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The Role of Cumulative Risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice
Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, TX 78520, USA
Institute for Health Policy, University of Texas School of Public Health, 1200 Herman zressler, Houston, TX 77030, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 October 2010; in revised form: 29 October 2010 / Accepted: 17 November 2010 / Published: 18 November 2010
Abstract: There is strong presumptive evidence that people living in poverty and certain racial and ethnic groups bear a disproportionate burden of environmental health risk. Many have argued that conducting formal assessments of the health risk experienced by affected communities is both unnecessary and counterproductive—that instead of analyzing the situation our efforts should be devoted to fixing obvious problems and rectifying observable wrongs. We contend that formal assessment of cumulative health risks from combined effects of chemical and nonchemical stressors is a valuable tool to aid decision makers in choosing risk management options that are effective, efficient, and equitable. If used properly, cumulative risk assessment need not impair decision makers’ discretion, nor should it be used as an excuse for doing nothing in the face of evident harm. Good policy decisions require more than good intentions; they necessitate analysis of risk-related information along with careful consideration of economic issues, ethical and moral principles, legal precedents, political realities, cultural beliefs, societal values, and bureaucratic impediments. Cumulative risk assessment can provide a systematic and impartial means for informing policy decisions about environmental justice.
Keywords: cumulative risk assessment; environmental justice; health disparities; risk assessment; susceptible groups; vulnerable populations
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Sexton, K.; Linder, S.H. The Role of Cumulative Risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7, 4037-4049.
Sexton K, Linder SH. The Role of Cumulative Risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2010; 7(11):4037-4049.
Sexton, Ken; Linder, Stephen H. 2010. "The Role of Cumulative Risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 11: 4037-4049.