July 17, 1981

Carcinogen Regulation

Author Affiliations

From the Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1981;246(3):253-256. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320030045031

IN RECENT months, policy decisions have been made in the federal regulatory agencies that outline new programs for the identification of carcinogens with the aim of eliminating them, if possible, from our environment. While there can be no objection to this goal, it is true that once a political-public-policy process of such magnitude is mounted, it may be extremely difficult to change its course, even though evidence may become overwhelming that its cost may far outstrip any possible benefit.

News reports have claimed that 80% to 90% of all cancer may be due to environmental factors,1 and this has often been translated to mean the occupational environment. With this assertion in mind, the Council on Scientific Affairs, with the help of several expert consultants, has reviewed the basis for the progress of the federal carcinogen regulation initiative.

The earnest desire of the federal regulators to prevent as many cancers