Risk assessment provides an objective, technical evaluation
of the likelihood of unacceptable impacts to human health
and the environment. The purpose is to assess the need for
protective measures, since a specific risk assessment
is a precondition for any such protective measures.
Risk assessments provide a qualitative or quantitative
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evaluation of the risk posed to human health and the environment
by the actual or potential presence of pollutants. Risk
assessments are conducted for a number of reasons, including:
to establish whether an ecological risk exists or not; to
identify the need for additional data collection; to focus
on the dangers of a specific pollutant or the risks posed
to a specific site; to help develop contingency plans and
other responses to pollutant releases.
The assessment and management of land contamination
risks involves three main components:
- the source of contamination (e.g. metal polluted soils,
a leaking oil drum);
- the receptor (ie the entity that could be adversely
affected by the contamination); and
- the pathway (the route by which a receptor could come
into contact with the contaminating substances).
For quantitative risk assessment tools, procedures
and models are used.
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