Perceptions of Mercury Risk and Its Management
Anthropogenic activities, such as coal burning for electricity generation, release mercury (Hg), a toxic, bioaccumulative pollutant with potential health impacts primarily borne by specific population groups such as women of child-bearing age and subsistence fishers. Current Hg risk communication efforts and much of the extant research on Hg risk perceptions focus on these groups most at-risk. Little is known about the perceptions of Hg risk among the general public, although their support is required for implementing Hg emissions mitigation policies. We report results from two surveys-one a U.S. nationally representative Internet survey and the other a mail survey of New England residents-on a range of perceptions of the general population regarding Hg risk and its management. Our analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from the surveys point toward some gaps in public understanding of Hg risk, on aspects such as sources of mercury release, agencies responsible for mercury information, and products that contain mercury. Our results suggest that agencies responsible for providing Hg information should go beyond fish advisories and enhance their efforts at wider dissemination of information on Hg risk and its management. © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Turaga, RMR; Howarth, RB; Borsuk, ME
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