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Taking Chances on Risk Assessment

"Risk Assessment," Science. April 17, 1987. Vol. 236. Pages 267-300. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C. In its April 17 issue, Science published six lead articles on health risk assessment. Although none of the articles carefully defines the subject term, all of them use it to mean structured estimation of probability and severity of harm. Actually, the articles focus more on social risk management than on the science of risk assessment. The topics covered are

William Lowrance
"Risk Assessment," Science. April 17, 1987. Vol. 236. Pages 267-300. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.


In its April 17 issue, Science published six lead articles on health risk assessment. Although none of the articles carefully defines the subject term, all of them use it to mean structured estimation of probability and severity of harm. Actually, the articles focus more on social risk management than on the science of risk assessment.

The topics covered are central, although together they form a bit of a hodgepodge. Regrettably, the magazine carries no explanation as to the intentions of the issue or the basis for selecting these subjects or authors.

If the articles have a common theme, it is a plea to intercompare different risks and set control strategies proportionate to health burden. Richard Wilson and E.A.C. Crouch set the tone by arguing, quite correctly, that risk assessments help us...

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