Ethics and Environmental Health | Mini-Monograph
Objectivity and Ethics in Environmental Health Science
Steve Wing
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
During the past several decades, philosophers of science and scientists themselves have become
increasingly aware of the complex ways in which scientific knowledge is shaped by its social con-
text. This awareness has called into question traditional notions of objectivity. Working scientists 
need an understanding of their own practice that avoids the naïve myth that science can become
objective by avoiding social influences as well as the reductionist view that its content is determined
simply by economic interests. A nuanced perspective on this process can improve research ethics
and increase the capacity of science to contribute to equitable public policy, especially in areas such
as environmental and occupational health, which have direct implications for profits, regulation,
legal responsibility, and social justice. I discuss research into health effects of the 1979 accident at
Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, as an example of how scientific explana-
tions are shaped by social concepts, norms, and preconceptions. I describe how a scientific practice
that developed under the influence of medical and nuclear physics interacted with observations
made by exposed community members to affect research questions, the interpretation of evidence,
inferences about biological mechanisms in disease causation, and the use of evidence in litigation.
By considering the history and philosophy of their disciplines, practicing researchers can increase
the rigor, objectivity, and social responsibility of environmental health science. Keywords: cancer,
chance, dose reconstruction, environmental justice, epidemiology, ionizing radiation, research
ethics, significance testing, Three Mile Island. Environ Health Perspect 111:1809–1818 (2003).
doi:10.1289/ehp.6200 available via [Online 19 June 2003]
Cancer Incidence in the Vicinity of the Site of
a Former Nuclear Facility Located in Apollo, Pennsylvania
A report by:
Steve Wing
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Three Mile Island Unit 1:  Inspection Report 05000289/2019010


Peach Bottom GEIS Supports License 20 year License Extension

 Acceptance Review of LAR To Revise the Dose Consequence Analysis For A Loss Of Coolant Accident (EPID L-2020-LLA-0000)

ADAMS Accession No. ML20028F635

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Withdrawal of Order EA-12-051, “Order Modifying Licenses With Regard to Reliable Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation” (EPID L-2019-JLD-0019)

ADAMS Accession No. ML19318E476

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Withdrawal of Order EA-12-049, "Order Modifying Licenses with Regard to Requirements for Mitigation Strategies for Beyond Design Basis External Events" (EPID L-2019-JLD-0018)

ADAMS Accession No. ML19318E145

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Issuance of Amendment Nos. 274 and 256 to Revise Shutdown Margin Definition to Address Advanced Fuel (TSTF-535, Revision 0) (EPID L-2019-LLA-0154)

ADAMS Accession No. ML19336D064

DEP Newsroom
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

Deb Klenotic, DEP
Nate Wardle, DOH

Harrisburg, PA – Students at Dingman-Delaware Middle School in Pike County are helping to encourage Pennsylvanians to do a simple home test for radon in January, National Radon Action Month. This invisible, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. 
“Because of Pennsylvania’s geology, there are high radon levels in locations around the state, putting residents at risk of exposure,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Fortunately, it’s simple to determine the radon level in your home using an inexpensive test.”