Risk perception, awareness, and knowledge of contaminants in pilot whale: Learning from 40 years of risk communication on the Faroe Islands

Project Details


The aim of this project is to study what factors contribute to effective risk communication concerning contaminants in pilot whales. For decades, the consumption of pilot whale meat has been a public health debate in the Faroe Islands, due to the high levels of contaminants, such as mercury, PCB and more recently PFAS. In 2008, researchers recommended that pilot whale meat and blubber was no longer fit for human consumption, following latest research results showing adverse health effects on fetuses and children. The communication effort to inform the Faroese about the risks associated with consuming pilot whale has been extensive these past decades. It is anticipated that this has resulted in a significant decrease in mercury exposure in the Faroese population, especially in women of childbearing age. However, not much is known about what factors contribute to successful risk communication concerning contaminants in food and no in-depth studies have been conducted on what factors contribute to women’s lower consumption in the Faroe Islands.

The aim of this PhD project is to explore which factors contribute to risk perception, awareness and knowledge concerning contaminants in pilot whale. To answer our research question, we will first examine media coverage of contaminants in pilot whales for the past 40 years and then, based on the findings from the media content, conduct a survey of young Faroese men and women to examine their knowledge and risk perception of contaminants in pilot whales.
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