Thursday, May 14, 2009

Environmental Risk Assessment in the Age of Storm water run-off Pollution

The variable health condition of some of the rivers and surface waters in Washington State has brought us to discussion of risk assessments in managing environmental resources like surface water, rivers and ocean. Many of the havocs done to our ground water in the Puget Sound region, especially in Elliot Bay, has made scientist skirmish and launch effort at evaluating the impact of environmental stressors, including chemical pollutants, industrial run-offs, invasive grass species and climate change on the quality of fresh water in the Puget Sound basin. Just like scientists, residents are asking pointed questions like: 1) to what extent are chemical pollutants poising the fishes and wild life in our rivers; 2) to what extent are agricultural fertilizers and insecticides polluting our ground water; and 3) what is the risk involved in the introduction of non-indigenous wildlife species to Washington Rivers? These questions to a greater extent are measurable; especially when the issue of esthetic value of the bodies of water is paramount in the mind of residents. Using risk assessment theories to measure the extent of environmental pollution seems to be a useful tool, especially when our interest is to ensure that our ground and surface water is safe.

Recently, some scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency have been attempting to understand the potential effect of noticeable stressors to the Puget Sound and using risk management theory to control excessive damage and protect the health of the rivers and ocean in the State. A key part of the mission of the EPA’s scientists is to understand the potential effect of stressors such as those described above in assessing the quality and health of ground and surface water. What does risk assessment offers at this time: 1) the possibility of predicting the likelihood of the effects of the stressors on ground and surface water; 2) the potential of collecting information that could allow scientist hedge against risks of surface and ground water pollution; 3) opportunity to develop a monitoring plan that can reduce pollutants levels in surface and ground waters; and 4) opportunity to develop exposure profile for each pollutants. With these it will be possible to develop a quality index that can help support surface and ground water clean up. It may also be possible to limit many industrial and agricultural activities related to the environmental stressor that are damaging the ground and surface waters.
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