The risk assessment case study evaluates the chromium-contaminated soils. Twelve years of research went into the study to characterize the health hazards caused by the chromium-contaminated soils. Within New Jersey there were at least three different chromate chemical manufacturing companies operating, one in Kearny, New Jersey, and the other two in Jersey City. The study was conducted through a human health risk assessment, which contains four main steps; first identifying the hazard, second the dose response assessment, followed by the exposure assessment, and finalizing with the risk characterization.
There are many short and long term health effects found within the risk assessment, which is one reason that assessment is so important. Looking at the risk assessment that was done within the area, the final implication was the simple fact that a remedial cleaning needed to be done within the area. It seems that there may have been a high cost for the study and the actual cleanup, but the benefit of saving an environment and human health is priceless.
Risk assessment studies are very important to human and ecological health, therefore no matter the cost associated the benefit will always be much higher. Looking at the risk assessment of chromium-contaminated soils is important; it shows health effects related to chromium and what needs to be done to clean the area for further use by humans and nature. The case study includes a group of hazardous waste sites in Northern New Jersey. At these waste sites a series of unique research efforts were implemented over the past 12 years to improve the accuracy of the Risk Assessment process” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). The case study specifically documents the use of applied research to advance the characterization of both exposure and toxicity associated with the uncontrolled release of hexavalent and trivalent chromium in the form of chromites ore processing residue (COPR) in an urban setting (Paustenbach, 2002). Early investigation began after redevelopment of certain neighborhoods in downtown Jersey City led to the discovery of COPR.
Research conducted by the task force revealed that construction companies and hauling firms had sued or sold the COPR to fill basements of demolished buildings, as base for parking lots and buildings, and/or to fill low – lying areas (Paustenbach, 2002). A total of 2,138 surfaces and subsurface soil samples, 31 groundwater samples from 31 monitoring wells at seven sites, 33 ambient air samples, 19 surface-water and 11 sediment samples, and eight building wall wipe samples were collected and analyzed during the remedial investigation that was conducted by Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE).
As a result of the investigations conducted in the late 1980s it was clear that there was considerable uncertainty about how better to characterize the potential health risks associated with the COPR sites. “The human health risk assessment a development used to process the estimation, the nature, and the chance of an adverse health effects occurring in humans who may be exposed to chemicals contaminated with environmental media” (EPA, 2012, p. 1).
The risk assessment can be categorized into four steps; the hazard identification, the dose-response assessment, the exposure assessment, and the risk characterization. The easiest to perform and the most recognizable, the first step is to identify the hazards. Hazard identification determines whether exposure to a hazardous agent could be a risk for the health of humans. The assessment also considers the exposure to animals and how the hazardous agent may affect or adversely affect the animals.
The second step, the dose-response assessment is “the process of characterizing the relation between the dose of an agent administered or received and the incidence of an adverse health effect in exposed populations and estimating the incidence of the effect as a function of exposure to the agent” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). Influencing issues are a variable in the second step, such as; age, gender, routines, the amount they are exposed, and the volume that they are exposed. A dose-response relationship describes how the possibility and severity of adverse health effects are related to the amount and condition of exposure to an agent” (EPA, 2012, p. 1). The third step is the exposure assessment. “Exposure assessment is the process wherein the intensity, frequency, and duration of human exposure to an agent are estimated” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). Last, the final step is the risk characterization. The hazardous effect on health is labeled in the final phase.
By calculation and educated guesses, the incidence of a health effect under the various conditions of human or animal exposure described in the exposure assessment is defined. The community has not been significantly affected by the COPR – containing soils. “The property values have been kept intact and the businesses on affected properties have continued to operate” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). When the COPR was ub the process of disposal, there was little or no concern for the environmental and human health risks that would occur as a result of the distribution of COPR outside the plant.
The potentially exposed populations were defined by onsite and surrounding land use. “Exposures to chromium in COPR were assumed to occur via inhalation of suspended soil particulates, dermal contact with soil, and incidental soil ingestion” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). The data from the site surveys were used in site-specific risk assessments to quantify exposures. Chapter nine verified that the there were 42 properties affect by the exposure and toxicity assessments (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1).
There were many samples taken. Between 1986 and 1989 “a total of 2,138 surface and subsurface soil samples, 31 groundwater samples from monitoring wells located at 7 sites, 33 ambient air samples, 19 surface-water and 11 sediment samples, and 8 building wall wipe samples were collected and analyzed during the RI” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). Surface water and soil samples were also taken in the risk assessments. The assessments confirmed that there was indeed a problem and that a remedial was needed.
