PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


The science shop and citizen's demands on soil contamination

A. Ch. E. Van de Vusse   Science shop, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

The science shop, a department of the Delft university of technology in the Netherlands, has the task to organise scientific knowledge in aid of groups that traditionally have had no access to science, like trade-unions and environmental and citizen groups.

A lot of questions apply to the problem of soil contamination, and especially to the health effects of the contamination. These questions arise from the discrepancy between the sort of knowledge citizens need and the kind of information municipal or provincial authorities give.

Characteristic for the governmental information is:

-   to emphasize the lack of health effects at the one hand, and at the other hand to give instructions for  the citizen's behaviour (do not dig in your garden too often!).

The reaction of the citizens is:

-   distrust to the authorities;

-   disturbance, because although you cannot see or know the chemicals, you know they are poison.

The citizens are placed in a situation that they have to assess the risks and to make a decision that influences their lives. How does the science shop handle these questions?

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.