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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Nov;8(11):4140-59. doi: 10.3390/ijerph8114140. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Cumulative risk assessment and environmental equity in air permitting: interpretation, methods, community participation and implementation of a unique statute.

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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Paul, MN 55155, USA.


In 2008, the statute authorizing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to issue air permits was amended to include a unique requirement to analyze and consider "cumulative levels and effects of past and current environmental pollution from all sources on the environment and residents of the geographic area within which the facility's emissions are likely to be deposited." Data describing the Statute Area suggest it is challenged by environmental and socioeconomic concerns, i.e., concerns which are often described by the phrase 'environmental equity'. With input from diverse stakeholders, the MPCA developed a methodology for implementing a cumulative levels and effects analysis when issuing air permits in the designated geographic area. A Process Document was created defining explicit steps a project proposer must complete in the analysis. An accompanying Reference Document compiles all available environmental health data relevant to the Statute Area that could be identified. The final cumulative levels and effects methodology is organized by health endpoint and identifies hazard, exposure and health indices that require further evaluation. The resulting assessment is summarized and presented to decision makers for consideration in the regulatory permitting process. We present a description of the methodology followed by a case study summary of the first air permit processed through the "cumulative levels and effects analysis".


air permit; cumulative risk assessment; environmental equity; exposure indicators; extant data; hazard indicators; health indicators; multiple stressors

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