Accepted Paper:

Deeping into the silence: environmental and health risk perception in two industrial−rural communities in Spain  


Cristina Larrea-Killinger (University of Barcelona)
Lina Cristina Casadó Marín (Medical Anthropology Research Centre)
Andres Fontalba-Navas (Hospital La Inmaculada)
Miguel Company-Morales (Servicio Andaluz de Salud and University of Almería)

Paper short abstract:

It is explored the meanings of the silence, risk denial and the changes in the risk perception in two rural-communities. The first one exposed by chemical compounds, and the second one by plutonium contamination. We will prioritize the discourse of pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Paper long abstract:

The silence of the communities starts breaking. Environmental and health risks were silenced for more than a hundred years in the first community, located at the north east of Spain. In the second community, at the south of the country, two nuclear bombs were broken down in 1966 as a consequence of a flight accident. Both communities had no voice during decades. One of the reasons is the lack of information about the environment risks and health consequences on toxicity, waste management, ionizing radiation and nuclear pollution.

In the first community, people "protected" the chemical company even knowing the health effects of exposure to organochlorine compounds. In the influence area of the chemical company, epidemiological studies showed an increasing prevalence in thyroid cancer, soft tissue sarcoma and brain cancer. Nowadays, the community perception starts changing not only because of the epidemiological studies but also because the company informed that will close in 2017.

In the second community, the plutonium contamination by the nuclear bombs was a government secret for years. Ionizing radiation is perhaps the best characterized environmental exposure linked to effects on the thyroid. The most common thyroid manifestation of ionizing radiation is hypofunction, as well as thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Autoimmune thyroid disease has been linked to environmental radiation exposure.

Using an ethnoepidemiological approach, in our paper we are going to analyse the social and ecological factors behind the changes on the risk perception of internal chemical contamination in our communities, specifically from pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Panel LL-AS05
Poison, movements and communities