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Chemicals, Cancer, and Choices

Risk Reduction through Markets

About the Book

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.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Effects of Synthetic Chemical Exposures on Human Health
  • Managing Private Risks from Chemical Exposures
  • Managing Public Risks from Chemical Exposures
  • Insurance
  • What Should Be Done?
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
About the Author

Peter VanDoren is editor of the quarterly journal Regulation at the Cato Institute, and an expert in the regulation of housing, land, energy, the environment, transportation and labor.

What Others Have Said

“A gracefully written primer on how markets can be harnessed to manage the risks of chemicals.”
—Prof. John Graham, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis

“For the first time, this book makes available an unblinking scientific assessment of the impact of chemicals, and chemical policies, on human health. Technically sophisticated, yet argued in language accessible to the layman, this book will fundamentally redirect the policy debate. It may even change the way you think.”
—Prof. Michael C. Munger, Duke University

“Overinterpretation of laboratory and epidemiologic studies of cancer causation can make cancer‐​prevention regulations inefficient and ineffective. Similarly, it can lead to unjust resolution of cancer‐​related toxic torts. In this book VanDoren explains how these difficulties arise and gives valuable insight into how they can be reduced or eliminated by market‐​driven choices of individuals and companies.”
—Prof. Philip Cole, University of Alabama, School of Public Health