Nearly 25 percent of US children live within 2 km of toxic-waste sites, most of which are in urban areas. They face higher rates of cancer than adults, partly because the dominant contaminants at most US hazardous-waste sites include genotoxic carcinogens, like trichloroethylene, that are much more harmful to children. The purpose of this article is to help protect the public, especially children, from these threats and to improve toxics-remediation by beginning to test our hypothesis: If site-remediation assessments fail data-usability evaluation (DUE), they likely compromise later cleanups and public health, especially children's health. To begin hypothesis-testing, we perform a focused DUE for an unremediated, Pasadena, California toxic site. Our DUE methods are (a) comparing project-specific, remediation-assessment data with the remediation-assessment conceptual site model (CSM), in order to identify data gaps, and (b) using data-gap directionality to assess possible determinate bias (whether reported toxics risks are lower/higher than true values). Our results reveal (1) major CSM data gaps, particularly regarding Pasadena-toxic-site risks to children; (2) determinate bias, namely, risk underestimation; thus (3) likely inadequate remediation. Our discussion shows that if these results are generalizable, requiring routine, independent, DUEs might deter flawed toxic-site assessment/cleanup and resulting health threats, especially to children.
Keywords: California; Ninyo and Moore; Pasadena; Trammell Crow; children; data-usability evaluation (DUE); environmental justice; perchloroethylene (PCE); remediation; toxic waste; trichloroethylene (TCE).
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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