The vast majority of environmental science has focused on understanding and characterizing environmental and public health problems. Millions of dollars are invested annually in investigating issues ranging from the mechanism of action of a small number of toxic compounds and the fate and transport of substances in environmental media to the effects of contaminants on environmental resources and the technologies for measuring, monitoring, and managing those pollutants. While much of this work is important and valuable, the focus on problems is often at the expense of investigations that focus on solutions. To define problems without a comparable effort at finding solutions greatly diminishes the value of science.
An alternatives assessment approach offers several direct benefits for environmental policy, including focusing on solutions rather than problems, stimulating innovation and prevention, and reducing several risks simultaneously.
Click here for the Lowell Center's Alternatives Assessment framework.
- In 2005 the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute completed its Five Chemicals Alternatives Assessment Study
- In 2006 the Lowell Center published An Overview of Alternatives to
Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and
- Click here for additional examples of completed alternatives assessments.