Science and Law
2nd July 2014

5 Types of EHS Experts to Consider for Your Next Toxic Tort or Environmental Case

We discussed in our previous post 10 tips for preparing your environmental health and safety (EHS) expert. As you consider the retention of one or more EHS professionals for your case, the first step is to determine which type of EHS professional could provide valuable testimony that provide your client with opinions that will help them prevail in their case.

5 Types of EHS Experts to Consider for Your Next Toxic Tort or Environmental Case

We discussed in our previous post 10 tips for preparing your environmental health and safety (EHS) expert. As you consider the retention of one or more EHS professionals for your case, the first step is to determine which type of EHS professional could provide valuable testimony that provide your client with opinions that will help them prevail in their case.

You will need to determine which type of EHS professional could provide valuable testimony that could help your client. There are numerous specialty areas in EHS. Some of the experts that are commonly used by attorneys include:

Industrial hygienist: This expert will assess and interpret airborne and dermal chemical and biological sampling data, including the identification of data gaps in this information. He or she will also perform exposure assessments to estimate likely exposure range in the absence of exposure data. The industrial hygienist will also utilize risk assessment tools to estimate the increased risk of an adverse health endpoint as the result of chemical, biological or physical agent exposure. An industrial hygienist must have a strong familiarity with 29 CFR and parts of 40 CFR.

Air dispersion modeler: This expert is intimately familiar with several up-to-date air dispersion models and can select the proper one to use. By performing calculations with the appropriate model, the air dispersion modeler can predict environmental impacts of fixed source emissions as well as emissions resulting from evaporation or disturbance of spills/releases to soil and bodies of water. These experts must be very familiar with many air-related environmental regulations (portions of 40 CFR) and EPA air dispersion models. Many states have regulations that differ from EPA’s federal regulations.

Toxicologist: This expert will determine illness or diseases associated with the exposures of interest and make a determination as to the likelihood that the exposures are capable of causing the adverse health endpoint (i.e., general causation) and whether or not the exposures caused the adverse health endpoint in this individual. Like the industrial hygienist, the toxicologist may also perform risk assessments based on real exposure data or exposure estimate.  Depending upon a toxicologist’s skill set, this expert may be familiar with applicable environmental regulations (40 CFR), food and drug regulations (21 CFR), and consumer products (16 CFR).

Soil scientist and/or geologist: In many toxic tort and environmental cases it is important to assess concentrations of soil contaminants and provide an opinion as to whether these concentrations are of a human health concern. Soil contaminants may pose an exposure concern as the result of migration into surface or groundwater. The hydrogeologist is concerned with the prediction of contamination migration and concentration in a groundwater plume. The soil scientist and/or geologists will have strong familiarity with certain environmental regulations in 40 CFR relating to surface soil, sediment, surface water, or groundwater (hydrogeologist). Many states have regulations that differ from EPA’s federal regulations.

Health Physicist: This expert will assess hazards associated with non-ionizing, e.g., laser light, infrared, and ionizing radiation, i.e., radioactive materials. The health physicist can perform extent of contamination surveys and ensure proper work practices and personal protective equipment to avoid exposure. Health physicists may work in research, industry, environmental protection, and compliance. A health physicist must have a strong understanding of 10 CFR regulations and state regulations (when applicable).

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