March 9, 2021 / Ed Rutkowski

From the Archives: Readings in Risk Assessment

Next month’s AIHA University virtual conference on risk assessment will present three courses tailored to introductory, intermediate, and advanced learners, with each course comprising multiple two-hour sessions. Among the topics that will be addressed are the fundamental principles of risk assessment, the industrial hygiene risk assessment process, and the communication of risk pathways. With the conference right around the corner, the following articles from The Synergist may serve as timely recaps on current issues in risk assessment.

Risks in Combination: Addressing Cumulative Risk in the Occupational Environment

By Andrew Maier, Pamela R.D. Williams, and G. Scott Dotson

Cumulative risk assessment (CRA) is the analysis and characterization of the combined risks to human health associated with co-exposures to numerous stressors. Unlike traditional risk assessment approaches, which typically focus on a single chemical stressor released in the environment, CRA begins by identifying populations of interest, such as a specific community or worker group, and then determines the combination of stressors or other risk factors that may affect these groups. CRAs have been conducted to address large, complex issues where the interactions among stressors may increase risks to human health in the general population. Examples of CRAs include an assessment of cumulative cancer risk from air pollution and an investigation of the interaction between chronic stress, race or ethnicity, and neurotoxicants. Read the article in the May 2017 issue.

Making Decisions with Uncertain Data: Practical Examples of Monte Carlo Simulations

By Thomas W. Armstrong

Most industrial hygiene investigations involve variable data, uncertain data, or both. A useful technique for these situations is a Monte Carlo simulation, which typically involves the use of software to assemble statistical distributions of various input values for calculations. For a given equation, the software will randomly select a value from a range of possible values, solve the equation, and repeat the process thousands of times. The selection of values is weighted by probability, and results are expressed as a probability distribution. Read the article in the January 2015 issue.

Performing Legionella Source Risk Assessments: A Hazard Analysis Tool for Data Interpretation

By J. David Krause

The author introduces a model for evaluating the combined effectiveness of control measures against Legionella and other waterborne pathogens in building potable water systems. The model combines a wide variety of data, observations, and measurements into a numerical score that characterizes the overall effectiveness of control measures to inhibit Legionella amplification and allows users to prioritize corrective actions or improvements for systems found to be at high risk. Read the article in the April 2019 issue.

Industrial Hygiene Data Standardization: Past Lessons, Present Challenges, and Future Direction

By Taylor M. Shockey, Matthew M. Dahm, Steven J. Wurzelbacher, and John Baker

The goal of IH data standardization is the widespread adoption of well defined, exposure-relevant variables to harmonize the collection of occupational exposure data across different work sites, companies, agencies, and other entities. IH data standardization will be critically important for risk assessments of emerging hazards to understand potential workplace health effects associated with exposure. Read the article in the December 2020 issue.

Readers interested in the virtual conference on risk assessment can choose to register either for the full conference or separately for the introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses. For more information or to register, visit the AIHA website.

Ed Rutkowski

Ed Rutkowski is editor in chief of The Synergist.


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