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.
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
Precautionary principle and environmental justice
Precautionary principle and municipal/county government
Precautionary principle and environmental science
Precautionary principle and children’s health
Precautionary principle and public health
Precautionary Principle and Risk Assessment
By Peter Montague, Getting Beyond Risk Assessment
Precaution and the Law
By Joe Guth, A model little NEPA law
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
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
“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