Brown University

Contested Illnesses Research Group
Brown University , Providence RI

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Toxic Ignorance and the New Right-To-Know: The Implications of Biomonitoring for Regulatory Science

This project examines the regulatory, policy, industry, scientific, and legal implications of chemical biomonitoring research in the United States, due to its recent proliferation in the government, academic and environmental health advocacy arenas. We explore biomonitoring activities in four domains that are currently most active and that have strong relevance to chemicals and pollution regulation. These are national-level population surveillance, state-based biomonitoring programs, advocacy biomonitoring, and community-based studies that investigate local environmental problems. Our research relies on data generated by interviews, participant observations, media and document analysis, and will investigate the following themes: 1) the impacts of biomonitoring research on regulatory science and knowledge production in environmental health policy; 2) whether and how stakeholders (communities, industry, scientists, consumers, and environmental advocacy organizations) engage in debates about the potential and pitfalls of biomonitoring that may re-shape the landscape of regulatory decision-making and environmental policy; 3) whether and how industry has responded to biomonitoring evidence to change its production, through strategies such as product substitution and toxics use reduction; and 4) whether and how biomonitoring may be changing the evidence and standards of proof used in toxic tort cases.