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RCRA Corrective Action Risk Assessment

During the Corrective Action process, human health and ecological risk assessment may be used to make informed risk management decisions and should be designed to serve its intended purpose. DEQ recommends to EPA’s Framework for Human Health Risk Assessment to Inform Decision Making document to conduct risk assessments that are responsive to the decision-making need. The Virginia Unified Risk Assessment Model (VURAM) is DEQ’s preferred tool for human health risk assessments. Refer to the VURAM User Guide for instructions on installation, use, and its applicability. VURAM is periodically updated with the most current toxicity and other information from EPA. Therefore, the most current version of VURAM must be used for risk assessments. 

Screening Level Assessment:

Screening level assessments are an early step in the process performed to identify potential contaminants of concern based on EPA’s risk based Regional Screening Levels (RSLs). The RSLs present screening values for residential and industrial land use, as well as cross-media transfer screening such as soil to groundwater transfer screening values.  VURAM provides a screening level module for soil, groundwater, indoor air, vapor intrusion, and surface water (fresh and marine).  Screening is recommended for all media sampled that site receptors have the potential to come into contact with. The tool also includes a module to screen data using site-specific background for inorganic metals and naturally occurring compounds. The RCRA Corrective Action Screening Table provides a summary of screening levels for various receptors and media.

Quantitative Risk Assessment: 

Potential contaminants of concern identified during the screening process may need to be evaluated in a quantitative human health risk assessment if no mitigation/remediation measures or other acceptable risk management actions are proposed. The risk assessment should be carefully planned and site specific.  It is recommended that a DEQ and project manager and risk assessor be consulted prior to performing a quantitative risk assessment.
Protocols for quantitative risk assessment are based on EPA Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund and EPA Supplemental Guidance for Developing Soil Screening Levels for Superfund Sites (2002).  Other resources can be found here. VURAM estimates quantitative risks using the procedures outlined in these guidance documents.

Ecological Risk Assessment:

Ecological risk assessment may need to be performed if habitats capable of supporting ecological receptors are present and potentially impacted by site related contaminants. The general elements of ecological risk assessments include planning and scoping, problem formulation, analysis, and risk characterization. Guidance for conducting an ecological risk assessment includes Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund: Process for Designing and Conducting Ecological Risk Assessments and the EPA Region 3 Ecological Risk Assessment website and memo. Ecological risk assessments are not included in VURAM. The VURAM User Guide provides a list of the preferred screening criteria for each media when performing a Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment. If an ecological risk assessment is potentially required as a part of the Corrective Action process, DEQ strongly recommends that participants consult with DEQ project managers and risk assessors when planning the risk assessment.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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