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35 Years of OSHA and EPA Quantitative Risk Assessments: The Legacy of the Supreme Court's Benzene Decision Webinar Recording

Course Description:
2015 marked the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court case that first found a requirement for quantitative risk assessment (QRA) within the text of a statute that did not mention the term. The Benzene case required OSHA to conduct QRA in order to regulate workplace toxicants, and the Court set (vague) numerical bounds on what level of risk could be considered “significant.” The ripple effects from this decision are still being felt, and not only at OSHA. The four speakers in this Webinar will discuss questions including:

Does a QRA requirement inevitably weaken and slow OSHA and EPA regulations, or might it be a clear (but unused) path towards stronger protections?

Have OSHA and EPA foregone some of the benefits of setting technology-based (design) standards in their embrace of QRA?

Does QRA most greatly incentivize toxicologic, epidemiologic, or other research?

Does the kind of QRA the Court intended require traditional cost-benefit balancing, or might it point instead to a rights-based approach to regulating?

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Identify how the benzene decision fundamentally changed OSHA and EPA regulation promulgation
  • Explain how quantifying risk from a single end-point (i.e. cancer) can skew attention to health conditions which may not be that important as public health problems
  • Describe the three general approaches to setting health, safety, and environmental standards
  • Cite the difference between maximum individual risk and population incidence risk
  • Apply the “acceptable risk” paradigm to non-threshold pollutants

Contact Hours:

Presentation Date:

Adam Finkel, CIH
Dr. Bernard Goldstein
Gary Marchant, PhD. JD, MPP
Dr. John Howard