Radiation risks and uncertainties: a scoping review to support communication and informed decision-making

Ferdiana Hoti, Tanja Perko, Peter Thijssen, Ortwin Renn

    Research outputpeer-review


    Although radiation protection is challenged by many uncertainties, there is no systematic study investigating the definitions and types of these uncertainties. To address this gap, in this paper we offer a scoping review to comprehensively analy se, for the first time, peer-reviewed scientific articles (n = 33) related to uncertainties in the following radiation exposure situations: nuclear emergencies, decommissioning of nuclear/radiological installations and long-term radiological exposure situations (e.g. naturally occurring radioactive materials). The results suggest that firstly, there is no agreement regarding definitions of uncertainty, which is mainly defined based on its sources, types or categories rather than by its meaning. Secondly, different actors are faced with different types of uncertainties. Uncertainties of the scientific community are mostly data and methodology-driven (e.g. dose-response relationships), those of the decision-makers are related to the likely consequences of decision options and public reactions, while laypeople’s uncertainties are mainly related to the trustworthiness of experts or the emotional potential of specific risk exposures. Furthermore, the majority of articles focus on the uncertainties of the scientific community, while those of the information receivers (i.e. decisionmakers and laypeople) receive much less consideration. Finally, there was no difference in types of uncertainties across the different risk-related study areas analy sed (radiation versus other risks). Based on these findings, we provide some preliminary recommendations regarding research on uncertainty related to radiation protection, as well as communication practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)612-631
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Radiological protection
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

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