By 1983, other federal agencies were basing decisions on numerical risk assessment and the National Academy of Sciences published its first “how to” manual for federal risk assessors. The choice is stark and fateful. Because it is a mathematical exercise, numerical risk assessment omits everything that can’t be represented by a number.

That same year, the city and county of San Francisco began the process of adopting the precautionary principle, which it did in 2003. As a reader-funded news platform, we rely on donations from people like you to keep us going. Most importantly, in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published Science and Decisions, subtitled “Advancing Risk Assessment.” Despite that subtitle, the Academy didn’t “advance” risk assessment; it demoted it. Acceptable risk strictly depends on local legal or corporate requirements. If you can go a little further and want to help strengthen Truthout so we’re less dependent on these fundraisers, please consider starting a small monthly donation. Therefore, numerical risk assessment fails the acid test of science — reproducible results — and does not qualify as “science” or “scientific.” Risk assessment is a political art that uses some scientific data. Peter Montague is a historian and journalist whose work has appeared in Counterpunch, Huffington Post, The Nation and many other publications. Decision-makers should consider a full range of alternatives, including the alternative of doing nothing. Medium: results in severe injury, significant occupational illness, or major system or environmental damage. Contact or deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Companies House returns, accounts and other responsibilities, Selling, closing or restarting your business, Environmental action to improve your business, Reduce, reuse, recycle your business waste, Environmental guidance by business sector, >> Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Latest support and guidance >, >> EU Exit | Information and advice for your business >, Sample templates, forms, letters, policies and checklists, Environmental performance of your business, carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment, Establishing the baseline for an environmental review. These technologies are potentially far more powerful than even atomic energy, so they cry out for a prudent, precautionary approach to their testing and possible deployment.

This has kept corporate polluters very happy. Bedford Street (Raffensperger and Nancy Myers published a second, “how-to” book on precaution for communities in 2005.) Two groups of fully qualified risk assessors, given identical data, can reach wildly different estimates of risk. It should take into account the systems involved in the risk being assessed: chemical, mechanical, electrical, and so on.

Worse, in 2005 a small study of the umbilical cord blood from 10 randomly chosen newborns in the US showed that babies are now coming into this world “pre-polluted” with 200 industrial compounds.

On the heels of the shale gas rush, another wave of fossil fuel-based projects is coming. An environmental risk assessment allows you to assess the likelihood of your business causing harm to the environment.This includes describing potential hazards and impacts before taking precautions to … In the 12 years between 1994 and 2006, childhood chronic conditions (asthma, obesity, learning and behavior problems) doubled (from 13 percent of all kids in 1994 to 27 percent in 2006). (Disclosure: I attended the meeting, and am now a fellow with SEHN.). Numerical risk assessment was invented hundreds of years ago to reduce losses in games of chance. Decisions should not be made by experts behind closed doors. After two more decades of failed “chemical regulation,” a 2001 study showed that babies everywhere in the world were drinking industrial toxicants in breast milk.

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Communication must be a point of emphasis within the team. Even at the federal level in the US, sole reliance on numerical risk assessment is slowly fading. As a reader-funded news platform, we rely on donations from people like you to keep us going. 3.

WTWH Media LLC and its licensors. Additionally, risk assessment is easily manipulated. Rio Declaration on Environment & Development, Chemical Plant Boom Spurred by Fracking Will Bring Smog, Plastic Glut and Risks to Workers’ Health, Chemical Giant DuPont Covered Up Health Risks of Teflon Contamination Across Globe.

Never miss the news and analysis you care about. Since then, risk assessment has totally dominated government decisions.

Scientific certainty is likely to arrive only after widespread harm has occurred. The affected public should be fully informed and engaged in decisions. Still, the precautionary principle — better safe than sorry — is now under renewed attack in Europe, the UK and the US. Abandoning the Paris Agreement on global warming is but one example. Soil contains lead concentrations less than 50 parts per million (ppm), but soil lead levels in many urban areas exceed 200 ppm [AAP 1993].

Therefore, risk assessments can be endlessly debated, revised, opposed and challenged in court. Faced with a new garbage incinerator, a new source of diesel pollution or a fracking proposal, community activists could demand a precautionary approach to protect people and their local environment. At the local level, however, it’s a different story. Highly probable: likely to occur frequently, Probable: likely to occur several times in the lifecycle, Occasional: likely to occur at least once in the lifecycle, Improbable: very unlikely to occur in the lifecycle, Highly improbable: probability cannot be distinguished from zero. The incidence of childhood cancers has risen 27 percent since 1974. High: results in death, system loss, or severe environmental damage. The earliest statements of precaution failed to gain much notice until January, 1998, when the Wingspread Statement was published.

As EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus wrote in 1984, “We should remember that risk assessment can be like the captured spy: If you torture it long enough, it will tell you anything you want to know.”. Can you make a monthly donation to ensure we can publish more like it? Moreover, all biological systems (whether a human body or a forest) are extremely complex and can never be fully understood, so risk assessments are always based on incomplete data, which gets filled in by assumptions and guesstimates (often labeled “best professional judgment.”) As the National Academy of Sciences wrote in 1991, “Risk Assessment techniques are highly speculative, and almost all rely on multiple assumptions of fact — some of which are entirely untestable.” Change the assumptions and you change the conclusion. Negligible: will not result in any of the above.

Perhaps not surprisingly, in the US, children’s health is deteriorating.

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