John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


From science to decision-making for environmental health Volume 19, issue 3, May-June 2020

Université de Lorraine
1, rue Grandville
F54000 Nancy
2 Médecin retraitée
Présidente de la Société francophone de santé environnement
4, rue M. A. Lagroua Weill Hallé
75205 Paris cedex 13
3 Faculté de pharmacie
Université Paris-Saclay - UMR 8079 CNRS-AgroParisTech
5, rue Jean Baptiste Clément
92290 Chatenay-Malabry
* Tirés à part

According to Jarrosson [1], there are generally four stages in decision-making: “Warning: A signal is given that leads to behavioral changes. Instruction: Before deciding, it is important to gather all the available information on the subject. This information may be based on past or current experience. The expert is a person who has accumulated more experience and information in one field than others. This person may speed up the investigation but, having more experience of the subject, may also draw upon some opinions or even beliefs to which the decision-maker may or may not choose to adhere. The act of deciding: This results from the convergence between possibility and will. Possibility carries a risk of a lack of assessment, and will is subjective, although most often constrained by circumstances. Action: This can, and most often is, decided by the political or industrial decision-maker. It will be assessed secondarily, and the correctness of a decision can then be judged.” This decision-making process is now criticized because scientists and/or “experts”, as well as decision-makers, have difficulty convincing people of (or even defining) their respective roles and places in a world undergoing profound change. In many cases, however, factual and objective data exist, effectively justifying decisions taken to protect health, but the chain of transmission, understanding, or integration of the decision-making mechanism is not effective, and doubt, even refusal, takes hold. This essay seeks to show why and how to improve the effectiveness, and even the speed, of environmental health decision-making.