The toxicology discipline is one of the primary fields driving risk assessment and analysis. Toxicology involves the study of toxic substances and toxins on human and laboratory animals used for testing on behalf of humans. Epidemiology is the study and investigation of the distribution and causes of disease. Once exposure has been established by such disciplines as hydrogeology and environmental geology, the impact of such exposure is then evaluated and prioritized. Analytical chemistry is also important to provide the chemical data on the type and concentration of contaminants present in the environment sampled.
Toxicology is a central discipline in such efforts as risk assessment, regulatory negotiations, litigation support, strategic planning, program development, and program management in the industrial arena. Risk-based methods are often employed in large multidisciplinary projects to establish remedial priorities, and to achieve closure under RCRA or CERCLA. Toxicological studies are also employed in a wide range of industrial activities involving products and process areas conducted in petroleum exploration and production, refinery operations, and manufacture of: kerosene, diesel, fuels, lubricants, asphalts, aromatics, olefins, solvents, metals, catalysts, radiation, mining, and synfuels.
Toxicologists are also involved in the design, contracting, monitoring and interpretation of a wide range of industrial research programs on various organic chemicals and complex organic mixtures derived from petroleum. Toxicology often guides health risk-based prioritization of industrial waste management areas, including the identification of media (by hydrogeologic methods) and chemicals of concern (by environmental chemistry methods) at chemical manufacturing plants. These projects are often part of a proactive regulatory strategy that could allow the client to maintain control of how and where its technical and financial resources are to be spent at the plant. In other types of projects, developing a risk-based clean-up limit demonstrates that in many cases only a small percentage of the soil volume proposed for remediation by previous consultants requires remedial activities or post-closure care.
Substantial savings can, and often are, realized by employing risk assessments at large petrochemical facilities in the U.S. For example, some impoundment basins have been found to exhibit negligible health risks via alternative regulatory guidance or rules. Such realizations have resulted in savings measured in millions of dollars of unnecessary remedial work.
In real-estate transactions, innovative statistical analyses of available analytical data may establish that chemical concentrations (metals) found in the soil at an industrial site may be consistent with site-specific background concentrations, and that the conditions at many facilities could meet state regulatory agency risk reduction rule guidelines for residential land use.
To review the technical literature on these technologies and techniques, search “toxicology” and related key words in the I2M Web Portal (here).
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The I2M Principal and Associate responsible for this discipline’s activities are: