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Lessons from Benzene

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.1998, 00:00 by Lester B. Lave

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attempted to promulgate a more stringent standard for worker exposure to benzene on the grounds that no level was safe and the proposed regulation was technically and economically feasible. Quantitative risk analyses showed the estimated reduction in leukemia to be extremely small while control costs were large. The Supreme Court vacated the standard on the grounds that OSHA had failed to demonstrate there was a significant risk at the current standard. Although surrounded by uncertainty, quantitative analyses of risk and cost provide better data for regulatory decisions.