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ENVIRONMENTAL RISK ASSESSMENT: TASKS AND OBLIGATIONS

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Abstract:

Synthesizing, characterizing, and communicating the risk science information used in environmental decision-making depends in the first instance on the nature and quality of the technical analysis. At the same time, other important features of the risk analysis, features that require special attention to provide context for the analysis as a whole, are frequently overlooked in practice or in presentation. Now, as the field expands to meet new challenges and to include new participants, all practitioners -- government, academics, industry, and interest groups -- must give renewed emphasis to certain hall marks of sound risk assessment: identifying incomplete information and its influence on the risk assessment process, articulating alternative assumptions and the scientific or policy reasons for choices made among alternatives, describing process considerations and limitations as well as numerical results, and fully informing decision makers, the press, and the interested public. The resulting greater clarity and transparency in the scientific analyses that under lie environmental decision making can enhance credibility and public confidence in the scientific foundation for those decisions.

Keywords: problem formulation; risk assessment; risk assessment paradigm; risk characterization; science policy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10807039891284532

Affiliations: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Publication date: June 1, 1998

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