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Яндекс цитирования

Environmental impact on human health in russia: risk assessment approach

S.L.Avaliani

Traditionally in Russia environmental regulation to ensure health safety was based on a set of hygienic norms or guidelines. These guidelines are based on toxicologic and epidemiologic studies and indicate the maximum environmental levels, considered acceptable in order to protect human health. Nevertheless, individual susceptibility to pollution varies, so some persons may still experience adverse health effects at levels below the maximum recommended levels. Moreover, in many areas of the Russian Federation these levels are frequently exceeded, in some places by as much as several times the guideline levels, and actions to reduce human exposure may be difficult or very costly. Adverse impacts on human health may thus be expected to continue in these areas. In such cases, analysis of health and environment data provides a valuable tool for obtaining estimates of the health impact of pollution, which can be used to set priorities for action. Unfortunately quantitative methods of assessment of health damage were not widely used in Russia. This creates a barrier to formulation of environmentally - sound health policies. In Russia, health professionals have been little or inadequately involved in environmental management, and decisions involving human health may sometimes be taken without their involvement.

Environmental health research and management both require multidisciplinary approaches. U.S. experience shows that implementation of risk assessment and risk management methodology in environmental decision-making process has been very successful. This methodology has been extensively tested in Russia over the last several years, in collaboration with american colleagues and U.S.AID financial support. The results of regional risk assessment studies which have taken place in more than 20 regions of Russia over the last 7 years in the framework of HIID's NIS Environmental Economics and Policy Project with financial support from U.S.AID (1995-1998) and other follow-up projects (ROLL program, 1998-2002) demonstrated advantages of environmental risk regulation for policy makers.

As a result of these projects, about 20 comprehensive, community-based risk assessments with cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis and policy recommendations have been completed (Volgograd, Novokuznetsk, Angarsk, Perm, V.Novgorod, Krasnouralsk, Samara region, Moscow oblast, and others).

In this study principal task was to select a short-list of priority pollutants, which are typical for Russia. On the other hand, these substances must have clearly documented dose-response relationships that can also be used to estimate the expected incidence of adverse health effects. Risk assessment analysis was carried out separately for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic hazardous effects.

Considering a number of pollutants generate multiple and sometimes not comparable risks, it was decided in these analysis to focus on two types of health risks affecting the general population of Russia: excess risk of cancer; excess mortality risk from inhalable particulates (PM10 fraction of TSP); excess morbidity risks from several substances when such estimates can also be used to estimate the expected incidence of adverse health effects (nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, etc.).

In this study we used data on concentrations of pollutants in atmosphere, which were obtained under the regional risk assessment studies. The concentrations were modeled on the basis of some dispersion models and verified according to official statistics on monitored concentrations of the basic pollutants by State Committee on Environmental Protection.

There are several sources of uncertainty in the Russia study. Some of these sources are inherent in the risk assessment process, while others are specific to the data, methodology and other conditions used in this study.
For example, regarding exposure and demographic factors, only ambient exposures have been considered. Human mobility patterns and indoor/outdoor differences in exposures may bias the results differently depending on age, residence location, building characteristics, and occupational and personal characteristics.

Regarding basic data, emissions estimates used in the analysis are rather uncertain. Given existing environmental policy requirements in Russia, only estimates of maximum emissions based on engineering estimates are directly available, and no distribution of emissions is available. In most cases, there is no way to verify the accuracy or completeness of the emissions inventory. Since enterprises pay penalty charges for exceeding their annual emission limits, there may be some incentive to underreport emission levels. Unfortunately, sometimes the information available on emissions of most hazardous chemicals is incomplete. For instance, data on emissions of such carcinogenic chemicals as chromium-6, arsenic, 1,3-butadiene, vinyl chloride, acetaldehyde, and some others are lacking although their concentrations are monitored by the state authorities.

Conclusions:

  • As to the results of health risk assessment studies and separate epidemiological estimates, the most risk to human health in Russia is related to the criteria pollutants, such as TSP (PM10 fraction), and NO2. However SO2 pollution is special only for some Russian towns. Also important are carcinogenic pollutants, including formaldehyde, benzene, soot, vinyl chloride, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, benz(a)pyrene, 1,3-butadiene, etc. Higher concentrations of these pollutants in the environment contribute to increasing number of oncological diseases.
    The most important water pollutants include chlororganics (chloroform, etc.) arsenic, vinilchloride, and lead compounds, etc.
  • Level of individual carcinogenic risk in most big cities of Russia from exposure to air and water pollutants is of the order of 10-4, the most polluted areas and large cities with population over one million are characterized by the risk levels of nearly 10-3. In some extremely polluted areas ("zones of emergency ecological situation") the risk may achieve 8 x 10-3. For example, this risk was observed in the city of Novokuibyshevsk.
  • In Moscow, recently we studied the impact of pollution from mobile sources on population of 3 million in central part of Moscow city. It included carcinogenic risk assessment for 12 carcinogens typical for car exhaust gases. As a result, we derived individual carcinogenic risk contours displayed on maps as lines of constant individual risk: the risk varies from 1.2 x 10-3 in some areas downtown to 1.1 x 10-4 on the periphery. The expected number of additional cancers per year only from mobile sources is 15 cases for 3 million people who live in the central part of the city.
  • Additional mortalities related to PM10 in the air vary from 22,000 to 45,000 annually for all Russian Federation, which is comparable to other countries' estimates.
  • In the context of the above said, Russia has to address the following major issues:
  • Criteria and procedures to quantify, monitor and evaluate environmental and health damage should be further developed and implemented;
  • Complex assessment of human health risks from pollution of the environment;
  • Identification of the environmental policy priorities on the basis of human health risk assessment;
  • Determination of possibilities for increasing both environmental and economic effectiveness of policy measures.

References:
The Economics of Air Pollution Health Risks in Russia: A Case-study of Volgograd // World Development, 1999, Vol.27, No 10, pp.1803-1819 ( B.Larson, S.Avaliani, J.Vincent, S.Rosen, A.Golub et al).
Assessing chronic health risks from stationary source air emissions in Volgograd, Russia // "Environment, Health and Policy Aspects".
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999 (B. N. Filatov, S. Wolff, B. Larson, et al)