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Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment

Frequent Questions

This page provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment. For general information about the Superfund program, visit Superfund Frequently Asked Questions. If you do not find the question or answer you're looking for, please contact us.

What is a Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment?

Many of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) regulatory programs use risk assessment to determine the levels of contaminants (wastes) in environmental media from a source that may pose unacceptable human health risk and/or an ecological risk. The same risk assessment process can then be used to determine clean up goals that would achieve protection for humans and ecological species. The Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment process considers all exposure routes and pathways that may occur for susceptible receptors and all know toxicity end points for each contaminant in arriving at the protective level.

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How might a Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment affect me?

If you live in a community or area that could be affected by pollution releases from a hazardous waste site or facility, the Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment will help determine if the contaminant concentrations that you and your family could be exposed to would pose an unacceptable health risk. A cleanup of contaminated environmental media (i.e., air, soil, water) you are potentially exposed to may be considered.

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How do I find out about environmental risks in my community?

Each of the 10 EPA Regional Offices have staff members dedicated to working with community members on environmental health risks in their community. In the Superfund program, the person is called a Community Involvement Coordinator (CIC). You can obtain contact information for CICs, risk assessors and other regional staff in your region as well as specific hazardous waste site information by clicking on the "Where You Live" on this web site.

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How do I become involved in a Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment?

The first step would be to determine what hazardous waste site or facility in your community is being investigated (or should be investigated) by a federal or state regulatory agency. The next step would be to contact appropriate agency staff (e.g., a CIC) about the opportunities for community involvement in the regulatory process for this site or facility. EPA typically holds public meetings in affected communities and provide a number of formal and informal structures for community involvement. One formal structure is a Community Advisory Group (CAG) that is designed to enhance community involvement in the Superfund process. CAGs typically bring awareness to EPA that particular populations in a community are at special risk to environmental threats. They may represent the interests of low-income and minority groups that may not have been represented through other efforts to encourage public participation. Additional community involvement information and documents may be found in this Waste and Cleanup Risk Assessment website under the Superfund Program page.

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Superfund Frequent Questions

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