Standardization as a Trust Device

  • Willem Halffman


For many regulatory scientists, it is hard to understand why their careful and intricate risk assessments fail to resolve societal contestation over the magnitude of chemical risks. From the experts’ point of view, it seems that the science of risk assessment (RA) is particularly prone to irrational responses. In spite of increasingly refined risk assessment procedures, environmental movements and consumer organizations continually question the findings of risk assessment science. Such organizations typically claim that important hazards are underestimated or ignored. On the other hand, regulated industries relentlessly insist that mitigating factors have been left out of consideration. After several decades of extensive investments in the development of risk assessment methodology, in the standardization and validation of toxicity tests, as well as in the development of assessment protocols and models, this situation has still not changed fundamentally. Nevertheless, many risk assessment experts seem to expect that their science could at least demarcate the area of political dispute. They often express the belief that further improvements in the science of risk assessment can limit societal disagreements to issues of value judgements and balancing of interests, as is shown in Sue Mayer and Gillian Clegg’s contribution to this volume. Scientists then consider themselves to be the linesmen of politics — only to find their rulings questioned time and time again.


Risk Assessment Toxicity Test Regulatory Regime Knowledge Claim Regulatory Scientist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

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  • Willem Halffman

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