Workshop Report 13 – Counting the Costs and Benefits of Chemical Controls: Role of Environmental Risk Assessment in Socio-Economic Analysis

Abstract

WR 13 : Counting the Costs and Benefits of Chemical Controls: Role of Environmental Risk Assessment in Socio-Economic Analysis | September 2008

  • This report arises from a workshop organised to explore the contribution that ECETOC might make to the cost-benefit and socio-economic analyses of environmental protection interventions that involve chemicals. The focus was on REACH but broader issues were also considered.
  • A distinction was made between identifying the possible lives and/or ecological entities saved by an intervention (from risk assessment) and the values that are ascribed to these. Risk assessments are carried out by natural scientists and valuations by economists?but both would gain from understanding the needs and the contributions of each other. A major general recommendation was that ECETOC should play a key part in facilitating this and building inter-disciplinary collaboration.
  • For assessing both the costs and benefits of an intervention it is important that risks and their causes are identified and expressed appropriately. It was recognised that the current practices of risk assessment did not generally deliver what was required for fully quantitative cost-benefit analyses. This is an area that needs further urgent attention and, given its remit to promote science-based risk assessment, ECETOC ought to play a lead role.
  • Valuations of human lives, human health and ecological entities involve assessing the preferences of society as a whole. This is the province of welfare economics. However, it was emphasised that there is a role for natural science, and hence ECETOC, in making links between human health status and capacity for work and recreation, and especially between ecosystem processes and the services that they deliver to society.
  • Five main themes were identified for further possible action by ECETOC. These were:
    1. Appropriately quantifying changes in impact associated with proposed risk reduction strategies;
    2. informing the valuation of impacts of chemicals on health and ecosystems by enabling and encouraging collaborations between natural scientists and economists;
    3. supporting the process of socio-economic analysis, for example by facilitating the creation of multi-disciplinary teams;
    4. developing one or more exemplary case studies ? learning by doing through a Task Force;
    5. playing an active role in cross-disciplinary networking and capacity building.