Section I: Concepts, Principles and Uses


The first section of the book provides information on the general aspects of environmental risk assessment and management; the core concepts, definitions and terminology, its use and application, its limitations and the scientific uncertainty involved.

It is comprised of four phases:

  1. an introduction to the concept of risk, risk assessment and risk management and how these concepts, in combination, can be used as an effective tool in environmental management and protection.
  2. specific uses of environmental risk assessment such as regulatory and policy design and decision-making, and site-specific decision-making, and the good and bad points of the techniques.
  3. a typology of use.
  4. an attempt to draw together common principles underlying all environmental risk assessments and produce a generic model, using a practical example, to clarify and illustrate the stages of the environmental risk assessment process.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to environmental risk assessment. It assumes the reader does not have a detailed knowledge of risk assessment but understands the basic concepts of science. It covers the definitions used in environmental risk assessment and "sets the scene" for the rest of the book.

Chapter 2 looks specifically at the use of risk assessment as an environmental management tool. The chapter aims to outline the major ways in which risk assessment is used and gives specific examples of such use in Europe. This allows the reader to see how the concepts discussed in Chapter 1 are applied in practical situations, from the regulation of chemicals, to the dumping of the Brent Spar. The chapter also points out the advantages of the techniques and the criticisms.

Chapter 3 is designed to illustrate the wide variety of uses of environmental risk assessment. For each use, the specific methodology may vary but the core principles and the stages in the process are fundamentally the same. Recognising this variation in applied methodology, Chapter 4 identifies the common thread and runs through the environmental risk assessment process, step by step, using a site-specific example of the siting of a new refuse incinerator. It describes a generic environmental risk assessment methodology which includes the steps required in all types of risk assessment.

This section of the book is targeted at a wide audience, from those with little or no knowledge of environmental risk assessment to those who are familiar with it in their own professional field, but are interested in approaches used in other areas. It is educational, but familiar in style, and is pitched at a level which should provide interesting reading to anyone who needs, or wants, to find out about measures in place or used to protect the environment, from an international to a local scale.


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