From the Editors


  • Michael Greenberg,

  • Karen Lowrie

The first issue of Risk Analysis was published in March 1981. Now as we start 2011, we celebrate the journal's 30th anniversary with a special article to lead us into our fourth decade. In it, we spotlight the journal's first three editors, Robert Cumming, Curtis Travis, and Elizabeth Andersen. We interviewed each of these remarkable individuals and share with readers what they told us about their tenures as EIC and their goals for the journal. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed preparing it.

A letter from Wout Slob and a response from Roger Cooke open the issue. The exchange is regarding the estimation of the probalistic factors in risk assessments. This rest of this issue contains articles written by authors from nine nations representing rapidly emerging topics and others that have been with us for decades.

We begin with two that are terrorism related. Konstantinos Drakos, supported by the European Commission, explores the relationship between major terrorist events and stock market responses in countries where the events did not occur. Using data from 29 European nations for the years 2002 through 2005, he builds a model that first studies the direction of reaction and then the magnitude of reaction in those cases where prices declined. The author offers some intriguing explanations of the patterns.

A disease that could be used as a potential biological weapon is Q-fever, associated with Coxiella burnetii. From 1–2% of people with acute Q-fever die, some develop pneumonia and hepatitis. Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Sushil Bahadur Tamrakar, Anne Haluska, Charles Haas, and Timothy Bartrand fit dose-response models to experimental animal data and report that starting condition of the animals is a strong predictor of model fit.

Food-related risk issues have become a staple (no pun attended) of our journal. In this issue, for example, Yakov Ben-Haim, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, examines repeated observations of failure to identify a harmful agent. Using an info-gap approach, he examines how we can decide how confident to be in repeated null findings.

Salmonella is potentially a serious human hazard. Ilias Soumpasis and Francis Butler develop a model of the spread of S. Typhimurium in pig farms. They begin with different starting infection levels and use their model to predict diffusion of the risk, controlling for time of slaughter.

Fungal hazards are yet another food-related risk. In their article, M. C. Kandhai, C. J. H. Booij and H. J. Van der Fels-Klerx describe a Delphi-based expert judgment process to estimate the appearance of mycotoxin hazards related to Fusarium spp. in wheat supply chains.

There is growing concern and coverage in the popular media about children with food allergies that can be debilitating and even deadly. Nancy Fenton, Susan Elliot, and colleagues examine the risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction through the eyes of the food-allergic children and their parents in Ontario. Their objective is to better understand how the risk can be effectively managed in the school environment.

Several articles assess data quality and set out to model risks that have been with us for many decades. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of debilitating and fatal lung-associated mortality. Supported by Phillip Morris International, Tony Cox builds a computational model of COPD that assumes irreversible damage of lung tissue occurs associated with positive feedback loops and cascading changes. He notes that we need to focus on specific molecular mechanisms involved in these processes.

Monika Filipsson, Tomas Oberg, and Bo Bergback examine exposure metrics used in risk assessments. Working with data from the United States and Sweden, they show variations related to age and gender, and provide tables that show central tendencies and dispersions, ending with a call for periodic updating of exposure estimates.

Fault and event trees are common tools for following the likelihood of risky events through a series of stages. Rafaul Ferdous, Faisal Kahn, Paul Amyotte, and Brian Veitch discuss event dependency. Using liquified petroleum gas and a runaway reaction as illustrations, they apply fuzzy probabilities to the trees in order to estimate uncertainty.

Two articles focus on risk management. Ofer Zwikael and Mark Ahn asked 701 project mangers and their supervisors in seven industries in Israel, Japan, and New Zealand about perceived levels of project risk and project risk management practices. Noting variations by country and type of industry, the authors report that risk management planning increases the likelihood of project completion.

Howard Kunreuther has been a leader in exploring the use of insurance as a risk management tool. He, along with Haitao Yin and Alex Pfaff, examine the relationship between toxic releases and insurance within the U.S. underground storage tank program (popularly known as LUST). They find a consistent association between insurance and reduced toxic releases.

Simon Dietz and Alec Morgan provide a fascinating comparison of strategic policy reviews for the United Kingdom for radioactive waste management and climate change review. These two reviews were done in quite different ways and the authors discuss why these processes were so different.