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Assessment and management of post accidental situations. Radiation detriment, risk perception and risk communication

Objective


Progress achieved in risk perception
Studies in risk perception which constitute Task 1 can be conducted in various ways.
The main results from CFR and IPSN studies are quite similar: the worldviews so defined do not carry out very new elements to explain risk perception. Indeed their corresponding scales show low correlations with various aspects of risk perception (personal risk, general risk, safety demand, truthness). There is one exception for egalitarianism which correlates with personal risk. Two conclusions can be drawn. First, the cultural scales in the questionnaire used are too simple to account for the richness and complexity of culture. Second, work is needed to clarify the meaning and the content of culture, and also to precise what to keep of the content before any other tentative to relate risk perceptions to cultural factors is made.

A possibility is to favour the interaction between the individual and the risk situation, that is to study the process of opinion formation about one particular risk (in this research : radon exposure, X-ray diagnostic, food irradiation and radioactive waste). IFS chose this possibility when developing the concept of social representation. Based on discussions in focus groups (in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium), IFS identified six different representations which formed the background of risk evaluation by focus group members. The representations correspond to specific argumentation patterns used when considering a particular situation. They are as follows: traditional indifferent, individual distant, rational economic, intellectual civic, environmental apprehensive and progressive modern. The IFS study shows, that (i) an individual has not only one representation for all the situations he evaluates, but he takes one or an other depending on the situation, and (ii) the social image of a situation within a society may be derived from individual's representations.

Progress achieved in risk communication
CFR and IPSN studied in a conventional manner risk communication practices for each of the four radiation situations. IFS did differently and proposed for each situation a policy in accordance with its social representation, as illustrated in table 2. Communication policies are six, (1) neutral information - general education, (2) context information - local emphasis, (3) comparing information - involving decision, (4) feedback information - set up dialogue, (5) contrast information - achieving discourses, and (6) no information - shift strategy.

Concerning the indoor radon issue, people knowledge about radon effects are very different from one country to another, at a high level when extensive information campaigns were hold, at a low level otherwise. Individuals concerned with indoor radon are very few and one can say that almost all individuals show apathy and low motivation to improve their homes by reducing radon concentrations. Public health authorities by their policy of large information expected that people spontaneously would change their living environment. It failed. It seems now that a possible way, less ambitious, would be authorities regulating the more extreme cases and giving the reasons why to those concerned.

For X-ray diagnostic there are no large differences in perception between countries. The risk is not taken into account by people and risk control is let to the physicians. Communication with the public stands at a very low level and it consists in giving neutral information for general education purpose. Major communication effort are directed towards medical and dental practicians to make them aware of dosimetric data and quality insurance necessity.

Regarding food irradiation, the technology and the sale of irradiated food are not allowed in many countries (for instance Sweden and Germany) although scientific evidence of negative effects on health is missing. This fact makes the difference between countries. People living in countries where food irradiation has been banned have a better knowledge of the practice due to the controversial debates which took place at the ban period. In other countries where the practice is authorized, as France, very few people know what it is.

The waste issue constitutes in all countries a major problem for which information has no real influence upon individual's opinions and behaviours. Analysing risk communication in case-studies of the past, or discussing with experts in focus groups led to similar views. People are always very interested and they have an <> representation of the issue. As a consequence, individuals behave as citizens who demand communication at its highest level, which means participating to decisions.
RADIATION DETRIMENT, RISK PERCEPTION, AND RISK COMMUNICATION
THE PROJECT HAS TWO OBJECTIVES: (1) TO UNDERTAKE RESEARCH IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE UNDERSTANDING OF RADIATION RISK PERCEPTION IN RELATION TO RADIATION DETRIMENT; AND (2) TO EVALUATE CURRENT APPROACHES IN RISK COMMUNICATION AND TO DEVELOP APPROPRIATE STRATEGIES FOR RISK COMMUNICATION IN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (EC). IT INCLUDES FIVE TASKS.
TASK 1. REVIEW OF RISK PERCEPTION STUDIES. THE OBJECTIVES ARE: EVALUATION OF THE CONCEPTS OF RISK PERCEPTION; ASSESSING THEIR QUANTIFICATION IN VIEW OF IMPROVING RADIATION RISK COMMUNICATION. THE EXISTING RISK PERCEPTION STUDIES, AND THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE FACTORS INFLUECING PERCEPTION ESTABLISHED. SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS MAY CHANGE AFTER PARTICULAR EVENTS. CHANGEABILITY MUST BE APPRECIATED. CASE STUDIES, E.G. ON CHERNOBYL OR ON SELLAFIELD, COULD BE USED TO ENLIGHT THE POINT.
TASK 2. INVENTORY OF RISK COMMUNICATION APPROACHES. THE OBJECTIVES ARE: IDENTIFICATION OF CURRENT APPROACHES AT COMMISSION, NATIONAL AND REGIONAL LEVELS WITHIN THE EC; PAYING ATTENTION TO INFORMATION POLICY; INFORMATION NETWORKS: ACTORS, STRATEGIES, AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS. INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXISTING PROGRAMMES WILL BE COLLECTED, AND PARTICULARLY IN THE FIELD OF RADON AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE.
TASK 3. REVIEW OF EVALUATION STUDIES FOR RISK COMMUNICATION PROGRAMMES. THE OBJECTIVES ARE: REVIEW OF EVALUATION STUDIES ON RADIATION RISK COMMUNICATION AND PARTICULARLY IN THE FIELD OF RADON AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE; IDENTIFICATION OF KEY EVALUATION TECHNIQUES FOR COMMUNICATION IMPLEMENTED TO DATE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY (FOR EXAMPLE, IN SWEDEN, BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (US), INTER ALIA). OUTPUT OF THIS TASK IS DATA SOURCES AND INFORMATION FOR TASK 4 AND 5.
TASK 4. ASSESSING ORGANISATIONAL FACTORS INFLUECING SOCIAL LEARNING IN RADIATION PROTECTION. THE OBJECTIVE IS : ASSESSMENT AND APPRAISAL OF CURRENT LEARNING CAPABILITIES FOR ANTICIPATING AND RESPONDING TO PUBLIC AND WORKERS CONCERNS IN RELATION TO RADIATION PROTECTION. IT IS NEEDED AN INCLUSIVE VIEW OF WHAT CAN BE LEARNED (FACTS, SKILLS, VALUES, NORMS). WE CAN SET OUT TO DISCOVER WHICH ORGANISATIONS ARE INVOLVED IN WHICH ASPECTS OF THE RISK COMMUNICATION PROCESS.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA)
Address
Centre D'etudes De Fontenay-aux-roses
92265 Fontenay-aux-roses
France

Participants (2)

Handelshögskolan i Stockholm
Sweden
Address
13-17,Saltmatargatan
113 83 Stockholm
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH)
Germany
Address
Eilfschornsteinstraße 7
52062 Aachen