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Scheer D.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Benighaus C.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Benighaus L.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Renn O.,The Interdisciplinary Center | And 3 more authors.
Risk Analysis

A major issue in all risk communication efforts is the distinction between the terms "risk" and "hazard." The potential to harm a target such as human health or the environment is normally defined as a hazard, whereas risk also encompasses the probability of exposure and the extent of damage. What can be observed again and again in risk communication processes are misunderstandings and communication gaps related to these crucial terms. We asked a sample of 53 experts from public authorities, business and industry, and environmental and consumer organizations in Germany to outline their understanding and use of these terms using both the methods of expert interviews and focus groups. The empirical study made clear that the terms risk and hazard are perceived and used very differently in risk communication depending on the perspective of the stakeholders. Several factors can be identified, such as responsibility for hazard avoidance, economic interest, or a watchdog role. Thus, communication gaps can be reduced to a four-fold problem matrix comprising a semantic, conceptual, strategic, and control problem. The empirical study made clear that risks and hazards are perceived very differently depending on the stakeholders' perspective. Their own worldviews played a major role in their specific use of the two terms hazards and risks in communication. © 2014 Society for Risk Analysis. Source

Bradley E.L.,UK Environment Agency | Castle L.,UK Environment Agency | Day J.S.,UK Environment Agency | Ebner I.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR | And 5 more authors.
Food Additives and Contaminants - Part A Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure and Risk Assessment

A variety of melaware articles were tested for the migration of melamine into the food simulant 3% w/v acetic acid as a benchmark, and into other food simulants, beverages and foods for comparison. The results indicate that the acidity of the food simulant plays a role in promoting migration, but not by as much as might have been anticipated, since 3% acetic acid gave migration values about double those obtained using water under the same time and temperature test conditions. In contrast, migration into the fatty food simulant olive oil was not detectable and at least 20-fold lower than with the aqueous food simulants. This was expected given the solubility properties of melamine and the characteristics of the melaware plastic. Migration levels into hot acidic beverages (apple juice, tomato juice, red-fruit tea and black coffee) were rather similar to the acetic acid simulant when the same time and temperature test conditions are used, e.g. 2 h at 70°C. However, migration levels into foods that were placed hot into melaware articles and then allowed to cool on standing were much lower (6-14 times lower) than if pre-heated food was placed into the articles and then maintained (artificially) at that high temperature in the same way that a controlled time-temperature test using simulants would be conducted. This very strong influence of time and especially temperature was manifest in the effects seen of microwave heating of food or beverage in the melaware articles. Here, despite the short duration of hot contact, migration levels were similar to simulants used for longer periods, e.g. 70°C for 2 h. This is rationalized in terms of the peak temperature achieved on microwave heating, which may exceed 70°C, counterbalancing the shorter time period held hot. There was also evidence that when using melaware utensils in boiling liquids, as for stovetop use of spatulas, the boiling action of circulating food/simulant can have an additional effect in promoting surface erosion, increasing the plastic decomposition and so elevating the melamine release. © 2010 Taylor & Francis. Source

Hahn A.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR | Michalak H.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR | Begemann K.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR | Meyer H.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR | Burger R.,The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health

German physicians are obligated (Para 16e Chemicals Law) to submit essential data on poisonings to the Centre for Documentation and Assessment of Poisonings at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstituts für Risikobewertung, BfR). In addition, German poison centres are subjected to compulsory reporting of their findings of general importance gained in the context of their activities. The BfR assessment of poisonings has important significance for human case data collection, risk identification, and German toxicological monitoring. Using more than 60,000 reports on cases of poisoning, the BfR developed a structured expert judgement trial for poisonings. This judgement is based on a three-level model, accompanied by two different matrix procedures for an enhanced and more exact assessment of the exposures and the causality between health impairment and exposure. Particularly for low-dose exposures, human biomonitoring data is extremely valuable for the assessment process. Especially in chronic low-dose level exposures, the scientific assessment of related health impairments is often not possible without existing human biomonitoring data. For the future improvement of public health related to poisonings, ingestions by children, workplace chemical exposures, and incidents, we have to establish a nation-wide programme for monitoring human exposures which keeps pace with the progressive production of new chemicals. This must be done in close co-operation with physicians, poison centres, government safety organisations, and environmental health specialists and must be based on proven expert judgement tools and available human biomonitoring data. © 2012. Source

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