Effectively Communicating about Risks from Soil Contamination
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The goal of this study was to provide recommendations for a social marketing campaign in order to educate North Carolina community gardeners about the implications and health effects associated with soil contamination, empowering them with the knowledge necessary to make safe gardening decisions and elicit behavior change associated with minimizing soil contaminant exposure. A soil contaminant is defined as “an element or chemical present in the soil at a level that could possibly pose health risks” (EPA, 2011). Soil contaminants can affect gardeners through consumption, inhalation, or dermal contact (Kim et al., 2014). The most commonly found contaminants include lead, cadmium, and arsenic (Science Communication Unit, 2013). These contaminants have many negative health effects (Science Communication Unit, 2013). Although the health risks posed by these contaminants can be substantial, when they are found in soil most are enacted through long term, low-dose exposures (Jaishankar, 2014). As opposed to acute contamination, these types of risks are difficult to communicate about in ways that will motivate behavior change (Sandman & Covello, 2001). Social marketing, which applies the methods applied in marketing to affect individual behaviors, but for social good, is a common approach in the field of public health as an effective strategy for communicating these types of risks (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011). I applied a social marketing approach with a focus on decreasing exposure to soil contaminants in three target audiences, thereby reducing the associated health risks. Because community gardens are becoming more and more common (Brown & Jameton, 2000), this sort of outreach is becoming increasingly important. The current study therefore aims to answer the following questions: 1. How can we segment our audience to most effectively communicate about soil contamination exposure? 2. What messaging, through which channels is most likely to change the behavior of each of these audiences?
CitationReents, Mary (2019). Effectively Communicating about Risks from Soil Contamination. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18436.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment