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5. Y. Wang, R. D. Summers, R. J. Hofmeister, Landslide Loss
Estimation Pilot Project in Oregon (Department of Geology
and Mineral Industries, 2002).
6. P. Rice “Slippery slopes,” The Curry Coastal Pilot (2016);
7. D. Cornforth, Landslides in Practice: Investigation,
Analysis, and Remedial/Preventative Options in Soils
8. P. Ruggiero, J. Waterway, Port, Coastal, Ocean Eng.139 ,
The EU’s ecological
In their Policy Forum “Estimating the
health benefits of environmental regula-
tions” (4 August, p. 457), A. McGartland
et al. compellingly make the case that
compatibility between risk assessments of
chemicals in the environment and benefit-
cost analyses (BCAs) is key to developing
effective environmental regulation. This
point is not just relevant to human health
and the United States. Ensuring that up-to-
date risk assessments inform BCAs has also
been the subject of study and recommen-
dations for the European Union (1). The
EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorization,
The challenges for benefits assess-
ment in the ecological context are similar
to those outlined by McGartland et al.,
but there are some additional consider-
ations (1). Protection goals are often too
vague in ecological assessments; the legal
imperative to protect the environment is
inevitably less precise than that to protect
health in people. The ecological assess-
ment should be expressed in terms of the
delivery of ecosystem services that can be
valued (3). The identified services should
then inform what end points are measured
in the risk analysis. Finally, the common
practice in environmental risk assess-
ments to reduce all to a comparison of
likely exposures with bright-line thresh-
old concentrations below which adverse
impacts are deemed unlikely (so-called
risk/hazard quotients) is unhelpful for BCA
(4). As with human health, the risk assess-
ment should aim to deliver relationships
between exposures and effects on relevant
end points that can be related to benefit
changes. In the absence of these explicit
“dose-response” relationships, which con-
nect with monetized values, judgments
replace the transparency of the BCA (4).
The European study’s recommendation
to make risk assessments more relevant
for BCA by increasing collaboration
between risk assessors and social scientists (especially economists) is consistent
with McGartland et al.’s conclusions (1).
These issues will remain important as the
United States implements the new Toxic
Substances Control Act (5).
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University
of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA.
1. Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks
(SCHER), Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly
Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), Scientific Committee on
Consumer Safety (SCCS), “Making risk assessment more
relevant for risk management” (European Commission,
Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (2006).
3. V. Forbes, P. Calo w, Integ.Environ.Assess.Manage.9,
4. P. Calow,RiskAnalysis34, 1972 (2014).
5. Toxic Substances Control Act as amended by the Frank R.
Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (2016).
INSIGHTS | LETTERS