|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 229-236
Proposition on improving environmental forensic system in China
Huilei Wang1, Yuanfeng Wang2
1 Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory of Evidence Science, China University of Political Science and Law, 100088, Beijing, China
2 Ministry of Education, Key Laboratory of Evidence Science, China University of Political Science and Law, 100088, Beijing; "2011 Plan" China Collaborative Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization, Beijing, 100088; 3 School of Law, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430072, China
|Date of Web Publication||11-Jan-2018|
Dr. Yuanfeng Wang
Key Laboratory of Evidence Science, China University of Political Science and Law, 100088 Beijing. "2011 Plan" China Collaborative Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization, Beijing 100088
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
In the early period of China, economy developed rapidly at the cost of environment. Recently, it is generally recognized that the heavily polluted environment not only puts a brake on economic development but also paces negative impact on people' health as well as probably next decades of generations. Accordingly, the latest Environmental Protection Law revised in 2014 makes a clear-cut division of environmental responsibility and regulates stricter penalties of breaching law. As the new environmental law is enforced gradually, environmental forensic is increasingly required in the process of ascertaining facts in judicial proceedings of environmental cases. Based on the outcomes of documentary analysis for all environmental cases judged on the basis of new environmental law, it is concluded that there still exists problems in the present system of environmental forensic. Thus, this paper is aimed to make proposition on improving Chinese environmental forensic system, which involves: (i) promoting capability of EFS to handle professional questions; (ii) develop price mechanism; (iii) multidepartments cooperate to establish unifying and complete EFS system; and(iv) enhance the probative value of results of EFS. Such protocol for amending present regulation on environmental forensic is of significant importance because a quality report of environmental forensic will contribute to provide strong probative evidence of culprits' activity of releasing contaminant into environment, degree of damages for victims, and above all, causality between the behavior of public nuisance and damages.
Keywords: China, environmental cases, environmental forensic system, proposition
|How to cite this article:|
Wang H, Wang Y. Proposition on improving environmental forensic system in China. J Forensic Sci Med 2017;3:229-36
| Introduction|| |
At present, environmental protection is a vital issue in Chinese development. In the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the concept of “community of shared life” was enhanced for several times, which demonstrates environmental protection is highly focused as a long-term goal. Meanwhile, people increasingly recognize the importance of protection of their environmental right. In addition, through raising the amount of environmental cases, it is found that judicial method is an effective way to have polluters to bear liabilities of wrongly pollution behavior and help individuals protect their property right and life and health right. Since key elements in environmental cases are usually involved with professional knowledge, environmental forensics (EFS) is deemed as a useful method to address professional problems. Therefore, to some extent, development of EFS determines the quality of decision of environmental cases. In China, EFS is a new member in forensic sciences that still have a long way to become complete. This paper is aimed to introduce current situation of EFS, analyze main problems, and provide efficient regulatory solutions.
| Methodology|| |
Statistical analysis is primary method. This method is used to find cases to study in a scientific way. In addition, field investigation is another method applied to do research. The detailed process is demonstrated as follows.
First, a database of EFS needs to be established in a scientific way. On the website of ITSLAW, “EFS” is the keywords to select relevant cases, and the total amount of cases is 2886. What's more, all cases are downloaded and collected twenty cases as a file. Then, due to the limitation of human resources, 850 cases are selected from all cases in the method of choosing ten cases from each file. After cases to be studied are chosen, focus is put on selecting key information including kind of contamination, context of EFS, admission of result of EFS, reason for rejection of conclusion of environmental forensics, and fee of environmental forensics and other additional information. Then, key information in each case is collected in tables. Then, they are analyzed in a statistical way.
To conduct field research, two courts were investigated through interviewing judges. During the process, difficulties in applying EFS and problems in law and regulations were recorded, which is helpful to understand the results of statistical analysis.
| Introduction of Legal System of Environmental Protection and Environmental Forensics|| |
Laws and regulations on Environmental Protection in Chinese
From a global perspective, the industrial revolution improved productivity greatly but simultaneously results in an irreversible mistake, environment pollution. In 1900s, development of chemistry and petrol industry exasperated condition of environment. There is no exception for China. Since reform and opening-up policy was issued to spread benefits for people, pollution became prominent gradually. Then, on the basis of International Environmental Law, Chinese Environmental Protection Law was issued to protect the environment in a judicial way in 1989 for the first time.
