The choice of decision framework used to set regulatory tolerance levels for hazardous substances can be divided into rigid and flexible tolerance levels. Rigid decision frameworks include zero or deminimis that fix risk levels for some subpopulation. and/or highly tolerances The accelerating identification of highly sensitive exposed individuals and the division of the population into ever smaller subpopulations at higher risk could prove to be tremendously burdensome on regulatory systems, particularly for rigid decision frameworks. Rigid tolerance levels, philosophically based on "rights" to zero or arbitrarily low excess risks for individuals, do not contain sufficient flexibility to account for small high-risk subpopulations. Furthermore, the equal protection for all such groups is an illusion, mainly because of the potentially large number of such subgroups and the relatively fixed regulatory resources. Thus, deminimis regulation is seen as a minimal but inadequate improvement over zero risk regulation. with improved measures of the heterogeneous demand for risk reduction by various high-risk subpopulations, augmented cost-benefit analyses leading to flexible tolEr2.nces could provide a richer analytic framework for more efficient regulatory decisions. Additionally, it may be useful to attempt to c2.tegorize hazards and subpopulations on the basis of the ability to self-protect.


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