Sociologist, IFRIS postdoctoral researcher
Contact : henri.boullier(at)parisdescartes.fr
Research interests: environmental health, risk, expertise, regulatory knowledge
Henri Boullier is a sociologist, he received his PhD from the Université Paris-Est. Since he joined Cermes3, he’s been working on a post-doc research entitled "Trading Rats for Maths. How Regulatory Science Tackles Toxic Ignorance with Alternative Methods and Economic Analysis". This project studies the efforts of scientists, chemical companies and agencies to ‘mathematize’ regulatory knowledge. In particular, it examines the dynamics of putting products on, or withdrawing them from, the market (industrial chemicals, drugs or plant protection products). The hypothesis of this project is that the shift to alternative toxicological methods, like QSAR models and read-across, and economic analysis, profoundly modifies the nature and hierarchy of regulatory knowledge produced in the assessment and control of chemicals.
His PhD thesis, which he presented in January 2016, analyzed the transformation of regulatory knowledge produced in the context of the European REACH regulation. Although the difficulties of controlling the most toxic chemicals have often been explained by information asymmetries and "toxic ignorance", the authorization procedure of REACH dramatically changes how chemicals are "banned". "Prohibiting through authorization" renders public authorities able to ban "substances" based on their hazards while some "uses" of these chemicals can be maintained on the market. This new approach profoundly modifies the relationship between regulators and firms, modifies the objects of regulation and transforms the ways in which regulatory knowledge for decision making is produced.