ECO-Action, October 8, 2005


[Rachel's introduction: Now anyone can gain in-depth training on the precautionary principle via the web -- useful for grass-roots activists, and for public health professionals and students.]

Carol Williams, the executive director of ECO-Action in Atlanta, has developed a web-based instructional package about the precautionary principle. It works best with a high-speed internet connection. You can start by reading the online User's Guide.

Carol's web-based instructional package is aimed at people working in, or studying, public health, particularly environmental health, chemical hazards assessment and community health education. But we think others will find it useful as well. The package incorporates some "flash," "audio," "powerpoint presentions" and graphics. Lessons are best viewed with high speed internet, an updated browser, and with display screen area set at 1024 X 768 (Screen areas can be adjusted on Windows programs at Control Panel > Display > Settings). While in the instruction, turn internet pop-up blockers off (i.e., allow pop-ups) for ease of navigation. You may also want to bookmark the site in your "favorites," so you can easily return to it.

ECO-Action is encouraging local communities, governments and schools to adopt the precautionary principle. A Model Precautionary Principle Ordinance has been developed with the River Basin Center at University of Georgia. The model ordinance is a Microsoft Word document that you can download and adapt to your own county. Also take a look at the Precautionary Principle Background Paper prepared by the River Basin Center.

Precautionary Principle: Awareness, Training & Advocacy

The precautionary principle argues that protection of the environment and human health should take precedence over other interests (i.e., private profit-making) when considering whether or not to use or release potentially harmful chemicals. The Precautionary Principle is a decision-making tool that underscores prevention and precautionary action. How?

** Ask the right questions -- instead of what level of harm can we tolerate? Ask how can we prevent harm?

** Take action to prevent harm even if conclusive cause & effect relationships are not fully established scientifically

** Place the burden of proof on the creators of toxic chemicals and harmful processes, instead of the people on the receiving end

** Assess alternative ways to do things, such as clean technologies that eliminate toxics and waste

** Build openness into the process and let people participate in the decisions affecting human health and the environment.

Copyright 2004 John Klossner,