A review of legal and policy issues in legislating compensation for victims of toxic substance pollution.

Abstract

Despite the actual and potential effects of toxic substance pollution upon human health, the United States Congress has never enacted a comprehensive victim compensation system. The approach of the Congress, to date, has been limited by a concern about legislating on a topic fraught with scientific uncertainty--the actual causation of injury or death by toxic substance pollution. Individuals who believe they have been injured by toxic substances often bring their claims in state courts, where they face the difficult task of proving causation. Industry is principally concerned with the high cost of a compensation system, not the public health issue of scientific causation. From a policy standpoint, legislation is needed that produces information and standards on causation which assist both victims and industry. Congress has the opportunity to craft legislation that will deal rationally with an epic problem. To do so, however, the Congress must recognize scientific uncertainty as an omnipresent element of causation in cases of toxic substance pollution. This starting point, a comprehensive system of compensating victims of toxic substance pollution, can be drafted to address the values of data collection, data interpretation, prevention, conservation of economic resources, and fairness.

Cite this paper

@article{Soble1988ARO, title={A review of legal and policy issues in legislating compensation for victims of toxic substance pollution.}, author={S M Soble and James H Brennan}, journal={Social science & medicine}, year={1988}, volume={27 10}, pages={1061-70} }