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Mcdaniels T.,University of British Columbia | Mills T.,City of Vancouver and Compass Resource Management Ltd. | Gregory R.,Decision Research | Ohlson D.,Compass Resource Management Ltd.
Risk Analysis | Year: 2012

We develop and apply a judgment-based approach to selecting robust alternatives, which are defined here as reasonably likely to achieve objectives, over a range of uncertainties. The intent is to develop an approach that is more practical in terms of data and analysis requirements than current approaches, informed by the literature and experience with probability elicitation and judgmental forecasting. The context involves decisions about managing forest lands that have been severely affected by mountain pine beetles in British Columbia, a pest infestation that is climate-exacerbated. A forest management decision was developed as the basis for the context, objectives, and alternatives for land management actions, to frame and condition the judgments. A wide range of climate forecasts, taken to represent the 10-90% levels on cumulative distributions for future climate, were developed to condition judgments. An elicitation instrument was developed, tested, and revised to serve as the basis for eliciting probabilistic three-point distributions regarding the performance of selected alternatives, over a set of relevant objectives, in the short and long term. The elicitations were conducted in a workshop comprising 14 regional forest management specialists. We employed the concept of stochastic dominance to help identify robust alternatives. We used extensive sensitivity analysis to explore the patterns in the judgments, and also considered the preferred alternatives for each individual expert. The results show that two alternatives that are more flexible than the current policies are judged more likely to perform better than the current alternatives on average in terms of stochastic dominance. The results suggest judgmental approaches to robust decision making deserve greater attention and testing. © 2012 Society for Risk Analysis.

Beaudrie C.E.H.,University of British Columbia | Beaudrie C.E.H.,Compass Resource Management Ltd. | Satterfield T.,University of British Columbia | Kandlikar M.,University of British Columbia | Harthorn B.H.,University of California at Santa Barbara
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Engineered nanoscale materials (ENMs) present a difficult challenge for risk assessors and regulators. Continuing uncertainty about the potential risks of ENMs means that expert opinion will play an important role in the design of policies to minimize harmful implications while supporting innovation. This research aims to shed light on the views of 'nano experts' to understand which nanomaterials or applications are regarded as more risky than others, to characterize the differences in risk perceptions between expert groups, and to evaluate the factors that drive these perceptions. Our analysis draws from a web-survey (N = 404) of three groups of US and Canadian experts: nano-scientists and engineers, nano-environmental health and safety scientists, and regulatory scientists and decision-makers. Significant differences in risk perceptions were found across expert groups; differences found to be driven by underlying attitudes and perceptions characteristic of each group. Nano-scientists and engineers at the upstream end of the nanomaterial life cycle perceived the lowest levels of risk, while those who are responsible for assessing and regulating risks at the downstream end perceived the greatest risk. Perceived novelty of nanomaterial risks, differing preferences for regulation (i.e. the use of precaution versus voluntary or market-based approaches), and perceptions of the risk of technologies in general predicted variation in experts' judgments of nanotechnology risks. Our findings underscore the importance of involving a diverse selection of experts, particularly those with expertise at different stages along the nanomaterial lifecycle, during policy development. © 2014 Beaudrie et al.

Beaudrie C.E.H.,University of British Columbia | Beaudrie C.E.H.,Compass Resource Management Ltd | Kandlikar M.,University of British Columbia | Gregory R.,Decision Research Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Environment Systems and Decisions | Year: 2015

The responsible development of new nanomaterials and nano-enabled products requires that potential risks are understood and managed before harms occur. Although quantitative and predictive tools for anticipating human health and environmental risk are in early stages of development, there is a clear need for screening methodologies to inform decision making related to nanomaterial risk management in regulatory agencies and industry. This paper presents the results of a two-day workshop with nanotechnology experts aimed at developing a risk-screening framework for nanomaterials. Drawing upon expertise in nanotoxicology, human exposure, environmental fate and transport, and structured decision making, participants developed a decision support framework relating key nanomaterial physicochemical and product characteristics to important hazard and exposure indicators. Application of the preliminary nano-risk-screening tool (NRST) to several test cases illustrates the utility of the approach for both identifying nanomaterial characteristics that drive risks and for highlighting opportunities to redesign products to minimize risks. This framework for aiding risk managers’ decisions under uncertainty provides the foundation for the development of a transparent and adaptable screening tool that can inform the management of potential risks. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Powers C.M.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Grieger K.D.,Rti International | Beaudrie C.,Compass Resource Management Ltd | Hendren C.O.,Duke University | And 6 more authors.
Environment Systems and Decisions | Year: 2015

