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Public Communication of Environmental and Health Risks


Project description

From Plastic Pollution to Solutions: Public Communication of Environmental and Health Risks

The problem of plastic pollution is of increasing concern within the scientific community. It has significant implications for society in terms of our health, wellbeing and economy. This pilot project explores how the issue is emerging in UK media reporting and the impact of this on different audiences. We are testing a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to map news stories and visual images concerning plastic pollution. We are also using an innovative digital survey to capture public engagement with the issue through storytelling in adventure documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (nominated best documentary, Raindance film festival, 2016).

This is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration involving social scientists, environmental scientists and natural history film makers.

Our findings will feed into debates about solutions to the problem of plastic pollution and the public communication of risk messages concerning an emerging scientific issue. Little is known about public engagement with plastic pollution and this project contributes to important policy debates concerning regulation and public understandings as well as wider debates about science communication, behaviour and social change.


Henderson, L “A Plastic Ocean: Can an environmental documentary film make us see plastics differently?”, (Environment and Energy section), The Conversation. June, 7, 2016.

Henderson, L. “Plastic Ocean- why the world should declare plastic ‘hazardous waste’, The Ecologist. June 8, 2016.

Henderson, L. Can A Movie Help us See an invisible health crisis? 20 July 2016 Costofliving