Quiz 19: Water Pollution


Many occupations involve risks such as an exposure to toxic substance. It, then, becomes the responsibility of the employer to reduce that risk. If, instead, the employer is removing the susceptible employee from the job, it is not only unethical but also unproductive. The appropriate solution to these problems is to minimize the risk to an acceptable level. The judgement given by the Court in this regard seems quite apposite. There is an appropriate role for the government in the cases where wages are reflecting the risk posed by the health hazard affecting the job. Banning the employee is unethical and unfair on moral grounds and unproductive on the economic grounds. Information on the dangers posed by the exposure is a public good to each employee and everyone seems to be free riding. Hence neither the employer nor the employee will be expected to deliver an efficient amount of information.

It has been stated that over the last several decades in product liability law, the court system has moved from a caveat emptor ("buyer beware") to caveat venditor ("seller beware") doctrine. In other words, the liability for using and consuming risky products has been shifted from buyers to sellers. This shift in liability for using and consuming risky products from buyers to sellers represents a movement towards an efficient allocation of risk because seller knows better about the product and thus has greater knowledge with regards to risk associated with use and consumption of product. If seller would be deemed liable for any adverse happening with regard to usage and consumption of any product supplied or sold by him then in that case he would be extra careful in designing the product and also strengthens the quality control process as well. These steps will definitely reduce the risk associated with usage and consumption of product and lesser the risk associated with usage and consumption of risky products, efficient would be the allocation of risk.

Export of hazardous materials, perhaps waste to the poor/developing nations by advanced nations has been found to be unethical and uneconomical for the former. Though, it is argued that an appropriate compensation is made by the dumping nations for such discharge. Yet, the communities receiving this waste were poorly informed about the risks associated and were not equipped properly for handling them. The central argument is related to the dumping of e-waste that is disassembled in the developing countries. The concern is the recovery process that can be dangerous to the health of those who disassemble the waste. Accordingly, the convention on this disposal mechanism in 1989 prohibited any OECD member country to export toxic waste to any non-OECD country. A bill, yet to be passed, will ban all exports of electronic waste from Country U.