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Risk Assessment Methods

What is a contaminated site?

Who does what?

Why is it important?

What is risk management?

Risk assessment fundamentals

Risk assessment methods

Limitations of risk assessment

What are RA tiers?


Problem Identification

Receptor Characterisation

Exposure Assessment

Toxicity Assessment

Risk Characterisation

RM Decisions





There are a variety of reports that advocate various approaches to undertaking risk assessment.  We have focused on methodologies proposed within regulatory resource management settings in New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Canada.

The approaches reviewed contain varying degrees of complexity in investigation and many are related specifically to the local legislative requirements. 

Each has a slightly different emphasis, depending on the focus of the agency and the types of sites expected to be encountered.  

For example, the USEPA ecological risk assessment approach focuses specifically on Superfund sites which are typically very large and complex.  Obviously, this will not be an appropriate focus for the majority of New Zealand sites.

Most of the approaches to risk assessment promote increasing (or tiered) levels of investigation separated by decision steps. These steps evaluate the need for further investigation in light of the cost of remedial actions, assessed ecological or human health risks, the costs of further investigation, and the regulatory environment.

More detailed information on risk assessment methodologies is available in the Advanced RA section of this website.


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Page last updated: 01 May 2007

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