Washington State Public Health Association  [Printer-friendly version]
October 16, 2006


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

[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

* 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."