As times passed by people are concerned about new problems such as heavy haze, frequent water pollution, and severe soil pollution, which indicates that existing environmental protection law failed to address negative outcome caused by rapid economic reform. At the same time, some environmental experts point that it is revising current environmental laws and regulations that are effective to curb pollution in a large scale as well as in the long term. What's more, the first version of Environmental Protection Law is unable to satisfy the need for diverse and multiple pollutions. Under such pressure and social conflict, the Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China revised and adopted at the 8th session of the Standing Committee of the Twelfth National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on April 24, 2014.
In general, there are three highlights in the version of Environmental Protection Law. (i) This law is basic and comprehensive among all related laws and regulations, which regulates fundamental principles and promote its strategic position in the process of developing economy. (ii) A new chapter, supervision and administration, is added to have government bear more responsibility to monitor and protect environment. On the one hand, the effective version provides specific rules on what and how to conduct on-site inspection on enterprises with illegal discharge of pollutants. On the other hand, governments at and above the county level account for local environment through developing suitable plans and make annual report to department at a higher hierarchy.(iii) Environmental monitoring rules are gradually established and improved which includes the establishment of monitoring site and data sharing mechanism [Table 1].
Laws and regulations of Chinese environmental forensics
[Table 2] illustrates all laws and regulations, which generally regulates four aspects including general rules, institutions, experts, and technical guidelines. Each of them will be illustrated separately.
General rules refer to legal documents that provide guidance on EFS development in long term.
In 2001, Supreme People's Court issued interim measures on the judicial authentications, which defined categories of forensic science, forensic principles, and procedural regulations. At that time, categories of Chinese forensics included medicolegal authentication, authentication of physical evidences, authentication of audio and visual materials, and other authentication matters.
Generally speaking, technical standards are important for conducting forensic science, and there is no exception for EFS. Especially when environment is deteriorating, they play a vital role in proving that polluters are responsible for contamination. What's more, legal standards as well as other relevant legal documents are essential parts in legal reports of EFS. Otherwise, the probative value of reports of EFS will be undermined due to lacking of specific standards.
In fact, setting about managing EFS started from 2011. Ministry of Environmental Protection issued vital opinions on the development of environmental forensics. First, this document clarified environmental forensics was meaningful for protecting environment, promoting economics transaction, and optimizing administrative management. Moreover, the document assigned long-term workload including improving of legislative progress, formulating technical standards, and setting expert-based team. Finally, based on these goals, periodical targets were set ranging from 2011 to 2020; specifically, at the end of 2020, relevant technical guidelines will be basically improved, and human and physical resources will be distributed reasonably among the whole country. Meanwhile, pilot program was carried out and recommended technical measurements (1st edition) were issued.
At the end of 2015, plan of reforming pilot program was issued. In addition to optimizing the development of expert group and capacity in EFS, it emphasized that procedure of EFS should be independent from irrelevant factors and that both procedure and content in report ought to be satisfied with the requirement of the legal procedures. Thus, legal EFS should not only satisfy substantive justice but also procedural justice.
At the end of 2015, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Environmental Protection jointly issued that EFS was officially categorized as the fourth kind of forensic science. The birth of EFS means that administrative management, judicial management, and improvement of technical measures, and so on shall be correspondingly scheduled.
In January 2017, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Public Security, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly issued a document on cooperation in environmental criminal cases and introduced the process of mutual assistance. If confronted with complicated cases, Ministry of Public Security can consult Ministry of Environmental Protection on professional questions and rely to inquiry in 7 days. Furthermore, Ministry of Environmental Protection can also ask Ministry of Public Security about what the legal procedure is when filling cases, holding, and preserving evidence. Therefore, an effective cooperative mechanism is established among departments, which contributes to efficiency of handling environmental criminal cases.
Institutions of environmental forensics
Up to now, Ministry of Environmental Protection has issued two sets of recommended institutions of environmental forensics in 2014 and 2016 separately.
