Social Issues and Public Communication
A lack of good risk communication and
understanding of the publicís perception and acceptance of risk
seem to be a major contributor to the fear about possible health
effects from mobile communications technology. Also important is the
publicís understanding of science.
of technology is not novel.† There has
been fear of detrimental health effects when telegraph wires, TV
sets, power transmission lines, aspartame, silicone breast implants,
and many others were first introduced. Also, EMFs are not perceptible
to our senses, adding to the publicís concern.
An obvious way to alleviate this fear
and anxiety about possible RF effects is to provide people with as
much information as possible (user education), provided such
information is well proven and provided by qualified experts and
organizations. Every effort must be made not to increase peoplesí
concerns. For example, discussing scientific uncertainty and
implementing precautionary measures may have a negative impact on the
public's perception of risk or its trust in policies and government
agencies if not done with care.
An important factor for public
acceptance of new technologies seems to be risk/benefit comparison,
which is not obvious. Of particular interest to mobile phone users,
industry and government is the fact that there have been few recent
studies on risks versus benefits for mobile communications, compared
to many other technologies that have a strong impact on society.
Despite the existence of an
overwhelming body of serious research demonstrating no confirmed
detrimental health effects from RF, with the exception of using a
mobile phone while driving, alarmist media reports have created a
public view that is out-of-step with the scientific evidence.
technologies have their share of risks. These must be counterbalanced
by a careful study of its benefits. Such is the case of automobiles,
airplanes, chemicals used in agriculture, food conservation, oil and
coal combustion, nuclear power, genetically modified foodstuffs, etc.
Society has recognized and accepted all of them, due to their extreme
usefulness provided the risks are managed by enforcing exposure
limits, making technological modifications, or similar measures to
reduce risks. Thus, there is a need for more studies focusing on the
social and economical benefits of mobile communication technologies.
This section covers the report on
social research and communication to the public, and addresses
several interrelated topics, such as risk perception, risk
acceptance and risk/benefit issues, social resistance to new
technologies, the understanding benefits: perceived and real impacts
of mobile communication on health, well-being and security of the
public, public understanding of science. public communication on EMF
and health issue,communicating about uncertainties in science.
applying and communicating the precautionary measures, evaluating the
quality of information to the public and ethical and professional
responsibility of the mass media.
Latin American references on public
communication and social research on EMF are scarce. Most of this
review was based on references from country reports in Europe, the
USA or other non-Latin American countries.
It is suggested there should be a
reference location for the Latin American region providing Internet
coverage of all relevant issues related to EMF and Health. It should
be located either in the appropriate government regulatory agency or
in a prestigious university or research institute.
Having many different rules only
creates confusion and mistrust of government. Every effort should be
made to harmonize standards at all levels (from national to state or
municipality level) adopting science-based standards recommended by
international bodies such as ICNIRP.
Download Social Issues and Public Communication (English, PDF format, 181 Kb)