Integrated systematic method for health risk hierarchisation
Initiative funded by the Initiation R&D Program, year 2017, code L217-23, "Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana” Chile has the third largest number of tailings dams in the world, and this number is increasing. It is estimated to double by 2035, mainly in the central zone . The proposed method identifies the zones and locations with higher risk and allows for the design of preventive measures for towns that are close to tailings dams. Quantitative information was compared and processed, and then, a systematic integrated method for hierarchising the health risk to people based on the potential exposure to mass copper mine tailings dams with high As content was developed. The method was applied to copper mining in Chile, and regions with a high environmental hazard index caused by the geographic location of tailings dams with high As content were identified. The experimental analysis of tailings and epidemiological studies to characterise the cancer risk to population are further required to validate the causes of the illnesses identified.The method includes the assessment of the health risk to people. This allows for the identification of areas and sectors with higher risk because the method considers the environmental vulnerability of active dams, whose tailings contents are still increasing. This constitutes a risk management tool to ensure the sustainable management of tailings dams.