Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment
A Community Guide To Superfund Risk Assessment: What It's All About And How You Can Help
EPA 540-K-99-003 OSWER 9285.7-30 December 1999
We at EPA would like you to help us learn about the health risks of the Superfund site in your community. Thats why we want to tell you about risk assessment, a tool we use in deciding how to clean up sites.
We hope that the more you know about risk assessment, the more you can help us. And the more you know, the more youll understand the risks the site may pose to you and your family. Youll also see that your interest in the site can improve cleanup.
Heres a brief review of Superfund risk assessmentWe study health risks based on what people do and are likely to do on the site. Our goal is to protect everyone who could come in contact with chemicals from the site especially children, women of childbearing age, the elderly, and others who may be at greatest risk.
We use a four-part process to estimate the chance that contact with chemicals from a site will harm people now or in the future. This process gives us numbers that show how great (or small) the risks may be. It also points to who is at risk, what is causing the risk, and how sure we are about the numbers.
Data Collection and Evaluation
You can help us find out -
Where chemicals are located
What people do on or near the site
(Paracelsus, 1567) which means as dose rises, the risk of harm rises
Risk Characterization, the final step of the process, sums it all up. It reveals which chemicals are posing the risks and what the health risks are. It also says how sure we are about the results. Since some uncertainty about risk estimates is unavoidable, we build in a large margin of safety to prevent underestimation of the risks. These safeguards are intended to protect the exposed public.
We now can use the risk assessment to develop a cleanup plan that will make the site safe for current and future use
Here's how to get more information
- Call the toll-free Superfund/RCRA Hotline at 1-800- 424-9346 or the Community Involvement Coordinator in the EPA regional office for your state.
- Information is available on the Superfund Community Involvement pages.