5110.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM

Instituting Precaution in Environmental Health Policy: the Roles of Science, Public Policy, and Public Health Partnerships

The Precautionary Principle is gaining prominence environmental health debates in the United States and abroad. It was a dominant theme in environmental discussions at the 1999 WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle and a core element of the January Biosafety Protocol negotiations. While the principle is explicit in guiding environmental policy in the European Union, the U.S. has yet to explicitly endorse it. Widespread discussion of the Precautionary Principle has augmented the base of support for its implementation; it has also led to a series of criticisms, often based on a misunderstanding of how science and policy interact in addressing threats of complex etiology. Precautionary thinking is embedded in hundreds of years of public health practice. Since some critiques of the principle are developed by individuals and institutions with a limited understanding of environmental health issues, it is critical that the public health community understand and embrace the Precautionary Principle. This panel will discuss implementation of the precautionary principle in public health policy. We will argue that the Precautionary Principle, in addition to being a risk management tool, requires rethinking of both environmental science and policy so that they better address uncertainty, ignorance, and primary prevention. Following an introduction to the role of science in implementing the precautionary principle, we will discuss opportunities and barriers to incorporating the principle in policy, and a unique public health partnership designed to understand and implement the Principle at the state level. We will discuss the importance of the Precautionary Principle in addressing children’s environmental health risks
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement.
Learning Objectives: Refer to the individual abstracts for learning objectives
Organizer(s):Joel Tickner
12:30 PMChildren’s Environmental Health: A Case Study in the Need for the Precautionary Principle
Joel Tickner
12:30 PMScience, the Precautionary Principle, and Preventive Public Health Policy: Making the Links
David Kriebel, ScD
12:30 PMThe Massachusetts Precautionary Principle Project: a Model for Public Health Organizing
Lee Ketelsen
Cosponsors:Epidemiology; Occupational Health and Safety; Socialist Caucus

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA