Running an environmental risk assessment
Risk management has an aspect of data gathering and algorithmic process called risk assessment. It is connected with deciding how risky a situation or an occurrence is. Risk assessment strives to be objective, although sometimes that can be very difficult, since the risk is not always an objective category. Risk assessment involves prediction of future events and analysing previous situations and occurrences. With the language of the logic, we might say that it has a lot to do with inductive logic and it involves the inductive method as the most common method. There are various types of risk assessment including financial risk assessment, public health risk assessment, environmental risk assessment and few others. In environmental risk assessment the risk is expressed verbally, while in finical risk assessment it is expressed in number, i.e. how much money the subject risks losing.
Defining environmental risk assessment
In order to understand environmental risk assessment, we have to understand the terms risk and hazard in the given concept. Be aware that those terms are not synonymous, at least not in this case. Speaking in terms of environmental risk assessment, hazard is the possibility of something to create damage. This can refer to chemical elements or substances, objects, mechanisation. Risk is defined as the probability that the damage would be created by the actualisation of the hazard. The adjective ‘environmental’, in environmental risk assessment, is derived from the word environment, which in this case stands for the material surroundings that are universal, such as the flora and the fauna, but also the air and the water etc. Environmental risk assessment includes the risk to people.
The process and the elements of environmental risk assessment
Environmental risk assessment is a process that includes five steps. The first step is formulation of the problem. In this stage the hazard is discovered and classified. The second step of environmental risk assessment is detection of the effects of the hazard. The third step is evaluation of the level of the effect of the hazard. The fourth step in environmental risk assessment is evaluation of the likelihood of the effects, or effects assessment. And the final, fifth step is estimating the importance of the risk. It is usually considered that environmental risk assessment has three elements as part of it, cause, medium and receptor. The cause is what creates the danger, for example a chemical, factory smoke etc. The medium in what way the cause threatens the receptor. This might be air, water, etc. The receptors are usually living organisms or property. Environmental risk assessment is gaining popularity rapidly. Most countries nowadays conduct environmental risk assessment before arriving at a decision on an issue concerning environment, or passing a law. There are many books written on this issue, especially in the last decade and people become more familiar with the concept. Governments, organisations and individuals understand the importance of environmental risk assessment, today more than ever. Earthquake protection, dangerous chemicals are only few of the examples where environmental risk assessment is used. The steps in environmental risk assessment remain the same, regardless of the field in question.