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Framework for Risk Analysis of Multi-Media Environmental Systems (FRAMES)

The EPA is charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing regulations that protect human and ecological health from the myriad of chemical and non-chemical stressors imposed on the environment as a result of human activities. Fundamental to the execution of this charge is a need to understand the environmental processes (physical, biological, and chemical) that collectively release, transform and transport contaminants resulting in exposure and finally a probability of deleterious health effects. Computer models are key tools for organizing the knowledge of environmental science for application in the decision making process.

During the past five years, EPA, along with other federal agencies, has sponsored the development of the FRAMES - 3MRA (Multi-media, Multi-pathway, Multi-receptor Risk Analysis) modeling system. FRAMES is the software-based modeling system (i.e., the infrastructure) within which collections of models and modeling tools (e.g., data retrieval and analysis) are developed and applied to real world problems. FRAMES allows models placed within its domain to communicate with each other, facilitating the passage of data, resulting in the simulation of complex environmental processes. 3MRA is the actual set of 17 modules placed within FRAMES that collectively simulate the release, fate & transport, exposure, and risk (human and ecological) associated with wastestream contaminants deposited in various land-based waste management units (e.g., landfills, waste piles).

Picture of 3MRA Module Connectivity

The FRAMES-3MRA modeling system has been applied as an assessment technology for the Hazardous Waste Identification Rule (HWIR) within the EPA Office of Solid Waste. HWIR is a national rule that establishes contaminant concentration levels in industrial wastestreams that are considered "safe", i.e., would not require disposal as a hazardous waste.

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