Environmental Risk Analysis Process Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Environmental Risk Analysis Process

Environmental Risk Analysis (ERA) is "a process for estimating the likelihood or probability of an adverse outcome or event due to pressures or changes in environmental conditions resulting from human activities" (Ministry of Environment, Land, and Parks, 2000). ERA should be a scientific process, when that is possible. "In general terms, risk depends on the following factors: How much of a chemical is present in an environmental medium (e.g., soil, water, air), how much contact (exposure) a person or ecological receptor has with the contaminated environmental medium, and the inherent toxicity of the chemical" (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). All of these factors help the assessor determine the "potential adverse effects that human activities have on the living organisms that make up ecosystems. The risk assessment process provides a way to develop, organize and present scientific information so that it is relevant to environmental decisions" (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011).

The first goal in the ERA process is to determine how much exposure the environment or humans will have to the potential contaminant or pollutant. This involves examining the process and the risk of exposure that is inherent in the process. This consideration may involve an evaluation of risk management procedures, to see if it is possible to limit exposure and if the efforts to limit exposure are likely to be successful or unsuccessful. Determining the probability of success or failure of risk management procedures is part of determining the risk involved in a particular activity.

Once the assessor has evaluated the level of exposure that is likely to result from an activity, that information is combined with what is known about the toxicity of the chemicals that can be released into the environment. What complicates this process is the fact that not all of the impacts of chemicals are fully understood. Therefore, much of the assessment process has to depend upon the judgment of the assessor and how the assessor feels that the chemicals will interact with the existing environment. "For this reason, a key part of all good risk assessments is a fair and open presentation of the uncertainties in the calculations and a characterization of how reliable (or how unreliable) the resulting risk estimates really are" (United States…

Sources Used in Document:


Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. (2009, June). Ecological risk assessments.

Retrieved January 7, 2013 from Department of Environmental Conservation website: http://dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/guidance/eco_risk.pdf

Ministry of Environment, Land, and Parks. (2000, July). Environmental risk assessment (ERA):

An approach for assessing and reporting environmental conditions. Retrieved January 7,

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