Bergius, K. & Öberg, T. Environmental Management (2007) 39: 226. doi:10.1007/s00267-006-0005-4
Preliminary surveys are used to prioritize between contaminated sites to select those to be investigated more thoroughly. The data-gathering steps are almost identical between countries; however, the assessment procedures differ significantly. In this study, we have investigated 21 contaminated sites assessed as belonging to the high-risk or the very high-risk class using the Swedish Methods for Inventories of Contaminated Sites (MICS). We then applied the US Preliminary Assessment (PA) method to the same sites and compared the results and conclusions from the two screening procedures. In both cases, all sites were recommended for further investigation and the two approaches seem to corroborate one another; however, the PA assessment scores and the preliminary MICS classifications did not correlate. The results obtained with the PA method were easier to explain than the final MICS classification. The PA method also seems more transparent and easier to standardize, although objections could be made regarding the weighting scheme, because the outcome in this study was entirely dependent on the surface exposure pathway. However, to examine this in greater detail, it is necessary to include sites with less contamination: The importance of preliminary surveys in the overall risk management process gives a strong motivation for such an evaluation. Generally, the lack of research and scientific support for the various assessment procedures in use suggests that there is a need for method development, standardization, and validation.