Conducting integrated environmental health risk assessments

The risks, real and perceived, posed by agents in the environment cut across most of the priority research areas. Methods and systems to quantify these risks are urgently needed, if policy-makers are to arrive at informed cost-effect analyses and to predict future risks. One of the aims should be to assess the specific susceptibility of individuals and populations to environment and health risks.
The evaluation of risk often includes consideration of what is believed to be an acceptable level of risk to decide what exposure can be tolerated for risk management purposes. One fatality in a million people at risk (1 in 1000,000) is considered in some countries to be an acceptable level of risk for many risk situations but there may be circumstances where a greater risk, for example - one in a hundred thousand (1 in 100,000), may be considered tolerable if the risk is balanced by a considerable benefit.

The practice of protecting the environment and health is changing. While some states continue to adopt the traditional regulatory approach of seeking to monitor and control risk, elsewhere environment and health (EH) agencies at national, regional and local levels have become oriented towards preventing and reducing risk. This cannot be done through regulation alone but requires a multi-partner approach, with each being prepared to contribute towards reducing a prevailing level of risk. This invariably involves a higher degree of coordination and communication but can lead to greater and more sustainable improvements in EH status.

Recommended research tasks include: (a) Improve methodologies for exposure and effect assessment; (b) Further develop quantitative chemical risk characterization based on experimental and human data; (c) Develop methods to assess the oral and respiratory allergenicity of agents; and (d) Develop methods for the identification of genetic or non-genetic susceptibility. These should produce the follwoing benefit: Reliable estimates of risks to health from exposure to environmental agents.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 15: Life on Land