Geographic Information Systems for Risk Evaluation: Perspectives on Applications to Environmental Health

By Nyerges, Timothy; Robkin, Maurice et al. | Cartography & Geographic Information Systems, July 1997 | Go to article overview

Geographic Information Systems for Risk Evaluation: Perspectives on Applications to Environmental Health


Nyerges, Timothy, Robkin, Maurice, Moore, T. J., Cartography & Geographic Information Systems


ABSTRACT. Geographic information system (GIS) applications for risk evaluation concerning environmental and ecological health are appearing with greater frequency. In this paper, we devise a conceptual framework for risk evaluation that encompasses and synthesizes several component frameworks (including risk scoping, risk communication, risk assessment (risk analysis), risk management, and risk monitoring) concerning environmental health, and hence human and ecological impacts. The purpose of devising the framework was to understand better where, when, and how GIS might be used for risk evaluation, and to identify gaps in knowledge requiring further research. An examination of 40 publications shows that most of the research done on the use of GIS for risk evaluation concerned applications in risk assessment rather than risk scoping, management, and risk monitoring. A four-level risk assessment framework is proposed, and criteria for evaluating the work are used to clarify what has been accomplished overall and where research opportunities exist. Future directions for the application of GIS in risk evaluation are suggested.

Keywords: risk assessment, GIS, risk analysis, hazardous waste, stakeholder, risk communication

Activities involving potential harm can be said to have some level of risk. Risk is defined as the "probability that a substance or situation will produce harm under specified conditions" (Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk 1997a). Risk is composed of two factors: the "probability" that an adverse event will occur (e.g., one in one million chance) and the "consequences" (e.g., serious injury, cancer, or death) of the adverse event. In the context of environmental health, risk arises from exposure to hazard. Risk does not exist if exposure to a harmful substance or situation does not occur. Hazard is determined by whether a particular substance or situation has the potential to cause harm to public health and/or the environment. The source of hazard and exposure to hazard have an inherently geographical character about them. Because risk does not occur without exposure, and exposure does not usually occur without coincidence in location and time, geographic information systems (GIS) technology can be very useful in understanding the nature of risk.

GIS applications for risk evaluation within the context of environmental health are appearing with greater frequency. The term "environmental health" covers both human and ecological health. Consequently, risk evaluation involves understanding the nature of risk to which people and other living organisms and their habitats are exposed.

As there are many aspects of risk evaluation cited in literature, e.g., risk scoping, risk communication, risk assessment (risk analysis), risk management, and risk monitoring, we have found it necessary to draw from several conceptual frameworks. Our synthesis, like others, is an attempt to formulate both a broad and a deep perspective as a backdrop for risk-based investigations concerning hazardous waste clean up. U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) sites are of particular interest because remediation often deals with multiple issues simultaneously. Our discussion of risk evaluation develops mainly from perspectives on human and ecological health risks but recognizes that social and economic concerns are also important (Greenberg 1995) and, hence, does not bar them from consideration.

Because of the complexity of discussions involving risk-oriented hazards and exposures and their management, it is assumed that risk evaluation can benefit from advanced information technology such as GIS. The synergy achievable from the integration of three major information technologies--data management, spatial analysis and computer graphics technologies--encourages the application of GIS in risk evaluation.

GIS technology is a data (information) integration and analysis engine which produces results that can be rendered using map displays at various levels of information resolution (Nyerges 1991).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Geographic Information Systems for Risk Evaluation: Perspectives on Applications to Environmental Health
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.