Hormesis and toxic torts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Policy implementation of hormesis has to date focused on regulatory applications. Toxic-tort litigation may provide an alternative policy venue for real-world applications of hormesis. Businesses and government entities, who are sued by individuals claiming to have been injured by exposure to very low levels of toxic substances may defend those cases by deploying hormesis to argue that such exposures were unlikely to be harmful. The threshold issue in using hormesis in toxic-tort defense is whether such evidence will be admissible under applicable standards for scientific evidence, which will likely turn on whether hormesis is deemed to be 'generally accepted' in the relevant scientific community. Given the relatively novel status of hormesis, its admissibility will likely be a close call, but is likely to be held admissible in favorable circumstances. If admissible, hormesis is likely to receive a fairer and more even-handed consideration than in regulatory decisions, where regulatory agencies are bound by policy-based default assumptions that limit their receptivity to new concepts such as hormesis. The perception of hormesis by juries will likely be the critical factor for determining the utility of hormesis in toxic-tort litigation, and this perception is likely to be affected by the presentation and circumstances in the individual case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

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Keywords

  • Dose-response
  • Hormesis
  • Litigation
  • Scientific evidence
  • Toxic tort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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