In 2014, the Environmental Protection Law was revised, and the spirit of enforcing the most strict compensating system was becoming popular, environmental forensics was increasingly required to solve professional questions, which was viewed as a technical support in legal procedure. To cope with actual need, the first set of recommended institutions was issued. Moreover, Ministry of Environmental forensics stated clearly that these institutions were not compulsory, that is, to say judges and litigants can choose other institutions to conduct environmental forensics. With the rising amount of cases, the second set of recommended institutions was issued.
After environmental forensics legally become the fourth category of judicial examination, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Environmental Forensics jointly issued a document on regulating environmental forensics in December 2015. It set goals to generate experts to set assessment standards of legal and quality institutions. In addition to standards, judicial administration department should control the amount of qualified institutions in case of unhealthy competition.
In October 2016, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Environmental Protection jointly issued standards of qualified institutions of environmental forensics. Accordingly, capable institutions should apply or reply for being legal institutions or for changing scale of forensic science.
No matter for formulating technical standards and assessing applied institutions, experts act a vital role in guiding the development of environmental forensics.
Up till now, experts are legally classified into three categories. To begin with, commission of environmental forensics was established in July 2016. The commission is the core in the experts group, who bear vital responsibility including making plan, participating in making laws and regulations, and providing professional opinions. Moreover, the second category involves national experts and the third hierarchy involves local experts.
According to Measurements on Assessing and Registering experts, national experts are required to have more various ability than local experts. What is more, the research scale among experts in different hierarchy varies. Research fields of experts in commission include environment, forestry, agriculture, economics, and law. In comparison, the rest of experts are limited in environmental field including surface water, underground water, atmospheric environment, soil, and ecosystem. Furthermore, the responsibilities between experts in two hierarchies are diverse. Specifically, what is different is that members in commission are authorized to take part in legislating laws and administrative regulations.
General technique standards
Standard technical guidelines contribute to assisting expert witness to make stronger arguments of EFS and to regulate practice of EFS practitioners.
By far, there have been three effective general technique guidelines excluding industrial standards in various natural resource departments. In 2014, Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning issued recommended measurements on environmental forensics (2nd Edition). Two years later, Ministry of Environmental Protection issued general procedural guidelines and measurements on assessing eco-environmental damage. In detail, recommended measurements on EFS can be applied to identify physical injury, property damage, and eco-environmental damage. By contrast, the latest two documents can only be used in assessing eco-environmental damage.
These technical documents provide principles, relatively complete methods of measuring damage, and identifying causation. With more cases applying EFS and using measurements, the improved version measurements will be issued in the future.
| Results and Discussion|| |
General analysis of data
About 25 percentages of cases applying EFS
This research focuses on environmental civil cases from January 1 of 2015 to April 30 of 2017. With these two restricted conditions, 2886 cases' decisions are found online. Due to limitation of time and physical resources, 850 cases are collected randomly, which is representative enough to study the existing situation of EFS in China. Specifically, 214 cases apply EFS in civil proceeding, which is concluded that EFS has not been applied widely. On the one hand, low rate of application suggests that EFS has great opportunity to be widely used in the future.
Six common categories of contamination in practical EFS
In statistical analysis, pollution is traditionally classified into six categories involving water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, radiation pollution, and other. The following pie chart demonstrates the percentage that each category accounts for, which indicates that rate of EFS application apparently varies with different pollution. Apparently, cases related to water pollution apply EFS most frequently (48%). In comparison, noise pollution accounts for 19%. What's more, air pollution and soil pollution almost share the same percentage [Figure 1].
Furthermore, what should be noticed is that “other kind of category” accounts for 6% more than that of radiation pollution. Other kind of category refers to three kinds of samples of EFS, which are identification of human being injury, damage of plants and animals. In practice, testing physical damage is one of the functions of EFS, which overlaps the Chinese traditional forensic science and medicolegal authentication.
Diverse testing items to be examined in EFS
In Chinese civil procedure, Article 76 regulates that the parties of both sides and judges are allowed to employ qualified forensic science practitioners to address specialized issues in cases. In practice, specialized issues focus on three items including environmental quality monitoring, identification of damage, and causation. This consists of three elements of proving torts: pollution behavior, damage, and causation between them. In detail, environmental quality monitoring is used to test whether sample meets national or local standards and identify character of contaminants. Besides, identifying damages and damage includes assessing financial, physical, and eco-environmental damage and measuring contamination scope as well as degree of contamination. Identifying causation is applied in cases where causation is hard to be proved based on existed evidence.
