Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The precautionary principle and epidemiology: a contradictio in terminis?

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • * There is also an intermediate “strict control” frame that deals with ignorance by imposing precautionary strict control measures (compared with preventive phase out).

  • Although one can express reservations about risk assessment in its present form. By 1998 at least four studies had shown that even for the 3000 high production volume chemicals (let alone the tens of thousands of other man-made chemicals) the basic data for the Screening Information Data Set were publicly available in only 10% of cases. This, of course, is at odds with the impression that is often given that a risk assessment is based on “hard facts”.

  • O’Riordan and Cameron (page 18)12 also mention the promotion of the cause of intrinsic natural rights (that is, an ethical point) and paying for past ecological debt (known heavy polluters should take more precautions than others). The Wingspread version of the principle is one of the few that poses demands on the decision making process like openness, inclusion of affected parties, and examination of alternatives.

Linked Articles