International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

A Critical Review of Current Approaches to Determining 'How Clean is Clean' at Hazardous Waste Sites

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Hazard management at hazardous waste sites is more complex than for other environmental media because it involves multiple pathways of exposure. Five currently used approaches to determining 'How clean is clean' at hazardous waste sites are reviewed. These methods are used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Army, California Department of Health Services, Washington State Department of Ecology and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. All five methods focus on protection of public health from adverse effects of exposure to toxic substances. The underlying assumption is that chemicals deposited in the soil migrate into other environmental media according to their properties and those of the media, and that human exposure can occur through one or more of the media. In each method the goal of cleanup is defined through a set of media- and chemical-specific numerical criteria. Despite these conceptual similarities, there are vast differences between the methods in application of the general concepts. In addition to using unique and confusing terminologies, the methods differ in fundamental areas, such as: variations in the basic assumptions about environmental fate of chemicals; stringency of application of principles of toxicology; data base; use of existing standards, guidelines and criteria; use of safety factors; intercoversion between routes of human exposure; acceptability of cancer risks; extent of reliance on expert judgement. Because of this diversity, criteria derived by one method are not comparable to those from others. Furthermore, adoption of numbers derived through one method for use by another method is inappropriate.

Publication Title

Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Materials

Publication Date

1-1-1986

Volume

3

Issue

3

First Page

233

Last Page

260

ISSN

0882-5696

DOI

10.1089/hwm.1986.3.233

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