Confronting Chronic Pollution: A Socio-Legal Analysis of Risk and Precaution

Osgoode Hall Journal, Special Issue on Environmental Law, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2008

CLPE Research Paper No. 23/2008

57 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2008

See all articles by Dayna Nadine Scott

Dayna Nadine Scott

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: September 3, 2008


The central aim of this article is to demonstrate a socio-legal approach to risk and precaution using the example of chronic pollution. Drawing on ongoing empirical work with the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, which is tucked into Sarnia's "Chemical Valley," a secondary aim is to influence and shape how we understand the problem and confront the risks of chronic pollution. This article forwards the argument that the prevailing regulatory approach is incapable of capturing the essence of contemporary pollution harms, because those harms are increasingly linked to continuous, routine, low-dose exposures to contaminants that are within legally sanctioned limits. Community residents and advocates struggling against chronic pollution are increasingly identifying with the environmental justice movement and adopting its strategies of resistance, including its mantra of "precaution." These strategies of resistance have the potential to dramatically expose the impotence of the prevailing regulatory approach to chronic pollution.

Keywords: environmental justice, risk, pollution, precaution, socio-legal analysis

JEL Classification: K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Scott, Dayna Nadine, Confronting Chronic Pollution: A Socio-Legal Analysis of Risk and Precaution (September 3, 2008). CLPE Research Paper No. 23/2008; CLPE Research Paper No. 23/2008. Available at SSRN:

Dayna Nadine Scott (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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