Washington State Public Health Association, October 16, 2006


Endorsing the Precautionary Principle as a Public Health Tool Preventing Harm from Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic Chemicals (PBTs)

[Rachel's introduction: These are "talking points" used within the Washington State Public Health Association (WSPHA) by advocates for the precautionary principle, which the WSPHA adopted Oct. 16.]

* All children of Washington State having an equal right to conditions that ensure they can reach and maintain their full potential

* Knowledge confers an ethical responsibility and duty to make decisions that promote and maintain human and environmental health, thereby preventing disease, illness or disability

* The precautionary principle holds that when an activity threatens harm to human health or to the environment, precautionary measures should be taken, even if cause-and- effect relationships are not fully established scientifically

* Precautionary Principle, which consists of four basic elements: 1) taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty, 2) shifting the burden of responsibility of safety to the proponents of an activity; 3) exploring and implementing safer alternatives to possibly harmful actions, and 4) increasing public participation in decision making;

* Taking precautionary action is the common sense idea behind many adages, such as "be careful", "better safe than sorry" and "look before you leap"

* The precautionary principle is a highly effective decision- making tool for reducing negative and costly effects on human health resulting from exposure to environmental toxicants

* The precautionary principle has been endorsed by the American Public Health Association (APHA), with the APHA stating that it "Reaffirms its explicit endorsement of the precautionary principle as a cornerstone of preventive public health policy and practice."