The Precautionary Principle in the Real World – How a REAL EPA would have viewed the use of Corexit & Dispersants

Environmental Research Foundation

By Peter Montague

The Wingspread Statement’s definition of the precautionary principle is now widely quoted:

“When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

“In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

“The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”

The Essence of Precaution

Critics say that the precautionary principle is not well-defined. However, the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) points out that, in all formulations of the precautionary principle, we find three elements:

1) When we have a reasonable suspicion of harm, and

2) scientific uncertainty about cause and effect, then

3) we have a duty to take action to prevent harm.

The precautionary principle does not tell us what action to take. However, proponents of a precautionary approach have suggested a series of actions we can take:

(1) Monitor carefully (pay attention), and heed early warnings.

(2) Set goals;

(3) Examine all reasonable ways of achieving the goals, intending to adopt the least-harmful way;

(4) Shift the burden of proof — when consequences are uncertain, give the benefit of the doubt to nature, public health and community well-being. Expect responsible parties (not governments or the public) to bear the burden of producing needed information. Expect reasonable assurances of safety for products before they can be marketed — just as the Food and Drug Administration expects reasonable assurances of safety before new pharmaceutical products can be marketed.

(5) Throughout the decision-making process, honor the knowledge of those who will be affected by the decisions, and give them a real “say” in the outcome. This approach naturally allows issues of ethics, right-and-wrong, history, cultural appropriateness, and justice to become important in the decision.

(6) Monitor results, heed early warnings, and make mid-course corrections as needed;

Instead of asking the basic risk-assessment question — “How much harm is allowable?” — the precautionary approach asks, “How little harm is possible?”

In sum: Faced with reasonable suspicion of harm, the precautionary approach urges a full evaluation of available alternatives for the purpose of preventing or minimizing harm.

Further reading

In the U.S., the leading proponent of the precautionary approach is the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). Their web site is a gold mine of information.

Precautionary Principle – Overviews

By Schettler, Barrett and Raffensperger (2001?) – By Nancy Myers (2002)The Wingspread Statement (1998) – By Jared Blumenfeld (2003) – Peter Montague, A Better World is Possible (PowerPoint) (2007) – Peter Montague, A Better World is Possible (short version; 2008) – Peter Montague, Opportunity of a Lifetime

Precautionary principle in the workplace

By Eileen Senn (2003)

By Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey (2002)

By The American Public Health Association (1996)

By Eileen Senn Tarlau (1990)

By Anne Stikjel and Lucas Reijnders (1995)

Precautionary principle and environmental justice

By the California Environmental Protection Agency (2003)

By Peter Montague (July, 2003)

By Peter Montague (Feb., 2003)

Precautionary principle and municipal/county government

The San Francisco Precaution Ordinance (2002)

The San Francisco White Paper on Precaution (2002)

Precautionary principle and environmental science

By David Kriebel and others (2001)

Precautionary principle and children’s health

By The American Public Health Association (2000)

Precautionary principle and public health

By Tickner, Kriebel, and Wright (2003)

Precautionary Principle and Risk Assessment

By Peter Montague, Getting Beyond Risk Assessment

Precaution and the Law

By Joe Guth, Transforming American Law to Promote Preservation of the Earth

By Joe Guth, A model little NEPA law

Environmental Health Network

U.S. Chamber of Commerce & Deceit in Mold Litigation

TRUTH OUT Sharon Kramer Letter To Andrew Saxon MOLD ISSUE

National Apartment Association Tells Its Members MOLD CAUSES DEATH; Tells Courts It Doesn’t With The Help of US Chamber and UCLA

Thank You National Apartment Association. I will do my best to get this very important information out ASAP to numerous owners, investors, huge property management companies (e.g., Riverstone Residential), attorneys, and judges, AND, of course, to the MANY people who are currently living in MOLD-INFESTED APARTMENT COMPLEXES right now! katy

FEMA Using US Chamber Fraud in Katrina Trailer Litigation; EPA, GAO & Both Isle$ of Congre$$ Turn Blind Eye$

Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry

New Action Committee – ACHEMMIC- Urges Transparency in EPA Policy Over Mold & Microbial Contaminants

Truth About Mold – the most up to date, accurate, and reliable information on Toxic Mold

Sociological Issues Relating to Mold: The Mold Wars

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

Information about Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana allowing tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of toxins from molds by intentionally concealing evidence

Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

Links to Riverstone Residential Mold and Illegal Business Practice Complaints and More!

About Sharon Kramer

Hi, I'm an advocate for integrity in health marketing and in the courts.
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