30 Sep Meet the Experts: Professor Ragnar Löfstedt – Professor of Risk Management and Director of King’s Centre for Risk Management on Communication
In this edition of ‘Meet the Experts’, Nuno Bacharel, Communications Manager at BSEF, speaks to Professor Löfstedt who is professor in risk management and Director of King’s Centre for Risk Management.
Professor Löfstedt talks about the current challenges of proportionate risk communication and the need for all actors to understand that people worry more about some risks than others. “humans are terrified by the unknown and 1,000 times more worried about involuntary hazards rather than voluntary hazards”. This often translates into fear of chemicals like flame retardants being larger than familiar hazards such as fire, even if this is disproportionate. The tendency is often exacerbated by sensational driven media reporting on unfamiliar hazards.
The interview also touches upon the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability. Professor Löfstedt notes the strategy seems to be “addressing a public perception issue, rather than a scientific one – that is a mistake”. The prescription to mitigate this, is the development of dialogue between the risk analysis community and EU agencies. It is recommended that EU agencies establish risk communication advisory boards such as those in the US’ Food and Drug Administration or boards similar to what the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had from 2013 to 2014.
You can discover more about the uses and safety of brominated flame retardants here.