Science Inventory

RISK PERCEPTION AND DIFFUSION OF MERCURY RISK INFORMATION

Citation:

PETERSEN, D. RISK PERCEPTION AND DIFFUSION OF MERCURY RISK INFORMATION. Presented at Society of Risk Analysis Meeting, Orlando, FL, December 03 - 08, 2005.

Description:

The most recent NHANES data reveals that approximately 8% of American women have blood Mercury levels exceeding the EPA reference dose (a dose below which symptoms would be unlikely). The children of these women are at risk of neurological deficits (lower IQ scores) primarily because of the mother’s consumption of contaminated fish. In many areas of the country, populations of subsistence anglers have high prevalence of toxicity because of their extensive consumption of contaminated fish. Even health conscious high-end fish consumers who eat swordfish or other predatory fish several times a week are exhibiting symptoms of Mercury toxicity including paresthesias to the extremities. These health risks of Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicants (PBT) such as methyl-mercury are often underestimated because their amplification in the food chain results in toxicity, even though ambient levels of PBTs are within seemingly acceptable limits in the water itself. Two concerns have developed from this situation, (1) some of the affected groups have not been identified, and 2) means of effectively communicating the possible risk to the affected groups does not readily exist. Surveys reveal that people are generally aware that fish advisories exist, yet few have the necessary knowledge about which fish are potentially contaminated to make safer choices. To more closely understand how the public perceives and receives Mercury risk information, we analyzed patterns of Mercury-related keyword appearance in mass media, before and after several events. Temporal variations were observed in Monthly as well as day of week keyword appearance. Spatial variations were also noted between States following the release of National fish consumption advisories. These and other observed patterns can be used to make risk communication activities by local, State and National organizations more effective.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 12/03/2005
Record Last Revised: 05/02/2007
Record ID: 145171

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND SUPPORT DIVISION

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER BRANCH