Public understanding of chemicals and chemical risk

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Public understanding of chemicals and chemical risk

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Public understanding of chemicals and chemical risk
Author(s) Sjöström, Jesper
Date 2010
English abstract
The public needs to be literate in chemistry both to understand the surrounding world and to be able to be actively involved in democratic processes. This paper concerns the public understanding of chemicals and chemical risk information. Preschool teachers and teacher students, representing the general public, have been asked about e.g. what they mean with “chemicals”, how they think chemicals are absorbed into the body and their view of the difference between natural and synthetic substances. Furthermore, their knowledge about some chemical substances – e.g. antioxidants and dioxins – have been investigated, and also their understanding of some different kinds of chemical risk information. For most of the informants “chemical” is synonymous to something synthetic, artificial, unnatural, toxic, dangerous and harmful. There seems to be a contradiction between the natural on the one hand and the toxic and chemical on the other hand. The common statement “the natural is always best” is problematized in the paper.
Language swe (iso)
Subject(s) public understanding
chemical risk information
Humanities/Social Sciences
Note Paper for a Workshop in Malmö in August 24-25, 2010 about societal perspectives on science and mathematic education
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