From the Editors


  • Michael Greenberg,

  • Karen Lowrie

First in this issue, we acknowledge all of the individuals who completed a review for the journal in 2012. Without this critical voluntary service, we could not publish the journal, and our reviewers consistently deliver high-quality reviews that assist both our editors and our authors to improve the quality of papers. Our highest gratitude goes to all reviewers.

The risk analysis community is saddened by the passing of Jim Flynn, who contributed so much to our understanding of the relationship between risk perception, preferences, and stigma. Please see the tribute to Jim written by Paul Slovic in this issue.

The articles in our February issue begin with two “Perspectives.” Flooding has been a particularly salient hazard for parts of the country in recent years. Wesley Highfield, Sarah Norman, and Samuel Brody challenge the utility of the 100-year floodplain as a flood risk marker. Drawing on data, especially from parts of Texas that have been repeatedly inundated, the authors demonstrate the limitation of the 100-year floodplain as a risk marker, and they assert that relying on it places people, business, and planners at risk.

In another “Perspective” article, Ragnar Lofstedt uses acrylamide, bisphenol A, and artificial food colorings to illustrate the challenge of trying to ground government policy in risk science rather than risk perception. His thoughtful recommendations include educating officials, working with neutral partiesk, and building communication skills within food regulation agencies.

Three research papers in this issue are primarily about food-related risks. First, G. C. Barker and N. Gomez-Tome, supported by the European Union, present a Bayesian model that quantifies risks arising from Staphylococcus aureus in milk sold as pasteurized in the United Kingdom. The authors conclude that the pasteurized milk in the United Kingdom is safe. However, small-scale farm processing is a possible concern, and they offer suggestions to further reduce risk. Second, Hojin Moon and colleagues use multiple models to estimate lower confidence limits for an infectious dose of microbial pathogens. Their approach separates model uncertainty and data uncertainty. The approach, as well as the results, should be useful. In the third food-related study, Hanan Smadi and Jan Sargeant revisit a topic that has appeared in this journal on multiple occasions: human salmonellosis. In this case the location is Canada, and the authors are examining risk associated with broiler chickens from retail sale to consumption. The authors observe that hygienic practices in private kitchens, such as cross-contamination due to not washing cutting boards (or utensils) and hands after handling raw meat, along with inadequate cooking, substantially increase the risk of human salmonellosis.

Measuring preference for nuclear energy has become another standard subject in the journal. Judith de Groot, Linda Steg, and Wouter Poortinga study the intersection of values, perception of risks and benefits, and the acceptability of nuclear power. Very interesting data are presented to measure altruism, egotistic, and environmental values. The number of risks and benefits articulated by respondents were found to be predictive. Vivianne Visschers and Michael Siegrist conducted a longitudinal survey before and after the Fukushima events in March 2011. Their survey shows the public's efforts to balance perception of benefits and risks, and the importance of trust. Overall, their work underscores the importance of longitudinal studies and use of a consistent protocol in research design.

Two articles focus on decision theory. Terje Aven compares the Funtowicz and Ravetz model for classifying problem-solving strategies with newer approaches developed in risk analysis. Aven draws out insights about the outcomes, consequences, and uncertainty uncovered by these approaches. Vicki Bier and Shi-Woei Lin pose the question: Should risk-informed regulation rely on decision theory tools or game theory? They carefully present the cases for both, and yet their focus is on the advantages of using game theory.

We have become one of the key journals publishing about all aspects of terrorism risk. Gulbanu Kaptan, Shoshana Shiloh, and Dilek Onkal sampled university students in Turkey and Israel to assess student reactions to potential terrorist attacks. The authors conclude that Turkish participants were significantly more emotional about terror risks than their Israeli counterparts. Both groups demonstrate an optimistic bias about their personal exposure to an attack. The authors emphasize the role of values in perceptions of these risks.

Finally, there are two articles in this issue that try to enlarge the boundaries of risk assessment by combining data sets and tools. Domino effects often substantially increase the impacts of events. Nima Khakzad et al. use Bayesian networks to model domino effect patterns and estimate domino effect probabilities. Their approach estimates uncertainties, and they test it with a hypothetical example and case study. Jaana Sorvari, Eija Schultz, and Jari Haimi use the TRIAD method, which uses multiple data sets and methods to estimate ecological risks. More specifically, they focus on contaminated industrial landfill sites in Finland, and demonstrate a combination of TRIAD procedure, multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA), and statistical Monte Carlo analysis for assessing the risks to ecological systems in a former landfill site contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) and metals. The authors summarize the strengths and weaknesses of their approach.