It is shown that the concept "safety factor," as presently used as a criterion for declaring a demined area safe for use, is impractical and should be replaced by its complement, called "risk factor," which stands for the ratio of the size of the mine-polluted portion of a demined field to its total area. An equation expressing the risk as a function of the efficiencies of the demining processes applied is developed. The limitations of applying this equation in the quantification of the risk are then shown by means of a case study. The necessity of an error analysis for all figures quoted to express the efficiency of detection methods is emphasized, while the limitations of advanced scientific approaches with respect to the ultimate goal of humanitarian demining—zero risk—are discussed. A revision of demining standards is proposed.



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