Drawing the Battle Lines: Tracing the "Science War" in the Construction of the Chloroform and Human Health Risks Debate
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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Chlorine Chemistry Council, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and others have been embroiled in a legal challenge concerning the US EPA's "reversal" regarding the scientific assessment of chloroform's carcinogenicity. This issue arose during the US EPA's November 1998 promulgation of a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for chloroform in the Stage 1 Final Rules for Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts in drinking water. In this paper we adopt a claimsmaking approach: to trace the development and outcome of the chloroform court challenge in the USA, to examine the construction of scientific knowledge claims concerning chloroform risk assessments, and to investigate how different interpretations of scientific uncertainties regarding the evidence are contested when such uncertainties are brought into a regulatory and judicial arena. This "science war" (Chlorine Chemistry Council and others v. US EPA and others) took place in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The scientific "authority" in the construction of scientific claims in this dispute is based on the International Life Sciences Institute expert panel report on chloroform. Examining these science wars is important because they signal critical shifts in science policy agendas. The regulatory outcome of the chloroform science war in the United States can have profound implications for the construction and acceptance of scientific claims regarding drinking water in other jurisdictions (e.g., Canada). In this challenge, we argue that the actors involved in the dispute constructed "boundaries" around accepted and credible scientific claims.
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