When Dr. Geraldine Cox was the technical director of the CMA she said...
"We invoke the risks of the things we don't want to do and ignore the risks of the things we want to do."
James A. Kaufman, Ph.D.
The Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI)
A Nonprofit Educational Organization for
Safety in Science, Industry, and Education
192 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760-2252
508-647-1900 Fax: 508-647-0062
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Chair, ICASE Committee on Safety in Science Education
International Council for Associations of Science Education
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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Ralph Stuart
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2014 10:40 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Health risk assessment
I worked through similar questions with a community group around formaldehyde emissions from a local facility for about 3 years in the 1990's. One of the things I learned from that experience is that because the scientific method is open-ended, it isn't a decision-making tool. Science can provide information that decision-makers can consider as part of a health risk assessment, but it doesn't provide answers to specific questions. This is particularly true in cases where the impacted community is much smaller than the population required to see statistical impacts, which is the most common situation.
I think that the reason that this statement doesn't appear in the reports is that the writers of the report implicitly understand that their decision includes a component of professional judgement (in part, because of the outstanding questions Paul enumerated). This judgement is usually couched in bureaucratic language which refers to the legal criteria associated with this judgement rather than being based on scientific authority. As I said, it took me three years of discussions with state regulators to understand this implicit assumption they were making.
Perhaps that's helpful.
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