Keywords: public health, risk assessment, Egypt, secondary lead smelting, modelling, testing blood levels, children, soil pollution, dust pollution, air pollution, water pollution, risk management
Public health risk assessment: an Egyptian study of secondary lead smelting and associated risks
The purpose of a public health risk assessment is to provide a baseline assessment of the on- and off-site human health risks that can be associated with past activities from secondary smelting of lead. We apply risk assessment methods to the operations of the Awadalla Secondary Lead Smelter (ASLS), which result in soil, dust, air and water pollution. A baseline study is a snapshot of the risks and hazards likely to be present at the time the samples are taken and at the time of the risk assessment itself. The specific objectives of this study are as follows: (1) to estimate the size and importance of the different human health risks from exposure to potential chemical releases to the soil, air and water, which can result from past activities of the ASLS by route of exposure and by sub-population at risk; (2) to develop a set of site-specific risk- and hazard-based target levels for soil and dust remediation for the scenarios of potential concern to assist risk managers in their selection of optimal remediation strategies and clean-up methods and (3) to develop a method for ranking of options for risk reduction to on- and off-site populations. We find that the past operations of secondary smelting have created a serious local public health concern and that the combination of modelling with field sampling of blood lead is a prudent way to estimate risks.