Stream: Human Health and Environmental Risks


B1. Modelling social and environmental determinants of human and ecosystem health
Stefan Reis and Susanne Steinle

Quantifying impacts of anthropogenic activities on human and ecosystem health is a key building block in the process of identifying viable mitigation options, in particular to provide a robust evidence base from which (policy) decisions can be derived. Modelling and simulation tools to support this quantification range from rather simple concepts to complex, process-driven models, as well as vary substantially in their coverage of spatial and temporal scales and impact areas. The conceptual frameworks for assessing such impacts are typically integrated across a full-chain approach, to ensure that - as far as possible - synergies and tradeoffs, which would relate to actions taken as a result of the impact assessment process, are fully accounted for. The DPSIR (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) framework adopted by the European Environment Agency is one widely accepted causal framework.

But while the methodology for integrated impact assessment and tools for quantification are well established, the key challenges today can be seen in a lack of integration and interaction across different scientific and policy communities. In the case of both human and ecosystem health, drivers and pressures often arise from the same activities, and policy actions to - for instance - reduce air pollutant emissions positively affect environmental states which are not directly related to human health (e.g. ecosystem services or biodiversity). On the other hand, viable actions to reduce acidification and eutrophication of natural and semi-natural ecosystems may have negative effects on short-term radiative forcing. Last, but not least, social context often modifies susceptibility of receptors to adverse health effects and determines their interaction with the environment.

For this session, we would like to invite contributions from modellers working at discipline interfaces, both covering conceptual approaches and practical experience. Furthermore, the integration of processes and data across different spatial, temporal and topical scales would be relevant topics for this session.

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B2. Methodological developments in the assessment of radiation risks
Hagen Scherb, Kristina Voigt

The risks of ionizing radiation have been studied at the latest following the explosions of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Experiences after those bombings yielded some evidence of genetic effects. The second large fields of research were the consequences of the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, essentially terminated in 1963 which injected huge amounts of radioactive materials into the biosphere. Then, many major hazardous incidents respectively accidents of running nuclear facilities, such as, e.g. Tōkai-mura/Japan (1999), Sewersk, Russia (1993), Wladiwostok, Russia (1985), Three Miles Island, USA (1979), Sellafield/GB (1973) and many more. The Chernobyl catastrophe has also led to considerable genetic effects of ionizing radiation resulting from fallout dispersed over large parts of Europe in spring and summer 1986. In early 2011 the worst case scenario of Fukushima, Japan occurred. This catastrophe urgently requires support by methodological evaluation.
In a recently performed study it could be demonstrated that even under normal running conditions nuclear facilities in Germany and Switzerland showed some shifts in the sex odds hence genetic effects.
Environmental health effects which are found and studied so far are among others: cancers, leukemia, stillbirths, Down syndrome and other birth defects, as well as shifts in human sex odds. Mathematical statistical methods must be sound and understandable in order to explain the danger of ionizing radiation and draw conclusions and consequences out of the data. So, in this session we will focus on the methodological aspects of the evaluation of environmental and human health effects of ionizing radiation.

Topics: Data processing, data evaluation methods, software, DSS, environmetrics and environmental informatics with respect to ionizing radiation.

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B3. Current trends in software developments for environmental pollution modelling
Kristina Voigt, Stefan Reis

Topics of the session: Environmental models, environmental software, DSS, environmetrics, environmental informatics with respect to environmental pollution, environmental pollution modelling.

Models and software are major tools for the description, simulation, evaluation, estimation as well as future prevention and control of pollution.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants like e.g. pesticides, heavy metals, air pollutants, greenhouse gases, nano-particles, oil etc. into a natural environment causing instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem (i.e. physical systems) or living organisms. The focus of this session is on transmission, fate and effects of contaminants in air, water and soil. Models and software for the following types of pollution are presented:

Air pollution: the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere. Common gaseous pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by fossil fuel combustion and other activities. Secondary pollutants such as tropospheric ozone or aerosols are created as primary pollutants react and mix in the atmosphere.

Water pollution by the discharge of wastewater from commercial and industrial waste (intentionally or through accidental spills) into surface waters; discharges of untreated domestic sewage, and chemical contaminants (organic and inorganic chemicals), from treated sewage; release of waste and contaminants into surface runoff flowing to surface waters (including urban runoff and agricultural runoff, which may contain chemical fertilizers and pesticides); waste disposal and leaching into groundwater; eutrophication and littering.

Soil pollution occurs when chemicals are released by spill or leakage. Among the most significant soil contaminants are hydrocarbons, heavy metals, MTBE, herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

New model and software developments or the adaptation and combination of existing environmental models will be presented. The characteristics of the countries, regions and environmental regulations will also be taken into account and discussed.

Link to full papers