Each day, decisions are made that affect the environmental health and well being of communities. Sound environmental decisions are usually founded on three basic tools that provide information on environmental risk: the assessment, communication, and management of risks.
Risk assessment measures the amount and level of the pollutants usually in scientific or technical terms. In turn, risk communication uses the scientific information gathered from assessing the environmental hazard and makes it available and understandable to others within local government, the media, and stakeholders, such as residents, private businesses, and state and federal government agencies that are involved or have an interest in the environmental issue.
Risk management uses these two components, risk assessment and risk communication, to see how an environmental problem can be addressed with available resources like staffing, materials, and funding. This is done in accordance with the laws and stipulations of the local, state, federal, and corporate regulatory bodies devoted to the overall sustenance or enhancement of human health, nature, and all living things in the environment.
This article defines the three types of risk assessment, explains the general misperceptions held by many local government managers of the data retrieved from risk assessments, and discusses how some localities are using this tool to tackle environmental risks and to aid in the decision-making process for policy development.
Risk assessment is one of the key methods used to determine the level of pollutants in the environment and the degree to which populations are exposed to those pollutants.
"Risk assessment," as defined by the National Research Council (NRC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the …