Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy
Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to
answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals,
and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and
analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.
- The Final Institute November 20, 2014
- Food and Water Safety September 22, 2014
- Childhood Cancer June 24, 2014
- The Costs of Disease April 18, 2014
- Male Infertility February 26, 2014
- Flame Retardants December 13, 2013
- Risk Assessment and Chemicals November 19, 2013
- Preemption of State Chemical Reform October 18, 2013
- Fracking Revisited August 5, 2013
- Federal Chemical Policy Reform June 28, 2013
More Topics »
How can innovations in technology and research reduce exposures to toxic chemicals?
Molly Rauch, MPH
December 15, 2010
the health risks from toxic chemicals in the environment is a complex project
involving a multi-tiered approach. One approach is to address the consequences
of chemical exposure after the fact, such as by advancing the treatments of
illnesses that result from toxic chemical exposure. While this may have
valuable health benefits, it is an inefficient way to reduce health risks.
Another approach is to try to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals already in
the environment, such as through abatement and clean-up of toxic waste dumps,
or by urging consumers to use caution in the store aisles. Again, this is
important to the individual citizen living next to a waste site, and the
individual consumer at the check-out counter, but it is a relatively
inefficient way to address the health effects of toxic chemical exposure. Yet
another approach is to try to prevent toxic chemicals from gaining entry to the
market, such as by limiting the introduction of toxic chemicals into commerce.
This approach takes prevention to a more basic level. But what if we tried to
address toxic chemicals at the most primary level of prevention – by preventing
them from being invented? Environmental health experts and chemical engineers
working on fundamental prevention have explored the ways in which technology
and research can shepherd in a decidedly new chemical era, one that does not
compromise human health. This month, our contributors explain more about how
engineering technology and research on toxic chemicals may be harnessed to
protect the public health.
The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Responses: Evan Beach, Mark Dorfman, Steven G. Gilbert, Lin Kaatz Chary, Mark Rossi, Jennifer Sass