Prioritizing Environmental Risks to Health

Part of the Environmental Science and Technology Library book series (ENST, volume 24)


This chapter discusses in detail the process we used to engage stakeholders in further refining the scope of issues to consider in this environmental burden of disease assessment. First, we provide background on innate human cognitive biases that affect our perceptions of risk and how these biases pose challenges to rational priority setting. Then, we describe previous international experiences in prioritizing environmental risks to health for policymaking. Next, we describe the systematic approach used here to prioritize environmental risk factors—an approach that compensates for cognitive biases, incorporates scientific information, systematically involves multiple stakeholders, and builds on international experiences. Finally, we describe how we implemented this ranking process and how the results led to the eight environmental risk factor categories that are the subjects of the remaining chapters of this book: outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution, occupational exposures, climate change, drinking water contamination, coastal water pollution, soil and groundwater contamination, and produce and seafood contamination.


Comparative risk assessment Risk summary sheets Categorizing environmental health risks Environmental and public health stakeholders Deliberative approach for ranking risks Risk analysis research Setting priorities for environmental health risk management Cognitive biases in risk perception 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina–Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Environment Agency–Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.Health Authority–Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates

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