Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8793
Title: Preception of risk for domoic acid related health problems: A cross-cultural study
Author: Sparkle M. Roberts, Lynn M. Grattan, Alexandra M. Toben, Christina Ausherman, Vera L. Trainer, Kate Tracy, J. Glenn Morris
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Harmful Algae
Keywords: harmful algal bloom,public health,domoic acid,tribal environmental management

Risk perception is a complex process that refers to the way people approach, think about and interpret risks in their environment.  An important element of risk perception is that it is culturally situated.  Since HAB’s can present a health risk in many places around the world, looking at cultural parameters for understanding and interpreting risks are important.  This study examined how two different groups of people perceive the potential health risks of low level exposure to domoic acid (DA) through razor clam consumption. The risk perceptions of Washington State, USA coastal dwelling Native American nations (NA) were compared to that of a community sample of recreational razor clam harvesters (CRH).   Overall, the findings support the hypothesis that cultural and community specific contexts impact the perception of risk of a DA related illness.  Specifically, the NA  sample was distinguished by worrying more about ocean pollution, attributing DA risks to climate change, expressing concerns about the potential impact of DA on future generations, and feeling better informed than the CRH group.  The CRH group were more likely to attribute the DA problem to anthropogenic or industrial causes; and view the risk of health problems as lower than that associated with smoking, high cholesterol, anxiety or depression, alcoholism, high blood pressure or obesity.   The CRH group was also more likely to turn to the media for DA related information.  Both groups trust the decisions of state and tribe health and natural resources officials and demonstrated a complex pattern of findings that involved gender.  It was recommended that risk communication and outreach activities are designed to take into consideration factors that specifically apply to each cultural community.

Theme: Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Foci: Provide scientific support to ensure safe seafood for healthy populations and characterize how human activities and climate affect risks from pathogens, chemical contaminants and biotoxins