Based on statistical analysis, it is found that rate of application for three testing items shows an apparent difference. To begin with, identification of damage generally is the most common item, whose amount (127) is more than that of causation (41) and environmental quality monitoring (48). On the one hand, identifying damage is twice needy than the other two items. On the other hand, existing professional techniques of identifying damage are more developed and applicable in practice. In comparison, relatively low rate of application implies that there is still technical difficulty in testing causation. This is because some of contaminants are formed in a long term and resulted from various chemical substances and some of chemical components have already degraded, which makes it difficult to identify whether polluters released from the defendants are the primary and direct reason for plaintiff's suffering. What's more, identification of damage becomes the most frequent item to be tested (67) in water pollution, which is almost four times more than causation (13) and environmental monitoring (15). Furthermore, water and air pollution is in the top two in causation and damage identification; noise pollution ranks in the second place. The reason for such phenomenon is that water and air are two necessities that have a close contact with human body. Thus, when they are contaminated, the scope of victims will be wide and the amount of lawsuits tends to be collective. In addition, noise pollution is increasingly standing out recently from chart. No matter which item to be examined, amount of noise pollution is just a little bit less than amount of water and air pollution cases. This consequence indicates that new environmental issue will gradually come along with improving public infrastructures and enriching physical life. For instance, citizens who live nearby roads are likely to suffer noise pollution.
In addition, there is a trend that one specific item is more frequently tested than the other two items in EFS as for some of six contaminations. For instance, in water pollution EFS, air pollution EFS, and soil pollution EFS, identifying damage is the most frequent item to be examined. In comparison, even though data of noise pollution do not show such trend, it has a relative average need for three common items [Figure 2].
Wide range of fee of EFS
In 2015, Standing Committee of the National People's Congress decided that pricing power of forensics science was delegated to provincial price authority. In this way, pricing mechanism become s apparent. Accordingly, national guidance price is published, and then provincial government adjust provincial price to national guidance price. However, as for the emerging and developing environmental forensics, price mechanism is not mature, not to mention guidance price.
In practice, different from other kinds of forensic science, EFS often spend more both human and physical resources on-site investigation, which leads to high cost. Based on results of case study, it is concluded that the fee of EFS ranges from CNY 64.7 to CNY 163,000 and the bar graph below illustrates the distribution of pricing. It is clear to see that most price of EFS is below CNY 5000 (59 cases) and price ranging from CNY 5000 to CNY 10,000 (15 cases) become the second most frequent [Figure 3].
In addition, it is worth noting that the amount of cases that spend over CNY 40,000 on EFS is 13. Specially, six cases are water pollution and four cases are noise pollution. This implies that there is great possibility that litigants spend over CNY 40,000 on EFS in water and noise pollution cases when they insist on conducting EFS instead of finding an alternative solution [Table 3].
Problems in existing EFS
EFS fails to become a main tool to address specialized issues
One of the features of environmental cases is that professional knowledge is involved. Procedure law legally provides a method to solve questions including forensic science and expert witness. In judicial practice, judges are likely to inquire specialists. Expert witnesses contribute to enhancing suit opposability, and inquiry of experts helps judges answer professional questions at a low cost. However, compared with EFS, both methods are lack of neutrality and procedural guarantee. As one of forensic science, EFS is regulated by procedural law and policy of forensic science, which ensures objectivity and scientificity of conclusions and legitimacy of procedure. As for the importance of EFS, some scholars view that underdevelopment of EFS to some extent imposes negative influence on the quality of environmental cases decision. Thus, it is theoretically essential for EFS to become a primary method of solving professional issues during proceedings. However, low rate of applying EFS indicates that EFS is inconsistent with the theory and not effective to address professional issue.
