Assessing the environmental risks associated with contaminated sites

Boriani, Elena (2011). Assessing the environmental risks associated with contaminated sites. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d4df

Abstract

A risk assessment strategy considering the impact of chemicals on the whole ecosystem has been developed in order to create a sound and useful method for quantifying and comparing global risks posed by the main different hazardous chemicals found in the environment. This index, called the Environmental Risk Index for a Complete Assessment (ERICA), merges in a single number the environmental assessment, the human health risk assessment and the uncertainty caused by missing or unreliable data. ERICA uses a scoring system with parameters for the main characteristics of the pollutants. The main advantage is that it preserves a simple approach by condensing in this single value an analysis of the risk for the area under observation.

The availability and reliability of the data is an important part of the work done to build the index. Experimental and predictive data were compared to evaluate the reliability. Data were derived both from literature sources (experimental models mainly) and predictive models. ERICA can be considered a diagnostic and prognostic tool for environmental contaminants in critical and potentially dangerous sites, such as incinerators, landfills and industrial areas or in broader geographical areas. The application of the proposed integrated index provides a preliminary quantitative analysis of possible environmental alerts due to the presence of one or more pollutants in the investigated site.

This thesis presents the method and the equations behind the index and a first case study based on the Italian legislation and a pilot study on a location on the Italian seacoast.

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