van Zijverden M, Maas RJM, Mennen MG, Montforts MHMM
RIVM Report 2017-0030
People can be exposed to multiple potential hazards in the environment incidentally, continuously and even simultaneously. Hazards are for example air pollution, chemicals, and noise. RIVM has made an inventory of the different types of potential hazards and their effects on health, the environment, the economy and society.
When describing, assessing and comparing risks and uncertainties, it is unavoidable that stakeholders may have different views and perspectives. To address at least some of the different perspectives on these issues, RIVM has investigated the potential health effects as well as the potential impact on society, disruption of ecosystems and economic effects.
Information on the severity and extent of potential risks is highly variable. The appropriate data is not always available to enable a full analysis. For example, certain health effects may not be reported in the available data, but it cannot automatically be assumed that they do not exist. In addition, "new risks" are difficult to compare with known risks due to a lack of information on the nature and extent of these phenomena. Examples for this include drones, nanomaterials and self-driving automobiles.
Since each risk issue is specific, customised solutions are required. However, within the customisation process, consistency can nonetheless be promoted. For example, a lesson emerging from this research is that interdisciplinary cooperation is helpful to promote consistency in the description and assessment of different hazards. Consistency in decision-making on potential risks is supported by involving different perspectives and building on lessons learned.