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Chemicals, Cancer, and Choices: Risk Reduction Through Markets

100 pages1 hour


Frequent media reports alert us to the dangers environmental chemicals may pose for human health. Each new warning generates an almost predictable debate: Interventionists demand stricter government regulations. Pragmatists counter that the costs of such controls are much greater than the benefits. Skeptics question the scientific validity of the alleged danger, and the cautious wonder if uncertainty can excuse failing to protect the public health. Better science can reduce—but not eliminate -- our uncertainty about the effects of chemicals. This book offers readers a unique way to sort through all the rhetoric that accompanies questions of science and health. In the case of exposures that arise from the consumption of specific products, markets can permit individuals to choose their own levels of exposure. Even when there is common exposure to chemicals in the air, a market for emission rights would allow the cautious to purchase such rights and reduce their exposure. In short, the market affords individualized responses to chemical risk as an alternative to government-imposed rules for everyone.

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