Sound Science, Junk Policy: Environmental Health Science and the Decision-Making Process

Sound Science, Junk Policy: Environmental Health Science and the Decision-Making Process

Sound Science, Junk Policy: Environmental Health Science and the Decision-Making Process

Sound Science, Junk Policy: Environmental Health Science and the Decision-Making Process

Synopsis

Morrone and Lohner assert that sound science is often misinterpreted, which leads to questionable policy decisions. This provocative look at environmental policymaking shows the importance of correctly interpreting science, and examines the full implications of using science as the major criterion in the decision-making process.

Contemporary critics often argue that environmental policy problems are rooted in junk science. Yet Morrone and Lohner assert that many cases are based on sound science that is misinterpreted, which leads to questionable policy decisions. Revealing the way science is used in the environmental decision-making process, the authors illustrate how policies can go awry.

Their combined experience in the public and private sectors is buttressed by a series of case studies, including:

Air pollution

Solid and hazardous waste management

Food protection

Vectors and their diseases

Drinking water safety

This provocative look at environmental policymaking shows the importance of correctly interpreting science, and examines the full implications of using science as the major criterion in the decision-making process."

Excerpt

Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences, or of the more
elevated departments of science, than meditation; and nothing is less suited to
meditation than the structure of democratic society.

Alexis de Tocqueville,
French Political Scientist

In 1835, when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the preceding words, he was writing his observations of the democratic system in America at the time. His ideas about the challenge of the role of science in a democratic system apply today, more than 150 years later. Science and democracy create a challenging mixture from which to create policy. This book explores how science and democracy have played parts in environmental health and public health policy making in the United States.

Environmental health science is the study of how humans affect the environment and how the environment affects human health. An environmental health scientist works to ensure the safety of the food supply, drinking water, indoor air, and outdoor air. the profession focuses on preventing illness and injury, and it is the first line of defense against disease. Environmental health professionals also manage environmental issues that have the potential to affect human health, such as solid and hazardous waste sites and disease-carrying vectors.

Environmental health scientists use a variety of tools in pursuit of preventing adverse human health impacts. These tools include risk assessment, public health assessments, and toxicology. Regardless of the methods employed by the scientists, their research usually finds its way into the environmental policymaking process. the translation of science into policy has become one of the most hotly contested subjects in the environmental policy arena in recent years.

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