Communication approach in a risk assessment report: the case of Santo
Amaro (BA)
M.F. Andrade*, L.R.S. Moraes
Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
Introduction: Developed in the United States of America by the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry-ATSDR, in 1980 years (USA, 2010), the risk
assessment began to be adopted in Brazil only in the end of 1990 years. This
article shows an analysis about the Risk Assessment of the Human Health by
Heavy Metals in Santo Amaro da Purificação Report, made by AMBIOS
Engenharia e Processos Ltda. to the Fundação Nacional da Saúde (BRASIL,
Methods: Document analysis based on the social theory and on criticism of the
risk assessment quantitative model.
Results: The risk assessment report analyzed has gaps related to the community
concerns. The answers to the community questions are not systematized
according the ATSDR methodology. Despite had been identified areas where
there are routes of complete exposure to contamination by heavy metals, and the
segments of the population more vulnerable, the risk assessment report
postpones the risk communications measures.
Discussion: The lack of systematization of the community concerns and the
respective answers, assuming the ATSDR methodology, reveals fragility of the
analyzed report. The summary approach of the community concerns –
addressed in just seven of the 268 pages of the report - highlights the absence of
the criticism to the risk assessment model, known since 1960 years. The
asymmetry as to information access and the scientific illiteracy present in the
Brazilian context imposes a challenge in order to shorten the distance between
science and the citizen. Challenge of transform the reality, in render exposed in
expert as an strategy of social promotion of the stigmatized communities by the
heavy metals contamination looking for environmental justice. Reflect about risk
communication in this context is also reflecting about the importance of its
applicability for the health protection.
BRASIL. Fundação Nacional de Saúde. Coordenação Geral de Vigilância em
Saúde Ambiental. Avaliação de Risco à Saúde Humana por Metais Pesados em
Santo Amaro da Purificação. Brasília: AMBIOS Engenharia e Processos Ltda.,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry – ATSDR. www.atsdr.cdc.gov CitizensGuidetoRiskAssessments.html.
Access in: 17 June 2010.
Keywords: environmental health, risk communication, risk assessment, heavy metals

the case of Santo Amaro (BA)