Citizens’ Perception and Concerns on Chemical Exposures and Human Biomonitoring-Results from a Harmonized Qualitative Study in Seven European Countries

2022-05-25

Exposure to different chemicals is an inevitable part of our everyday lives. Within HBM4EU, focus group discussions were conducted to gather data on citizens’ perceptions of chemical exposure and human biomonitoring. These discussions were hosted in Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, and North Macedonia following a protocol developed in the first round of discussions. Results indicate the very high concern of European citizens regarding food safety and the environment. Focus group participants were well aware of potential uptake of chemicals through food consumption (e.g., preservatives, flavor enhancers, coloring agents, pesticides, fertilizers, metals), drinking water, or from polluted air and water. One of the positive aspects identified here, is the high interest of citizens in awareness and education on personal measures to control exposure. The promotion of personal behavioral changes requires active involvement of society (e.g., commuting habits, energy choices, waste disposal, dietary habits). Activities should focus on raising awareness of the general public, implementation of policy measures, and mainstreaming of related topics into the education system. Raising awareness of the general public may promote engagement of citizens, which in turn may empower them to put pressure on politicians to take effective actions. There is also a need for further research which might focus on the impact of country-specific situations and of the COVID-19 pandemic on the exposure of citizens to chemicals.

Authors: Linda Matisāne, Lisbeth E Knudsen, Joana Lobo Vicente, Maria Uhl, Andromachi Katsonouri, Annick D van den Brand, Tamar Berman, Mirjana Dimovska, Eleni Anastasi, Anthi Thoma, Szilvia Középesy, Dragan Gjorgjev, Mirjana Borota Popovska, Shalenie P den Braver-Sewradj, Tamás Szigeti, Marija Topuzovska Latkovikj, Inese Mārtiņsone, Lāsma Akūlova, Linda Paegle
; Full Source: International journal of environmental research and public health 2022 May 25;19(11):6414. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19116414.