The Environmental Factor - Grantee Explores Right-to-Know in Community-Based Participatory Research

Newsletter of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), January 2010
By Negin Martin

Excerpt: On Dec. 1, NIEHS welcomed grantee Julia Brody, Ph.D. as the latest speaker in the Keystone Science Lecture Series sponsored by the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT). Brody discussed the policy and ethical considerations involved in deciding how and when to report test results to individuals and communities participating in personal exposure assessment studies and what information should be included.

According to Brody, sharing results with communities can help people learn about sources of exposure, so they can take action — both in their own lives and through the democratic process. Positive outcomes of informing participants about exposure data include raising environmental literacy, expanding subjects' right-to-know, and building trust.

At the same time, researchers must consider the possibility that data could lead to emotional stress, unnecessary or counterproductive interventions, and stigma.

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