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Methods and tools for health risk assessment

Keywords: dangerous substances effects, environmental modeling, human health, health risk evaluation, industrial and anthropic activities

The assessment of human health risk due to the use of dangerous substances in anthropic activities is a topic of growing interest for both citizens and public authorities.

As a matter of fact, the former want to know the influence that such substances have on changing life conditions and the latter must establish rules and regulations to guarantee a safe exposure to them, if there is. Human health risk is assessed through a procedure based on identification, evaluation and management.

As given in Fig. 1, the global evaluation procedure can be profitably conducted by using the capabilities of Geographycal Information Systems able to describe the spatial distribution of  sources  of Chemicals of Concern (CoC), of their dispersion in air, water and soil established through fate and transport models and finally able to draw maps of cancer risk or of  hazard quotient, if dangerous substances are involved, being carcinogenic or not.

The research activities of the group were and are focused on all the aspects of the procedure:  methodological contents, simple or complex environmental models, dose – response models of dangerous substances, uncertainties  evaluation and tolerability criteria; all these topics have to be deepened if we want to give an actual and credible picture of health risks of human beings living in a territory.

The software code EHHRA-GIS includes all the models previously cited; it has been built by research group step by step following innovations in fields involved, especially in modeling, and technical regulations established by national authorities. At present this tool can manipulate several sources due to industrial and civil activities or to transport, being both continuous or accidental  ones (see, as an example,  Fig.2). Maps of individual risk produced by one or several substances, histograms on risk importance of substances and on the most relevant ways of intakes (by ingestion of foods, by drinking of water or different beverage,….) are some of the several results which can be obtained by the code. It has to be outlined that all values are useful and important in order to support the job of territorial authorities in a correct management of risk.

Main publications

Morra P.,Bagli S., Spadoni G. (2006). The Analysis Of Human Health Risk With A Detailed Procedure Operating In A Gis Environment, Environment International, Elsevier,Vol. 32 (4), pp 444-454, ISSN: 0160-4120.

Morra P., Spadoni G., Lisi R., Maschio G. (2006). The application of the Ehhra-Gis tool for the assessment of human health risk in the Pace valley of Messina, in C. Guedes Soares, E. Zio. Safety and Reliability for Managing Risk. European Safety and Reliability Conference 2006 (ESREL 2006). Estoril, Portugal. 18-22 September. (vol. 3, pp. 2239 - 2245). ISBN: 978-0-415-42315-1. LONDON: Taylor & Francis / Balkema.

Lisi R., Milazzo M.F., Morra P., Antonioni G., Spadoni G., Maschio G. (2007). Environmental Impact Assessment Of A MSW Incinerator, Proceedings of SARDINIA 2007, XI International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium, 1 – 5 October 2007, S. Margherita di Pula (Cagliari), pp. 575-584, CISA-Environmental Sanitary Engineering Centre, ISBN 978-88-6265-003-8.

Morra P., Lisi R., Spadoni G., Maschio G. (2009). The assessment of human health impact caused by industrial and civil activities in the Pace valley of Messina, Science of The Total Environment, Elsevier (2009), Vol. 407 (12), pp. 3712-3720, ISSN: 0048-9697.

G. Antonioni, S. Burkhart, J. Burman, A. Dejoan, A. Fusco, R. Gaasbeek, T. Gjesdal, A. Jäppinen, K. Riikonen, P. Morra, O. Parmhed, J.L. Santiago. (2012). Comparison of CFD and operational dispersion models in an urban-like environment, Atmospheric Environment (Elsevier), Vol.47, 2012 pp.365-372.

Morra P., Spadoni G. (2011). The Environmental And Human Health Risk Assessment: Methodology And Decision Support Systems, in the book Advances in Environmental Research vol.20, Nova Publishers Editors: Justin A. Daniels , ISBN: 978-1-61324-869-0.

Morra P., Leonardelli L., Spadoni G. (2011). The Volatilization of Pollutants from Soil and Groundwater: Its Importance in Assessing Risk for Human Health for a Real Contaminated Site, Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol.2 No.9, pp.1192-1206, DOI: 10.4236/jep.2011.29137.

F. Bacci, S. Bonvicini, G. Antonioni, P. Morra, V. Cozzani, Analisi del rischio di contaminazione di corsi d’acqua dovuti a rilasci accidentali di liquidi idrocarburici, Atti del VII Convegno sulla Valutazione e Gestione del Rischio negli Insediamenti Civili ed Industriali. VII Convegno Nazionale Valutazione e Gestione del Rischio negli Insediamenti Civili ed Industriali (VGR 2012). Pisa. 3-5 Ottobre.

P. Morra, C. Campri, G. Antonioni, G. Spadoni, Inquinamento atmosferico e valutazione dei rischi per la salute, Atti del VII Convegno sulla Valutazione e Gestione del Rischio negli Insediamenti Civili ed Industriali. VII Convegno Nazionale Valutazione e Gestione del Rischio negli Insediamenti Civili ed Industriali (VGR 2012). Pisa. 3-5 Ottobre 2012

Antonioni, G., Sarno, F., Guglielmi, D., Morra, P., Cozzani, V. Simulation of a two-stage dry process for the removal of acid gases in a MSWI (2011) Chemical Engineering Transactions, 24, pp. 1063-1068.

Research Projects

Attività di Protezione Civile di competenza regionale in materia di rischi connessi con le attività’ industriali e i trasporti di sostanze pericolose. Research contract between Regione Emilia-Romagna and Department of Chemical, Mining and Environmental Engineering (DICMA), DICMA person responsible: Gigliola Spadoni, (2004-2008).