To Convene Ater a two-year delay, the congressionally mandated Risk Assessment and Management Commission (RAMC)--originally supposed to get down to business in 1992--is scheduled to convene its first meeting on May 16, according to commission officials.

The National Research Council's Risk Assessment in the Federal Government: Managing the Process (Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1983), defines risk assessment as "the characterization of the potential adverse effects of human exposures to environmental hazards." By contrast, the report says, risk management is "the process of weighing policy alternatives and selecting the most appropriate regulatory action, integrating the results of risk assessment with engineering data and with social, economic, and political concerns to reach a decision."

In environmental studies, risk essentially means a broad statistical calculation of probability of harm, after accounting for many factors such as age and sex. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) historically...

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