How can specific information needs of stakeholders regarding potential health risks from chemicals be identified?

H. Kubota, M. Kosugi, T. Tsuchiya

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this study was to clarify the specific information needs of target laypeople to facilitate their understanding and decision-making regarding potential health risks. Through case studies of chemical substances, we tried to determine practical implications for the utility industry (specifically, electric power utilities), which provides information to the public. We applied the "Mental Models Approach" to identify the information needs of stakeholders regarding the health risks of benzene, a volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogen. We tried to investigate whether a representative toxic substance can be used to extract fundamental information on the health risks related to corridor management. We created expert and non-expert mental models for the health risks of benzene. The feature unique to the non-expert mental model was that the knowledge structure was not specific to benzene itself but rather generalized for the inhalation exposure risks of all VOCs. This reflected the commonly held notion that "all chemical substances accumulate in the body and cause adverse effects". The results suggest that it was essential to focus on and provide information particularly on chemical dynamics in the environment and the body that the public often lacks. In order to reduce the total health risk associated with inhalation exposure to hazardous substances, preparing adequate information on specific countermeasures related to everyday life is expected to effectively assist decision making. For the electric power utilities and the chemical industry, these findings suggest that it is important and effective to ensure accountability to stakeholders. This includes areas such as the environment and health risk management associated with the use of agricultural chemicals, the emission of gases from biomass fuel combustion, and the disposal and recycling of waste. The results of this study on the health risks of inhalation exposure are particularly relevant for these industries. Targeted basic scientific information provides a good foundation for corporate social responsibility and stakeholder engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes
Event43rd International Conference on Large High Voltage Electric Systems 2010, CIGRE 2010 - Paris, France
Duration: 2010 Aug 222010 Aug 27

Other

Other43rd International Conference on Large High Voltage Electric Systems 2010, CIGRE 2010
CountryFrance
CityParis
Period10/8/2210/8/27

Keywords

  • Chemical health risk
  • Decision-making
  • Mental model
  • Risk message
  • Volatile organic compound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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