De Minimis Risk as a Regulatory Tool

  • Joshua Menkes
  • R. Scott Frey
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Risk Analysis book series (CIRA, volume 2)


Management of the health, safety, and environmental risks associated with various hazards has become increasingly difficult. To a large extent this difficulty can be traced to the fact that agencies are confronted with a seemingly unlimited number of risks and they have limited resources for managing such risks. One means proposed for dealing with this management problem is based on the legal principle de minimis non curat lex or, “the law does not concern itself with trifles;” hence the term “de minimis risk.” According to this principle, risks considered trifling can be eliminated from regulatory consideration. Although the de minimis approach has been the subject of increased interest and agency use, the problems associated with its use need to be more fully addressed. In this chapter we (1) describe the concept of de minimis risk, (2) discuss several problems associated with the de minimis concept, and (3) conclude that the viability of the de minimis risk concept is not as compelling as some analysts have suggested.


Risk Level Cutoff Level Exposed Population Exposed Individual Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Menkes
    • 1
  • R. Scott Frey
    • 2
  1. 1.LagosPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social WorkKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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