Post-Emergency, Multi-Hazard Health Risk Assessment in Chemical Disasters – PEC
The project aims at implementing an integrated model for rapid multi-hazard health risk assessment applicable to chemical release incidents occurring during major natural or man-made disasters and developing a composite risk matrix, considering both severity and probability of identified hazards, to prioritize disaster-related public health risks from clusters of industrial facilities handling toxic chemicals. The European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering (EUC), acting as coordinator, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), the D’Appolonia S.p.A. (DAPP) and the Delft University of Technology (TUDELFT) will work together to meet the goals of PEC.
PEC aims at (a) implementing an integrated model for rapid multi‐hazard health risk assessment applicable to chemical release incidents occurring during major natural or man‐made disasters; (b) developing a composite risk matrix, considering both severity and probability of identified hazards, to prioritize disaster‐related public health risks from clusters of industrial facilities handling toxic chemicals.
Specific objectives are: (a) to develop an operational approach toward the implementation of a model applicable to contamination and health risks assessment in connection to natural and manmade disasters (b) to estimate pathways, levels and time course of environmental contamination, human exposure profiles and health damage (acute and chronic) that may result, at various time intervals after a disaster, from acute or prolonged absorption of a mixture of model hazardous chemicals selected among those listed in the EU inventory of high‐risk toxic industrial substances; (c) to develop a series of risk mitigation guidelines for characterisation of “multi‐hazard and multievent‐related” health risks in chemical exposures following natural or man‐made disasters, namely guidelines for early warning systems, risk mitigation of buildings and plants, population exposure, environmental and human health monitoring and proper design of post‐disaster populations surveys; (d) to provide evacuation distance estimates based on acute chemical exposure indicators for different toxicant combinations, and different types of disasters and incidental release scenarios; (e) to develop an integrated computational platform supported by a GIS system which covers the full chain from chemical releases to internal doses in human tissues in order to build a functional and ready‐to‐use software operated by local authorities responsible for civil safety and public health protection.
Although the research‐oriented nature of the proposal, the guidelines and tools developed by the project could be promptly adopted by chemical manufacturers and industries. This is confirmed by the expression of interest of the Cluster “Smart Cities and Communities”, a regional cluster located in Lombardy (Italy), with the participation of more than 80 industries that could be potential beneficiaries of the risk management and safety procedures that will be implemented by the project. Interest in the results of the project has been also expressed by the GEM Foundation, which coordinates an international forum where organisations, stakeholder groups, major reinsurance, insurance and brokering companies and people come together to develop, use and share tools and resources for transparent assessment of earthquake risk.
Potential beneficiaries and end‐users of the results obtained in the project would include cities and communities, public authorities and control agencies responsible for disaster prevention and risk management with special emphasis to organizations involved in the assessment of medium‐ and long‐term health consequences of major multi‐hazard incidents.
The Civil Protection personnel will also benefit from the ready‐to‐use software developed during the project. Other potential end‐users would be the European Poison Information Centres, Chemical Emergency Centres established by chemical manufacturer associations, health professionals, organisations involved in studies of natural or man‐made disasters, and organisations responsible for preparing evaluated data on chemicals, health and safety guides, chemical safety measures, and environmental criteria documents.
The project is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
More information about the project at http://www.pec-echo.eu.
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