July 2006

Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) requires a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole, which includes human health.  Hence there is a need to consider human health impacts within the assessment of PPC applications.  As part of the development of a methodology for use by staff assessing impacts on human health associated with PPC licensing an initial screening tool has been developed.  The screening tool provides a means of making an initial assessment of the impacts that may arise from a PPC installation, in order to determine whether a more detailed assessment is required or whether the impact is judged to be so small that further expenditure of resources on its assessment is not warranted.  Although primarily aimed at regulatory staff within the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service and the Environment Agency for England and Wales (the UK Agencies) and statutory consultees, the screening tool has been designed so that it can be adopted by the PPC applicant.

The objectives of the research were to:
The screening tool focuses on the direct impacts of PPC installations which are of concern within the PPC regulatory regime.  Based on the requirements of key stakeholders, the following impacts which have a bearing on human health have been included in the screening tool:
The approach adopted in the screening tool to judge whether a more detailed assessment is required varies from a quantitative assessment involving, for example, the comparison of maximum concentrations in the environment with 1% of the Environmental Assessment Level (EAL) to a qualitative assessment involving consideration of whether certain criteria are met.  Health based EALs are used in the screening tool.

The screening tool has been incorporated into electronic guidance on its application and use.  This was developed as an Excel based application which was designed to have a small file size and a standard Microsoft Windows appearance.  The spreadsheet uses a flowchart approach to guide the user through the impacts that are considered.  In order to assist the user the cells within the spreadsheet are colour coded to delineate whether they are providing information or requiring information to be entered.  The electronic guidance provides an introduction to the screening tool and then prompts the user to enter the details of the application being assessed.  Throughout the electronic guidance clear information is provided to aid the user on use of the screening tool.  At appropriate positions in the electronic guidance the user is provided with further supporting information and hyperlinks to relevant documents.  A comments text box is included within each section of the screening tool to allow the user to enter supporting information.  The results from the screening tool are provided in a summary format.

Amendments have been made to the screening tool as a result of a one day consultation workshop with key stakeholders on the workability of the screening tool and based on the results of case studies using PPC applications that have been undertaken with the screening tool.  The longer term review of the performance of the screening tool should include more trials of the tool encompassing a wide range of types of installations.  The best approach to this would be for the regulators first to determine the PPC applications using their current procedures and then to undertake assessments of the same applications using the screening tool.  In addition, the Food Standards Agency should be encouraged to trial the screening tool and to provide comments on the food chain section.

The screening tool needs to be kept up to date by ensuring that where assessment methodologies and guidance from established sources have been incorporated into the tool any changes to these are also made within the tool.  The listings of EALs within the screening tool need to be kept up to date, as do the links to external documents.

Keywords: human health, impact assessment, screening tool, Pollution Prevention and Control, installation licensing, Environmental Assessment Level

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 35.00, less 20% to FWR members.

N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website