Workshop on the Ethics of Reporting Personal Environmental Exposures

On September 21, 2010, the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic co-hosted a day-long workshop on the ethical and legal challenges of communicating personal results to participants in biomonitoring and environmental exposure studies.  These studies raise a number of ethical questions about whether and how to communicate results to participants, particularly when the health implications of the measurements and the effectiveness of exposure reduction strategies are uncertain.  In addition, some types of measurements can generate concerns about possible disclosure obligations, for example in the context of real estate transactions for homes that have been tested.  The event brought together scientists, lawyers, regulators, activists, and study participants to explore these challenging questions and to identify key issues and make recommendations for future research.

The workshop, co-hosted by the Silent Spring Institute, Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Commonweal, was part of the Personal Exposure Report-back Ethics (PERE) Study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  Following the workshop, Dr. Margaret Kripke of the President’s Cancer Panel spoke at a public forum on Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now.

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