Wednesday, October 5, 2011

EMF recommendations specific for children?

EMF recommendations specific for children?

Christiane Pölzl ,

Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Ingolstaedter Landstraße 1, 85764 Oberschleißheim, Germany

When discussing health risks for children due to electromagnetic fields it is crucial to translate scientific knowledge both into adequate protection and precautionary measures for the general public and, more particularly into specific recommendations for children. It is often aimed at influencing health-related attitudes and behaviour by means of information about health affecting behaviour, health risk factors, and health promoting possibilities. Children have to be treated differently from adults in addressing their ability and willingness to modify behaviour and their competence to comprehend cognitively the sense of behavioural recommendations. Research has shown that adults can be motivated to adjust their own behaviour in order to protect their children or to be role models for their children. Hence one way to modify children's behaviour is to address the parents and care persons. Generally education in the family, the social environment and in peer groups, nursery school and at school plays an important role in forming and influencing individual behaviour. The age of the target group has also to be taken into consideration.

An important question is how to deal with scientific uncertainties when expressing EMF recommendations for children. Accentuating scientific uncertainties may under certain circumstances raise risk awareness. This can be an intended effect. But the expression of scientific uncertainties can also lead to unintended consequences in parent's behaviour or even senseless dealing with the respective EMF source.

The paper points out relevant aspects of risk communication regarding EMF and children and suggests how recommendations for children might be designed.

Article Outline
1. Introduction
2. Science in societal context
2.1. Factors influencing individual risk perception
2.2. Perception of the risks associated with non-ionising radiation by the general public
3. Communication of scientific uncertainties
4. Children are different from adults: a special challenge for risk communication
5. Risk communication and behavioural recommendations for children
5.1. Target group-specific communication pathways
5.2. Recommendations for risk communication referring to children
6. Tools required for good risk communication
7. Conclusion
Uncited reference

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