A network of experts in reproductive and children’s environmental health

NIEHS/NIH Webinar - Risk Communication & Fish Consumption

1:00 PM, June 16, 2016

Register today for a webinar on the nexus of risk communication and fish consumption hosted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Date: June 16, 2016, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EDT.

Title: The Complexity of Communicating Risk in the Context of Fish Consumption



Despite decades of research, evidence-based findings, and publicity about the benefits of eating fish, dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in the U.S. and Canada is low compared with recommendations. Fish are naturally rich in LCPUFAs but are also a dietary source of heavy metals, PCBs, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This webinar highlights three researchers who are exploring the challenge of communicating risk about eating fish from waters known to contain high levels of pollutants while simultaneously conveying the benefits of fish consumption for human health.

The complexity of communicating risk is compounded further by social and cultural factors among those who are subsistence fishers or who consume fish from polluted waters on a regular basis. The webinar, therefore, also highlights the cultural considerations of Native Americans in the Great Lakes region; Asians living along urban waterways in the Midwest; and African Americans, Cajuns, and Asians living along the Gulf of Mexico.

The first presentation will describe the cultural significance of certain types of fish among the Anishinabe people (Native American tribes who inhabit the Upper Laurentian Great Lakes). These tribes are traditionally known as a fishing culture with fish making up 65% of the protein in their diet. Community-based research is being conducted with the Anishinabe to develop risk messaging that will be delivered via mobile phone platforms and that will help tribal members determine how much traditional fish they can safely consume.

The second presentation will highlight Asian Americans in Chicago, who, based on their cultural background, consume various parts of fish that are not normally tested for contaminants. This study explores the challenge of communicating the risk of consuming fish high in PCBs to those with limited English proficiency and/or low literacy.

The third presentation will highlight efforts made to communicate the safety of fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico in months following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In this study, the challenge was to communicate the safety of the fish to communities who not only perceived themselves at risk from the oil spill's chemicals but who also represented several distinct ethnic/racial sub-populations with varying degrees of literacy and proficiency in English.

Together these presentations will highlight the innovative ways in which risk/benefit health messaging can be developed and the importance of community engagement to ensure that such messaging is appropriately conveyed to affected communities.


Matthew Dellinger, Ph.D.
Medical College of Wisconsin

Susan Buchanan, M.D.
University of Illinois, Chicago
Andrew Kane, Ph.D.
University of Florida