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    Assessing risk

  • Epidemiological Studies : We are constantly exposed to different risks that have become inherent in our socio-technical circumstances. These ongoing, unintentional experiments are exploited through epidemiological studies which are designed to measure the correlation between exposure to risk factors and the occurrence of harm. For example, are those living close to EMFs (electro-magnetic fields generated by technologies like electrical power lines) susceptible to certain harms like leukemia? An epidemiological study would compare incidents of this disease occurring in a population exposed to EMFs with incidents of this disease occurring in a population, unexposed to EMSs. If there were a significant risk ratio (usually set at three times the incidents of the harm in the unexposed, control group) then this provides evidence that exposure to EMFs somehow causes leukemia. (Further study would be required to confirm this hypothesis and uncover the causal mechanism by which exposure produces the harm.) Epidemiological studies are difficult to carry out and are always accompanied by uncertainty due to the limitations of the methods employed. Typically, the harm may take years to become manifest after exposure. Finding a population stable enough to determine the effects of long term exposure is difficult because individuals frequently move from place to place. Such natural experiments also bring with them a great deal of "noise"; factors other than EMFs could be causing leukemia or EMFs could be interacting with other elements in the environment to cause the harm. Finally, there is the Tuskegee factor. In the notorious Tuskegee experiment, doctors refused to treat African Americans for syphilis in order to study the long term progression of the disease. Exposing a population to a risk factor without informing them of the potential harm in order to gain scientific information violates the right of free and informed consent and the duty not to harm.
  • Animal Bioassays : Risk information can often be obtained by exposing animals to the risk factor and checking for emerging harms. While useful, animal bioassays are subject to several problems. Experimenting on animals raises many of the same ethical concerns as experimenting on humans. Utilitarians argue that animals merit moral consideration because they are sentient and can suffer. Animal experiments are thus subject to the three Rs: reduce, refine, and avoid replication. (See Bernard Rollins) Second, these experiments create two kinds of uncertainty. (a) Projections from animal to human physiology can lead researchers astray because of the differences between the two; for example, animals are more sensitive to certain harms than humans. (b) Projecting the results from intensive short term animal exposure into the long term can also introduce errors and uncertainty. Thus, as with epidemiological studies, there are uncertainties inherent in animal bioassays.
  • Risk assessment, while useful, is burdened with uncertainty due to the limits of what we know, what we can know, and what we are able to learn within the ethical parameters of human and animal experimentation. Crucial ethical issues arise as we decide how to distribute this uncertainty. Do we place its burden on the risk taker by continuing with a project until it is proven unsafe and harmful? Or do we suspend the activity until it is proven safe and harm-free. The first gives priority to advancing risky activities. The second gives priority to public safety and health, even to the point of suspending the new activities under question.

Questions & Answers

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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