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Housekeeping. Purpose and goals Meeting times Syllabus Texts Online Http:// Next class reading materials Course outline Other issues?. What is Risk? What is Ecological Risk Assessment?. Definition.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Purpose and goals
  • Meeting times
  • Syllabus
  • Texts
    • Online Http://
  • Next class reading materials
  • Course outline
  • Other issues?

The noun "risk" has 4 senses in WordNet.1. hazard, jeopardy, peril, risk -- (a source of danger; a possibility of incurring loss or misfortune; "drinking alcohol is a health hazard")

2. risk, peril, danger -- (a venture undertaken without regard to possible loss or injury; "he saw the rewards but not the risks of crime"; "there was a danger he would do the wrong thing")

3. risk, risk of infection -- (the probability of becoming infected given that exposure to an infectious agent has occurred)

4. risk, risk of exposure -- (the probability of being exposed to an infectious agent)

risk perception quiz
Risk Perception Quiz
  • Riding a bicycle to and from your suburban home to work, a distance of 20km each way, each working day for 4 years.

b. Working for one year in a coal mine (assuming a 40 hour working week).

c. Living 4 km from a nuclear reactor for 12 months.

d. Eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch three times a week for 20 years.

e. Drinking two glasses of wine, twice per weekend, for 10 years.

  • The number of additional deaths per year for the example above are: a. 3840 (assuming 240 working days per year), b. 1920, c. 0.02, d. 78 (assuming 1 tablespoon per serve of sandwiches), e. 520 (assuming four glasses make ½ litre). So, the ‘right’ order is c. (least risky), d., e., b., a. (most risky).
risky activities
Risky Activities?

Activities that increase chance of death by one in a million per year (after Wilson 1979).

Activities Cause of death

Smoking 1.4 cigarettes Cancer, heart disease

Spending 1 hour in a coal mine Black lung disease

Traveling 15 km by bicycle Accident

Traveling 500 km by car Accident

Flying 1500 km by jet Accident

Living 2 months in brick bldg Cancer from radioactivity

One chest X-ray Cancer from radiation

Living 2 months w/a smoker Cancer, heart disease

Eating 40 tblspns peanut butter Liver cancer

Living 50 yrs w/in 8 km nuclear reactor Cancer from radiation (accident)

Living 20 years near a PVC plant Cancer from vinyl chloride

Drinking Miami water for 1 year Cancer from chloroform

Drinking ½ liter of wine Cirrhosis of the liver


- Ecological risk assessments are developed within a risk management context to evaluate

human-induced changes that are considered undesirable. Changes often considered undesirable are those that alter important structural or functional characteristics or components of ecosystems.


Descriptions of adverse effects can be:

  • Qualitative judgments
  • Quantitative probabilities
  • ERAs can be
  • Predictive
  • Retrospective
  • Predictive AND retrospective
  • Other closely related terminology:
  • Hazard assessment
  • Comparative risk assessment
  • Cumulative ecological risk assessment
  • Environmental impact statement






Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Technical Issue Paper (TIP) 1997.