Promoting the Precautionary Principle
Better safe than sorry.
San Francisco is at the forefront of the countrywide movement to adopt the Precautionary Principle to help reduce exposures to environmental toxins. The basic premise of the precautionary principle is that when an activity raises credible threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken to prevent further harm even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. The Bay Area Working Group [BAWG] for the precautionary principle is leading the effort to implement the principle in San Francisco, and HCOP is a member of that Group. The BAWG recently worked with the San Francisco Department of the Environment [SFE] to support the passage of legislation requiring that city agencies purchase non-toxic or the least toxic product available at a reasonable price. The legislation became effective on July 17, 2005. We are currently working with the SFE to begin implementing the ordinance. In addition, HCOP is now asking the School District to purchase these kinds of products for its use. We are also working with family and children service providers to help parents learn how to exercise the precautionary principle in their own homes and significantly reduce the toxins to which they and their children are exposed. See the discussions about our work discussed in the History of Our Successes [Family Support Network] and Making Public Facilities Healthy for Children sections of this site.
We cannot directly stop manufacturers from making products that are harmful to children, adults and the environment. But we can reduce the demand for these products by encouraging governments, businesses and consumers to purchase and use healthier effective alternatives already available at reasonable prices. Reduced sales can change manufacturers' behaviors.
Learn more about the Precautionary Principle through these websites as well as through the others we recommend in the "Helpful Links" section:
The Bay Area Working Group on the Precautionary Principle serves as a resource and catalyst that works locally, regionally, and beyond to promote the precautionary principle through education and outreach, public mobilization, grassroots participation, and policy reform. The BAWG website features information about the precautionary principle's implementation in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as fact sheets and how to take action in your community.
Rachel's Environment & Health News is an electronic newsletter that provides timely information on toxic substances and other environmental hazards. The newsletter covers many technical issues, such as the toxicity of dioxin, incinerator emissions, rising cancer rates, and the intricacies of risk assessment, but it is written in plain language that anyone can understand. Much of the information covered in Rachel's News never appears in the mainstream media and can only be found in medical and scientific journals that most people never see. Furthermore, Rachel's News tries to put environmental problems into a political context of money and power, so that people can see how all our problems - and all our local fights -- are connected. Rachel's News has several newsletters on the Precautionary Principle including one entitled, "Fourteen Reasons for Precaution," as well as a listing of a number of related articles and resources.
Rachel recently started publishing a newsletter dedicated to the implementation of the Precautionary Principle, called Rachel's Precaution Reporter. To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution Reporter
send a blank Email to one of these addresses:
Full HTML edition: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents edition: email@example.com
In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that you want to subscribe.
The Collaborative for Heath and the Environment's website features an article on the history, elements, and implementation of the Precautionary Principle.
The Breast Cancer Fund has a summary of the Bay Area Precautionary Principle efforts at http://www.breastcancerfund.org/pp_main.htm
The Science and Environmental Health Network has a section in their website devoted to the precautionary principle. The website features precautionary principle publications and essays as well as a list of frequently asked questions about the precautionary principle. http://www.sehn.org/precaution.html