Health impacts and risks

Disasters and incidents pose risks to public health. During such a disaster, the potential of exposure to the population in a densely populated country like the Netherlands is particularly high for poisonous or hazardous substances, radiation and biological pathogens. It is RIVM’s task to assess these health risks and advise experts on necessary protective actions.

Assessing and advising on health risks



RIVM assesses health risks of exposure to hazardous chemicals, radioactive substances and biological pathogens during disasters and incidents. Exposure not only occurs via air, water and soil, but also through food and other consumer products. On the basis of health risk assessment, authorities can deploy preventive and protective measures, such as evacuation of the population and use of anti-viral remedies. Risk assessments are based on exposure assessment by measurements and mathematical modelling.

Medical advice during disasters

In the Netherlands it is RIVM’s task to advise medical professionals on medical treatment of victims of exposure to chemical substances, radiation and biological agents.

Post-disaster health investigation

RIVM helps to assess the public health impact of disasters. RIVM advises on the usefulness and necessity of a health impact assessment and /or support in the design, start-up, or execution of the study.

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