On-line Abstracts

Fedra, K. (1995)
Chemicals in the Environment: GIS, Models, and Expert Systems. In James Devillers [Ed.] Toxicology Modelling. Vol. 1, No. 1. Carfax Publishing Company, UK. pp. 43-55.

Reprints available.





Abstract

Toxic substances in the environment, their fate and transport, and their ecological and human health effects, pose acute problems for public administrations, regulatory agencies, industries, and the general public almost anywhere around the globe. Policies are defined and decisions taken -- with or without scientific input -- that involve huge amounts of money and may affect all of us, directly or indirectly. These decisions and policies should ideally be based on well founded scientific understanding of problems and processes, providing a consistent open basis and framework for the decision making process.

However, considerable uncertainty in scientific understanding and the underlying data, such as chemical properties of toxic and hazardous substances and their effects on biota make their systematic assessment difficult in any real-world context. These uncertainties also make the communication of scientific results difficult and ineffective, in particular, when a broad range of actors and participants in the decision making processes must be reached. Advanced information technology, and in particular, simulation modeling, geographical information systems, and expert systems, provide the tools to better integrate scientific understanding and information into public and institutional decision making process. In smart software systems, the emphasis is, in a broad sense, on a problem specific man--machine interface and problem representation. Extensive use of interactive graphics, a symbolic and visual problem representation, integrated data sources and built-in domain knowledge can together effectively support users of complex and complicated software systems. Integration, interaction, visualization and intelligence are key concepts that are discussed in the context of a number of examples of environmental information and decision support systems that all feature fate, transport, and impact models of toxic substances.


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