Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2-1996

Abstract

Meaningful public participation has been perceived as difficult to accommodate in regulatory proceedings requiring technical scientific judgments, especially those involving quantitative risk assessments. Quantitative risk assessment, however, is not a purely technical exercise, but instead involves the application of policy preferences in the form of assumptions, extrapolation from animal data to humans and high to low doses, management of incomplete data sets, and resolution of scientific uncertainties. Such junctures at which policy preferences are applied are opportunities to reflect social value choices that are not wholly "scientific." Those opportunities should be explicitly identified as such by the regulator. These considerations argue for a "soft" form of risk assessment that expressly takes societal values into account. Non-adversarial, consensus-based mechanisms of public participation that encourage greater dialogue and interaction among interested parties and with the regulator may enhance the potential for non-scientific social values effectively to be accommodated in regulatory proceedings with a heavy technical component.

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