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Negative communication effects in a lead contaminated mining area in southeastern Brazil
Gabriela M. Di Giulio, Newton M. Pereira and Bernardino R. Figueiredo - University of Campinas (Brazil) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Scientists and professionals who deal with environmental and public health issues recognize the importance of displaying the results of their research projects to the local population in an appropriate form, especially when they indicate risk situations. This process is known as risk communication and includes strategies to facilitate understanding of relevant data and their implications by the public. One important benefit of that strategy is promoting public involvement in decision processes to solve or attenuate risk situations.
In this context, risk communication has intensely been discussed in many countries where participation of the community in the risk management process was achieved as a consequence of correct information. Unfortunately, this subject has not been debated in Brazil, as it should be. On account of this, environmental and public health researchers continue to face difficulties to establish an appropriate dialogue with local communities.
The present study focuses on the actions adopted by scientists from the University of Campinas for disseminating their results on lead contamination and human exposure in the mining district of Adrian—polis, southeastern Brazil. At the first moment, several families received the assistance of health authorities and some environmental intervention actions were planed for the area. Notwithstanding, due to the media sensationalism about the case and the lack of efficient communication, Adrian—polis residents have suffered stigmatization for their health problems and this negative effect has been a determinant factor to become some of them unwilling to cooperate in future research. (On going research financially supported by FAPESP Grant 05/52239-0).