In the field of environmental health and sustainable living achievement, systems are complex and multiple stressors interact, many targets are contemporary involved and different health outcomes may be observed. Typically, at the regional scale different types of environmental and health data may exist for the characterization of the environmental health status. Each chemical stressor may be associated to different typologies of diseases identified as possible outcomes of environmental exposure to that chemical.
A risk-based tool for the regional ranking of environmental chemical stressors has been developed within the
2-FUN project, with the main aim of supporting decision-makers in the evaluation of the existing information on environmental contamination and population health status in the region of interest to identify which chemical-related health effects have to be investigated more urgently: Initial assessment efforts have to be addressed to the most relevant scenarios, with the aim of focusing the further risk assessment on the most critical situations. The tool will also help identifying priority areas within the considered region, where further assessment should be carried out.
The methodology of the tool is based on a weight-of-evidence-approach, integrating three types of information: Environmental contamination, intake and observed effects. A set of chemicals is chosen, and the diseases which can be associated to an environmental exposure regarding these chemicals are identified. Then, for each chemical and disease, the available information is integrated to obtain a score for each chemical and define a ranking of priority chemicals.
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis has been chosen to evaluate and integrate data since it supports the choice among multiple alternative based on different criteria and provide a systematic approach for handling different types of information, managing the limitations of unstructured decision making.
The output from the tool can be:
- ranking of chemicals within a geographical area;
- ranking of chemical stressors at the regional scale to select those chemicals to be included in a detailed risk assessment;
- ranking of priority areas within the region of interest, where existing environmental and health monitoring data suggest a situation of possible or actual impacts on population health.
This risk-based software tool for regional ranking is freely available upon request.
2-FUN project: Newsletter 7 and newsletter 8