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Is risk-based regulation feasible? : The case of polylbrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

MacGillivray, Brian and Alcock, Ruth and Busby, Jeremy (2011) Is risk-based regulation feasible? : The case of polylbrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Risk Analysis, 31 (2). pp. 266-281. ISSN 0272-4332

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The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of brominated flame retardants used extensively in an array of textiles and plastics. Initially viewed as inert and nontoxic, in recent years an emerging body of science has cast doubt on this perception. Consequently, the compounds have drawn sustained government, media, and lobby group focus in the United States and Europe, yet have taken contrasting trajectories in different risk regulation regimes. We present a longitudinal analysis of these pathways, examining the actions of legislatures, executives, courts, scientists, and pressure groups. We show that the emergence and resolution of PBDEs as a risk issue was strongly shaped by path dependency, political entrainment (inter-institutional conflict unrelated to PBDEs), and partisan lawmaking. This raises the question of whether risk-based principles are capable of being the foundation on which managing the potential for harm can be based—even when that harm is associated with specific objects like flame-retardant chemicals. We conclude by reflecting on the difficult normative issues that are raised.

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: Risk Analysis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chemicals regulation ; risk governance ; science-policy ; risk regulation
Departments: Lancaster University Management School > Management Science
Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 49400
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 04 Aug 2011 09:12
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 22 May 2018 03:14
Identification Number:

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