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The Role of Quantitative Risk Assessment in Environmental Regulations

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journal contribution
posted on 01.09.1985, 00:00 authored by Lester B. Lave

In one view of the world, environmental hazards are akin to smoking guns-there is a dead or wounded victim, an obvious cause, and an obvious solution. In this 1960s view, solving environmental problems is only a matter of will.

Congress embodied this simple view in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental legislation. When this caricature was obviously inapplicable, as with pesticides, Congress mandated a balancing of risk and benefit, but still saw the problem as a straightforward, somewhat simple one. Unfortunately, environmental legislation, even including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), embodies notions that are dysfunctional in attempting to manage complicated environmental problems.




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