UCLA Sustainable Technology Policy Program Receives Grant for Alternatives Assessment

The Sustainable Technology Policy Program, an interdisciplinary project of UCLA School of Law and the UCLA School of Public Health, has received a research grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program to study safer alternatives to the use of lead in industrial and consumer products and processes. The grant, in the amount of $400,000, will fund the 2 ½ year study “Deploying Safer Alternatives through Public Health Law.” UCLA School of Law Professor Timothy Malloy and Dr. Peter Sinsheimer, of the UCLA School of Public Health, will lead the study. Dr. John Froines and Dr. Hilary Godwin of the School of Public Health are also participating in the study.

Despite the serious health effects of lead exposure and the existence of available and emerging alternatives, the pervasive use of lead continues. The project will use four case studies of different commercial or consumer uses of lead to examine what role the law can play in driving the substitution of toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. The research will have three phases:

  • In phase one, publicly available information will be used to generate a systematic assessment of the scope of lead use within the United States, and four cases will be selected for in-depth analysis;
  • In phase two, an alternatives assessment methodology will be developed and used to analyze each of the selected cases to identify any commercially available, safer alternatives;
  • In phase three, a conceptual model of the legal and socio-economic environment in which the businesses using lead make technology choices will be constructed; the model will be used to identify the legal, technical, economic and social barriers to the adoption of viable alternatives, and potential regulatory approaches to overcome or mitigate those barriers will be evaluated. 

The project will produce a comprehensive overview of lead use and exposure in the United States to provide policymakers and NGO’s with the information needed to prioritize their activities and resources. It will also identify available existing and emerging alternatives, and will provide policymakers with support in the development of regulations adopting an alternatives approach.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program, based at Temple University’s Center for Health, Law, Policy and Practice, funds legal analysis and research to learn about the health impacts of specific laws and regulations.

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