, PM) usually dominate an EHRA dealing with ambient air pollution, there are often dozens of compounds in the plume. There is a tendency to only consider components for which there is a guideline. This approach doesnâ€™t always sit well with communities; they wish to also know about the possible effects of the other, uncharacterised components of the pollution.
The above aspects of conducting an EHRA will be illustrated by a case study on emissions from an oil producing facility.
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