No price mechanism becomes a barrier. As an existing category of forensic science, this industry has not developed a mature pricing mechanism, and there is no regulation on price of testing items. Such disadvantage, for one thing, creates additional possibilities for institution of forensic science to charge high price casually. For the other, litigants sometimes fail to agree on the high price offered by EFS institutions, so they use alternative methods to solve problems such as employing expert witness. Therefore, unstable and wide-ranging price hinders litigants and judges to from applying EFS. In history, arbitrary charge was a common problem before uniform price of traditional forensic science was issued; “sky-high” price raised public concern. There is no exception for EFS without legal regulation. Hence, heavy financial burden of EFS discourages people from using EFS. Besides, due to lack of administrative management, unhealthy competition among institutions will lead to unordered market, which impedes long-term development.
Incomplete legal system
No matter what kind of forensic science is used, making laws and tests often trail practical needs. EFS is an integrative forensic science, which requires legal and technical knowledge of different contaminants. Since authority of managing natural resources are distributed into several departments including Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Land and Resources, and Ministry of Agriculture and each department has independent standards of damage identification as well as technical measurements, there is a dearth of comprehensive technical guidelines and regulations of cooperation among different apartments. What's worse, technical specification in each department varies and put a different focus on EFS and even mutually contradictory. Conclusions from different EFS institutions are different due to apply different assessing measurement, which makes judges hard to decide which one to use. Even though government has issued several vital legal documents such as technical guidelines for identification and assessment of eco-environmental damage (General program), and assessment method of EFS (2nd version) and so on, it is far from satisfying condition of a complete EFS system.
Moreover, practice exceeds what law regulates. As introduced previously, practical demand for EFS includes environmental quality monitoring, identification of damage, and causation. Based on Notice of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Environmental Protection on Regulating Identification and Assessment of Eco-Environmental Damage, range of EFS involves identify components of contaminant and environmental damage of soil, surface water, air, coastal ocean, coastal zone, ecosystem, noise, light, heat and electromagnetic radiation, and so on, which concludes that the main function of EFS in law is to test environmental damage and not include monitor environmental quality and identification of damage. Therefore, it is clear to find the discord between the principle and practice.
Blank of standards available for qualitative analysis
Recently, noise becomes a new source of pollution. Noise comes from everywhere such as streets, bridges, airports, factories, and even elevators. Confronted with such new pollution and new kind of environmental civil disputes, judges and EFS practitioners primarily encounter two difficulties. The first one is lacking of specific and operational regulations on standards, procedure, and compensation. The existing laws regulate rules on environmental damage in a general way, which is not specific enough to solve practical issues in EFS. The second one is that selection of standards to assess experimental results is uncertain when more than one rules exist. This results in the fact that EFS practitioners can only provide monitoring data instead of conclusion about whether sound environment is substandard or not. That is to say, it is technically achievable for quantitative analysis, but there is difficulty in qualitative analysis due to not knowing which standards to be applied. Finally, the probative value of results of EFS is undermined.
Twenty percent of ratio of inadmissibility of EFSin proceedings
In 214 cases investigated, one-fifth of report is excluded due to lack of legality of conducting EFS. The following table lists all reasons causing exclusion of EFS. It is found that primary reason is a lack of authenticity and illegal appointment by single party. Specifically, lack of authenticity is because conclusion of EFS does not consist with the standard of evidence and a dearth of basis and truth that support EFS conclusion. In addition, based on Article 76 in civil procedure, both parties can reach an agreement on which institution to conduct EFS. Namely, if only one party appoints an institution and get a report of EFS, the other party will refuse to accept that, as legal evidence, which results in exclusion of the previous report. Furthermore, there is no specific legal document on legal procedure issue, and lack of legal standard on selecting proper standard to give qualitative conclusion as mentioned previously. Moreover, damage usually appears after environment pollution happens for a long time, which makes it difficult to take sample timely, not to mention conduct EFS timely. Therefore, conclusion of EFS is meaningless to prove contaminant behavior.
Furthermore, [Table 4] discovers that EFS involving human health hardly can reach results. Legal scope of EFS does not include human health either. Therefore, victims are in a weak position in proving causation between physical damage and contamination during proceeding.
