After 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 10-member RAMC is charged with evaluating current standards and methods of assessing environmental hazards and recommending how that information should be used in regulating toxic substances. Government officials, environmental scientists, and others associated with the field expect the commission's deliberations to have significant implications for researchers and regulators who evaluate and attempt to mediate the dangers posed by environmental hazards.

Risk assessment entails characterizing and quantifying the potential harmful effects of environmental toxins on humans, environmental scientists point out. Risk management, meanwhile, adds socioeconomic factors--such as costs and potential job losses--into the process of regulating such toxins (see story on page 4). As part of its mandate, the commission will take into consideration, among other...

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