Toxics, and Precaution
Protection of public health and the
environment requires a precautionary approach -- taking
action in response to threats of serious, irreversible
harm, even when science has not finished working out
the details of the cause-and-effect relationships.
In the face of strong arguments for precaution, industry
representatives and their allies in government argue
that precautionary policies will harm the economy.
The anti-precautionary economic argument appears repeatedly
in the debates over the regulation and phase-out of
toxic chemicals, an active area of health and environmental
Our research challenges these conventional
economic arguments, and provides new economic arguments
in support of precautionary policies in several areas:
• We have conducted several studies on the the costs of REACH,
the European Union's proposed new chemicals policy.
Our studies refute industry claims of enormous costs and
demonstrate that REACH will have only modest, entirely
affordable costs. Read more about our work on REACH on our European Chemicals Policy page.
• In cooperation with the Alliance for a Healthy
Tomorrow, a Massachusetts network of health and environmental
organizations, we produced "Costs
of Preventable Childhood Illness: The Price We Pay
for Pollution", a report on the
costs of major children's health problems associated
with environmental exposures in Massachusetts.
• Our work on polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a substance
that poses severe health hazards throughout its lifecycle,
Economics of Phasing Out PVC", a major report
on the economics of phasing out PVC; a short conference
on the same subject, and a forthcoming report on options
for disposal of PVC waste in Maine.
• Work on the economic theory of precaution
with Precaution", an essay on the employment
impacts of health and environmental protection; "The
Outer Bounds of the Possible: Economic Theory, Precaution,
and Dioxin", a short paper on precautionary
approaches to dioxin policy; and additional work in