The Handbook, recently published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, provides a conceptual framework and indicators to assess the indirect impacts of extreme events (e.g., extreme heat, floods, drought, wildfires) on communities through potential exposure to contaminant releases from nearby contaminated sites and waste management facilities. The indicator approach may assist regional, state, and local managers in identifying and prioritizing communities that may be impacted the most, and in focusing preparedness, response, recovery, and climate adaptation planning on areas that are least resilient to extreme events.
The methods presented provide a way to (1) identify areas that are potentially vulnerable and identify the source(s) of vulnerabilities, (2) track and monitor contaminated sites and waste management facilities, including those of local interest, and (3) evaluate and communicate how extreme events may impact contaminated sites, waste management facilities, and nearby communities. Decision-makers can use the results to develop and prioritize targeted strategies (e.g., adaptation, mitigation, resilience, response) to prepare for and prevent potentially deleterious health and environmental impacts from contaminant releases.
Contaminated sites and waste management facilities have the potential to release contaminants when extreme events happen, possibly impacting nearby communities. The Handbook focuses on indicators of the indirect impacts of extreme heat, floods, droughts, wildfires on communities through potential contaminant releases. The Handbook provides new methods for identifying communities that are downstream and downwind of contaminated sites and waste management facilities and offers indicators of socioeconomic, demographic, and health characteristics.
The Handbook supports state and local decision-makers in developing and prioritizing targeted mitigation, adaptation, resilience, and response strategies to prepare for and prevent negative health and environmental outcomes from accidental contaminant releases from contaminated sites and waste management facilities.
This is the final report.
U.S. EPA. Handbook on Indicators of Community Vulnerability to Extreme Events: Considering Sites and Waste Management Facilities. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-23/175, 2023.