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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Available from: David M Ozonoff, Jul 10, 2015
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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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    ABSTRACT: Lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and manganese (Mn) are well-known neurotoxic metals. The knowledge of toxicity was developed through an extensive amount of research, starting with lead and mercury and proceeding today with manganese. Unfortunately, the consequent implementation of preventive measures was generally delayed, causing important negative effects to the exposed populations. A review and historical reconstruction of the research development that yielded modern understanding of lead and mercury neurotoxicity was conducted to derive useful lessons for the prevention of manganese neurotoxicity. Medieval alchemists named planets and metals from gods since they were already aware of the toxicity and the adverse effects caused by lead and mercury. Historical lessons learned from these two metals may help to avoid the repetition of further mistakes regarding other neurotoxic metals like manganese. The knowledge and experience on the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of lead and mercury is useful and valuable to identify a proper approach to "safe" exposure levels for manganese. Further information is still needed on the early neurotoxic and neurobehavioral effects after prolonged exposure to very low doses of lead, mercury, and manganese. Nevertheless, according to the precautionary principle, effective preventive measures should be already undertaken to prevent the onset of more severe health effects in the population. This is the most important lesson to be learned and applied from more than 30 years of occupational and environmental neurotoxicology of metals.
    American Journal of Industrial Medicine 11/2007; 50(11):779-87. DOI:10.1002/ajim.20524 · 1.59 Impact Factor
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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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    ABSTRACT: Initial tests indicate that personal and occupational use of personal digital assistants (PDAs or palm-held wireless units) produce high intensity bursts of extremely-low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF). These emissions could result in comparatively high ELF-EMF exposure in persons that carry a PDA close to the body (i.e., in a pocket or on a belt); or held to the head for cell phone conversations. ELF-EMF emissions of 10 microT were recorded on PDAs during normal office use over a 24 h test period. Results of ELF-EMF measurements show that email transmit and receive functions produce rapid, short-duration ELF-EMF spikes in the 2-10 microT range, each lasting several seconds to over a minute apparently depending on file download size. Some units produced spikes as high as 30-60 microT during email activities. Cell phone activity on PDAs produced continuously elevated ELF-EMF readings in the 0.5-1 microT range, as opposed to the rapid spiking pattern for email receipt and transmission. Switching the PDA unit from "OFF" to "ON" position resulted in single ELF-EMF pulses of over 90 microT on two units. Email downloads into the PDA can occur randomly throughout the day and night when the unit is "ON"; thus the user who wears the PDA may be receiving high-intensity ELF-EMF pulses throughout the day and night. The frequency of email traffic on the PDA, and the power switching unit (battery unit) may affect the frequency and intensity of ELF-EMF emissions.
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