The risk characterization showed that something needed to be done and remediation was needed for these current vacant lots. Results verified that the exposure and toxicity assessment had a high toxicity in the soil and carcinogenic that people were exposed to in the air, soil, and water. Evidenced proved that indoor dust was highly toxic and yielded a link between the dust and chromium levels. High levels of chromium were definite in all tests. The carcinogenic compounds of chromium were not proven in one, though, done on lab rats.
The problem was passed around inside the company but was eventually managed and is still being handled today. The implications of these assessments have changed with every assessment done. Each assessment could test even more accurately. The final assessment was that there is a need to concentrated effort on the chromium left from these sites. Each step was precisely performed and accurately carried out. Limitations arose during the first step of identification. Again, the second step dose-response was limited by the research that had been done on chromium.
As soon as they would file an assessment, there would be a new more accurate test available that would make the report inaccurate. The limitations and newly surfaced assessments left unanswered questions and concerns with the assessments. This 12-year period transformed a time of new developments in testing. With the availability of these new tests it brought the need for more assessments. The final assessments show that cleanup is needed and will require extensive planning to make it happen. The assessments were designed to discover the results of how much chromium was in the area.
The effect on the health of humans and the environment was also correlated within the assessments. Over the 12-year period, the assessments were evaluated and fulfilled to their fullest potential. According to Paustenbach (2002), in Chapter 9, “the cost of the 12-year study equaled 10 million dollars in research” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). Results can be seen in the undertaking of the removal of soil in these areas and taken to a hazardous material dump in Canada. By lowering the levels of chromium in these areas, like the wetlands, they have save a unique environment in America.
According to the Njdep Site Remediation Program (2012) the cleanup in these areas are ongoing and the testing is being posted on this web site to show what the levels are in these areas (NJDEP, 2012). The people living and working in the particular areas will most benefit from the program. The people can stay in tuned with the daily operations, along with the level ratings, through the website. Although the study was lengthy, “the studies conducted have lowered the liabilities by almost 1 billion dollars” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1).
The practical implications of the risk assessment were that there would have to be a remedial cleanup. “A review of chromium toxicology suggested that valence differentiation in the environment would be key to correctly calculating health-protective cleanup standards and maximizing the benefit of each dollar committed to remediation” (Paustenbach, 2002, p. 1). The specific goal approach was practical because it addressed the issues and came up with a plan of action. Many big companies do not have a plan of action and this hinders the process to be successful in the remediation process.
Another reason for the practicality of the risk assessment was that they were able to budget for how much the remedial and the cleanup would cost. Many companies are unable to see have a plan of action at times like this and cannot for see the cleanup and the cost associated with it. A cost benefit analysis is important when looking at a risk assessment. The cost and benefit analysis reviews the cost and benefit or cleaning up an area. Most analytically reviewed references monetary gains and loses. Looking at the cost and benefits of both scenarios will help decide whether to clean the area or leave it alone.
When looking at a CBA there are four different areas that must be looked at: first the gross disproportion, the sensitivity analysis, annualisation, and discounting. Gross disproportion is basically a factor when deciding if control measures should be used; if the costs are not grossly disproportionate from the benefits the control measures must be used. Sensitivity analysis is taking one or more of the factors and varying them to see if the outcome would be any different, this is used to show that control measures will be unsuccessful or that all that can be done has been.
Then the annualisation, when the costs are worked out year by year with the varying changes in money, is done by looking at the discounting numbers. Discounting is a deeper look into the different cost and benefits of each year, this looks at maintenance costs and other cost that may be incurred. The main problem with the CBA is that there are no set criteria for any of the sections, it is left up to those doing the CBA and those fighting the results must take it to court and the court decides.
Have set criteria listed for each aspect will help clarify what needs to be done. A CBA can be very beneficial to the decision of what needs to be done, it just needs a little more work to be more concise. The importance in a risk analysis can be witnessed in the review and evaluation of the risk assessment. The risk assessment of the chromium-contaminated soils in New Jersey; the 12-year assessment proved many points. Such an extensive assessment demonstrated an area of strength and weakness within the risk assessment.
The risk assessment is made up of four parts, first identifying the hazard, then looking at the dose response assessment; this is followed by the exposure assessment and the risk characterization. Within the risk assessment of the chromium-contaminated soils illustrated that there would be marked improvement with a remedial clean-up of the area. While it may not have been an easy decision, due to the fact, that the CBA has no set criteria. The risk analysis was conducted for 12 years to ensure human safety when living and working within the area; the 12 year study also helped form future risk analysis studies.
Courtney from Study Moose
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