Despite the predictable nature of many threats to public health, safety, and security, governments around the world struggle to find a successful systematic response to these dangers. In fact, lawmakers often respond in a knee-jerk, emotional fashion that all but ensures that the most effective means of protecting the public from harm are ignored. Frequently, policy responses address only a primary danger, leaving us still vulnerable to an even greater secondary danger. Although cost-benefit analysis is not perfect, it carries some clear advantages to other responses such as the increasingly popular precautionary principle. This paper uses the example of lead poisoning to examine the question of why regulators struggle to accept cost-benefit analysis, and opt instead for inferior alternatives based on irrational, and sometimes unfounded, public fears.