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Risk Assessment: The Reality of Uncertainty

  • Edwin L. Behrens
Part of the Advances in Risk Analysis book series (AEMB, volume 220)

Abstract

Three realities about uncertainty need to be recognized if we are to progress as a nation in the management of risk, particularly where federal regulations affecting health and the environment are concerned First, uncertainty and risk are inevitable. Second, public policy has not been well served in the long run when efforts have been made in the past to shortcut substantive approaches to risk management. There seems to be generally increasing acceptance that “zero risk” is not an adequate basis for the development of most regulatory policies. Last, risk and uncertainty must be addressed, and there must be convergence as to how they are to be managed. Risk assessment is increasingly accepted as a legitimate and necessary component of the regulatory process, and its use is even expected by federal courts despite the need for further improvements in the underlying science. Public policies incorporating risk assessment can be improved: (1) by implementing recommendations of the recent NAS report on Risk Assessment in the Federal Government: Managing the Process; (2) by continuing with research to improve scientific understanding relevant to risk assessment (with particular focus on exposure and epidemiology); and (3) by increasing public understanding of risk assessment and its role in public policy development. All are relevant to the interests and involvement of the Society for Risk Analysis.

Keywords

Risk Assessment Risk Management Regulations Regulatory Policy Development Zero Risk 

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Footnotes

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin L. Behrens
    • 1
  1. 1.Public Affairs CommitteeAmerican Industrial Health CouncilUSA

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