Article

Implications of the Precautionary Principle in research and policy-making

Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense C, Denmark.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.59). 04/2004; 45(4):382-5. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.10361
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Precautionary Principle (PP) has recently been formally introduced into national and international law. The key element is the justification for acting in the face of uncertainty. The PP is thereby a tool for avoiding possible future harm associated with suspected, but not conclusive, environmental risks. Under the PP, the burden of proof is shifted from demonstrating the presence of risk to demonstrating the absence of risk and it is the responsibility of the producer of a technology to demonstrate its safety rather than the responsibility of public authorities to show harm. Past experiences show the costly consequences of disregarding early warnings about environmental hazards. Today, the need for applying the PP is even greater. New research is needed to expand current insight into disease causation, to elucidate the full scope of potential adverse implications resulting from environmental pollutants, and to identify opportunities for prevention. Research approaches should be developed and strengthened to counteract innate ideological biases and to support our confidence in applying the PP for decision-making in the public policy arena.

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    • "The central elements of the precautionary principle can be summarized as follows (Gilbert, 2005b): Central components of the precautionary principle establish public health goals taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty shifting the burden of responsibility (proof) to the proponents of an activity exploring a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions increasing public participation in decision making. Although controversial, the precautionary principle has been utilized as an important approach to risk management and decision making (Gilbert, 2005b; Goldstein, 2001; Grandjean et al., 2004; Kriebel et al., 2001; Myers and Raffensperger, 2006; Ter Meulen, 2005; Tickner, 2002). Opposing views have pointed to potentially unintended consequences of this approach to risk management in the face of uncertainty (Marchant, 2003). "
    General, Applied and Systems Toxicology, 12/2009; , ISBN: 9780470744307
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    • "This demonstrates the effectiveness of preventive action, as undertaken when the health impact of exposure is well demonstrated. On the other hand, the delay of preventive intervention on lead exposure represents a negative lesson, that could have been avoided by a full adoption of the precautionary principle [Grandjean et al., 2004]. The precautionary principle is ''a general rule of public policy action to be used in situations of potentially "
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    • "Use of PDAs on a regular basis could conceivably contribute to the overall ELF-EMF body exposure; particularly when the PDA is worn on the belt, or carried in a pocket close to the body. Because ELF-EMF exposure has been determined to be classifiable as a Group 2B (Possible) Carcinogen [NIEHS Working Group, 1998; NIEHS, 1999; IARC, 2001; WHO, 2002; California Department of Health Services, 2002], the contribution of ELF-EMF from use of PDAs is useful to document and may be advisable to limit in accordance with precautionary public health policies [European Environmental Agency, 2001; Grandjean, 2004]. DNA strand breaks and cell death are reported with ELF-EMF exposure [Lai and Singh, 2004] although some experimental evidence does not support the carcinogenicity of ELF-EMF [McNally et al., 1999]. "
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