This chapter presents an approach that can be used at a PCB-contaminated site to recognize and define the problems associated with the contaminated sediments, determine the extent of the contamination and its sources, set risk-management goals to address the human health and environmental problems that affect the communities, assess other concerns, such as loss of income or cultural traditions, arising from the PCB contamination, and set priorities for risk management (Box 5-2). Some of the potential obstacles to implementing a risk-management strategy at the site are also briefly examined.

BOX 5–1

Risk management is the process of identifying, evaluating, selecting, and implementing actions to reduce risk to human health and ecosystems. The goal of risk management is to take scientifically sound, cost-effective, integrated actions that reduce or prevent risks while taking into account social, cultural, ethical, political, and legal considerations (PCCRARM 1997).


The committee prepared this report based on the assumption that the sites at which this risk-management framework would be applied have already been identified as having PCB contamination. PCB contamination can be identified by a variety of mechanisms, such as fish sampling, national pollution dis-

BOX 5–2 Defining the Problem

What are the problems caused by the PCB-contaminated sediments?

Are there other potential sources of the health or ecological problem?

Who is affected by the problems?

Who might be affected by the risk-management strategy?

How big is the problem?

What are the sources of the contamination?

Are there other chemicals of concern?

What are the risk-management goals?

What are the obstacles to risk management?

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