Reporting pesticide assessment results to farmworker families: development, implementation, and evaluation of a risk communication strategy

Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Apr;112(5):636-42. doi: 10.1289/ehp.6754.


The collection of environmental samples presents a responsibility to return information to the affected participants. Explaining complex and often ambiguous scientific information to a lay audience is a challenge. As shown by environmental justice research, this audience frequently has limited formal education, increasing the challenge for researchers to explain the data collected, the risk indicated by the findings, and action the affected community should take. In this study we describe the development and implementation of a risk communication strategy for environmental pesticide samples collected in the homes of Latino/a migrant and seasonal farmworkers in a community-based participatory research project. The communication strategy was developed with community input and was based on face-to-face meetings with members of participating households. Using visual displays of data effectively conveyed information about individual household contamination and placed it in the context of community findings. The lack of national reference data and definitive standards for action necessitated a simplified risk message. We review the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach and suggest areas for future research in risk communication to communities affected by environmental health risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Virginia


  • Pesticides