Technological or man-made disasters are a growth industry. Widely publicized industrial disasters like those in Bhopal and Chernobyl are only the tip of the iceberg of human and environmental risk from technological development. Other less well publicized disasters, including the contamination of food, water and air, have affected millions of people. The 'slow' technological disasters - like air pollution, pesticides, radiation, lead, asbestos and other industrial hazards - also compromise human intellectual, behavioural and physical development. Although it can be argued that there are hazards attached to virtually every industrial activity and that it is almost impossible to remove completely the risk of technological disasters, it is possible to reduce this risk by decentralizing or deconcentrating knowledge on technological processes. Global recommendations may provide a framework for priority action, but they are obviously not applicable everywhere with the same intensity. A measurement-based approach is described that is beginning to have an effect in several developing countries.