Limitations of Tribal-FERST

Tribal-FERST is intended for screening purposes and should not be used as the sole basis to characterize risk or make decisions regarding public health. While Tribal-FERST provides useful information for communities, there are important limitations to the data that it provides and the scope of environmental concerns that it addresses.  The limitations to the data contained within Tribal-FERST include:  1) completeness; 2) geographic coverage, and; 3) accuracy and time frame.  

Completeness (Types of Data and Issues Included)

For environmental concentration, exposure and health risk data, Tribal-FERST currently only includes data acquired by EPA through national monitoring and modeling programs.  For air quality, these data include air toxics, particulate matter (PM), and ozone.  For surface water quality, Tribal-FERST includes the STOrage and RETrieval Data Warehouse (STORET) monitoring data.  Data for other chemicals and for other environmental media are currently not collected or reported to EPA in manner suitable for Tribal-FERST. For example, Tribal-FERST currently does not provide mapping of contaminant concentrations for soils or for drinking water.  Tribal-FERST does provide links to additional EPA information and does allow users to upload additional local data that may be unavailable directly from Tribal-FERST.  The data included in Tribal-FERST are for federally regulated facilities, which may not include other facilities that local agencies or communities could identify and add to Tribal-FERST.   A complete listing of Tribal-FERST data sources can be found here.

Geographic Coverage

Because national monitoring programs generally occur in more populated areas, there are fewer Tribal-FERST data available in less populated rural or remote areas.  This lack of Tribal-FERST data for less populated rural or remote areas should not automatically be construed to mean that there may be no contaminant issues for that particular area. 

Accuracy and Time-frame

Because Tribal-FERST relies on data provided by other various EPA and government programs, updates or corrections to the data are provided on different schedules. For example, there is generally a 3-year lag time between completion of national air toxics monitoring and the public release of the National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) data that is used in Tribal-FERST. During this time, the air monitoring data undergoes a quality assurance process, is analyzed, and is combined with modeling results. In regard to other Tribal-FERST data, it is possible for errors to occur in the mapping of facility and monitoring locations due to data entry errors, address changes, and discrepancies in mailing addresses verses physical locations. We advise that important site locations be confirmed.  Location discrepancies can be reported to Tribal-FERST for correction here.

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