Scientific Uncertainty in Environmental Regulation

EPA Grant Number: U915442
Title: Scientific Uncertainty in Environmental Regulation
Investigators: Levine, Michael
Institution: Duke University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2001
Project Amount: $65,170
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Environmental , Environmental Justice , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to explore the scientific uncertainty that pervades regulatory decision making. Decision analytic models will be used to establish a framework in which uncertainties can be quantified and used to make better-informed decisions.


First, the evolution and development of a regulatory system, which is based on a judicial model, will be explored. The adversarial nature of the decisionmaking process and the role binary decisions play in the regulation of toxic substances will be examined. Furthermore, the scientific, political, and legal difficulties of using science and scientists in an adversarial process will be examined. The importance of value judgements and how they are ignored in this process, as well as the relationship between scientific, political, and legal uncertainties will be detailed. Finally, a framework in which these factors can be quantified and accounted for in the decision-making process will be developed. Decision analytic theory will be used to establish this framework and apply it to existing decisions. Quantifying these uncertainties and value judgements hopefully will reduce the contentious nature of regulatory debates and allow for more informed decision making.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, decision making, decision analytic model, judicial model, value judgements, scientific uncertainty, toxic substances, environmental regulation., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Chemistry, Risk Assessments, Engineering, cancer risk, decision making process, carcinogens, cancer causation, cancer risk assessment, scientific uncertainty

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final