Proposition on solving problems
Promoting capability of EFS to handle professional questions
Conclusion of EFS is a powerful evidence to address specialized issues, but low rate of application illustrates it has not played an active role in solving problems. Judicial department and environmental protection department should take advantages of existing technique and skills to extend EFS test scope, make practical classification of EFS, improve integrality and completeness of techniques, and ultimately enhance the ability of EFS to solve specialized issues in environmental civil disputes.
In addition, as people increasingly explore natural resources, there is likelihood that environmental damage becomes deeper and wider. Accordingly, new demand for EFS will show up. Hence, judicial department and environmental protection department should use legislative means to enable EFS to adjust to the changing practical need for EFS, which keeps playing effective role in solving specialized questions.
Develop price mechanism
Pricing of forensic science is regulated by several legal documents such as Price law, Decision on the Administration of Forensic Identification and Evaluation (2015 Amendment). In addition to EFS, provincial government has already adjusted price of traditional three categories of forensic science to national guidance price, which basically solves the problem of arbitrary charge. As national government, National Development and Reform Commission and judicial department should join hand to set the right national guiding price as soon as possible. Then, provincial relevant departments are obliged to timely adjust price and establish local price mechanism in accordance with judicial resources distribution and practical need.
In addition, on the basis of principles in Notice on Further Strengthening Management on Pricing of Forensic Science, judicial reform commence s in the following aspects. First, judicial department cooperates with price department to push forward developing pricing list for forensic science. Second, pricing ought to be scientifically reasonable. Third, judicial departments strengthen administrative monitoring to charges in institutions.
Multidepartments cooperate to establish unifying and complete environmental forensics system
Establishing a scientific and complete system for EFS should commence in three aspects including basis standards, technical standards, and managerial standards.
To begin with, basic standards regulate terms, principles, and requirement on equipment of EFS should be unified among different departments. To be specific, common terms in EFS have been collected, and the next work should focus on unifying these terms in different natural resources system. Principles of EFS contribute the faculty in whole industry to chasing the same goal and improving integral level of EFS in different areas. Procedural requirement for EFS is necessary to regulate practitioners operation and make a report of EFS satisfy procedural requirement of evidence.
Moreover, technical standards ought to be systematic, operative, and standardized. To accomplish this goal, multiple departments should establish communicating and cooperating mechanism and make efforts to complete general guidelines on terms, which breaks barriers among government departments. For one thing, cooperative mechanism is helpful to solve complicated environmental cases. For the other, systematic and scientific standards solve confliction among several conclusions of EFS due to diversified standards. In addition, more testing items should be added to the existing to satisfy a practical need that makes EFS law and regulation insistent with principle. Particularly, there is a necessity to explore methods and standards of assessing causation between physical damage and pollution, for individual and group separately, and above all degrees of physical damage. In this way, health right of victims can be effectively protected.
Enhance the probative value of results of EFS
To become a piece of evidence, a forensic result ought to meet substantive and procedural requirement. Substantive requirements need lawmaker to focus on procedural policy of conducting EFS as well as measurement on timely taking samples and custody of samples. As for procedural requirements, in addition to repugnant to existing regulations on the result of forensics science, particular rules only existing in EFS should be regulated. For instance, the distribution of responsibility needs to be regulated when various experts and EFS practitioners resolve a complicated problem in one case.
What's more, cross-examination and expert witness are especially vital to examine whether forensic practitioners' practice match policy of conducting EFS under the current situation short of legal substantive and procedural requirement. In this way, not only does it contribute trial to be increasingly adversarial but also weaken fact finders reliance on results of EFS and reasonably make decision.
| Conclusion|| |
As environment pollution impact negative influence on people's life, more and more people protect their right in a legal way. Recently, EFS is increasingly considered as an effective tool to solve specialized issues in environmental civil cases. However, statistical analysis reflects there are various problems in existing situation of EFS. To make EFS more effective and helpful, it is suggested to establish unifying EFS system, make operative and scientific standards, complete pricing mechanism, unify technical standards in various departments, regulate substantive and procedural rules, and provide more access to cross-examining EFS practitioners and expert witnesses.
We are grateful for judges, Guangqian Luo and Ting Zhou and colleagues in courts, sharing valuable practical experience and professional views on issues. In addition, thank several students in China University of Political Science and Law for assisting data collection. Finally, I am thankful for support from my family all the time.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]