Risk Communication in the Field of Radiation
Regulatory Science Research Program, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 263-8555, Japan
The handling of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant (FNPP) operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company further underscores the importance of clear risk communication. The quality of risk communication during this crisis and in its aftermath was evaluated, however, as unsatisfactory by the government, the massmedia, and experts to date. Risk communication problems are divided into those derived from risk and those derived from communication. A lack of skill in communicating the risks involved was major point raised concerning the present situation, but we also face difficulty in informing the general public of radiation risks due to insufficient communication about these risks, a lack of education about radiation before the accident, the uncertainty of risks assessed as due to low-dose radiation, and confusion regarding knowledge about radiation effects and policy for protecting ourselves from radiation. These problems are specific to radiation and cannot be solved by communication skills alone. In this paper, I summarize concepts of radiation protection, low-dose radiation risk assessment, and the Japanese population’s recognition of radiation related to actual and potential risk communication problems about radiation. I will also briefly examine the actual problems of crisis, care, and consensus communication in response to the FNPP accident. These are categorized as either radiation-specific or general problems to discuss the elements needed to solve risk communication problems problems.
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