Individuals and organizations in the engineered nanomaterial (ENM) community have increasingly recognized two related but distinct concerns: (1) Discordant data due to differences in experimental design (e.g., material characteristics, experimental model, and exposure concentration) or reporting (e.g., dose metric and material characterization details), and (2) a lack of data to inform decisions about ENM environmental, health, and safety (EHS). As one way to help address these issues, this Commentary discusses the important role of “data dialogues” or structured discussions between ENM researchers in EHS fields (e.g., toxicology, exposure science, and industrial hygiene) and decision makers who use the data researchers’ collect. The importance of these structured discussions is examined here in the context of barriers, solutions, and incentives: barriers to developing research relevant for human and ecological risk assessments; potential solutions to overcome such barriers; and incentives to help implement these or other solutions. These barriers, solutions, and incentives were identified by a group of expert stakeholders and ENM community members at the December 2013 Society for Risk Analysis panel discussion on research needed to support decision making for multiwalled carbon nanotubes. Key topics discussed by experts and ENM community members include: (1) The value of researchers collaborating with EHS decision makers (e.g., risk analysts, product developers, and regulators) to design research that can inform ENM EHS-related decisions (e.g., occupational exposure limits and product safety determinations), (2) the importance of funding incentives for such collaborative research, (3) the need to improve mechanisms for data sharing within and between sectors (e.g., academia, government, and industry), and (4) the critical need to educate the “next generation” of nanotechnology researchers in EHS topics (e.g., risk assessment, risk management). In presenting these outcomes, this Commentary is not intended to conclude the conversation that took place in December 2013 but rather to support a broader dialogue that helps ensure important risk assessment questions are answered for ENMs. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA).

Liu S.,CSIRO | Liu S.,Cooperative Research Center for National Plant Biosecurity | Walshe T.,University of Melbourne | Long G.,Compass Resource Management Ltd. | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2012

In managing invasions and colonizations of non-native species, eradication or control efforts must proceed quickly. There are 2 challenges in taking such quick action. First, managers frequently have to choose among complex and often competing environmental, social, and economic objectives. Second, the effects are highly uncertain. We applied participatory structured decision making (SDM) to develop a response plan for the recent invasion of non-native myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii) in Australia. Structured decision making breaks a complex decision process into 5 steps: identify problems (i.e., decisions to be made), formulate objectives, develop management alternatives, estimate consequences of implementing those alternatives, and select preferred alternatives by evaluating trade-offs among alternatives. To determine the preferred mid- to long-term alternatives to managing the rust, we conducted 2 participatory workshops and 18 interviews with individuals to elicit stakeholders' key concerns and convert them into 5 objectives (minimize management cost, minimize economic cost to industry, minimize effects on natural ecosystems and landscape amenities, and minimize environmental effects associated with use of fungicide) and to identify the 5 management alternatives (full eradication, partial eradication, slow spread, live with it [i.e., major effort invested in mitigation of effects], and do nothing). We also developed decision trees to graphically represent the essence of the decision by displaying the relations between uncertainties and decision points. In the short term or before local expansion of myrtle rust, the do-nothing alternative was not preferred, but an eradication alternative was only recommended if the probability of eradication exceeded about 40%. After the expansion of myrtle rust, the slow-the-spread alternative was preferred regardless of which of the short-term management alternatives was selected at an earlier stage. The participatory SDM approach effectively resulted in informed and transparent response plans that incorporated multiple objectives in decision-making processes under high uncertainty. © 2012 Society for Conservation Biology.

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