Low Level Environmental Hazards: Public Policy Response to Sinkholes

November 1991 (VOL. 9, NO. 3)

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Growth and expanded settlement patterns have increasingly placed more people and property at risk to a variety of environmental hazards. While risks traditionally considered high-level, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, continue to generate a need for coordinated and effective policy response, populations are now increasingly exposed to a variety of low-level indoor and outdoor hazards as well. Sinkholes, one example of an outdoor hazard, are found in several states throughout the mid-Atlantic, midwest, and southeastern United States. The development of a low-level environmental hazards manavement response to sinkholes would be applicable to several other low-level environmental hazards including minor earthquake damage, land or mudslides, mine subsidence, and erosion. The authors argue that in areas where sinkholes and similar problems pose threats to public infrastructure and private property, local government officials need to define effective response and also build cognizance of sinkholes into comprehensive planning and policies.