Environmental Health Risk Assessment

‚ÄčOur mission is to provide reliable and understandable environmental health risk information and analyses that support military public health and operational missions, environmental management decisions, and material risk management solutions.

Our primary concerns at this time are exposures and health outcomes associated with chemical and biological hazards found or introduced into the environment.  We support forward deployed operations, installations and garrisons, chemical-agent demilitarization programs, force health protection initiatives, chemical and material management decision makers, and emergency management and CBRN defense programs.

What is Environmental Health Risk Assessment?

In summary, environmental health risk assessment is a multi-disciplinary, science/policy methodology for measuring and managing health hazards found in the environment.  Health risk assessment involves exposure assessments, health outcome assessments, and risk characterization.  Our military-unique health risk assessments are extended into assessing and controlling the impact of health outcomes on military operations.

Environmental health risk assessments (EHRAs) support many types of decisions facing Commanders and other military risk-managers.  The following is an illustrative list, but which is not all inclusive.

  • EHRAs inform the setting of chemical and biological exposure guidelines and standards.
  • EHRAs inform environmental cleanup decisions.
  • EHRAs inform force health protection for forward deployed bases and within COCOMs.
  • EHRAs inform the design of hazardous waste combustion facility operations.
  • EHRAs inform the design of open burning and open detonation operations.
  • EHRAs inform the design of hazard detection, identification, and remediation systems.
  • EHRAs inform the life-cycle management of chemicals and materials.
  • EHRAs inform policy, decision-making, and method and doctrine development across a large range of military Force Health Protection and Public Health missions -- 
    • Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH) missions.
    • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense missions.
    • Chemical and Material Risk Management (CMRM) missions.
    • Chemical-Agent Demilitarization missions.
    • Emergency Preparedness and Response missions.
    • Food and Water Safety missions. 
    • Environmental Management and Restoration missions.

Risk assessment products can be powerful tools to organize and articulate scientific knowledge and uncertainty within a framework useful to decision makers.  The creation of a risk assessment product is an iterative process designed to be refined over several revisions until there is consensus on the most important and most uncertain factors affecting the results. How confident decision-makers need to be on these important but uncertain factors should drive the duration and complexity of the risk assessment life-cycle.  Communication between risk analysts and decision makers is crucial to success.

Technical Disciplines and Related Professions

  • Public Health
  • Environmental and Exposure Science
  • Toxicology and Epidemiology
  • Chemistry and Engineering
  • Microbiology and Ecology
  • Statistics and Environmental Modeling
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Environmental Medicine
  • Risk Communication

 Mission Management Structure

The EHRAP is a multidisciplinary program within the Army Public Health Center, providing unique, low-density specialized products and services for wide range of Army and DoD organizations and offices.  The EHRAP is internally organized to compliment the evolving military public health mission for deployment, sustainment, and emerging health risk challenges. The Program is comprised of three sections as shown --

  • Operational Risk Assessment -- Military-unique deployment and garrison health risk assessments.
  • Sustainment Risk Assessment -- Health risk assessments for cleanup, demilitarization, range sustainment, and installation response to environmental hazards.
  • Strategic Risk Assessment -- Risk assessment method development supporting comprehensive operational and sustainment mission areas.