Advancing Alternative Analysis

Integration of Decision Science

Published in: Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 125, Issue 6 (June 2017). doi: 10.1289/EHP483

Posted on RAND.org on August 01, 2017

by Timothy F. Malloy, Virginia Zaunbrecher, Christina Batteate, Ann Blake, William F. Carroll, Charles Edward Corbett, Robert J. Lempert, Igor Linkov, Roger McFadden, Kelly D. Moran, Nancy K. Ostrom, Michelle Romero, Julie M. Schoenung, Thomas P. Seager, Peter Sinsheimer, Kristina A. Thayer

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Background

Decision analysis — a systematic approach to solving complex problems — offers tools and frameworks to support decision making that are increasingly being applied to environmental challenges. Alternatives analysis is a method used in regulation and product design to identify, compare, and evaluate the safety and viability of potential substitutes for hazardous chemicals.

Objectives

We assessed whether decision science may assist the alternatives analysis decision maker in comparing alternatives across a range of metrics.

Methods

A workshop was convened that included representatives from government, academia, business, and civil society and included experts in toxicology, decision science, alternatives assessment, engineering, and law and policy. Participants were divided into two groups and were prompted with targeted questions. Throughout the workshop, the groups periodically came together in plenary sessions to reflect on other groups' findings.

Results

We concluded that the further incorporation of decision science into alternatives analysis would advance the ability of companies and regulators to select alternatives to harmful ingredients and would also advance the science of decision analysis.

Conclusions

We advance four recommendations: a) engaging the systematic development and evaluation of decision approaches and tools; b) using case studies to advance the integration of decision analysis into alternatives analysis; c) supporting transdisciplinary research; and d) supporting education and outreach efforts.

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