Environmental Health Risks and Public Policy
129 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Jan 1994

Environmental Health Risks and Public Policy

Decision Making in Free Societies

UBC Press

Modern industrial societies have created not only the goods andservices that add productivity and pleasure to modern life, but alsohazardous and unlooked-for side effects. Many significant technologicaladvances -- automobiles, fire retardation, durable paints, electricalappliances -- have a dark side, their proven or putative implication inmajor risks to public health.

How democratic societies discover and deal with such health hazardsis the theme of Environmental Health Risks and Public Policy.Often frightening in its direct recitation of medical evidence, alwayscompelling as the work of a medical man deeply concerned with humanhealth, it examines the ways in which science and public policyinteract, sometimes to protect the public, sometimes to thwart promptaction.

As society's awareness of environmental effects on public healthhas grown, scientists (especially epidemiologists) have beenincreasingly drawn into the public arena. The design of studies, themanipulation of statistics, and additional risk factors influence theacceptance of "hazards" as clearly causing certain diseases.In addition, the often major economic effects of reducing these healthhazards make formulation of public policy concerning their control afractious business. Environmental scientists, the media, lawyers, andpoliticians have difficulty dealing with multifactoral disease, and arestill learning how the questions should be framed for an informedpublic debate on the issues raised. Environmental Health Risks andPublic Policy compares decision making in Canada, Britain, and theUnited States, and the impact of different political traditions on theprocess. The place and limitations of formal risk assessment arediscussed.

The book offers conclusions about the central role of environmentalepidemiology as the "detective" science in elucidating healtheffects of human technological advances, and examines the different,often conflicting, sometimes colluding roles of government, industry,and the general public in the debate over public health hazards.

This is a very readable book that provides a good overview and introduction to the complex world of environmental science and policy. This book is a must read for students of environmental epidemiology. Aleck Ostry, Revue Canadienne de Sante Publique
David V. Bates is professor emeritus of health careand epidemiology, and formerly Dean of Medicine, at the University ofBritish Columbia. He has published extensively on pulmonary medicineand is a leading figure in international air pollution health effectsresearch.



Setting the Stage: Critical Risks

Mandated Science: Major Issues in Health and Public Policy

A Survival Kit for the Environmental Jungle




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