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The Scientific Basis for Policy Decisions.

Goldstein BD
NIOSH 1985 May:12 pages
The scientific basis for regulatory policy decisions was discussed. The value of risk assessment as a framework for developing a scientific basis for policy decisions was emphasized. It is noted that risk assessment cannot be separated from risk management. This is attributed to the fact that risk characterization is sandwiched between risk assessment and risk management, and scientists tend to be utilized in two different ways in the American regulatory process, either to form a consensus or in a legal confrontational approach. Risk assessment involves four steps: hazard identification, dose exposure estimation, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. It is noted that the greatest degree of uncertainty is the uncertainty associated with measuring exposure, although it is the extent of hazard that tends to get the most publicity and generate the most controversy. Exposures can be evaluated by techniques such as mathematical modeling, determining transport characteristics from meteorological or hydrogeological data, and directly measuring the substance in air, water, food, or other media. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed mathematical models for estimating population exposures. It is noted that mathematical modeling frequently becomes an end in itself. Benzene (71432) is cited as an example of a risk assessment conducted by the EPA. Improving risk assessments is discussed. Risk assessments by regulatory agencies such as the EPA can be improved by developing better mathematical models and agreeing upon established guidelines for making risk assessments.
Risk-analysis; Health-hazards; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-exposure; Legislation; Standards; Biostatistics;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings;
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Proceedings of a Symposium on Epidemiology and Health Risk Assessment, Columbia, Maryland, May 14-16, 1985, Centers for Disease Control/NIOSH, 12 pages, 2 references

Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division