Science, risk, and public policy

Science  09 Sep 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4615, pp. 1026-1028
DOI: 10.1126/science.6879200


A climate of fear now dominates the discussion of environmental issues. The scientific community can help alleviate this fear by making a greater effort to explain to the public the uncertainties involved in estimates of risk. Current statutory mandates designed to protect public health both demand levels of protection that technology cannot achieve and are uncoordinated across government agencies. A common statutory framework for dealing with environmental risks is needed. In addition, care must be taken to separate the scientific process of assessing risk from the use of such assessments, together with economic and policy considerations, in the management of risks through regulatory action.