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Late Lessons from Early Warnings: A retrospective look at learning about precaution

HEAL was pleased to co-host the first in a series of Partnership Calls by the US Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) focusing on recent EEA findings on Late Lessons from Early Warnings. Discussions started with how to learn from historical cases of environment and health disasters, followed by addressed case studies on hazardous chemicals.

Much of the discussion in Europe about when to regulate hazardous chemicals turn around the issues of when to take precautionary action, before there is enough certainty about forthcoming harms to qualify as preventive action.

Earlier this year the European Environmental Agency (EEA) released the second volume of Late Lessons from Early Warnings, which follows from the first publication released in 2001 where many of the case studies on environmental health hazards continue to be valid today.

During the CHE call David Gee, from the EEA, a leading expert on the precautionary principle, and initiator and co-author of both volumes, discussed the first volume of Late Lessons from Early Warnings with Michael Lerner, President of Commonweal.

Discussions developed on how to learn from historical cases of environmental and health disasters, and then addressed some of the case studies on hazardous chemicals (benzene, asbestos, PCBs, DES), finishing with the distilled twelve late lessons from the case studies.

Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Advisor on Chemicals and Chronic Disease Prevention at HEAL co-hosted the call and contributed to discussions with input on both volumes of Late Lessons.

For further information about the call and to listen to the recording click here

Originally posted on 10 May 2013

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