Risk then can be defined as the probability or chance of harm occurring to cause injury, disease, environmental, social, or financial damage.

Risk = (probability of event occurring) x (impact of event occurring)

For example, if we say that your risk of being hit by a car is 1 in 10,000, that is the same as saying that the probability that you will be hit by a car is 1 in 10,000 (which can also be expressed as 0.01% or 0.0001).

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Not all risks have the same consequences and are not likely to occur at the same rate. Although the term “risk” is generally associated with negative outcomes, that is not always the case. An example of a risk with a possible positive or negative outcome is the risk you take when buying a lottery ticket. With a very small initial investment, you risk a gain or loss.


What constitutes an acceptable risk is a matter of judgment by an individual or a society. Some questions that should be asked when determining acceptable risk include the following:

· What are the benefits gained from use of the substance?

· Are there alternatives available?

· Will there be an economic impact?

· Will environmental quality be affected?

· Will use/exposure affect the public?

· Are there employment considerations?

· Will use/exposure affect natural resources?

· How will it affect public opinions?

· Are there any social impacts to be considered?


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