Risk is the chance of an injury, illness or death caused by exposure
to a hazard. The EPA defines risk as "The probability of injury,
disease, or death under specific circumstances." Environmental risk
assessment is a tool that helps people make informed decisions in
determining the use of a potentially hazardous substance, or about
actions to take when environmental contamination has already occurred.
Environmental contaminants can cause injury to humans, animals,
the ecosystem, the economy and aesthetics. Risk assessment provides
an evaluation of the likelihood and severity of these injuries.
This series of pages will describe a basic framework for human and
ecological health-based risk assessment, describe standards of risk
assessment, risk management and ends with a discussion about risk
communication. The processes of risk assessment for human health
and ecology are similar. Factsheets on each process are available.
A diagram will help show how the processes flow.
For the other risk-related pages, please see:
- Steps to Assessment. This page
describes detailed descriptions of the steps in risk assessment,
with emphasis on human health risk assessment.
- Risk Assessment Standards This
page provides a discussion on standards for risk assessment based
on the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Ecological Risk Assessment
This page focuses on the unique aspects of ecological risk assessment.
- Risk Management This page provides
information about plans for managing and/or preventing risk.
- Risk Communication This page
provides information about communicating with communities facing