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Risk Assessment

Risk Communication

Risk communicationHelpRisk communicationInteractive exchange of information about (health or environmental) risks among risk assessors, managers, news media, interested groups, and the general public. is the process of informing people about potential hazards to their person, property, or community. Scholars define risk communication as a science-based approach for communicating effectively in situations of high stress, high concern or controversy.

From the risk manager's perspective, the purpose of risk communication is to help residents of affected communities understand the processes of risk assessment and management, to form scientifically valid perceptions of the likely hazards, and to participate in making decisions about how risk should be managed. Risk communication tools are written, verbal, or visual statements containing information about risk.

They should put a particular risk in context, possibly add comparisons with other risks, include advice about risk reduction behavior, and encourage a dialogue between the sender and receiver of the message. The best risk communication occurs in contexts where the participants are informed, the process is fair, and the participants are free and able to solve whatever communication difficulties arise. Ideally, risk communication is a two-way conversation in which an agency or organization informs, and is informed by, affected community members.

Illustration showing the relationship between a human health risk assessment/ecological risk assessment and risk management and risk communication.

Below are links to a few risk communications tools used by EPA scientists to inform decisions makers:

Title Year
Area Contingency Planning (ACP) Handbook (v.2) 2018
3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities A Training, Testing, Taking Action Approach Revised Manual  2018
Collecting Additional Performance Data from States Would Help EPA Better Assess the Effectiveness of Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Programs  2018
Smart Data Infrastructure for Wet Weather Control and Decision Support  2018
EPA Needs a Comprehensive Vision and Strategy for Citizen Science that Aligns with Its Strategic Objectives on Public Participation  2018
Ecosystem Goods and Services Case Studies and Models Support Community Decision Making using the EnviroAtlas and Eco-Health Relationship Browser  2018
Guide to Purchasing Green Power  2018
Critical Source Area Identification and Bmp Selection: Supplement to Watershed Planning Handbook  2018
Methods Development for Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Water  2018
Earthquake Resilience Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities  2018
Quantifying the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy  2018
Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series Housing a Guide to Developing and Implement  2018
Guidance for Building Online Water Quality Monitoring Stations  2018
Examples of Groundwater Remediation at NPL Sites  2018
Connecting Water Utilities and Emergency Management Agencies  2018
Online Water Quality Monitoring in Distribution Systems for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems  2018
Information to Action: Strengthening EPA Citizen Science Partnerships for Environmental Protection  2018
NIEHS/EPA Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers Impact Report  2017
Wildfire Smoke and Health Risk Communication Workshop Report 2017
Exposure Assessment of Livestock Carcass Management Options During Natural Disasters  2017
Framework for Human Health Risk Assessment to Inform Decision Making  2014
Probabilistic Risk Assessment to Inform Decision Making: Frequently Asked Questions  2014
EPA External Review Draft Framework for Human Health Risk Assessment to Inform Decision Making   2012
Risk Communication in Action The Risk Communication Workbook  2007
Advice to EPA on Advancing the Science and Application of Ecological Risk Assessment in Environmental Decision Making A Report of the US EPA Science Advisory Board  2007
Risk Communication in Action The Tools of Message Mapping  2007
Paper on Tribal Issues Related to Tribal Traditional Lifeways, Risk Assessment, and Health and Well Being: Documenting What We’ve Heard  2006
Office Risk Assessment Principles & Practices - OSA Staff Paper  2004
Consideration In Risk Communication: A Digest Of Risk Communication As A Risk Management Tool  2002
Science Policy Council Handbook, Risk Characterization   2000
Lay Views on Uncertainty in Health Risk Assessment: A Report on Phase II Research  1996
Communicating Effectively about Risk Magnitudes: Bottom Line Conclusions and Recommendations for Practitioners 1994

Note: Also refer to the citizen guidance page for additional materials.

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