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PERCEPTION OF MERCURY RISK INFORMATION
Petersen*, D. PERCEPTION OF MERCURY RISK INFORMATION. Presented at Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Portland, OR, November 14 - 18, 2004.
To inform the public.
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, certain populations of subsistence fishermen are at even higher risk for toxicity because of their very high consumption of contaminated fish. Even affluent health conscious high-end fish consumers that eat swordfish or Sea Bass 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 these 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. We have conducted a series of focus groups throughout the United States and have identified the primary issues surrounding how fish consumers perceive the risks. The primary factors and the regional differences can be used to make Mercury risk communication messages more effective.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND SUPPORT DIVISION
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER BRANCH