<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

    Assessing risk

  • Epidemiological Studies : We are constantly exposed to different risks that have become inherent in our socio-technical circumstances. These ongoing, unintentional experiments are exploited through epidemiological studies which are designed to measure the correlation between exposure to risk factors and the occurrence of harm. For example, are those living close to EMFs (electro-magnetic fields generated by technologies like electrical power lines) susceptible to certain harms like leukemia? An epidemiological study would compare incidents of this disease occurring in a population exposed to EMFs with incidents of this disease occurring in a population, unexposed to EMSs. If there were a significant risk ratio (usually set at three times the incidents of the harm in the unexposed, control group) then this provides evidence that exposure to EMFs somehow causes leukemia. (Further study would be required to confirm this hypothesis and uncover the causal mechanism by which exposure produces the harm.) Epidemiological studies are difficult to carry out and are always accompanied by uncertainty due to the limitations of the methods employed. Typically, the harm may take years to become manifest after exposure. Finding a population stable enough to determine the effects of long term exposure is difficult because individuals frequently move from place to place. Such natural experiments also bring with them a great deal of "noise"; factors other than EMFs could be causing leukemia or EMFs could be interacting with other elements in the environment to cause the harm. Finally, there is the Tuskegee factor. In the notorious Tuskegee experiment, doctors refused to treat African Americans for syphilis in order to study the long term progression of the disease. Exposing a population to a risk factor without informing them of the potential harm in order to gain scientific information violates the right of free and informed consent and the duty not to harm.
  • Animal Bioassays : Risk information can often be obtained by exposing animals to the risk factor and checking for emerging harms. While useful, animal bioassays are subject to several problems. Experimenting on animals raises many of the same ethical concerns as experimenting on humans. Utilitarians argue that animals merit moral consideration because they are sentient and can suffer. Animal experiments are thus subject to the three Rs: reduce, refine, and avoid replication. (See Bernard Rollins) Second, these experiments create two kinds of uncertainty. (a) Projections from animal to human physiology can lead researchers astray because of the differences between the two; for example, animals are more sensitive to certain harms than humans. (b) Projecting the results from intensive short term animal exposure into the long term can also introduce errors and uncertainty. Thus, as with epidemiological studies, there are uncertainties inherent in animal bioassays.
  • Risk assessment, while useful, is burdened with uncertainty due to the limits of what we know, what we can know, and what we are able to learn within the ethical parameters of human and animal experimentation. Crucial ethical issues arise as we decide how to distribute this uncertainty. Do we place its burden on the risk taker by continuing with a project until it is proven unsafe and harmful? Or do we suspend the activity until it is proven safe and harm-free. The first gives priority to advancing risky activities. The second gives priority to public safety and health, even to the point of suspending the new activities under question.

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
QuizOver.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Civis project - uprm' conversation and receive update notifications?