Risk, Science, and Politics

Risk, Science, and Politics : Regulating Toxic Substances in Canada and the United States

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Paying particular attention to how politicians and bureaucrats in the two countries deal with the scientific uncertainty that pervades environmental decision making, Harrison and Hoberg analyse case studies of seven controversial substances suspected of causing cancer in humans: the pesticides Alar and alachlor, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, radon gas, dioxin, saccharin, and asbestos. They weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each country's approach according to five criteria: stringency and timeliness of the regulatory decision, balancing of risks and benefits by decision makers, opportunities for public participation, and the interpretation of science in regulatory decision making. The Canadian approach is exemplified by closed decision making, case-by-case review that relies heavily on expert judgement, and limited public debate about the scientific basis of regulatory decisions. In contrast, regulatory science in the United States is characterized by publication of lengthy rationales for regulatory decisions, reliance on standardized procedures for risk assessment, and controversy surrounding the interpretation of scientific evidence.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 17.78mm | 359.7g
  • Montreal, Canada
  • English
  • 0773512519
  • 9780773512511

Review quote

In this uniquely valuable study, Harrison and Hoberg have documented, with meticulous detail, the course of policy-making in Canada and the US to protect the public from environmental hazards. Their carefully documented account is a valuable corrective to the episodic attention of the media to these problems. It is to be hoped that this most useful book becomes required reading for students in many disciplines, and for all those who have an interest in environmental protection, and in the safeguarding of human health. David V. Bates, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia.
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