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2016 Conference

Abstract Number: ETH-08 | ID: 4820

Characterization of long-term or intergenerational risks from environmental hazards

Ellen Wells*, Purdue University, United States, ;
As a persistent organic pollutant, dioxins remain in our environment for years or decades, affecting nearby communities for an extended period of time. Additionally, an increasing amount of scientific evidence, such as the new research presented in this session, demonstrates the importance of prenatal and early life dioxin exposure. Exposures in this period may affect not only affect children, but potentially also adults and even successive generations. The combination of dioxin’s longevity both as a persistent compound as well as multi-generational toxicant raises new questions about interpretation and description of risk. Risk assessment methodology has been changing dramatically over the past decade to incorporate some of these aspects; yet it is still valuable to reflect on what additional steps might be needed. The goal of this session is to engage the audience in reflecting on and discussing ethical and philosophical aspects of how we describe and explain risk in the light of these altered paradigms in environmental health. How should we, or could we, describe the risk of persistent and multi-generational pollutants? For example, should we only consider impacts on a single person or from multiple generations? Is the persistence of these compounds in environmental media and biota adequately described? Are there substantial areas of uncertainty in this area which also need to be considered? Are existing methods (or commonly used methods) adequate to describe these? If not, what barriers might exist to implementing these? Another important consideration is how we might describe these risks to participants or the general public. Are there any examples or recommendations for best practices? The audience is encouraged to participate and raise new questions during this discussion.