A Computer-Based Decision Tool for Prioritizing the Reduction of Airborne Chemical Emissions from Canadian Oil Refineries Using Estimated Health Impacts
Gower, Stephanie Karen
MetadataShow full item record
Petroleum refineries emit a variety of airborne substances which may be harmful to human health. HEIDI II (Health Effects Indicators Decision Index II) is a computer-based decision analysis tool which assesses airborne emissions from Canada's oil refineries for reduction, based on ordinal ranking of estimated health impacts. The model was designed by a project team within NERAM (Network for Environmental Risk Assessment and Management) and assembled with significant stakeholder consultation. HEIDI II is publicly available as a deterministic Excel-based tool which ranks 31 air pollutants based on predicted disease incidence or estimated DALYS (disability adjusted life years). The model includes calculations to account for average annual emissions, ambient concentrations, stack height, meteorology/dispersion, photodegradation, and the population distribution around each refinery. Different formulations of continuous dose-response functions were applied to nonthreshold-acting air toxics, threshold-acting air toxics, and nonthreshold-acting CACs (criteria air contaminants). An updated probabilistic version of HEIDI II was developed using Matlab code to account for parameter uncertainty and identify key leverage variables. Sensitivity analyses indicate that parameter uncertainty in the model variables for annual emissions and for concentration-response/toxicological slopes have the greatest leverage on predicted health impacts. Scenario analyses suggest that the geographic distribution of population density around a refinery site is an important predictor of total health impact. Several ranking metrics (predicted case incidence, simple DALY, and complex DALY) and ordinal ranking approaches (deterministic model, average from Monte Carlo simulation, test of stochastic dominance) were used to identify priority substances for reduction; the results were similar in each case. The predicted impacts of primary and secondary particulate matter (PM) consistently outweighed those of the air toxics. Nickel, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), sulphuric acid, and vanadium were consistently identified as priority air toxics at refineries where they were reported emissions. For many substances, the difference in rank order is indeterminate when parametric uncertainty and variability are considered.