SoBRA Asbestos in Soil Human Health Risk Assessment (AiSHHRA) Toolbox

Issue Date: December 2021

This interactive Microsoft Powerpoint toolbox has been designed by the SoBRA asbestos sub-group to assist risk assessors in undertaking asbestos in soil human health risk assessments.
It is a collation of the information sources and practices of the sub-group members, assembled in the form of a flowchart.
The toolbox provides users with summary information and links to relevant external reference sources, and advocates a process by which asbestos in soil risk assessment can be carried out.
It is hoped that it will aid in the consistency and robustness of asbestos in soil risk assessment.

Variability in UK Laboratory Methods for the Identification and Quantification of Asbestos in Soil

Issue Date: February 2021

SoBRA’s asbestos sub-group surveyed UK laboratory methods for the identification and quantification of asbestos in soil back in 2018-2019. With the withdrawal of the Standing Committee of Analysts (SCA) Blue Book method for the quantification of asbestos in soil last year this paper should help in understanding some of the key differences in the methods used by laboratories, and it also makes recommendations for how asbestos results should be reported to best inform subsequent risk assessment.

Guidelines for Airborne Concentrations of Asbestos Fibres in Ambient Air: Implications for Quantitative Risk Assessment

Issue Date: January 2021

SoBRA is pleased to announce the publication of further work by its Asbestos Sub-Group. Since a workshop held in April 2019 the sub-group has been working on revision to the discussion white paper published in 2017 on air quality guidelines for asbestos. A key action from that workshop in 2019 was to evaluate the use the linear as well as the non-linear versions of the risk algorithms published by Hodgson & Darnton in 2000. It was the view of the participants of the workshop that the linear model for pleural mesothelioma might be more appropriate for the calculation of risk from low environmental exposures compared to the higher occupational exposures that were the primary focus of the Hodgson & Darnton paper. The updated SoBRA paper presents a comparison of risk models, including the new application of the Hodgson & Darnton algorithms. A beta version of an Excel-based spreadsheet (Jan 2024) has been developed to support the updated paper, allowing users to select from the algorithm options presented in the Hodgson & Darnton (2000) paper and the Darnton (2003) paper, and therefore enabling users to perform model choice sensitivity analysis and evaluate the difference the use of alternative algorithms makes to estimated risk. It is hoped that the updated paper and supporting Excel tool help further our understanding of potential health risk associated with exposure to airborne asbestos.

Feedback is welcomed – please submit to [email protected]

The Distribution of Asbestos in Soil – what can the data mining of sample results held by UK laboratories tell us?

Issue Date: March 2020

This discussion paper is a continuation of the series of discussion papers that the SoBRA asbestos sub-group has published since 2015.   In 2013, SoBRA identified a number of research gaps that had direct relevance to the risk management of asbestos in soil. One of these was the lack of a collective understanding on what typical background concentrations of asbestos in soil across the UK were. To provide a complementary line of evidence to Defra’s recently published Research Project SP1014 (Establishment of typical background levels of dispersed asbestos fibres in urban and rural soils in England and Wales), SoBRA issued a request to major UK soil laboratories to provide SoBRA with anonymised asbestos in soil data.  The principal aim of this paper is to provide a factual presentation of the data provided by the laboratories. The information presented may be used by risk assessors and decision makers as a line of evidence as they see fit.

Fine Tuning DQRAs for the Water Environment

Issue Date: 12th May 2019

SoBRA held a one-day workshop in June 2018 entitled on the Fine Tuning DQRA’s for the Water Environment. The objective was to identify common mistakes in controlled waters risk assessment and explore potential solutions. This report presents a written record of the discussions held during the Summer 2018 workshop.

Development of Acute Generic Assessment Criteria for Assessing Risks to Human Health from Contaminants in Soil

Issue Date: 30th April 2019

This report presents a methodology for derivation of AGAC that risk assessors may choose to use to help in the assessment of acute health risks from short-term exposure to contaminants in soil. In the UK, the assessment of risks to humans from land contamination has traditionally tended to focus on chronic exposure scenarios. However, focusing on chronic exposure may not always be protective of potential acute exposure scenarios, especially in non-residential settings, and/or if statistical methods are used to interpret site soil data. The report was developed to address the absence of such guidance in order to support risk assessment practitioners and promote awareness within the contaminated land sector.

27 July 2020 Corrigendum : The authors of SoBRA’s AGAC report have discovered an error in the calculation of the AGACs for the vapour pathway for benzene (adult and child), phenol (child), trichloroethene (adult and child) and vinyl chloride (child). These had been incorrectly calculated due to use of log Koc rather than Koc in the calculation spreadsheets.  A new version of the report (version 2) has been produced with these values corrected (the new AGAC are higher than before) which is available on the link below.

Practical Tips Document 2018

June 2018

In June 2018, the Society of Brownfield Risk Assessment (SoBRA), the Geological Society Contaminated Land Group and RemSoc delivered a conference targeted towards early careers learning.  Its aims were:

  • To support technical excellence in the assessment, estimation & evaluation of risks and associated uncertainties from land affected by contaminants;
  • To encourage “good practice” in the practical application of risk assessment to support decisions regarding the appropriate management of land contamination; and
  • To facilitate and widen access to the dissemination of knowledge regarding land contamination risk assessment.

A commitment of this workshop has been the creation of a series of short tabular reports for each of the different discipline areas.  We have produced three practical tips documents which include human health risk assessment, controlled waters risk assessment and vapour intrusion (include link).

Site Investigation and Risk Assessment for Historic Landfill Redevelopment (SoBRA 2016)

SoBRA held a workshop on uncertainty in human health risk assessment in June 2016. The objective of the workshop was to consider key issues associated with the CSM and site investigation for landfill sites. Delegates were asked to consider a wide range of issues to identify those representing accepted scientific understanding and/ or good practice, and those which require further work to extend, improve or clarify current understanding or practice.