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Book Review: The risk professionals, by Thomas M. Dietz and Robert W. Rycroft
In attempting to revitalize the Environmental Protection Agency after the debacle of the early Reagan administration, William Ruckleshaus called for increasing professionalism of environmental management through the use of risk assessment methods. He stressed science over politics and urged professionalism up to the point of political decisions (which must balance values). In an ideal world, these risk assessors would delimit, analyze, and set out the implications of each decision. As faceless scientists, they could be moved among jobs with little effect on the decisions or their implementation. However, as Graham, Green, and Roberts demonstrate in In Search of Safety, the scientific foundation of risk assessment is too weak to eliminate important scientific disagreement. Instead, the scientific basis can only set bounds on the level, and even the nature; of risk to health and limb.